Although it was only founded in the mid-20th century, UCLA’s law school has quickly risen to the top-most strata of the nation’s legal institutions.
Forty-four students made up the school’s first graduating class in 1952, and today UCLA Law has more than 1,000 full-time students.
The law school is part of a public university and offers not only the traditional Juris Doctorate but also a Master of Legal Studies, Master of Laws, and Doctor of Juridical Science.
Students also can choose to pursue one of eight joint degrees in which they earn a J.D. along with an M.B.A., Ph.D., or other advanced degrees.
No matter what they study, students benefit from small class sizes, as the law school has a student-faculty ratio of about 6:1.
The prestigious program sets up students for success. In addition to learning from top legal minds, students can work on the dozen-plus journals that take a closer look at today’s issues.
Students also have a chance to meet with representatives of 400 law firms and other employers who visit each year. Within 10 months of graduating, 96% of the class of 2018 had obtained jobs in the law.
UCLA Law graduates also do well when it comes to salary, too, with alumni earning a median starting pay of $60,000 in the public sector and $190,000 in the private sector.
Today, we discuss UCLA’s acceptance rate, tuition, alumni, and more.
UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate
UCLA’s acceptance rate shows just how selective the J.D. program is. In 2020, the school accepted 22.5% of applicants, down from 29.7% in 2017.
While the university did not reveal how many applications it accepted in 2021, it did note that it received nearly 8,000. OF that group, 367 people ultimately enrolled as J.D. students.
Although less than a quarter of recent applicants ultimately got into the J.D. program at UCLA, that number is on par with a few of the nation’s other top law schools.
Georgetown University’s Law Center accepted 21.2% of prospective students, while Northwestern University’s Pritzker Law School has a 22.58% acceptance rate.
U.S. News & World Reported ranked the law schools at Georgetown and Northwestern the 15th and 12th best in the nation, respectively, for 2022. UCLA, meanwhile, came in at 14th.
As with most other educational programs, law schools that have a reputation for being high-quality typically have a low acceptance rate, as more students set their sights high. Yale University, for instance, often considered the best law school in the country, only admits 6.9%.
UCLA says it places a lot of weight on candidates’ academic records and their LSAT and GRE scores in particular when considering their applications, but other factors also come into play. These include applicants’ potential for success not just in the classroom but also after graduating.
UCLA Law School Tuition
It’s no surprise that about 70% of UCLA Law students come from California, since residents of the state get a significant discount on tuition.
For the 2021-22 school year, tuition for the J.D. program costs $52,468 for California residents and $60,739 for non-residents. Students also are required to pay a health insurance fee unless they have “comparable” insurance, in which case UCLA waives the charge, which amounted to $4,720 for 2021-22.
UCLA Law does have several financial aid options to help students, including various fellowships and scholarships. Those pursuing a J.D. may qualify for a full-tuition scholarship.
Tuition differs for UCLA Law’s other degrees, depending on the program and whether students attend full- or part-time. For 2021-22, students in the LL.M. program paid $64,046 in tuition.
In the M.L.S. program, tuition costs $29,800 per semester for full-time students and $19,800 per year over three years for part-time students.
Students in the S.J.D. program pay about $33,750 in tuition before moving on to doctoral candidacy and roughly $18,650 after advancing to candidacy in the 2021-22 school year. These programs have varying types of financial aid packages as well.
Students also may be required to pay for the university-provided health insurance if they do not already have their own.
UCLA Law School Requirements
Several factors come into play in the admissions process, as UCLA aims to accept a diverse group of “students of outstanding intellectual ability.”
In the class of 2024, which entered UCLA Law in fall 2021, the typical student had an LSAT score of 171 out of 180 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.82.
The first thing candidates must do is register with the Law School Admissions Council’s (LSAC) Credential Assembly Service. In addition to the application, candidates must provide several documents, including either LSAT or GRE scores and a résumé.
They also have to write a personal statement focusing on how they would contribute to and succeed at the law school and in the legal profession.
Applicants’ undergraduate schools will need to submit their official transcripts directly to LSAC. Prospective students will need to provide two letters of recommendation through LSAC’s Letter of Recommendation Service.
If UCLA is an applicant’s top choice for law school, they may want to consider applying for early decision.
This decision is binding, so students admitted to the program must attend and withdraw any applications they made to other law schools.
Applicants interested in applying to specific programs, such as the Achievement Fellowship or the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, or who want to apply for early decision, will need to keep an eye on their calendars since their application deadlines may differ from the date for regular admission.
UCLA Law School Notable Alumni
UCLA has more than 18,000 alumni, many of whom have gone on to find success not just as lawyers but also in various industries, government positions, and social justice endeavors.
Almost 200 state and federal judges graduated from UCLA Law, as did many Congressional members, but others have done well in a wide range of careers.
One of the best-known graduates of the school’s early days was Vincent T. Bugliosi, who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson and his associates for murder in the 1960s. Bugliosi later became the best-selling author of books that included “Helter Skelter.”
More recently, politically inclined alumni include Kirsten Gillibrand, the United States senator from New York who earned a J.D. from the school in 1991.
UCLA Law alumni have done well in the business world as well. Kelly Perdew, who earned an MBA from UCLA in 1995 and a J.D. the following year, won season two of the reality competition series “The Apprentice” and went on to work for the Trump Organization.
Carly Fiorina, meanwhile, spent many years as chairwoman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Company before pursuing an unsuccessful political career. And cartoonist Stephan Pastis, the man behind the popular comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” also graduated from UCLA, where he was known to doodle in the margins of papers.
UCLA Law School Ranking
In addition to ranking 14th overall in the nation, UCLA’s law school landed in the top 10 of several specialties rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report, including tying for fourth for Environmental Law and seventh for Trial Advocacy.
Other outstanding rankings include Business/Corporate Law (eighth), Tax Law (tied for eighth), and Constitutional Law (tied for ninth).
Thanks to its location near Hollywood, UCLA has produced many lawyers working in the entertainment industry. In 2021, we named UCLA among the best entertainment law schools nationwide.
UCLA also has earned recognition for its diversity, coming in ninth on the Princeton Review’s 2021 list of Most Diverse Faculty.
The publication based its rankings on the university’s demographics as well as student input. Over 19% of UCLA Law’s faculty members and nearly 44% of students are of a racial or ethnic minority. UCLA Law ranked 40th in the nation for the highest presence of minority students.
Alumni results show just how well UCLA prepared them as well. The school came in 57th in a ranking of the best bar exam passage rates for first-time test takers, at 86%.
Should You Attend UCLA Law School?
UCLA Law School has earned a well-respected reputation and has produced some of the country’s top legal minds over the last 70 years.
Admission may be competitive, but students with high LSAT or GRE scores and undergraduate GPA have a solid chance to enter this prestigious program.
However, interested students should be prepared to make a full-time commitment to their studies since the university does not offer part-time, summer, or evening programs.
The J.D. program takes three years to complete, with the first including a year-long course, Legal Research and Writing, in which students build a strong foundation for their studies in small groups.
In addition to required courses, students engage in experiential and clinical learning and focus on one of six specializations.
Students will also find a lot of support on campus from the start, such as in academic workshops or study groups, which help them develop skills necessary for success.
Academic counseling helps students learn more about making outlines, best practices for studying, and taking exams.
And as they move along in their studies, students can attend bar exam workshops to prepare themselves for the big day.
Alumni enter the legal world armed with a degree from one of the nation’s best law schools, which cares about them even after they graduate.
UCLA Law offers a loan repayment assistance program to help alumni pursue careers in public service, which typically pays less than private practice. Alumni also mentor first-year students and participate in mock interviews and other events, helping to prepare the next generation to follow in their successful footsteps.