At USC Gould School of Law, students become part of a family.
Professors know your name, and colleagues aren’t your competitors. The school is in Los Angeles, representing the United States’ second most extensive legal market, close to Silicon Valley.
Students attending Gould get to customize their curriculum – it’s true that no two students at Gould will take the same path to obtain a law degree.
In the first year, law students focus on establishing a foundation in legal theory, while years two and three transition them to scenarios where they can apply their knowledge.
Law students at Gould will ultimately choose an area of specialization and work in clinics and externships devoted to those specific areas, such as immigration law, housing law, or social justice work.
There are more than 200 classes for students to choose from, many of which are as small as ten students.
While the USC Gould School of Law is challenging to get into, those accepted will benefit from myriad opportunities to prepare for a career in law.
Moving forward, we’ll discuss the law school’s acceptance rate, as well as admission requirements and median LSAT scores.
After elaborating on the school’s notable alumni, power rankings, and other exciting programs, readers should be better equipped to decide if applying to USC Gould is right for them.
USC Gould School of Law Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into USC Gould School of Law is 12.7% – 5,867 students submitted applications to USC Gould, and only 745 were admitted.
Admission to USC Gould has never been more competitive. The acceptance rate for the previous year’s cohort was 13%.
Those who enrolled in USC Gould come from various Ivy League institutions, Duke University, UCLA, and Vanderbilt. JD students also have experience as actors, best-selling authors, digital producers, technology entrepreneurs, and Fulbright scholars.
One new admit, for example, helped launch a sports apparel company for Muslim women, while another sailed over 2,000 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii. Quite an accomplished group of law students!
Women represent nearly two-thirds of the admitted cohort – the law school’s highest percentage of female representation in a 1L class to date. USC Gould is also friendly to out-of-state applicants, with 42% of the most recently admitted class hailing from outside California.
There are six ways students can be accepted to USC Gould. The three-year JD is the most popular option.
However, those admitted through Binding Early Decision are guaranteed a scholarship that covers half of their first year of law school tuition, at the minimum, and scholarships of the same amount for years two and three. There is no application fee to apply via Binding Early Decision.
The 3 + 3 Accelerated Bachelor/JD is reserved for USC undergraduates with the highest GPAs. This program allows admitted students to complete their undergraduate and law school studies within six years versus the standard seven years.
To be eligible, USC students must maintain a 3.8 cumulative GPA and report an SAT or ACT score within the 85th percentile. All undergraduate degree requirements must be completed by the end of the student’s junior year.
Students admitted to USC Gould can expect to form close bonds with their peers. The school refrains from assigning individual class rankings to its law students; however, they publish the minimum GPA of the top 10% of each cohort.
Students in the top 10% category are inducted into the Order of the Coif, the school’s national honorary legal scholastic society.
USC Gould School of Law GPA & LSAT Requirements
While USC Gould does not stipulate minimum GPAs or LSAT scores, applicants should expect a competitive application process.
The class of 2024 was admitted with a median GPA of 3.82 and a median LSAT score of 168 (with 180 being the highest attainable score).
The sole eligibility requirement is that applicants must have received or plan to receive a bachelor’s degree before enrolling at Gould. Those admitted may only attend as full-time, in-person students.
There are various materials that students must submit as part of their application packages, including the JD Electronic Application and the $75 application fee.
Those who have participated in Teach for America, the U.S. military, the Peace Corps, the California Pathways to Law Program, or USC (undergraduate program) are eligible to seek a waiver, in addition to those who can demonstrate financial hardship.
Applicants must register with the Credential Assembly Services (CAS) and submit their CAS Report to Gould.
This report should include all official transcripts, LSAT scores, LSAT writing scores, and letters of recommendation. In place of the LSAT, applicants may submit GRE scores.
USC Gould requires two letters of recommendation and accepts a maximum of three. The Admissions Committee places the most value on letters written by those who can best attest to the candidates’ academic backgrounds.
In instances where an applicant has been outside of school for several years, it is acceptable for a supervisor to send an application as opposed to a professor or guidance counselor.
The following two required items are the personal statement and résumé, which serve different purposes.
The latter is meant to provide an overview of one’s work background, volunteer engagements, and extracurricular commitments and should not exceed two pages. The former provides two to three pages for applicants to discuss how their background inspired them to pursue a career in law.
All applicants should also qualify for admission to the bar. If one answers “Yes” to any character and fitness questions on the survey, they must provide a detailed written explanation, along with any supporting documents.
There is an optional Contribution to Diversity statement that applicants may craft, as well as a USC Statement of Interest.
Generally, we recommend that applicants take advantage of all optional opportunities to give their applications a competitive edge. If applicants believe that part of their application requires further elaboration, they may submit a brief supplement as part of their complete application package.
USC Gould School of Law Notable Alumni
The USC Gould School of Law is responsible, in part, for the careers of various successful judges and justices, including those who have worked under the U.S. federal Court of Appeals, the U.S. Federal District Court for the Central District of California, and the California Supreme Court.
Unsurprisingly, various United States senators and representatives got their start at USC Gould, in addition to the Second Gentleman of the United States, Doug Emhoff.
You Chung Hong was the first Chinese American USC Gould graduate admitted to practice law in California. Hong is known for his contributions to Los Angeles’ Chinatown community, which he helped rebuild in the 1930s.
Various entrepreneurs walked through the halls of USC Gould, including Richard Rosenblatt, the former Chairman of MySpace, and Sol Price, founder of Costco Wholesale Corp.
With USC’s storied athletic prowess, it is not surprising that various athletes and sports management figures also graduated from Gould.
Former Olympic gymnast Ronald Barak and water polo player Wally Wolf are alumni, as is the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders, Amy Trask.
USC Gould’s current alumni network exceeds 13,000 members. All students who graduate from the JD and master’s degree programs gain admittance to the USC Gould Alumni Association.
USC Gould School of Law Ranking
USC consistently ranks high in the U.S. News & World Report’s survey of nearly 200 law schools; most recently, they were ranked #18!
The same report named USC Gould #4 in Diversity among the top 20 law schools. The 2020 National Law Journal’s list of Go-To Law Schools ranked USC Gould even higher among its competitors at #16.
The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education survey of 2020 examined more than 800 United States universities and colleges; from that list, the survey positioned USC at #18 in the nation and #3 among 150 universities surveyed in the western part of the nation.
USC Gould undoubtedly receives high accolades for its talented faculty, valuable internship opportunities, and stellar residential services.
Students attending USC Gould can rest assured that they won’t graduate with an obscene amount of educational debt.
Within the past decade, the school witnessed the fourth most significant decrease in average law school debt among the top 20 law schools.
Upon graduating, new lawyers can expect to earn a median starting salary of $180,000. The average bar passage rate on the California Bar Exam holds at 88% over the past five years.
Outside of Gould, USC as a whole institution ranks #27 in National Universities. Students attending USC have great pride in their school and sports teams.
One interesting fact is that USC is the only university in the world to boast a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete at every Summer Olympics competition since 1912!
Should You Apply to USC Gould School of Law?
USC Gould is not only a top-tier law school – it is also a great value.
USC tuition increases are currently at a five-year average low, and the school has continued to raise its scholarship support in that same period. In fact, Gould’s financial aid has increased 2:1 over its tuition increases.
The institution runs on a need-blind admission policy. More than 10% of its students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and more than 10% are first-generation college students.
The most recent average scholarship award totaled $40,500, and financial aid packages ranged from $15,000 to full tuition coverage.
USC Gould’s diversity is easily one of its greatest assets. The most recent cohort can be described as 48% White, 20% Asian, 10% Hispanic/Latinx, 9% African American, and 8% multiracial.
In addition to the school’s diversity and affordability, USC Gould attracts future lawyers through its experiential education programs, namely, its seven clinics and various externships.
Through both programs, students gain expertise working with practicing attorneys on actual cases, representing a broad range of legal issues.
For example, the Post-Conviction Justice Project (PCJP) is Gould’s first clinical program, established in 1981. More than 700 law students have aided over 4,000 clients, 188 of whom were released from life imprisonment in California.
USC’s externship placements have traversed various industries, with students taking on roles within Marvel, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the National Immigration Law Center.
Students attending Gould benefit from an intimate student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. More than 90% of graduating students are employed within ten months of commencement in long-term, full-time bar-required or JD Advantage positions.
A law school experience at USC Gould is a full one, and students will leave prepared to take on various roles within the judicial, nonprofit, or business realms in America.