Top Law Colleges in USA: Courses, Eligibility, Fees, Scholarships and Jobs

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    Anam Shams

    Content Curator | Updated on - Sep 1, 2021

    Law studies in USA is a professional graduate entry degree. This means that the law programs offered are usually equivalent to a graduate degree in other parts of the world. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are a total of 202 ABA-approved law colleges in USA. 

    • According to QS Law Rankings 2020, there are a total of 50 top American universities that are among the top 100 law colleges in the world. 
    • According to ABA, for Fall 2019, there has been an increase of 2.0% in student enrollment at law colleges in USA.
    • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), the employment estimate for legal occupations in USA is 1,150,780 with an annual mean wage of 109,630 USD. 
    • The entry level annual salaries of law graduates in legal firms in USA range between 58,000- 70,000 USD.
    • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth in the American job market for lawyers is expected to grow by 8% through 2026.
    Law Enrollment in USA (Fall 2016- Fall 2019)

    Top Law Colleges in USA

    With a number of universities ranking among best law colleges of the world, the table below shows the top law colleges according to QS Rankings 2020 for world-class higher education in America:

    QS Law Rankings 2020 University Name Law School Programs Offered
    1 Harvard University Harvard Law School JD
    Joint Programs
    4 Yale University Yale Law School JD
    Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
    Ph.D. in Law
    Joint Degrees
    5 Stanford University Stanford Law School JD
    Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS)
    Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
    8 University of California, Berkeley UC Berkeley School of Law JD
    Ph.D. (Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program)
    Executive Education Program
    9 Columbia University Columbia Law School JD
    Executive LLM in Global Business Law
    10 New York University (NYU) NYU School of Law JD
    Executive LLM in Taxation
    MSL in Taxation
    Advanced Professional Certificate in Taxation
    Advanced Professional Certificate in Law & Business

    Top Law Colleges in USA: Degree Types

    Law colleges in USA generally offer three types of degree programs. However, there are other law degrees as well offered at various top colleges. US law college applications can be made for:

    • Juris Doctor J.D.- Usually a three year full-time program offered at universities. This degree allows a candidate to practice law within USA.
    • Master of Laws (LLM)- LLM in USA is usually a one year program offered to people who already have a JD or equivalent degree. Offered with various specializations, LLM helps to specialize in a specific area of legal study.
    • Master’s Degree- Include degrees such as Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Master of Studies in Law etc. These degree programs are for people who want to study law but aren't looking to become lawyers.
    • Doctor of Juridical Science J.S.D./ S.J.D.- Also referred to as Doctor of the Science of Law is an advanced and highest law degree offered in USA. A JSD/ SJD degree can be completed in three years of full-time study. This program is open only to students of respective law schools and hardly accept applications from international students. 
    • Ph.D. in Law- A three year duration program that does not always require a JD degree. Available for international students as well who want to complete a degree with required coursework and academic research.
    • Legal Certificate- Can be completed in as little as three months with online options available. 

    Apart from these above mentioned programs, various law colleges in USA such as NYU School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Colorado Boulder, etc. also offer executive programs in law for professionals. 

    Legal studies at top law colleges in USA follow the Socrates Method for teaching. Under this teaching method, the professor cold calls on a student to state a case and respond to case-based questions. This helps in the improvement of argumentative dialogue among students usually helpful during legal practice.

    Law Colleges in USA: Areas of Study

    The academics for law programs are more than just coursework and include interdisciplinary intellectual dialogue, clinical experiences, first-hand lawyering, etc. There are various areas of study offering students with a wide choice of academic specializations. 

    The table below shows the various areas of specialization at top law colleges in USA: 

    Law School Areas of Study
    Harvard Law School Law & Business; Law, Science & Technology; Criminal Justice; International & Comparative Law; Law & Government; Law & History; Law & Social Change
    Yale Law School Administrative; Constitutional; Corporate & Commercial; Criminal Justice; Environmental; Human Rights; International; IT & Media; Law & Health; Public Interest
    Stanford Law School Environmental Law & Policy; International Economic Law, Business & Policy; Law, Science & Technology; Corporate Governance & Practice
    UC Berkeley School of Law Social Justice/ Public Interest; Business & Start-ups; Tech/IP/Privacy; Environment + Energy; Criminal Justice; Constitutional/ Regulatory; International + Comparative
    Columbia Law School Gender & Sexuality, Human Rights; Environment; Criminal Law; International & Comparative Law, etc.
    NYU School of Law Taxation; International Law; Human Rights; Immigration Law; Criminal Law & Administration; Environmental & Energy, etc.

    Law Colleges in USA Offering Juris Doctor (J.D.)

    A Juris Doctor (J.D.) in USA is a three year program offering students with the intellectual foundation for legal studies. A J.D. degree enables a graduate to practice law in USA. 

    Around 202 American colleges offer Juris Doctor program. The table below shows the top US universities offering the degree:

    University Name Annual Fee (in USD)
    Harvard University 65875
    Yale University 66128
    Stanford University 62175
    University of California, Berkeley 57516
    Columbia University 69896
    New York University (NYU) 33018

    Law Colleges in USA: Eligibility Criteria for Juris Doctor

    Admissions for the Juris Doctor (JD) degree is open for the fall semester. To be eligible for Juris Doctor degree, an applicant must meet the following admission requirements:

    • bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a recognized university
    • Standardized test scores such as Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
    • Scores of English language proficiency such as TOEFL IELTS, etc. 

    Law Colleges in USA: Documents Required for Juris Doctor

    • Completed application form submitted through Law School Admission Council (LSAC)
    • Non-refundable application fee
    • Academic transcripts from all educational institutions attended
    • LAST or GRE scores
    • English language proficiency scores
    • Resume
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Statement of Purpose for Studying in USA
    • Essay
    • LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Report sent to law school

    The LSAC application is available from September 1. Although international students are advised to submit their applications early to allow enough time to apply for a student visa to USA. The LSAC applications are available till February 15.

    Law Colleges in USA: Fees & Funding for Juris Doctor (J.D.) 

    The tuition fees for Juris Doctor degree range from 30,000- 70,000 USD per year depending on the university. Regardless of the citizenship of the student, law colleges in USA offer various financial aid options to help students finance their studies. There are various international scholarships to study in USA that are awarded by the universities, private agencies or organizations, etc. 

    Law Colleges in USA offering Masters in Law

    There are various masters in law programs offered. These include LLM (Master of Law), Master of Legal Studies, Master of Studies in Law, etc. The top law colleges in USA offering masters in law are tabulated below:

    University Name Programs Offered Duration Annual Fee (in USD)
    Harvard University LLM 1 year 68150
    Yale University LLM 1 year 65792
    Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
    Stanford University LLM 9 months 62175
    Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS)
    Master of Legal Studies (MLS) 1 year 62175
    University of California, Berkeley LLM 9 months 63362
    Columbia University LLM 2 years 69896
    Executive LLM in Global Business Law 5 years 59558
    New York University (NYU) LLM Up to 5 years 55040
    Executive LLM in Taxation Up to 5 years 59558
    MSL in Taxation 5 years 66036

    Law Colleges in USA: Eligibility for Masters in Law

    To be eligible for LLM in USA, an applicant must meet the following admission requirements:

    • Have a recognized professional first law degree from a recognized college. These include degrees such as:
      • Juris Doctor (J.D.)
      • Bachelor of Law 
      • LLB
      • Integrated five year Bachelor of Law, or equivalent
    • Proof of English proficiency through one of the test scores of:
      • TOEFL (iBT): 100
      • IELTS: 7

    Law Colleges in USA: Documents Required for Masters in Law

    • Completed admission application through LSAC
    • Academic transcripts from all educational institutions attended
    • Proof of English proficiency
    • Resume
    • Statement of Purpose for LLM in US
    • Letter of recommendation
    • Financial aid application
    • Payment of non-refundable admission application fee

    NOTE- For other master programs, students need not submit a law degree. A bachelor's degree from a recognized university is acceptable. For executive master programs, an applicant might be required to provide proof of professional work experience. 

    Law Colleges in USA: Fees & Funding for Masters in Law

    The tuition fees for masters in law range from 55,000- 70,000 USD annually based on the program and university. There are a number of scholarships to study masters degree in USA that can be undertaken by a student. 

    Top Law Colleges in USA offering Ph.D. in Law

    Ph.D. in Law in USA is available for students who want to have a career as legal scholars and teachers. According to QS Law Rankings 2020, there are only two US law colleges among top 10 in the world that offer a Ph.D. in Law.

    University Name Programs Offered Program Duration
    Yale University Ph.D. in Law 3 years
    University of California, Berkeley Ph.D. (Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program) 5 years

    Yale University: Eligibility for Ph.D. in Law

    To be eligible for admissions, an applicant is required to have a J.D. degree from a US law school. Practicing experience is not required but can be useful in qualifying the admission process. 

    To apply for the program, applicant must submit the following documents for admission:

    • Personal Statement
    • Research Proposal
    • Writing Sample
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Test scores of LSAT exam
    • Academic transcripts from all educational institutions attended
    • CV
    • Payment of non-refundable application fee

    UC Berkeley: Eligibility for Ph.D. in Law

    UC Berkeley offers Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program, commonly referred to as Ph.D. in Law. To be eligible for the program, an applicant is required to have an academic degree acceptable at UC Berkeley (it need not be in law). 

    As part of the admission application, an applicant must submit-

    • Completed admission application
    • Academic transcripts from all educational institutions attended
    •  Scores of GRE aptitude test 
    • Letters of recommendation
    •  Statement of purpose
    • Personal statement
    • Sample of past written work
    • Scores of English language proficiency

    Law Colleges in USA: Fee & Funding for Ph.D.

    The tuition fee for Ph.D. in Law ranges from 28,000- 40,000 USD per year. However, students are advised to check with the university regarding the exact tuition expenses. The candidates of Ph.D. programs at law colleges in USA usually receive a fellowship from the university to financially support their doctoral studies.

    Law Colleges in USA: Scholarships Offered

    Studying abroad in USA can cost a fortune as America is much more costly compared to other overseas destinations. Therefore to help students, there are a number of financial options. 

    A few of the scholarships for international students in US are available at top law colleges are:

    Scholarship University Scholarship Details
    Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship Columbia Law School Awarded to graduate students; Awarding partial or fill funding
    Employment Law Scholarship Harvard University Amount of 1,000 USD awarded to students enrolled in J.D. program
    Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Stanford University Full funding to Stanford graduate students
    Asia Pacific Scholarship UC Berkeley 10,000 USD from Asian/Pacific countries (India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, etc.) enrolled in LLM program
    Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholarships New York University Merit-based covering full-tuition fee for master’s degree program
    Podell Global Graduate Legal Scholarship NewYork University Awarded to international LLM student covering full tuition, reasonable living expenses and airfare for one round-trip to and from New York

    Law Colleges in USA: Jobs and Salaries

    After a law program, a graduate working in the legal sector in USA can earn around 96,200 USD per year. Salaries in the legal sector range from 52,800 USD- 149,000 USD per year. According to reports by salaryexplorer, a legal studies graduate in USA can earn 10% more than graduates working in other sectors.

    The salary after graduating from top law colleges in USA differ based on the city and state of occupation. The chart below shows the average salary by American states after a law degree.

    Average Salary of Law Graduates in USA

    A law graduate can look for a number of jobs in USA. The table below shows a few of the jobs taken by law graduates in USA:

    Occupation Average Annual Salary (in USD)
    Lawyer 84,000- 126,000
    Associate Attorney 73,000- 94,000
    General Counsel 90,000- 254,000
    Tax Manager 71,000- 128,000
    Tax Attorney 59,000- 195,000
    Federal Judge 175,000- 203,000
    Corporate Lawyer 60,000- 241,000
    Associate Professor of Law 78,000- 128,000
    Criminal Defense Lawyer 48,000- 173,000
    Government Attorney 51,000- 151,000

    Legal professionals in USA are likely to observe a salary increment of 10% every 14 months. According to the recent reports, there is a slow yet continuous increase in the salary for legal professionals. The legal sector saw an increase of 1% salary in 2019 as compared to 2018. 

    This concludes that the law colleges in USA not only provide quality education but also train international students to earn attractive incomes during their careers.


    2.7 /10
    10.0 /10

    I was an engineering graduate and founded a startup company with a couple of my friends before pursuing an MBA. However, that company collapsed after 2 years due to chaos and mismanagement in the operation department. So I decided to do an MBA in business operation. I searched online for a good college and then only I came to know about this college and its popularity. I applied through the university's website and paid a $75 application fee. I was also interviewed by video conference. After one month they mailed me that I was selected.

    Fees :

    I have paid nearly $42,700 for this year. Next year's total charge is the same. Total fees include fees for books and supplies, housing, computer and travel. I have to admit that MBA fees in my college are lower than most of the other private MBA programs. Merit-based financial aid, fellowships funded by our university are often endowed to international students. Not only that Scholarships from private organizations are other options for us.

    10.0 /10

    I did Civil Engineering after high school. I passed out in 2010. Then I did a job in a construction company for 5 years. In 2015 I decided to change my professional track and enter into marketing after doing an MBA. I wanted to do MBA from the world's renowned institutes so I applied to my alma mater besides some other MBA colleges. I applied online via the college's website, also submitted an undergraduate transcript bearing my overall GPA of 3.5, essays, resume, recommendation letter, test scores, and a $75 application fee. My college ran one of the best MBA programs of that time so when I got an admission offer I didn't delay a moment.

    Fees :

    I paid around $59,000 per year and that includes tuition fees, books and material costs. For international students merit scholarships along with external scholarships and fellowships were available. Dean's scholarship paid for two year's tuition fees and Smith's scholarship awarded up to $60,000 for tuition fees over the course of 2 years.

    8.3 /10

    I always knew about the business courses of Wisconsin but I was primarily interested in the MS courses and that is when I found the course of analytics and that it can be completed in a year. So I made the application through the common application portal and the cost of the application is $75.

    Fees :

    The fee for the course is around $45,000 per year. The tuition fee is included in this. This is one of the premium colleges that does not charge over $50,000 per year. To be eligible for a merit-based scholarship one has to submit a form i.e. a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).

    Top Colleges

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