Berkeley Law receives 5,000-6,000 applications in a typical year.
Between 260-280 students enter the law school each August. They are assigned to one of nine first-year modules (groups of about 30 students). During the first semester of the first year, two courses are taught in classes of 90-100 students; one course is a small section of approximately 30 students; Legal Writing and Research has approximately 12 students.
You have a roughly equal chance of being admitted regardless of your residency as we offer admission to an equal number of residents and nonresidents.
For the past several years the median GPA and LSAT score of admitted applicants have ranged from 3.70-3.80 and 166-170, 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.
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.
The LSAT score is a very 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 unless the scores are grouped closely together, in which case we will use the average. 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 additional factors into consideration.
We recommend that you plan to take the test as early as convenient and no later than the one offered in December to optimize your admission review for the following year. LSAT scores are valid for five years and are reported automatically by Law Services. Scores older than five years are not reported.
Applicants are required to submit their transcripts to the CAS, preferably as early as possible and no later than the end of December.
The deadline to apply for admission as a first-year student is February 1. The deadline to apply as a transfer student from another law school is June 15.
Although our application deadline is February 1 we begin to read completed files much earlier. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible (between September 1 and December 1).
We suggest that you provide 2-3 letters from individuals who can comment on your talents and achievements in an academic environment. Professors and/or teaching assistants are the best sources. Depending on the nature of the experience and how long it has been since you were a student, professional work recommendations also can be helpful. We give no weight to whether or not you have waived your right to access your recommendations.
The large number of applicants to Berkeley Law prohibits us from 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 60 percent of our students worked or did other things 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 that happens in our classrooms. Our admission policy gives 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.
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 solely the schools they attended. Likewise, GPA and LSAT alone are not dispositive.
Berkeley Law offers only a full-time, three-year program that leads to the J.D. degree. There are no summer courses, on-line programs, nor part-time programs.
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.
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 October. However, we don’t admit anyone who doesn’t meet our standards simply because he or she applied early, nor do we give any less consideration to those who apply later.
We do not offer an early-decision program or deadline.
Berkeley Law offers several four-year J.D./M.A. concurrent degree programs with other graduate schools and departments at Berkeley and also provides its students with some flexibility to create their own programs. We also offer combined degrees with other institutions such as the Kennedy School of Government and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Applicants must submit independent applications and be admitted to each respective department or school. You are encouraged to access information independently about other Berkeley graduate departments.
You will not be given preference in the J.D. admissions process if you are already a foreign-educated lawyer, nor should you assume that advanced standing credits will be awarded if you are admitted.
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 deadline to submit a fee waiver application is January 1.
Each application is reviewed by the Dean of Admissions or by one of his 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 files are sent to the Admissions Committee for additional individual evaluation. The Committee is composed of faculty members and students who serve in an advisory capacity.
The notification period is usually December through mid-April.
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.
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. Please follow the regular application instructions carefully and register again with the CAS. Updated transcripts should be sent directly to Law Services, not to the law school.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to be considered for financial aid. Complete student and parent information on the FAFSA (as well as an institutional application) are required if you wish to be considered for need-based grants. The FAFSA is available here (our school code is 001312). Although some merit awards are available, the majority of financial aid is need-based as determined by the information you supply on the FAFSA. Applicants should be particularly alert to the financial aid deadlines and procedures as described on the Berkeley Law Financial Aid website.
The application form and instructions for first-year applicants becomes available online each year on September 1. You can access and submit the application form via the LSAC website (www.lsac.org). Although the application deadline is February 1, we always encourage early submissions.
We will be happy to mail you a Berkeley Law Prospectus. They are available to order through our website or in the Admissions Office located in 396 Simon Hall.
Click here to find information and plan your visit to Berkeley Law. We do not conduct interviews for admission purposes.