How to Get Into Columbia Law School | Requirements + Tips

How to Get Into Columbia Law

May 23, 2024
9 min read

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Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 10/25/23

Columbia Law is one of the nation’s top law schools. Read on to learn how to get into Columbia Law and kickstart your law career. 

Columbia University

Columbia Law School is ranked as the nation's eighth-best law school, making it an attractive addition to any future lawyer’s list. If getting into Columbia Law is your dream, this guide will outline its programs, requirements, essay tips, and more to boost your chances of acceptance. 

Programs Offered 

Columbia Law offers a J.D. program and three other graduate law degree options, not including dual degrees. The J.D. program’s goal is to immerse students in current legal and social challenges and mobilize students to use their education to create impactful changes. 

The graduate law degree programs are a J.S.D program and two LL.M. programs: a standard LL.M. program and an Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law. 

J.D. students at Columbia can choose from eight dual degree programs and one joint degree program:

  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (J.D./Ph.D. in selected programs)
  • Graduate School of Business (Three-Year J.D./MBA or Four-Year J.D./MBA)
  • Graduate School of Journalism (J.D./M.S.)
  • Mailman School of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H.)
  • School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (J.D./M.S. in Urban Planning)
  • School of International and Public Affairs (J.D./M.I.A., J.D./M.P.A., and special programs through the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Harriman Institute)
  • School of the Arts (J.D./M.F.A. in Theatre Management & Producing)
  • School of Social Work (J.D./M.S.W.)
  • Joint degree program: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (J.D./M.P.A.) 

Columbia Law School Requirements 

Applying to law school can be chaotic and overwhelming at times, but don’t worry. To give you some Columbia Law School application guidance, we’ve put together a list of requirements that you’ll need to submit. 

Columbia Law School requires applicants to submit applications through LSAC to apply to the J.D. program for Early or Regular Decision. These are the Columbia Law School requirements you must fulfill to complete your application: 

Application Component Description
Transcripts/CAS You must submit all transcripts from your undergraduate/graduate education by registering for the Credit Assembly Service (CAS).
LSAT/GRE Scores All applicants must submit LSAT or GRE scores. If you plan to submit GRE scores and have taken the LSAT, you must also submit those scores.
Letters of Recommendation Columbia Law requires at least two recommendation letters, but you may submit up to four. Recent undergraduate students should submit two academic letters; applicants who completed their degree in 2021 or later should submit one professional and one academic letter for consideration.
Personal Statement Applicants must submit their personal statements (approximately two pages long and double-spaced) electronically.
Resume Your resume should provide details about your employment, volunteer work, and internships. It should also include “a summary of written scholarship, presentations, principal extracurricular activities, and any honors or awards received.”
Optional Supplemental Statements You can submit brief optional statements if you think it’s relevant to your application (particularly addenda about how your background will add to Columbia's class).
Dean’s Letter (If Applicable) Some students may need to have a dean’s letter sent to Columbia if they receive an admission offer. You typically only need to submit one if you’ve been on academic probation or received disciplinary action.
Application Fee Applicants need to pay an $85 application fee.

Columbia Law GPA: Requirements

While there is no GPA requirement, examining class profile data can help you compare your academic performance to admitted students: 

  • 25th percentile GPA: 3.81
  • Median GPA: 3.90 
  • 75th percentile GPA: 3.97

Given this data, it’s difficult to determine the Columbia Law School average GPA. However, we can assume that the Columbia Law average GPA likely ranges from 3.8 to 4.0. 

Columbia Law School LSAT Score Requirement

There is no requirement for Columbia Law LSAT scores. However, this doesn’t mean that your Columbia Law School LSAT score isn’t crucial to your application’s success. Admitted students typically submit impressive LSAT scores: 

  • 25th percentile score: 169
  • Median LSAT score: 173 
  • 75th percentile score: 175 

Based on this information, it's challenging to determine what the Columbia Law average LSAT score is. However, an LSAT score at or above 173 should put you in good standing. To achieve this score, you’ll have to study hard by taking advantage of practice tests and questions

Columbia Law School GRE 

If you’re waffling between taking the GRE versus the LSAT, you should be fine with either, as Columbia Law accepts GRE scores. However, class profile data doesn’t reflect GRE score data from admitted students. Based on Columbia Law students’ impressive LSAT scores, we can safely assume that achieving high GRE scores is imperative. 

Using the ETS online tool to predict LSAT scores based on GRE results, achieving 168 on each GRE section would equate to 174 on the LSAT. 

Columbia Law Interview

You may also be contacted for a video interview with an admissions committee member. This is a great opportunity for Columbia to ask some questions about your application to learn more about you, and you can even ask some questions of your own. However, you cannot request an interview with Columbia Law. 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Columbia Law School.

The University of Columbia Law School Essays (Prompts, Tips, & Examples) 

Male student working at desk

Writing great essays is key to getting into Columbia Law. We'll outline Columbia Law's personal statement and optional statement prompts with tips. 

Columbia Law School Personal Statement 

There isn’t a prompt for Columbia Law’s personal statement. The only advice that Columbia provides is that your personal statement should be two pages long, double-spaced, and "a clear and concise example of your best writing. It should also be free from spelling and grammatical errors." 

So, what do you do with such an open-ended requirement? These tips will help you organize your thoughts to write a creative, compelling personal statement. 

Understand the Purpose of the Personal Statement 

Although you don't have much to go off of, understanding the Columbia personal statement can help direct your writing. In essence, you want to provide something more profound than your GPA and test scores: what can you write about to add another layer of depth and intrigue to your application? 

According to a handout provided by the Columbia School for Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), your law school personal statement should provide insight on: 

  • What kind of person you are 
  • How you think and organize your thinking 
  • What type of student you’ll be if admitted 

SEAS emphasizes that no matter what topic(s) you choose to share, the ultimate goal of your personal statement is to capture your essence. 

Question marks

Ask Yourself Useful Questions to Brainstorm

The Columbia School of General Studies suggests prospective law students should ask themselves deep, personal questions to begin brainstorming. Some questions you can ask yourself include: 

  • How has your background shaped and influenced you? 
  • What would make you a good fit for Columbia Law? 
  • When did you first discover your passion for law, and what steps have you taken to explore your interest? What did these experiences teach you?
  • What are you most passionate about? Why are you passionate about it? 
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
  • What specific hardships have you faced? How did you overcome them, and how did the situation help you grow? 
  • What qualities do you possess (i.e., compassion, integrity, a strong sense of justice) that make you believe you'd be a great lawyer? 

Your answers to these questions may point you toward the perfect personal statement topic: remember, Columbia’s non-prompt is just about as open-ended as it gets, so you have a lot of freedom. 

Tell Your Story Using Strong Imagery and Examples 

Book coming to life

"Show, don't tell" is something you've probably heard a lot regarding writing advice, but it's excellent advice to follow. Any anecdotes you use to tell your story should be vibrant and compelling. While you don't have to pull out a thesaurus to write your statement, this is your opportunity to show off your effective communication and writing skills. 

When you share an anecdote, ensure you're reflective and demonstrate how it's shaped you or your personality. It's one thing to say, "I have a strong sense of justice," and it's another to describe how you advocated for local residents being wrongfully evicted in your community. 

Do Your Research 

Knowing how to get into Columbia Law starts with research. Most law school applicants tailor their personal statements to each law school they apply to. 

While the primary purpose of your statement is for the admissions committee to learn more about you as a person, it doesn't hurt to subtly show that you've done your research and have concrete reasons for choosing Columbia Law. Ensure you research the curriculum, opportunities, and other Columbia-specific offerings. 

Which of Columbia’s offerings excite you and why? 

Keep Your Tone Professional and Be Careful With Sensitive Issues 

Man working on computer

While you don't want to take yourself way too seriously, your tone should be conversational yet professional. In keeping a professional tone, you should also navigate sensitive topics with grace. 

For example, you don't want to write about anything too graphic or events that paint you negatively. Also, keep any controversial content out of your statement: there's no guarantee the admissions committee members have the same opinions as you. 

Other Tips to Ace the Columbia Personal Statement 

Other short tips to ensure you produce the best statement possible include: 

  • Don’t try to cover too much ground: you only have two pages! 
  • Don’t rehash your resume. 
  • Write clearly and concisely (writing in the active voice helps). 
  • Don’t add quotes or cliches. 
  • You can be creative but avoid thinking too far out of the box. 
  • Proofread your work: you'll be doing much of that before getting to the final draft. 

Columbia Law School Supplemental Essays 

The prompt for the optional Columbia Law School supplemental essays is: 

“Applicants, if they wish, may submit brief supplemental statements that will provide useful information to the Admissions Committee in evaluating the application. The Committee especially welcomes addenda that allow it to understand the contribution your personal background would add to the Columbia Law School community.”

If you plan to write an additional essay, consider these tips. 

Student writing in notebook

Determine If You Should Write A Supplemental Essay 

If you have gaps in your application, like a lower GPA, test scores, or anything else you think requires an explanation, it's in your best interest to add addenda. On the other hand, if you want to discuss your identity and experiences (that aren't otherwise stated in your application), you should consider writing about them. 

Keep Your Essay to the Point 

These essays don't need to be very long, so you should keep your writing concise. If you're writing about academic performance, don't linger on your mistakes but on how you overcame them and grew. 

If you're writing a diversity statement, show how your background will directly contribute to the Columbia class. 

Reflect on Your Experiences

Reflecting on your experiences and their impact helps direct your story and keeps your writing clear. Think about your most transformative moments and what you’ve learned from them, how they impacted you, and how they propelled you along the path to law. 

Female student taking notes from computer

Columbia Law School Personal Statement Example

Examining Columbia Law School personal statement examples can help show you what you should aim for in your writing and even how you can improve: check out this personal statement example excerpt and our feedback on why it was good.

Columbia Law Personal Statement Example

“I’m the child of Afghani immigrants, and my parents have a great story to tell. It begins with a 7-year old girl who watches in confusion as a swarm of parents rush through the classroom grabbing their children. Soon she realizes that she and one other student are the only ones left. Suddenly a soldier bursts into the classroom and grabs the other student, the grandson of the former President of Afghanistan, Daoud Khan. The teacher fights a tug-of-war to keep the child, but eventually the soldier takes him away to the family’s palace, where his entire family is massacred.

The Russians are invading Afghanistan.

On the way home, the girl hears gun shots and bombs, and she starts to fear what this invasion will mean for her and her family. Before she knows it, her mother and father are selling their belongings to make enough money to escape the war. A month later, her family boards a plane to the U.S.

On the other side of town in Kabul, a young boy awakens to his family of 10 rushing to finish packing. The communists had placed a hit on his father, brother, and sister, who are all active anti-communists. The family drives from Kabul to Jalalabad, takes a bus, hops onto the back of a pickup truck, and travels by foot until they reach a military area with tents for individuals escaping the country.

Early the next morning, the family walks with their luggage the entire day until they catch a bus to Peshawar, Pakistan, leaving behind their beloved home of Afghanistan. After living in Pakistan for 18 months, the family makes its passage to the United States.

Ten years later, the girl and boy meet at a high school in Annandale, Virginia. Discovering how much they have in common, the two high school sweethearts fall in love and marry shortly after graduation. In their early 20s, they bring three children into this world, one of them being me.

Growing up in an Afghan household in the U.S. presented its own challenges. At a young age, the way I looked and dressed – and especially my faith – were different than those of my classmates. Ignorant comments and questions were not uncommon. “Is Osama Bin Laden your uncle?” “I know your family has oil money.” “Why are you so hairy?” “You’re Muslim? I’ll pray for you.” These comments made me incredibly sad, especially when classmates I considered my friends made them.

My own family did not make assimilating any easier. My parents would only let me play with other kids in our home because they feared I would lose my Afghan identity. Sleepovers were out of the question. As my mother would occasionally rant, “Just because you were born here doesn’t mean you’re American. You are not allowed to date, wear short shorts, or go to parties.”

Despite these strict expectations, I always celebrated my background, the way I was raised, and my religious beliefs. I performed the centuries-old Afghan dance, the attan, in traditional clothing at my high school’s heritage night; joined the Afghan Student Union at George Mason University; presented my unusually large family tree in an anthropology course (I have 22 first cousins!); and met with a mullah every weekend to learn how to the read the Quran in Arabic. I am proud to be different than my peers and have my own sense of uniqueness.

However, my pride has been tempered by the realities of being a first generation college student. When my parents moved to the U.S., my father became an electrician and my mother a hairstylist. While I received immense support and love from my family for continuing my education, I had to teach myself how to apply to college, and once there I had to learn on my own what my professors expected of me. I couldn’t call my parents when I was stuck on a difficult calculus problem or cry for help when I didn’t know how to conclude my 10-page Western Civilization paper. I was on my own.

These experiences have crafted me into who I am today. Given my appreciation for diversity, as an attorney I want to help minorities who face discrimination achieve equal opportunity and success in the workplace.”

Map of the Middle East

Why This Personal Statement Worked 

The beginning of this statement opens with a vivid story full of action directly related to the student’s background. Then, it drives the narrative to the author's upbringing in American culture, their struggles to assimilate, and their relationship to their Afghani culture. 

The author does an excellent job of showing how their background could help them contribute to problems more than others who don’t share their experiences and culture (this doubles as a diversity statement). They take care to discuss how their experience with immigration would make them a passionate attorney with unique strengths. 

The only thing to be careful with when writing a personal statement that references another person is to ensure the focus stays on you. We think this writer managed to do that for the most part, but be careful not to remove yourself from the spotlight, particularly in introductions and conclusions. 

Columbia Law School Stats (Admissions Statistics)

A snapshot of the Columbia Law School class profile can tell you more about the school’s commitment to a diverse student body and your chances of acceptance. The recent entering class profile shows the following breakdown for ethnicity, gender, age, and of students: 

Enrollment Breakdown Category Percentage of Incoming Class
Students of Color 52%
White 48%
Asian 28%
Black or African American 13%
Latinx 9%
Native American/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander 1%
International Students 19%
LGBTQ+ 26%
Male 50%
Female 47%
Non-binary, gender non-conforming, or agender 3%
Age: 20-24 65%
Age: 25-28 29%
Age: 29 or older 6%

Most admitted students (31%) are from the mid-Atlantic region, followed by international students (19%) and students from the American West (18%). 

Columbia Law School Acceptance Rate

Although the Columbia Law acceptance rate reflects the school’s selectivity, it’s crucial not to get too hung up on statistics. In a recent admissions cycle, Columbia Law received 7,754 applications and admitted 948 students. 

The Columbia University Law School acceptance rate is 12.2%. 

For more admissions data about Columbia Law, here’s a table with the acceptance rates from the past few years: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 7,754 948 12.22%
2022 7,972 951 11.93%
2021 9,612 1,098 11.42%
2020 6,986 1,166 16.69%

Source: Columbia Law School Standard 509 Reports

How Hard Is It to Get into Columbia Law School? 

Getting into Columbia Law School is relatively difficult: approximately 1 out of every 10 applicants is accepted. Columbia Law also made the U.S. News World and Report’s list of the top 10 hardest law schools to get into

Due to the school’s reputation, resources, and ranking, getting accepted at Columbia is no easy task. However, you can always boost your chances of admission with a well-polished application. 

Columbia Law School Deadlines & Application Process  

"Timeline"

You’ll use the LSAC application to apply to Columbia Law, no matter when you decide to apply. Below are the important dates you should know to stay ahead of the Columbia Law School deadline. 

Columbia Law Regular Decision Dates 

Although exact dates haven’t been released yet for the current application cycle, most application dates tend not to change much every year. Here is a breakdown of Regular Decision dates you should know: 

Date/Deadline Description
September 1 Columbia J.D. application opens
October 1 FAFSA available
January Last chance to take the LSAT and the GRE
February 15 Financial aid application deadline and Regular Decision Plan deadline
May 1 Enrollment deposit deadline and prioritized housing application deadline
June 1 Deferral request deadline

Columbia Law Early Decision Dates 

These are the Columbia Law Early Decision dates you should know: 

Date/Deadline Description
September 1 Columbia J.D. application opens
October 1 FAFSA available
October-November 1 Last chance to take the LSAT and the GRE
November 15 Early Decision plan application deadline
February 15 Financial aid application deadline
May 1 Enrollment deposit deadline and prioritized housing application deadline
June 1 Deferral request deadline

How to Get Into Columbia Law School FAQs

If you still have questions about how to get into Columbia Law, check out these FAQs! 

1. What GPA Do You Need for Columbia Law School?

While no GPA will guarantee your admission, you should strive for a GPA above the median of 3.9 to be viewed as a more competitive applicant. 

2. What Are My Chances of Getting into Columbia Law School?

Based solely on the 12.2% Columbia Law acceptance rate, you have approximately a 1 in 10 chance of admission. However, you can boost your chances by putting enough time and effort into your application! 

3. What Are the Requirements to Get into Columbia Law School?

The basic requirements to get into Columbia Law are a completed LSAC application, transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, and a personal statement. 

4. Can I Get Into Columbia Law School With a 3.0 GPA?

Considering the 25th percentile GPA of admitted students is 3.81, it’s not likely that a 3.0 will be enough for Columbia Law. However, with a stellar application and explanation for your lower GPA, you may still stand a chance with a 3.0 GPA.

5. What LSAT Score Do You Need for Columbia Law? 

You should aim for an LSAT score of 173 or higher to be a more competitive Columbia Law applicant. 

6. What Is the Columbia Law Early Decision Acceptance Rate? 

Columbia doesn't release data on its Early Decision acceptance rate. However, there are advantages to applying through Early Decision: U.S. News states law schools may be more lenient with students with lower GPAs or test scores who apply through Early Decision (meaning you may have a higher chance of admission). 

7. What is the Cost of Tuition at Columbia Law School? 

Columbia Law School tuition and fees total $85,833 per year. However, including personal expenses, students can expect to pay roughly $118,357 each year. 

Luckily, Columbia Law offers a number of scholarships, fellowships, and financial aid options for students. 

Get Into Law School at Columbia Today

Columbia Law School is an excellent option for future lawyers. If Columbia is on your list, achieving a high GPA and test scores, spending extra time on your personal statement, and obtaining stellar recommendations can help you claim your seat. 

Getting into Columbia Law may be relatively difficult, but a well-constructed application can boost your chances of acceptance. Good luck!

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