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How to Get Into Columbia Law

February 14, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/02/23

Columbia Law is one of the nation’s top law schools. Read on to learn how to get into Columbia Law and kickstart your law career. 

Columbia Law School is ranked as the nation's fourth-best law school, making it an attractive addition to any future lawyer’s list. If getting into Columbia Law is your dream, this guide will outline its programs, requirements, essay tips, and more to boost your chances of acceptance.

Programs Offered 

Columbia Law offers a J.D. program and three other graduate law degree options, not including dual degrees. The J.D. program’s goal is to immerse students in current legal and social challenges and mobilizes students to use their education to create impactful changes. 

The graduate law degree programs are a J.S.D program and two LL.M. programs: a standard LL.M. program and the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law. 

J.D. students at Columbia can choose from eight dual degree programs and one joint degree program: 

  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (J.D./Ph.D. in selected programs)
  • Graduate School of Business (Three-Year J.D./MBA or Four-Year J.D./MBA)
  • Graduate School of Journalism (J.D./M.S.)
  • Mailman School of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H.)
  • School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (J.D./M.S. in Urban Planning)
  • School of International and Public Affairs (J.D./M.I.A., J.D./M.P.A., and special programs through the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Harriman Institute)
  • School of the Arts (J.D./M.F.A. in Theatre Management & Producing)
  • School of Social Work (J.D./M.S.W.)
  • Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. (J.D./M.P.A.: this is the one joint degree program)

Columbia Law School Requirements 

Columbia Law Academic Requirements

Columbia Law School requires applicants to submit applications through LSAC to apply to the J.D. program for Early or Regular Decision. These are the Columbia Law School requirements you must fulfill to complete your application:

Columbia Law GPA: Requirements

While there is no GPA requirement, examining class profile data can help you compare your academic performance to admitted students: 

  • 25th percentile GPA: 3.75
  • Median GPA: 3.84 
  • 75th percentile GPA: 3.92

Given this data, it’s difficult to determine the Columbia Law School average GPA. However, we can assume that the Columbia Law average GPA likely ranges from 3.8 to 4.0. 

Columbia Law School LSAT Score Requirement

There is no requirement for Columbia Law LSAT scores. However, this doesn’t mean that your Columbia Law School LSAT score isn’t crucial to your application’s success. Admitted students typically submit impressive LSAT scores: 

  • 25th percentile score: 172 
  • Median LSAT score: 174 
  • 75th percentile score: 176 

Based on this information, it's challenging to determine what the Columbia Law average LSAT score is. However, an LSAT score at or above 174 should put you in good standing. 

Columbia Law School GRE 

Columbia Law also accepts GRE scores, though class profile data doesn’t reflect GRE score data from admitted students. Based on Columbia Law students’ impressive LSAT scores, we can safely assume that achieving high GRE scores is imperative. 

Using the ETS online tool to predict LSAT scores based on GRE results, achieving 168 on each GRE section would equate to 174 on the LSAT.

The University of Columbia Law School Essays (Prompts, Tips & Examples) 

Writing great essays is key to getting into Columbia Law. We'll outline Columbia Law's personal statement, and optional statement prompts with tips. 

Columbia Law School Personal Statement 

There isn’t a prompt for Columbia Law’s personal statement. The only advice that Columbia provides is that your personal statement should be two pages long, double-spaced, and "a clear and concise example of your best writing. It should also be free from spelling and grammatical errors." 

So, what do you do with such an open-ended requirement? These tips will help you organize your thoughts to write a creative, compelling personal statement. 

Columbia Law School Personal Statement Tips

Understand the Purpose of the Personal Statement 

Although you don't have much to go off of, understanding the Columbia personal statement can help direct your writing. In essence, you want to provide something more profound than your GPA and test scores: what can you write about to add another layer of depth and intrigue to your application? 

According to a handout provided by the Columbia School for Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), your law school personal statement should provide insight on: 

  • What kind of person you are 
  • How you think and organize your thinking 
  • What type of student you’ll be if admitted 

SEAS emphasizes that no matter what topic(s) you choose to share, the ultimate goal of your personal statement is to capture your essence. 

Ask Yourself Useful Questions to Brainstorm

The Columbia School of General Studies suggests prospective law students should ask themselves deep, personal questions to begin brainstorming. Some questions you can ask yourself include: 

  • How has your background shaped and influenced you? 
  • What would make you a good fit for Columbia Law? 
  • When did you first discover your passion for law, and what steps have you taken to explore your interest? What did these experiences teach you?
  • What are you most passionate about? Why are you passionate about it? 
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
  • What specific hardships have you faced? How did you overcome them, and how did the situation help you grow? 
  • What qualities do you possess (i.e., compassion, integrity, a strong sense of justice) that make you believe you'd be a great lawyer? 

Your answers to these questions may point you toward the perfect personal statement topic: remember, Columbia’s non-prompt is just about as open-ended as it gets, so you have a lot of freedom. 

Tell Your Story Using Strong Imagery and Examples 

"Show, don't tell" is something you've probably heard a lot regarding writing advice, but it's excellent advice to follow. Any anecdotes you use to tell your story should be vibrant and compelling. While you don't have to pull out a thesaurus to write your statement, this is your opportunity to show off your effective communication and writing skills. 

When you share an anecdote, ensure you're reflective and demonstrate how it's shaped you or your personality. It's one thing to say, "I have a strong sense of justice," and it's another to describe how you advocated for local residents being wrongfully evicted in your community. 

Do Your Research 

Knowing how to get into Columbia Law starts with research. Most law school applicants tailor their personal statements to each law school they apply to. 

While the primary purpose of your statement is for the admissions committee to learn more about you as a person, it doesn't hurt to subtly show that you've done your research and have concrete reasons for choosing Columbia Law. Ensure you research the curriculum, opportunities, and other Columbia-specific offerings. 

Which of Columbia’s offerings excite you and why? 

Keep Your Tone Professional and Be Careful With Sensitive Issues 

While you don't want to take yourself way too seriously, your tone should be conversational yet professional. In keeping a professional tone, you should also navigate sensitive topics with grace. 

For example, you don't want to write about anything too graphic or events that paint you negatively. Also, keep any controversial content out of your statement: there's no guarantee the admissions committee members have the same opinions as you. 

Other Tips to Ace the Columbia Personal Statement 

Other short tips to ensure you produce the best statement possible include: 

  • Don’t try to cover too much ground: you only have two pages! 
  • Don’t rehash your resume. 
  • Write clearly and concisely (writing in the active voice helps). 
  • Don’t add quotes or cliches. 
  • You can be creative but avoid thinking too far out of the box. 
  • Proofread your work: you'll be doing much of that before getting to the final draft. 

Columbia Law School Supplemental Essays 

The prompt for the optional Columbia Law School supplemental essays is: 

“Applicants, if they wish, may submit brief supplemental statements that will provide useful information to the Admissions Committee in evaluating the application. The Committee especially welcomes addenda that allow it to understand the contribution your personal background would add to the Columbia Law School community.”

If you plan to write an additional essay, consider these tips. 

Determine If You Should Write A Supplemental Essay 

If you have gaps in your application, like a lower GPA, test scores, or anything else you think requires an explanation, it's in your best interest to add addenda. On the other hand, if you want to discuss your identity and experiences (that aren't otherwise stated in your application), you should consider writing about them. 

Keep Your Essay to the Point 

These essays don't need to be very long, so you should keep your writing concise. If you're writing about academic performance, don't linger on your mistakes but on how you overcame them and grew. 

If you're writing a diversity statement, show how your background will directly contribute to the Columbia class. 

Reflect on Your Experiences

Reflecting on your experiences and their impact helps direct your story and keeps your writing clear. Think about your most transformative moments and what you’ve learned from them, how they impacted you, and how they propelled you along the path to law. 

Columbia Law School Personal Statement Example

Examining Columbia Law School personal statement examples can help show you what you should aim for in your writing and even how you can improve: check out this personal statement example excerpt and our feedback on why it was good.

Columbia Law Personal Statement Example

“It was 1992 when my father started suffering from severe alcoholism and depression for then-unclear reasons. Throughout much of my early teen years, I couldn’t understand why he had to be so depressed. It seemed to me that he had just about everything one could wish for: a well-paying white collar job (though he eventually quit), a comfortable house, a car and a good family. My lack of understanding soon turned into feelings of frustration and growing hatred. 

It wasn’t until 1999, after almost eight years of living with these feelings, that my father finally revealed to me what had made him so depressed. He said that at some point in his life, it had hit him that what he had been doing for the last twenty years had yielded nothing meaningful…

After that day of revelation, my hatred toward my father gave way to feelings of sympathy. I no longer saw my father as a burden on my family, but as someone who struggled against the weight of his own disappointments. But it wasn’t long before another feeling began to weigh heavily on my mind—fear. I feared that my life might be wasted too, that I would feel empty like my father if I failed to do something meaningful. That fear and sense of urgency drove me to search for a meaning in my own life.

 My family immigrated to the United States from Korea in 2000 with hopes that my father would bounce back with a brand new start. In America, I saw that a lot of students participated in activities such as political campaigns and volunteering to change society. It was something that I had not seen in Korea, where everyone is expected to “fit in” and conform to social norms. I admired this passion of American students, and longed to be a part of it. After all, to me, they seemed to be doing something meaningful. 

Nonetheless, I spent the first two years of college studying business, merely to meet people’s strong expectations for me to be financially successful…

It was only my junior year in college, when I came across two philosophy classes titled Contemporary Moral Problems and Global Justice, that I finally found direction in my search for meaning in my life…When I found myself fervently arguing for one method of global distribution over the other, and voluntarily visiting a professor’s office pursuing further questions, I wondered: “Where has this passion been hiding? What have I been doing all these years?” 

Studying philosophy has guided me to find my own answer to the question, “What is a meaningful life?” I have realized that I am thirsty for intellectually stimulating experiences, and that I truly enjoy exploring possibilities for making positive changes in people’s lives. I have also realized, more importantly, that there is lots of work to be done in the world—work that sometimes involves facing the dark side of reality, but that somebody has to step up and do. 

When I read articles in Korean newspapers about horrific living conditions of North Korean refugees, or Korean “comfort women” going through legal battles against the Japanese government, I read them from a different perspective now. Instead of simply expressing pity, I look at the situations critically and think about what it would take to solve those issues. The fact that I have a genuine understanding of the language and social conditions of Korea and other parts of Asia convinces me that I can contribute to solving these problems more than others. 

Philosophy is fun, but I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life discussing abstract ideas. I want to be able to produce tangible influences through my work, witness how these influences cause progress in people’s lives, and find meaning in my life through experiences. Ideas alone cannot achieve this. But with the law, it is possible. I see the law as a powerful framework through which philosophical ideas can be manifested and applied in the real world to address different problems. At Columbia, I hope to confront the problems of human rights violations and global redistributive justice that I learned from Contemporary Moral Problems and Global Justice classes, utilizing the practical power of the law. I am confident that Columbia’s unique Human Rights Internship Program and Human Rights Clinic will help me fulfill my desire to do more practical work on contemporary issues and build connections with international NGOs that will push my career forward in public international law…”

Why This Personal Statement Worked 

The beginning of this statement is candid about how the author felt, even if it wasn't pleasant. It helped drive the narrative to the author's exposure to American culture, college Philosophy courses, and discovering their passions and capacity to change perspectives. 

The author does an excellent job of showing how their background could help them contribute to problems more than others that don’t share their experiences and culture (this author wouldn’t have to write a diversity statement because of this). 

The transition into how their ideals and passions translate to a law career and how Columbia’s specific offerings can help explore those passions is well-written. 

The only thing to be careful with when writing a personal statement that references another person is to ensure the focus stays on you. We think this writer managed to do that for the most part, but be careful not to remove yourself from the spotlight, particularly in introductions and conclusions.

Columbia Law School Stats (Admissions Statistics)

A snapshot of the Columbia Law School class profile can tell you more about the school’s commitment to a diverse student body and your chances of acceptance. The recent entering class profile shows the following breakdown for ethnicity, gender, age, and of students:

Columbia Law Admission Statistics

Most admitted students (31%) are from the mid-Atlantic region, followed by the South (20%) and West (19%). 

Columbia Law School Acceptance Rate

Although the Columbia Law acceptance rate reflects the school’s selectivity, it’s crucial to not get too hung up on statistics. In a recent admissions cycle, Columbia Law received 9,645 and admitted 1,092 students. 

The Columbia University Law School acceptance rate is 11.3%. 

How Hard Is It to Get into Columbia Law School? 

Getting into Columbia Law School is relatively difficult: approximately 1 out of every 10 applicants is accepted. Columbia Law also made the U.S. News World and Report’s list of top 10 hardest law schools to get into

Due to the school’s reputation, resources, and ranking, getting accepted at Columbia is no easy task. However, you can always boost your chances of admission with a well-polished application.

Columbia Law School Deadlines & Application Process  

You’ll use the LSAC application to apply to Columbia Law, no matter when you decide to apply. Below are the important dates you should know to stay ahead of the Columbia Law School deadline. 

Columbia Law Regular Decision Dates 

Although exact dates haven’t been released yet for the current application cycle, most application dates tend not to change much every year. Here is a breakdown of Regular Decision dates you should know:

Columbia Law Regular Decision Timeline

Columbia Law Early Decision Dates 

These are the Columbia Law Early Decision dates you should know:

Columbia Law Early Decision Timeline

How to Get Into Columbia Law School FAQs

If you still have questions about how to get into Columbia Law, check out these FAQs! 

1. What GPA Do You Need for Columbia Law School?

While no GPA will guarantee your admission, you should strive for a GPA above the median 3.84 to be viewed as a more competitive applicant. 

2. What Are My Chances of Getting into Columbia Law School?

Based solely on the Columbia Law acceptance rate, you have approximately a 1 in 10 chance of admission. However, you can boost your chances by putting enough time and effort into your application! 

3. What Are the Requirements to Get into Columbia Law School?

The basic requirements to get into Columbia Law are a completed LSAC application, transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, and a personal statement. 

4. Can I get into Columbia Law School with a 3.0 GPA?

Considering the 25th percentile GPA of admitted students is 3.75, it’s not likely that a 3.0 will be enough for Columbia Law unless you have a stellar application and explanation for your lower GPA. 

5. What LSAT Score Do You Need for Columbia Law? 

You should aim for an LSAT score of 174 or higher to be a more competitive Columbia Law applicant. 

6. What Is the Columbia Law Early Decision Acceptance Rate? 

Columbia doesn't release data on its Early Decision acceptance rate. However, there are advantages to applying through Early Decision: U.S. News states law schools may be more lenient with students with lower GPA or test scores who apply through Early Decision (meaning you may have a higher chance of admission).

Get Into Law School at Columbia Today

Columbia Law School is an excellent option for future lawyers. If Columbia is on your list, achieving a high GPA and test scores, spending extra time on your personal statement, and obtaining stellar recommendations can help you claim your seat. 

Getting into Columbia Law may be relatively difficult, but a well-constructed application can boost your chances of acceptance. Good luck!

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