Part-time law programs play a vital role in legal education: The American Bar Association's latest data reveal that in the fall of 2013 some 18,450, or about 14 percent, of all the 128,641 U.S. law school J.D. students were enrolled part time.
For many working adults, it's the only way to afford a law degree and still meet other commitments. Fewer than half of the country's law schools offer part-time programs, which generally take four years to complete.
The part-time law school rankings are based on four factors as described in the methodology below: reputation among deans and faculty at peer law schools; LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of students entering in fall 2013; and the breadth of each school's part-time program. The law schools were surveyed for their part-time program data in fall 2013 and early 2014.
This year, U.S. News presents the rankings of the 83 accredited law schools offering part-time programs. For a school's program to be considered in the part-time rankings, it must have reported at least 20 part-time students enrolled in fall 2013 and supplied separate data on fall 2013 applications and acceptances for its part-time law program.
[See the Best Part-time Law Programs rankings.]
Quality assessment (weighted by 0.50): In fall 2013, deans and three faculty members at each school were asked to rate programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding); 57 percent of the people surveyed responded and scores for each school were averaged to produce the average peer assessment score on a five-point scale, with 5.0 being the highest.
Selectivity (0.275): For part-time students entering in 2013, this measure combines median Law School Admission Test scores (81.8 percent of this indicator) and undergraduate GPAs (18.2 percent).
Part-time focus (0.225): An index was created from data reported by the schools about their 2013 part-time programs. Factors used in the creation of this index include the size of part-time, first-year sections; the size of part time, first-year small sections; and the number of positions filled by part-time students in seminars, simulation courses, faculty-supervised clinical courses, field placements, law journals, interschool skills competitions and independent study.
Schools received credit for reporting data and additional credit for surpassing a threshold value in the factors.
Schools' scores on each indicator were standardized, weighted, totaled and rescaled so that the top school received 100 and other schools received a percentage of the top score.
The part-time J.D. law program data listed for fall 2013 acceptance rate and fall 2013 enrollment is for informational purposes only and is not used in the computation of the part-time J.D. program ranking.
Rank Not Published means that U.S. News did calculate a numerical ranking for that school/program, but decided for editorial reasons that since the school/program ranked below the U.S. News cutoff that U.S. News would not publish the ranking for that school/program.
U.S. News will supply schools/programs listed as Rank Not Published with their numerical rankings, if they submit a request following the procedures listed in the Information for School Officials.
Schools/programs marked as Rank Not Published are listed alphabetically. We have numerically ranked the top three-fourths of the part-time J.D. programs. The bottom quarter of the part-time J.D. programs are listed as Rank Not Published and are listed alphabetically.
Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for that school or program. The school or program did not supply U.S. News with enough key statistical data to be numerically ranked by U.S. News. Schools or programs marked as Unranked are listed alphabetically and are listed below those marked as Rank Not Published.
Sources: U.S. News and the schools. Assessment data collected by Ipsos Public Affairs.