As one of the best law schools in the world, Yale University has produced some of the top legal minds of their generations since it granted its first degrees in the field in 1843.
Today, its students continue to learn in the same hallowed halls as U.S. presidents, Supreme Court members, and other illustrious alumni.
Yale’s Juris Doctor (J.D.) program is small but mighty, with just a couple hundred students in each class and a low student-faculty ratio of 4.4:1.
Students do not receive grades during their first term of study, and throughout the rest of the three-year program, they only are graded on an honors/pass/low pass format. They also can take classes on a credit/fail basis.
The school has over 70 full-time faculty members, and most of its roughly 200 doctrinal courses have fewer than 25 students. J.D. students learn about numerous sub-fields of law, such as constitutional or environmental law, and can further their studies through research opportunities and the chance to serve as teaching assistants.
In addition to the J.D., Yale has several other graduate law programs, including the Master of Laws (LL.M.). Alumni of this program are the only ones eligible to continue on to the school’s Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) program.
Other graduate degrees include the Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) and the Ph.D. in Law.
Below, we’ll dive into all Yale Law School has to offer, how to get admitted, and more.
Yale Law School Acceptance Rate
Yale’s acceptance rate is close to that of other top-ranked law schools. Stanford University, whose law school U.S. News & World Report named second-best in the nation for 2022, had an acceptance rate of 10.48% for the 2020-21 school year.
And Harvard University, ranked third, accepted 6.8% of its 9,993 applicants beginning their studies in 2020.
Members of Yale’s class of 2024 hail from a wide range of public and private universities across 36 states and seven countries.
While Yale Law does not have a minimum requirement for GRE or LSAT scores or for undergraduate GPAs, those admitted to its class of 2024 have demonstrated excellence in those areas.
The class had a median undergraduate GPA of 3.94 and a median LSAT score of 174 out of 180. That group also included several people whose academics earned them additional honors, including four Rhodes Scholars and nine Fulbright Research Fellows.
Yale Law School Tuition
A Yale Law degree and all the prestige and advantages that come with it also has a hefty price tag.
For the 2021-22 academic year, tuition costs $67,108. Yale estimates that other costs students can expect to pay (including room and board, activity fees, and books) will bring the total annual amount to study there at nearly $94,000. That’s up from a total price of just over $92,000 for the 2020-21 school year.
The good news for prospective students is that a Yale Law education is still affordable despite these big numbers. The university offers need-based aid, which means that students who really need financial support can get it.
Yale takes a look at students’ tuition and other school-related fees, their income and other assets, and other factors in determining how much aid they’ll receive.
Financial aid includes both loans and need-based grants, with the maximum grant amount equalling that of tuition.
The law school does not give out scholarships based on merit or other criteria, but students in need of financial aid may qualify for endowed or other specialty scholarships.
Yale’s financial assistance continues even after graduation. For more than 30 years, Yale has offered the Career Options Assistance Program (COAP), a loan forgiveness program that helps eligible graduates based on their income level.
Yale Law School Requirements
Applying to Yale Law involves several components, including essays, exam scores, and letters of recommendation.
Yale’s application window runs from October into February, but students who apply earlier in the cycle do not get an advantage.
To submit their application, candidates must register for the Law School Credential Assembly Service (CAS) with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), through which applicants will submit their paperwork electronically.
These documents include GRE and/or LSAT scores (including the LSAT-Flex and the GRE General Test at Home) and a CAS report.
Applicants must include transcripts for all schools they have attended, including for undergraduate and graduate studies.
Applicants must include at least two letters of recommendation from professors who can share insight into their academic abilities.
Yale also will accept letters from others, such as employers or coaches, but it prefers they come from faculty members.
Additionally, candidates must write a personal statement showing the law school what they would offer to its community and a 250-word essay about an issue or other idea that interests them.
The university says it considers each application seriously and encourages people from all backgrounds to apply. Its Admissions Committee takes into consideration the application documents as well as candidates’ experience, honors they have received, and activities they have participated in, among other factors.
Yale Law School Notable Alumni
Yale Law accepts the best of the best, and it produces them, too. Its alumni have reached the upper echelon of the political spectrum, including five U.S. presidents, with Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush among them. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state, met while students at Yale Law.
Dozens of alumni have served in or currently are members of Congress, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. Another couple dozen have represented the United States as ambassadors, including Sargent Shriver, husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and director of the Peace Corps.
And before he entered the entertainment world, Ben Stein worked as a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and wrote about economics as a columnist for The New York Times
Behind the bench, three Yale Law alumni currently sit on the U.S. Supreme Court: Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Alumni have made a difference in social causes and other realms as well. Dr. Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African American to earn a doctorate from Yale Law, co-founded the National Organization for Women.
Late author Elizabeth Wurtzel worked in the legal profession for a time after graduating from Yale but became best known for her 1994 memoir “Prozac Nation” and other books and articles.
Yale Law School Ranking
Yale Law School has ranked among the best of its kind in not only the United States but also the world.
In the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings of Law & Legal Studies schools for 2021, Yale placed fourth, best only by Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Cambridge.
QS, a company that provides services to the higher-education world, based the ranking on the schools’ academic and employer reputations as well as the impact of their research.
According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 rankings, Yale is the best law school in the nation. It also ranked within the top 10 of several sub-categories, including tying for first in Constitutional Law and tying for third in International Law.
Yale also came in fourth for Contracts/Commercial Law and tied for fourth in both Criminal Law and Clinical Training. Yale has numerous legal clinics where students can gain experience over all three years of study.
The Princeton Review also included the program in its list of the nation’s best law schools, and Yale also earned top marks in two other areas. The publication ranked it second on its list of best law schools for obtaining federal clerkships, and Yale came in at No. 1 on the list of toughest law schools to get into.
Should You Attend Yale Law School?
Any student who gets an offer to attend Yale Law will find it more than worth their while to accept. Graduates join an impressive group of more than 13,000 alumni and set themselves up for well-paying, successful careers.
Students learn from faculty who specialize in numerous areas of the law and have worked in the legal and political arenas, among other impressive places.
They can dive into the almost 1 million print publications at the school’s Lillian Goldman Law Library in addition to Yale’s other libraries, which number over a dozen.
Yale also gives them plenty of opportunities to get involved outside the classroom. Starting in their first year, students can learn even more and further develop their skills at the clinics or by participating in the school’s eight law journals.
Because of Yale’s reputation for excellence, major law firms and other businesses from around the country seek out Yale Law students to fill jobs even before they graduate. The university often hosts employers for recruitment events, giving students opportunities to find summer jobs or even line up permanent ones for after they graduate.
This has made it possible for 83.9% of Yale Law students to already be employed at graduation, and alumni earn a median starting salary of a whopping $190,000 in the private sector and nearly $65,000 in public service.