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How to Get Into Yale Law School

January 11, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

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

Reviewed: 01/02/23

If Yale is your dream law school, read on to learn about Yale Law School requirements, how to write admissions essays, admissions statistics, and more.

Yale Law School is ranked as the nation’s best law school by U.S. News World and Report. This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to get into Yale Law school, including requirements, admissions stats, the application process, and much more.

Programs Offered 

Yale Law School offers six law school pathways for students. 

The Juris Doctor Program

Yale’s Juris Doctor Program is a three-year program offering various courses and numerous opportunities for research, writing, and student-organized seminars. Every student in the program completes two research papers and can publish their work. 

The J.D. program focuses on collaboration rather than competition: all classes in the first term are ungraded. Afterward, all "classes are graded on an honors/pass/low pass basis with the option to take classes credit/fail."

The Graduate Degree Programs

Yale Law School provides five other graduate options for prospective students. 

LL.M. Degree 

Yale’s LL.M. degree is typically meant for students interested in teaching law (the program isn’t designed to prepare you for the New York State Bar Exam). A small number of graduate students are admitted to this one-year program annually to obtain a Masters of Law. 

J.S.D Program

The Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) program is exclusive to Yale LL.M. graduates who want to take their scholarship further. Students create a dissertation to make a "substantial, original contribution to legal scholarship." 

M.S.L. Degree 

The Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) is a one-year terminal degree for non-lawyers interested in familiarizing themselves with the law and how it relates to their disciplines. 

Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. in Law program is meant for J.D. graduates who want to prepare for careers as teachers or legal scholars. Students spend three years and two summers in residence to obtain this degree. 

Joint Degrees 

Yale Law School offers students the opportunity to pursue a graduate or doctorate along with a J.D. Some joint degrees include: 

  • J.D.–M.A. (Master of Arts) 
  • J.D. and MEM (Master of Environmental Management) 
  • J.D.-MBA (Masters of Business Administration)

Requirements to Get Into Yale Law School

Yale Law School Requirements

Getting into Yale Law School means you need to complete your LSAC application. Yale Law School admissions requirements are: 

  • A bachelor’s degree (you must hold one or are expected to receive one before you apply) 
  • Academic transcripts submitted to LSAC from every college/university you attended 
  • Personal statement 
  • A 250-word essay 
  • An optional diversity statement or addenda 
  • At least two recommendation letters, ideally from at least two professors (Yale states that recommendations from “employers, college deans, coaches, chaplains, colleagues, and others may be helpful, but are not preferred”) 
  • An activities section about what you did during your undergraduate education 
  • LSAT or GRE scores 
  • A dean’s certification (after you’ve been accepted into the program) 
  • An application fee of $85 or a fee waiver, if applicable 

Completing these Yale Law admissions requirements is imperative to your application’s success: remember to start the process early to collect all necessary documents! 

What GPA Do You Need for Yale Law School? 

Because there are no cutoffs for GPA, there are no actual Yale Law School GPA requirements. However, Yale does offer information about the undergraduate GPA distribution of its accepted students.

Table of Yale GPA Statistics
Source: Yale Law School

Based only on these five values, the Yale Law School average GPA is 3.85: however, it's likely higher than this because the low-end value is an outlier. For your best chance of admission, strive for an undergraduate GPA close to 4.0 or higher. 

Yale Law LSAT

While Yale also doesn’t have any explicit test score cutoffs, the school released information on students who submitted LSAT scores for consideration:

Table of Yale Law LSAT Statistics
Source: Yale Law School

Yale Law GRE

Yale Law School began accepting GRE scores in 2019, and admissions officers stated there is no preference for either test. That said, Yale did not publish data about students who submitted GRE scores. 

However, the ETS has an online tool that you can use to predict LSAT scores based on your GRE scores. For example, obtaining a score of 168 in each GRE section is equivalent to Yale’s median LSAT score of 174.

How to Write the Yale Law School Essays (Prompts, Tips & Examples)

Yale Law School essays are crucial to your application's success. They serve as an opportunity to show why you're an excellent candidate and delve deeper into your character and motivation to attend law school. 

Yale 250-Word Essay

Yale’s 250-word essay prompt is: “Write about an idea or issue from your academic, extracurricular, or professional work that is of particular interest to you." These tips ensure your essay is relevant, succinct, and answers the prompt.  

Understand the Prompt’s Requirements

You can break down this prompt into two main pieces: write about your idea or issue, then connect the idea or issue to your experiences. There should be a clear transition between these elements. 

Understand the Purpose of the Essay

The admissions committee wants to learn more about you and topics that matter to you. They also want to see your thought processes: how you think and write about your topic gives more insight into your intellectual ability, writing capabilities, and critical thinking skills.

Choose Your Idea and Experience Wisely 

According to Miriam F. Ingber, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, “It’s up to you whether you say explicitly what the connection is, but it shouldn’t be an issue you just read about in the newspaper, or an idea you stumbled across as part of a hobby.” 

Some common experiences applicants write about include: 

  • A thesis or major paper/project 
  • Issues you encountered at an internship or work 
  • Ethical challenges you encountered at work, school, or extracurricular 

Keep It Concise 

The prompt is intentionally broad: it can be difficult to cap your response at 250 words, but Yale Law school will notice if you exceed the limit. Keep your writing tight! 

Show Your Fit 

Yale Law School wants to know how you’d engage with academic life on campus. You’re not obligated to talk about a legal idea or issue in your response, but ensure you approach your writing with sophistication and professionalism to show why you’re an excellent fit. 

Yale Law School Personal Statement 

The law school personal statement should help Yale admissions officers “learn about the personal, professional, and/or academic qualities an applicant would bring to the Law School community.” 

Often, a personal statement you’ve crafted to send to multiple law schools (without school-specific information) will work for Yale. These tips can help your Yale Law personal statement stand out. 

Answer Three Main Questions 

Jon Perdue, Yale’s Director of Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives, says that students should answer: 

  • Why me? 
  • Why law school? 
  • Why now? 

Share Your Story 

Your law school personal statement presents a major opportunity to tell your story and show the Yale admissions committee who you are as a person and who you'll be as a law student and future lawyer. Consider which anecdotes help uncover your personality and potential. 

Stick to the Standard Format 

Your personal statement should be approximately two pages double-spaced, using a standard font, font size, and margins. 

Choose Your Approach

Perdue says the three most common approaches to formulating your personal statement are: 

  • Focusing on the past (your identity and background) 
  • Focusing on the present (current work, projects, activities, interests, passions) 
  • Focusing on the future (the type of law you want to practice and your career goals) 

“However, the most successful personal statements have a sense of movement. They touch upon more than one of these,” said Perdue. To achieve this movement, try not to focus on one anecdote in great detail: it may not make the most compelling story.

Maintain a Professional Tone 

Although there are really no off-limits topics in law school personal statements, you must keep your tone professional even if you decide to write about sensitive material. Whatever you choose to write about, do not victimize yourself or provide details of tragedy or other topics that might make your reader uncomfortable. 

Optional Essay 

Optional Yale Law School essays include a diversity statement and addenda.

If you choose to write a diversity statement, it should teach the admissions committee more about you and show how you’ll contribute to Yale. 

A diversity statement may not be necessary if you've touched upon your background and identity at length elsewhere in your application. These tips can help you write a compelling diversity statement. 

Decide Whether You Should Write One 

If you've written at length about your personal identity/background and you feel your application represents you well, you may not need to write a diversity statement. You may consider writing this essay if you feel you can offer more insight into your core identities. 

Ensure Your Story Complements Your Application Narrative 

Your diversity statement should explain how your identity impacted your experiences, your passion for law school, and show how your acceptance would contribute to the school and incoming class. 

Reflect on Your Experiences

Reflecting on your experiences and their impact can help you propel your narrative. Think about transformative moments you've lived through, how they changed the trajectory of your path, and what you learned from the experience, and apply it to your decision to become a lawyer.

Yale Law School Essay Examples 

These are two past 250-word essay examples provided by Yale Law School. 

Essay Example #1 

“For the last 18 years, millions of U.S. armed forces servicemembers deployed to various combat zones across the Middle East and Africa to defeat conventional and unconventional enemies. I have personally known scores of these servicemembers (including many currently in harm’s way) and several friends and mentors who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the people of the United States. In my view, one of the most egregious circumstances surrounding these combat deployments is the failure of policymakers to update and reaffirm the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2001. This would officially put the weight of Congress and the American public behind the decision to send servicemembers to fight—and die—for their country in new conflicts."

"Since 2001, the AUMF has been invoked several times to justify actions not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but in Syria, Somalia, Libya, and other nations. While the nuances of an AUMF vis-à-vis a formal declaration of war may make one preferable to policymakers over another, I believe there is a significant gray area in the way the 2001 AUMF has been used, and that the constitutionality of its expanded use should be called into question. I hope to explore this issue as well as others related to congressional and presidential war powers in my future work at Yale Law. My personal connection to these national security issues and others will help bring a human perspective to policy discussions in the Yale Law classroom.”

What Makes This a Good Essay

The author has a personal connection to their main issue, clearly stated as policymakers' failures in updating and reaffirming AUMF. The author connects and expands on this issue by suggesting that it should be called into question: something they hope to explore in the Yale classroom. 

Overall, this essay fulfills the two prompt requirements, shows passion and knowledge in this subject area, and shows the applicant will contribute to meaningful discussion at Yale; the author's personal connection fortifies the message. 

Essay Example #2 

Growing up, I was taught that Islam’s beauty is couched in its purity: the religion is perfect because it has never been tainted or influenced. When my Islamic Art professor, Professor, introduced us to the Gbain masking tradition, I was initially unsettled. The West African practice used in ritual dances evolved from the literal and cultural intermarriage between Muslim merchants, Berber armies, and local tribes within the 8th and 14th centuries. To my professor, the syncretism of indigenous tradition and Islam was the most fascinating aspect of Islam in West Africa. She showed us Islam-inspired half-moon inscriptions on a half-cow half-human Gbain mask and extolled the malleability of the religion in adapting to local customs. To me, however, “malleability” felt more like blasphemy. A core tenet of Islam is aniconism; masquerade and figurative dances both violated that principle."

"For my term paper, I studied West African masquerade further—and encountered a new perspective. Muslim colonizers allowed tribes to continue their dances as a tool of assuagement when incorporating them into their political structures. As someone who seeks to decolonize my analysis of art and history in good faith, I had fallen victim to my internal predispositions and obviated the indigenous position. Islam was not the forcefully corrupted creed; it was the very vessel of colonial takeover. It was difficult to acknowledge that my convictions had clouded a fair judgment of the indigenous art. Sometimes decolonizing requires deconstructing our own beliefs—for that is what masquerade was to the Gbain.

What Makes This a Good Essay 

The author introduces their idea with excellent background information and imagery. They connect this idea through their major term paper, in which they challenge their views and perspectives. This shift in perspective shows the author's ability to change positions based on new information, even concrete, lifelong beliefs. 

This commitment to fairness in light of a challenging subject shows their candor and suitability for a law career. 

Yale Law School Personal Statement Examples

These personal statement example excerpts and feedback can help you guide your writing. 

Personal Statement Example #1

During the summer of 2012, I worked at Company in my hometown of City. For three months, I calibrated the temperatures of furnaces that heated the steel to make it malleable, I fixed broken motors that rolled the steel into coils, and I balanced chemical compounds that were used to prevent the metals from rusting. At 19 this was my job, and I thought it would be for the rest of my life. 

At the height of the Great Recession, my dad lost his job and we lost our home. During my senior year of high school, I began working graveyard shifts at Dollar Tree to help my family make ends meet. After working for a few months, I realized that if I went to college my family would struggle financially, so I withdrew all my pending college applications and decided to continue working after high school instead…

Although the work was interesting, I felt trapped. The mill is isolated in a dark and dangerous factory fenced off from the general public. Workers spend their entire lives working there never knowing a career outside the mill...During my first week interning at Company, a two-ton coil fell off a crane and crushed a worker to death. All of this made me uneasy. The idea of spending the rest of my life working in this environment seemed unimaginable.

This feeling of uneasiness was exacerbated when I was offered a full-time job at the steel mill as long as I completed my last year of night classes. I grew up in a working-class community where a job like this was like winning the lottery. This job would allow me to help my family get back on their feet and provide us with a comfortable life. However, I was not interested in living a comfortable life. Two months into the second year of night classes and after much deliberation, I dropped the apprenticeship and made the decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

…I thought I would never have the chance to go to college or leave my hometown. Working at Company made me realize that I was settling and not living up to my full potential. When my dad found employment during the end of my internship at Company, I saw an opportunity to change my career path and I took it.

I was fortunate to be able to leave my apprenticeship to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Many college bound students I went to high school with also had to work after their parents were laid off during the recession. They were also trapped…I knew when I made the decision to go to college, I had to push boundaries not just for myself, but for all my peers who had to trade in their dreams for financial security. 

Although I faced backlash from my family for making the decision to go back to college, I was determined to get my bachelor’s degree to learn how to address the issues that plagued my community and others like it. As an undergraduate student, I studied, traveled, and worked with different organizations that provided me further insight into the issues that immigrant and working-class communities face. I took what I learned from my undergraduate experiences to the California State Senate to work on solving the most pressing issues facing Californians; from negotiating criminal justice reform and addressing the affordable housing crisis, to improving public transportation in the Bay Area and writing legislation that expands the social safety net.

It has now been over six years since I made the decision that changed the trajectory of my life. As grateful as I am for all the wonderful things that I have been able to do so since leaving the apprenticeship, my desire to continue pushing boundaries and advocating for low-income communities has only grown stronger. I am ready to exert this passion into my work in law school and in my career as a lawyer.”

What Made This Personal Statement Good

This personal statement answers the three main questions: why law, why now, and why them. The "why now" has the most weight in this essay: deciding to go to law school was all about timing in an otherwise tricky financial situation. 

It also has the element of movement Perdue described as the hallmark of an excellent personal statement: the author mainly reflects on the past but weaves in elements of their current work and hopes for the future. 

Personal Statement Example #2

In the stories I loved growing up, the world stood in black and white. There were always heroes and villains, Jedi and Sith, knights and dragons, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. I recognized, of course, that in real life things weren’t always so clear-cut, but I also felt confident that I could still tell the difference. Heroes helped and villains harmed, heroes loved and villains hated, and in the end heroes would inevitably win and villains would inevitably suffer because they, by their nature, deserved to…

During the summer following my freshman year of college, I found myself tucked in the sunny office of a clinic at School, poring over an entirely different sort of story, one unlike any I had read before. To start, nobody had taken the time to write the story out. It was scattered across hospital records and report cards and interviews and old newspaper clippings and family photos…

I read about the boy’s father, who held a job and went to church, but sometimes drank and screamed and swung at his family, and who seemed to care more about his vintage car than his son. I read about the boy’s mother, an immigrant woman who worked long hours every day, who loved her son with every ounce of her soul and pleaded with him to stay in school. And of course, I read about the boy himself, who loved his mother back, and who was quiet in class but struggled to keep up. The boy sometimes ran with the wrong crowd but mostly kept out of trouble – until his beloved mother died when he was just fifteen, and he fell in with a gang that made him feel like he belonged, as long as he could prove he deserved to. And although I knew why I was reading this boy’s story, it was not until I saw the surveillance video of the boy shooting and killing a police officer during a robbery gone awry that I could come to terms with where his story went. The boy, now a young man, sat on death row several states away, and his case was one of the handful adopted by the Clinic at School to try and prevent his execution.

I didn’t find any heroes in the boy’s story…I grew frustrated and then furious with how many systems failed him, how many cracks he slipped through, how many times his life could have diverged from the path to this tragedy but did not.

But as much as I searched, I couldn’t find any villains, either. I was desperate to trace the root of all these evils, to identify the person at whose feet I could lay all this pain, but I came up empty-handed…More importantly, it became clear to me that the boy himself could not be the villain in his story, not after I realized how profoundly vulnerable and neglected and just plain human he was, and still is. The boy’s act, his panicked and instantly regrettable pull of a trigger, was terrible, but only the hardest of hearts could read his story and believe the boy was terrible, too. 

I was left with a story without knights or dragons, without someone to blame or someone to admire…And yet, it was the most compelling story I had ever read, in no small part because its ending could still be shaped, still be turned toward redemption or hope or at the very least mercy, and away from the tragic, violent loss of another life. I had joined the Clinic out of a mostly abstract objection to capital punishment, but what I learned there resolved my motivations into sobering solidity. If I could help tell the boy’s story, and the stories of those like him, others might come to the same realization I had: those whom the news and the authorities branded monsters and villains were just people, in all their complexity and fallibility and endless capacity for growth.

Over the years since that summer, I’ve worked alongside capital defense attorneys and mitigation specialists to uncover the stories of our clients’ lives and to fashion those stories into shields against the violence of state power. In this pursuit, I find that triumphs are few and far between, and heroes even rarer. However, I also find the absence of that clarity increasingly and surprisingly welcome. Each and every narrative blurs and subverts the dichotomies I once relished, pushing me to consider each person on their own terms, to take in the totality of their pasts rather than solely their worst moments, and to exercise active and intentional empathy toward even those deemed irredeemable. It’s a practice I don’t always find natural or easy, but it’s one I hope to continue throughout my life and legal career. Rather than seeking to stand solely with heroes, to me it now matters far more to stand with those whom society may have written off, but whose endings are not yet written.

What Made This Personal Statement Good

Despite focusing on one central anecdote, this personal statement still has that element of movement Perdue discussed. The story focuses mainly on the past but does illuminate snippets of the present and the applicant's hopes for the future. 

This personal statement has an excellent narrative thread: although we're introduced to the author's love of heroes, villains, and stories, they make a point of referencing this main idea throughout their essay. This personal statement is successful with compelling imagery and a very human and compassionate perspective on justice. 

Yale Law School Admissions Statistics 

Yale Law School admissions stats

Since Yale Law School is the nation’s top-ranked law school, we’ll break down your chances of getting accepted and provide class profile information. Yale Law School’s recent class consisted of: 

  • 51% women
  • 54% students of color
  • 28% first-generation professionals
  • 17% first-generation college students
  • 25 is the average age of admitted students 
  • 73 undergraduate institutions represented
  • 36 states represented
  • 7 countries represented
  • 8% of students enrolled directly from college
  • 37% enrolled 1-2 years out of college
  • 33% enrolled 3-4 years out of college
  • 21% enrolled more than 5 years out of college

Yale Law School Acceptance Rate 

Class profile data states that out of 5,296 applicants, 214 applicants were offered admission. Based on these numbers, the Yale Law acceptance rate is 4.0%. 

How Hard Is It To Get Into Yale Law School? 

A 4.0% acceptance rate is exceptionally low. U.S. World News and Report analyzed data from 193 ranked law schools and discovered the national average law school acceptance rate was 44%. 

Yale Law School was the only law school with a single-digit acceptance rate out of all these schools. While it’s hard to get into Yale Law School, it’s not impossible: an excellent application can boost your chances.

Yale Law School Application Process and Dates 

There are two main steps to apply to Yale Law School: you’ll need to subscribe to the Law School Credit Assembly Service (CAS) and create and submit applications through LSAC. 

Based on important dates from the last admissions cycle, the Yale Law School application opens on September 1, and you can submit your application as early as the beginning of October. The application deadline is generally sometime in mid-February.

How to Get Into Yale Law School: FAQs

These FAQs can help you get additional information you may need on how to get into Yale Law School. 

1. Can You Get a Full Ride to Yale Law School?

Yes, depending on your financial situation. The Soledad ’92 and Robert Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program was created to allocate full-tuition scholarships to 45-50 J.D. students who demonstrate the highest need annually. These scholarships are automatically awarded to students who meet eligibility requirements. 

2. What Do You Need to Get into Yale Law School?

To get into Yale Law School, you must have a high GPA, stellar LSAT or GRE scores, expertly-crafted essays, and a differentiated profile demonstrating your fit and passion for law. 

3. What GPA Do You Need for Yale Law School? 

Although there are no GPA cutoffs for applying to Yale Law School, it’s in your best interest to achieve an undergraduate GPA as close to or higher than 4.0 for your best shot at acceptance. 

4. Does Yale Law Prefer Yale Students? 

While an older news article states that Yale College students were some of the best applicants, there is nothing to suggest that Yale Law School gives preference to Yale students. A varied profile and robust application will help you in the admissions process, no matter where you went for undergrad. 

5. Is Yale or Harvard a Better Law School? 

Based solely on rankings, Yale is the better law school. However, the best law school for you depends on program offerings, your goals, and preferences: both Yale and Harvard are excellent institutions. 

6. What LSAT Score Do You Need to Get Into Yale Law School? 

Like GPA, there is no explicit cutoff for LSAT scores at Yale Law School. However, given that the median score submitted by students is 174, you should strive for at least that score or better for a better chance of admission.

Getting Into Yale Law Is Possible If You Know How 

Yale Law School is highly selective, but knowing what you need to get in can make it easier and increase your chances of acceptance. With a high GPA, stellar LSAT or GRE scores, and the tips outlined above, you can make the most of your application and kickstart your law career!

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