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For most of the past 10 years, applications to law schools approved by the American Bar Association have topped half a million, but the total dropped to 385,400 for fall 2013, according to data from the ABA. The number of applicants has also dropped, down nearly 40 percent between fall 2004 and fall 2013.
At some law schools, though, the applicant pool is still very crowded. Georgetown University, for example, received 7,257 full-time applications for fall 2013. Just as it did for fall 2012, the District of Columbia school had the highest number of full-time applications, according to data submitted to U.S. News by 189 ranked institutions.
Like Georgetown, the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary and Harvard Law School also made the list of 10 schools with the most applications.
But unlike Georgetown, the latter schools didn't receive enough applications to make the cut for the fall 2012 list. For fall 2013, Marshall-Wythe received 5,849 applications and Harvard received 5,485. All schools with the most applications fall within the top 25 in the law school rankings.
[Learn three common reasons law school applications are rejected.]
Among all the schools that submitted data, the average number of full-time applications per school was 1,891. University of South Dakota received the fewest full-time applications: 263.
Below is a list of the 10 law schools that received the most full-time applications for fall 2013. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School (name) (state)||Full-time
applications (fall 2013)
|U.S. News Law School rank|
|Georgetown University (DC)||7,257||13|
|University of Virginia||6,048||8|
|George Washington University (DC)||6,005||20|
|University of California—Berkeley||5,885||9|
|College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe) (VA)||5,849||24|
|Columbia University (NY)||5,797||4|
|New York University||5,730||6|
|University of California—Los Angeles||5,562||16|
|Harvard University (MA)||5,485||2|
|University of Pennsylvania||5,283||7|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Law School Compass to find application data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed 200 ABA accredited law schools for our 2013 survey of law programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Law Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The application debt data above are correct as of July 22, 2014.