FAQs

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, organized by the following topics:

General Information

COVID-19 Updates

LSAT

Academic Record

Letters of Recommendation

Review Process and Decisions

Financial Aid

If you cannot find the answers you are looking for, please contact us.

General Information

Berkeley Law receives 5,000-6,500 applications in a typical year. See our Entering Class Profile for the exact number for the prior year. 

Between 300-325 students enter the law school each August. They are assigned to one of nine first-year modules (groups of about 35 students). During the first semester of the first year, two courses are taught in classes of about 100 students; one course is a small class of approximately 35 students; Legal Writing and Research has approximately 15-20 students.

For the past several years the median GPA and LSAT score of admitted applicants have ranged from 3.70-3.82 and 166-169, respectively. The ranges are broad. The Berkeley Graduate Division requires that graduate students have at least a 3.00 undergraduate cumulative GPA for admission. Exceptions can be made for very promising applicants. We review applications carefully and in their entirety.

The deadline to apply for admission as a first-year student is February 15. Early decision applicants must apply by November 15.

The deadline to apply as a transfer student from another law school is June 1.  

Although our application deadline is February 15, we begin to read completed files as early as September. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible, between September 1 and December 1.

Early decision applicants must apply between September 1 and November 15.

We only offer a full-time, three-year program that leads to the J.D. degree. There are no summer courses nor online or part-time programs.

Yes, you may apply to the JD program if you already hold an LLM degree. We do not accept transfer credits from LLM degree programs, so you will be expected to complete the full, 3 year curriculum.

Yes. If you are an international applicant to the J.D. program who has earned an undergraduate degree from an institution outside of the United States or Canada, then you must have your records evaluated through the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). An evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and will be incorporated into your CAS report. More time is usually required to receive foreign transcripts. An undergraduate degree earned outside of the United States or Canada is acceptable for admission if it is determined to be equivalent to an American bachelor’s degree. 

The TOEFL is not required. However, you must take the LSAT, and comply with all of the other application requirements. 

We will waive your application fee automatically when you apply if you are approved for an LSAC fee waiver.

We do not provide merit-based fee waivers. 

Application fee waivers also are available to current or former participants from any public service program (e.g., Peace Corps, Teach for America, active or former members of the military, etc.); who are recipients of a meritorious fellowship (e.g., Fulbright, Truman, etc.); or who received a grant based on an educational or socioeconomic hardship (e.g., CYDL participant, Pell, Gates Scholar, etc.). Detailed information and the waiver request form are found here. The fee waiver application opens September 1 and the deadline to submit a fee waiver application is January 15.

The application form and instructions for first-year applicants become available online each year on September 1. You can access and submit the application form via the LSAC website. Although the application deadline is February 15, we strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. 

Click here to find information and plan your visit to Berkeley Law. We do not conduct interviews for admission purposes.

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COVID-19 Updates

We understand that most schools — the law school included — went to either mandatory or optional Pass/No Pass during Spring 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Admissions Committee will not view courses taken for Pass/No Pass during Spring 2020 negatively, nor do you need to include an addendum explaining the situation. The only caveat is if you did not pass one or more of our courses. In this case, we would recommend submitting an addendum to explain the “NP” grade.

This is up to each student to decide. Having letter grades gives us a better understanding of your academic performance, and it gives us more to evaluate in your application. However, it is impossible for us to know your situation and reasons for taking P/NP courses, so we will trust that you are making the best decision for your own situation. 

If you have a large gap in your resume (3+ months), you will be prompted to provide an explanation in the application, and you are welcome to elaborate further in an addendum if you wish to do so. The Admissions Committee will not view a gap due to COVID-19 negatively, but it is helpful to have more context for a gap related to the pandemic.

The American Bar Association requires that law schools use a fair and reliable standardized test for admission. Unfortunately, we are not able to waive this requirement.

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LSAT

LSAT information and registration are available at the LSAC website. You should register for the test well in advance of the actual test date.

We will accept any score reported by the LSAC, generally for five years.   

LSAT fee waivers are available on a financial-need basis directly from LSAC. You should act early by applying online.

There is no limit on the number of times you can take the LSAT.

All scores an applicant received within the previous five years are reported to the law school. We use the highest score when making admission decisions.

No. All LSATs are constructed to be equal in difficulty regardless of when they are administered. LSAT scores are reported on a 120-180 point scale and can be compared across testing administrations and testing years. Test scores have the same meaning from one test administration to the next and from one year to the next as a result of a process called equating. When scores are equated, a given scaled score represents comparable ability regardless of when the student takes the test.

The LSAT assesses the kinds of verbal reasoning skills that have been shown to be critical for success in law school. The current makeup of the test, Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, and Analytical Reasoning question types, was reached through continual refinements to the test conducted over its long history with early input from law faculty. The first LSAT was administered in 1948.

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension questions assess the ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school. Law school and the practice of law revolve around extensive reading of densely written and argumentative texts. This reading must be careful, distinguishing precisely what is said from what is not said. It involves comparison, analysis, synthesis, and application. It involves drawing appropriate inferences, and applying ideas and arguments to new contexts. Law school reading also requires the ability to grasp unfamiliar subject matter and the ability to process challenging material.

Logical Reasoning

Logical Reasoning questions assess the ability to analyze, critically evaluate, and complete arguments as they occur in ordinary language. Arguments are a fundamental part of the law and analyzing arguments is a key element of legal analysis. Training in the law builds on a foundation of basic reasoning skills. Law students must draw on these skills in analyzing, evaluating, constructing, and refuting arguments. They need to be able to identify what information is relevant to an issue or argument and what impact further evidence has on it. They need to be able to reconcile opposing positions and use arguments to persuade others.

Analytical Reasoning

Analytical Reasoning questions assess the ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and—using those facts and rules—determine what could or must be true. These questions require the test taker to organize given information and draw logically certain inferences (or deductive inferences) from that information. These skills are key components of the ability to think critically. The reasoning skills assessed in Analytical Reasoning parallel those involved in the kind of legal reasoning that is used in law school and the practice of law in understanding and organizing a set of conditions, rules, or regulations and initial conditions, and then proceeding to determine what could or must be the case given that information.

Taking an expensive test-preparation course is not required to do well on the LSAT. We advise all test takers to practice and to become familiar with the test prior to taking the LSAT. To help test takers prepare, LSAC publishes thousands of test questions (with answer keys) that have appeared on previously administered LSATs. LSAC publishes thorough explanations of how to solve all the questions on several of these tests. These explanations are developed by the same LSAC test developers who write the test questions. Some of these materials are available for free on LSAC.org, others are available for purchase at low cost.

There is no single right answer to this question. Much depends on how much time the individual student has to prepare each week.  We generally advise people to prepare until they feel they have satisfied the following guidelines:

  • none of the question types that you see in your practice seem new to you
  • you feel you can manage your time well
  • working through a test section becomes “second nature”

The LSAT score is an important admission factor. When combined with the undergraduate GPA, it provides the best indication of academic achievement and potential. You should retake the test only if you believe that your first score was atypical and that you can improve your score sufficiently to make a net gain. The majority of applicants take the test only once. If you take the test more than once we will use the highest score. We recognize that there is no statistical significance to a score gain or loss of a few points within the standard error of measurement of the test. No admissions decisions are made based solely on an LSAT score. We take many factors into consideration.

We recommend that you plan to take the test as early as convenient and no later than the one offered in January to optimize your admission review for the following year. Because we operate on a rolling admissions basis, and applications are reviewed as they are submitted, we encourage you to take the LSAT no later than November, however we will accept the January score. LSAT scores are valid for five years and are reported automatically by LSAC. Scores older than five years are not reported.

Early decision applicants must take the LSAT no later than October of the year prior to their desired enrollment.

The LSAT is the single best predictor of first-year law school grades. The best overall prediction comes from combining LSAT score with undergraduate GPA. Admission officers use a combination of the LSAT and undergraduate GPA when making admission decisions. There is broad agreement in the legal education community that the skills assessed by the LSAT are directly relevant to law school and the practice of law.

When you apply, you will be prompted to enter any dates that you have taken or plan to take the LSAT. If you include a test date in the future, we will hold your application until those test scores are received. We will not review your application before then. If you don’t include a future LSAT on your application, we will complete it once it’s received. If later on you decide to take a future LSAT, you’re welcome to email us and request that we hold your application until the scores come out.

We are accepting the GRE and GMAT in limited cases. Please see our standardized testing page for more information and to see if you would qualify to submit a GRE or GMAT score. 
 

Yes! We will accept the LSAT-Flex, and we will not treat it any differently than an in-person administration of the LSAT.

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Academic Record

It is possible that your CAS GPA and your university GPA may differ. For example, if you took a class P/NP, but did not pass, then CAS will convert the NP to an “F” and recalculate your GPA accordingly.  Questions should be directed to the LSAC.

The CAS service will interpret and summarize records or transcripts from foreign institutions and will send the summary to us when you apply.

Applicants are required to submit their transcripts to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) which administers the CAS, preferably as early as possible and no later than the end of December.

No. LSAC, not Berkeley Law, must receive a copy of your transcript(s) directly from each college or university that you have attended even if the institution does not use a letter-grade system.

According to weights provided by the law school, CAS will combine your LSAT score and your undergraduate grade point average into a single value called the index number and will print the index number on your CAS report. The report will include your undergraduate academic summary, LSAT score(s), copies of your transcripts, writing sample(s), and letters of recommendation. Your academic record plays a substantial role in our review process.

If you are currently completing your undergraduate degree, you should not wait for fall or winter term grades to be posted on your transcript before sending them to the LSAC. You can update your application by sending these grades to LSAC and emailing a copy to our office at admissions@law.berkeley.edu after they are released.

The rigor of individual undergraduate schools and majors is taken into consideration during the review process, but it is rare that the school from which an applicant graduated is the sole basis of a decision. We are interested in considering the accomplishments of human beings and not the schools they attended. The GPA and LSAT alone are not dispositive.

 

We don’t require or look for a particular major. That said, the most represented majors in our entering class are political science, history, English, economics, international relations, philosophy, psychology, and biology. In general, we recommend that you major in something that you are genuinely interested in, not something that you think will increase your chances at admission.

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Letters of Recommendation

You may submit up to 4 recommendations letters. Most applicants submit 2-3. They should be from academic sources who know you and your classroom work well. Ideally, each letter will provide comparative comments that distinguish you from your peers. Examples of academic sources include professors, teaching assistants, graduate student instructors, and thesis advisers. Letters from work supervisors or colleagues are acceptable if you have been out of school for some time (usually, 5 years or more). Letters from family friends, famous people, or relatives are not helpful.  

There is a field on our application to indicate the names of your recommenders. Please notify us via email if you anticipate changes to that list after you have submitted your application.

Arrange to submit your letters through your CAS account. Your recommendations will be copied and sent to us electronically with your CAS report as part of your subscription. Follow the directions on the LSAC website to use this service.

We give no weight to whether or not you have waived your right to access your recommendations.

If you have letters that are a few years old, it would be a good idea to reach out to the original recommenders and give them an opportunity to update their letters with any new information; however, it is okay if the letters are from 1-2 years ago.

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Review Process and Decisions

You have an equivalent chance of being admitted regardless of your residency.

We operate a rolling admission and notification process. It is slow and methodical because each file is reviewed and no numeric cutoff points are employed. It is helpful to apply as early as possible because we begin making offers as soon as we begin reading files in September. However, we don’t admit anyone who doesn’t meet our standards simply because they applied early, nor do we give any less consideration to those who apply later.

The large number of applicants we receive each year precludes our conducting personal interviews.

Applicants often take time off prior to law school to obtain work experience, to pay down educational debt, or to take a break from academia. We do not penalize applicants for doing so. In fact, more than 85 percent of our students worked or pursued other activities prior to attending law school. We seek interesting, engaged, and passionate individuals who are ready to take on three rigorous years of school. If you need a break from academia, it is best to take it before applying to law school.

 

We strive to admit a diverse group of people to join the vibrant exchange of ideas and viewpoints in our classrooms. Our admission policy gives equal consideration to a variety of factors in addition to numerical indicators. These include graduate work, special academic distinctions, life experiences, difficulty of the academic program, work experience, history of overcoming educational or socioeconomic disadvantage, and significant achievement in nonacademic activities or public service.

 

Our review process is holistic and seeks to identify applicants who are bright, intellectually curious, centered, and who will make a contribution to the caliber of classroom dialogue. If hypothetical weights were assigned to the three factors considered – academic record, LSAT score, and personal statement and recommendations – each would be about one-third.

You will not be given preference in the J.D. admissions process if you already are a foreign-educated lawyer, nor should you assume that advanced standing credits will be awarded if you are admitted.

Each application is reviewed by the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid or by one of her associates. No applicant is automatically admitted or denied solely on the basis of test scores and grades. Some applicants are admitted immediately, while other competitive applications are sent to the Admissions Committee for additional individual evaluation. The Committee is composed of faculty members, law school staff, and current students who serve in an advisory capacity.

The notification period is usually December through April. Early decision applicants are notified by December 7.

All decisions are final. Applications are reviewed carefully on a comparative basis initially. Therefore, reconsideration after the conclusion of the process might create an unfair situation more favorable to the individual applicant. Such reconsideration would lack the perspective provided by the original comparison with other applications.

Applicants are welcome to reapply and should follow the regular application instructions and register again with the CAS. Updated transcripts should be sent directly to LSAC, not to the law school.

Deferment requests are considered on an individual basis. It is best to apply in the year that you intend to enter law school. With sufficient reason deferments are granted to a limited number of admitted applicants.

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Financial Aid

Current tuition and cost of attendance information is found here.  Non-residents may become residents after the first year and thus save the non-resident tuition during their second and third years. There are additional expenses for books, room, board, health insurance, and personal needs. All tuition and fees are subject to change without notice.

Applicants should be particularly alert to the financial aid deadlines and procedures. Complete information about applying is found on the Berkeley Law Financial Aid website.

Our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is a program designed to allow graduates to pursue public service-related jobs by reducing the student debt barrier. Under LRAP, if you are employed in an eligible public service job and make under $100,000 annually, you are eligible to receive funds from Berkeley Law to pay back some or all your student loans for up to 10 years. You can read more about LRAP eligibility and how the program works on the LRAP website.

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