UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate
LexInter | April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate: The Most Prestigious Law School In Southern California

The University of California is an old and prestigious educational institution in the State of California. Offering a variety of degree programs from the Sciences to the Arts, It is a very well regarded center of higher education, and has produced many highly skilled and motivated professionals. Its School of Law at the University of California Los Angeles however is the most prestigious law school in Southern California. As such the UCLA law school acceptance rate is relatively low. Not the lowest in the United States, but quite low. This is a natural consequence of their reputation as a higher ranked school, the higher the rank, the harder it is to get in.

This law school is one of the first on the lists of prospective applicants, looking to get their Juris Doctor degrees, but few do. Among those that make it though are influential lawyers, notable academics, and even politicians.

In the following article, we will try to give a little background on the University, its history, accomplishments, the UCLA law school acceptance rate, and how one could try to get in.

The University Of California, Los Angeles

We will first give an overview of UCLA and its history. If you wish to skip ahead to read about the Juris doctor program offered and the  UCLA law school acceptance rate, please feel free to. We merely wish to set up some context for the benefit of those who may be new to UCLA.

The University of California is one of the most prestigious in the state and has a total of ten campuses across California. It is a public university that puts research at its core and its mission. Its researcher staff and other faculty are responsible for a total of 1,803 inventions from its founding as of 2020. Seven of the ten University of California campuses are also part of the Association of American Universities, an organization of research universities that maintain a network of academic research between its members.

The UCLA campus is the second oldest (the oldest being UC Berkeley). It is recognized by many popular college and university rankings as one of the best public universities in the USA. It has also been dubbed a “Public Ivy” by Richard Moll, comparing the experience of UCLA to an Ivy League school, while being a public university.

History Of UCLA

History Of UCLA

UCLA or the University of California was the second branch of UC Berkeley founded on the 23rd of May, 1919. This was after the then governor of California, William Stephens, who signed a bill to acquire the land and buildings of the old Los Angeles Normal school, and transformed it into the Southern Branch of the University that we see today.

In the first few years, it only had a Junior college offering two-year undergraduate programs. Southern Californians were dissatisfied and even angry that their branch only had these “inferior” two-year programs. It took until late 1923 for four-year bachelor’s degrees to be given which transformed the Junior College into UCLA’s College of Letters and Science. The years immediately after this in the 1920s saw a rapid growth in the UCLA campus.

For the first 32 years of the University’s existence, it was treated as an off-site department of the University of California. Thus, its head held the title of a provost and had to answer to the administration based out of Berkeley. It wasn’t until 1951 when UCLA was elevated to equal status with UC Berkeley. The subsequent expansion in the coming decade would solidify UCLA’s place as a proper university, and not just a branch of the UC System out of Berkeley.

The UCLA Campus

The University of California Los Angeles is located mostly within the residential neighborhood of Westwood and is surrounded by several high-status neighborhoods such as Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and Brentwood.

The original campus had four buildings. All of these can be found in the Northern part of the UCLA grounds, being the original core of the University. As such, the architecture of the buildings here is of a more traditional appearance, clad in fine bricks that have been imported from Italy. This part of the campus is home to the law school, arts, social sciences, humanities, history, and business programs.

Presently, the University covers 419 acres or 1.7 square kilometers. Spread across this area are the 163 buildings of the various degree programs. Among the Universities in the UC system, UCLA is the second smallest.

The university’s student population has been rapidly growing over the years. Even today large projects of expansion and renovation of existing structures are in progress to accommodate this large student body.

UCLA Colleges

For all those looking to get a law degree, before we get hung up on the details, like the UCLA law school acceptance rate, It is first imperative to consider your bachelor’s degree.

As the law is a postgraduate degree, one will first need to get their undergraduate diploma if they hope to get into law school. Fortunately, there is a wealth of choice at UCLA if you are looking for an undergraduate program. The campus at UCLA contains a total of six undergraduate colleges, namely:

  • The College of Letters and Science
  • The School of Arts and Architecture
  • Herb Alpert School of Music
  • The School of Theatre, Film, and Television
  • Samueli School of Engineering
  • The School of Nursing

The university sees a very large number of applicants each year, with more than 108,000 applicants in the fall of 2020. Only 15,602 of these applicants were admitted to UCLA, giving it an admission rate of only 14.3%. In the fall of 2017, there were 102,242 freshman applicants, this was the most out of any University in the United States at the time. Such statistics give you an idea of how low the UCLA law school acceptance rate might be.

UCLA School Of Law

As of this time the school of law has around 18,000 alumni that have since gone on to pursue careers all over the United States and over 55 countries across the world. It has consistently been ranked as one of the twenty best law schools in the USA since 1987 with the creation of the US News ranking. Consequently, the UCLA law school acceptance rate has been rather low.

A Brief History

The University of California, LA School of Law was founded in 1949. Efforts to establish a Law school at UCLA originally started in the 1930s but did not materialize. This was because of resistance from the University’s president, and supporters shifting their efforts to establishing the medical and engineering schools.

The Law school can be found in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, on the Northeastern part of the UCLA campus. Among the campuses in the University of California system, the UCLA school of law is the third oldest of the total five law schools.


The UCLA School of law was the first public law school in Southern California, despite this fact it is also the newest top-ranking law school in the USA. In the 1990s, Policy centers were established where leading academics could discuss and focus on major issues of policy, free from political and ideological influences. The discussions would cover topics ranging from public interest laws, environmental policies, sexual orientation laws, and more.

In 2021, a media company by the name of US News & World Report ranked the UCLA school of law as of 14th among the best law schools in the United States. The report further ranked the specializations of law as well. Some of the rankings are as follows.

  • 4th in Environmental Law
  • 8th in corporate law
  • 8th in tax law
  • 7th in trial advocacy
  • 10th in criminal law

Its contributions to the research field and scholarly impact are also very notable. A philosopher and legal scholar, Brian Leiter, created a law school ranking, where UCLA law ranked 8th in its contribution to the academic community. This was based on the number of academic citations that were made by tenure-stream faculty over four years, from 2009 to 2013.

The prestige of the school does give advantages to its graduates when building their careers. It is stated by the college that 96 percent of its graduates from the year 2018 were employed in a legal profession within only 10 months of their graduation.

Applying At UCLA Law

Applying At UCLA Law

So for all prospective law students reading this that think that they can make the cut at UCLA law, we will discuss the considerations made in the application process, and a bit of their curriculum for the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program.

The Juris Doctor degree program is a graduate course that grants the degree holder a doctoral law degree. This is usually completed over three years of study. Afterward, the graduate must take the BAR exam. Each state has its BAR exam which will allow passers to practice law in that state upon successfully clearing it.

Requirements For Application

Your standardized test scores are a big part of whether an applicant will be accepted or not.  Specifically, the School of Law will consider the scores on your Law School Admission Test (LSAT), as well as your Graduate Records Exam (GSE).

The Law School Admission Test or LSAT is a standardized test that is meant for prospective law school students. The test is meant to gauge the taker’s reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and verbal reasoning skills. It is administered seven times a year in appointed testing centers across the world. This is mostly required for law degrees in common law countries, such as the US, Canada, and Australia. But also in an increasing number of other countries. It is recommended that one prepares for the exam beforehand as preparation and practice are what will lead to good scores.

The Graduate Records Exam or GRE on the other hand is a standardized test that is often a requirement for getting into most graduate school programs in the United States and Canada. It is designed to test critical thinking skills, verbal and quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.

The weight that a school puts on one’s scores in the GRE varies. In some, it is a mere admission formality, while in others it can be an important selection factor. UCLA law seems to be of the latter, putting substantial weight on both an applicant’s GRE and LSAT scores. This may be a contributor to the UCLA law school acceptance rate being so low. For reference, the median LSAT score for incoming students to UCLA Law is 169, when the highest possible score is 180.

Having a good portfolio of scholarly achievements, as well as a few awards and publications under your belt will help increase your chances of getting accepted. Your undergraduate program may also be a deciding factor to consider in your application. It is recommended as well to have a few letters of recommendation from relevant persons in your academic history.

It is not cheap to study at UCLA, and it can be hard for an applicant of lesser means to afford an education at such an institution. Fortunately, however, the school of law takes special considerations for those with socioeconomic disadvantages, so your economic disadvantage can become an advantage in the application process. Don’t count on it too much though. That being said, if you prepare well you can overcome the UCLA law school acceptance rate.

Juris Doctor Program Curriculum

There are a total of 87 units of coursework that needs to be taken by the time a student graduates from the Juris Doctor degree program. Out of this, 64 units will need to be earned in regular law class sessions. Additionally to pass, one must acquire a grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.3 from all their law subjects. There are a few other requirements which are as follows.

  • Maintain a minimum load of 12 units for each term.
  • Have at least 2 units of credit on courses on professional responsibility
  • Complete a Substantial Analytical Writing (SAW) project in their second or third year.
  • Complete at least six units of experiential courses
  • Cannot use a course to complete more than one graduation requirement
  • The maximum stay to complete a law degree is five years

UCLA Law Scholarships

UCLA Law Scholarships

UCLA Law attempts to make quality legal education accessible to students, despite economic hindrances. They offer different Financial Aid resources, specifically for students entering into the Juris Doctor program. Here we will outline a few.

Gift Aid

Gift Aid includes Dean’s scholarships, Donor-funded scholarships, and Fellowships. This kind of financial aid does not need to be repaid by the student making it a great option for those that are less financially privileged.

Earned Aid

Earned Aid gives the student the chance to work for the college to ease the burden on student debts. This includes anywhere between teaching apprenticeships to research apprenticeships and Summer Public Interest Fellowships.

Educational Loans (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a form that can be filled out by students to determine if they are eligible to receive Federal government education loans. There are a few Loan programs available, such as the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

Yellow Ribbon Program

This program was instituted by the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. It allows eligible US military veterans to receive assistance in attaining higher education at public institutions (like UCLA). This program will cover 100 percent of in-state tuition and fees.

UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate

After all that explaining, here we will finally talk about the UCLA law school acceptance rate. The context given previously of the law school and also University itself should give you an idea that it is rather difficult to be accepted. Looking at the history and academic reputation of the institution, it is unsurprising that the UCLA law school acceptance rate is only around 20 percent.

This number can vary from year to year. From 2010 to 2020, UCLA law school acceptance rate has moved around somewhere between 20 to 30 percent. It is not the rankings themselves that make the UCLA law school acceptance rate the way it is but their application process too.

Getting accepted is also affected by the admission requirements and academic programs offered. The most obvious and largest contributor to the low UCLA law school acceptance rate, however, is its prestige. Being a very well-known and prestigious law school, it attracts a very large number of applicants every year. The school only has so many slots for freshmen, so of course, most will be denied. This means there is stiff competition for getting in, as only the best 20 to 30 percent of applicants will end up being accepted.

Do Not Be Deterred By The UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate

It may seem daunting to the prospective law student seeing the low UCLA law school acceptance rate, but that should not deter a determined applicant from trying. There are still many ways that you can make sure you stand out from the wave of applications, with academic portfolios, recommendations, and high test scores. Additionally, the UCLA law school acceptance rate of around 20 percent may sound low, but it is not the hardest law school in the United States to be accepted into.

Many other famous law schools put the UCLA law school acceptance rate to shame with their low numbers. It comes with their popularity. The more students apply the higher the percentage of applications denied.

The Acceptance Rate Of Other Law Schools Compared To UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate

The UCLA law school acceptance rate may be rather low, but it is not the lowest among law schools in the United States. For example, Harvard Law school in Massachusetts has an acceptance rate of only 15.6 percent (as of 2013). Yale law school in Connecticut has an acceptance rate of only 9.7 percent (as of 2016). And Stanford Law School, also located in California, has an acceptance rate of only 9.1 percent (as of 2014). So, the UCLA law school acceptance rate isn’t that bad at least when squared up against other such illustrious names.

There are a host of options for Law schools that one may apply to, that still provides a high level of professional instruction. We will try to give a shortlist of some other prestigious US Law schools that prospective law students can attempt to gain admission in. This is by no means comprehensive and is not arranged in any particular order.

  • Columbia University, NY
  • University of Chicago, IL
  • University of Pennsylvania, PA
  • Duke University, NC
  • University of Michigan, MI
  • University of Virginia, VA
  • New York University, NY
  • Cornell University, NY
  • Northwestern University, IL
  • Georgetown University, DC

Even if you have your goals set to get your law degree at UCLA school of law, it is important to keep your options open. There is always a chance that you may not end up being admitted. Be willing to look to other institutions, and find your education there. In the end, it is you who will shape your career, more so than where you graduated from.

Final Thoughts

The UCLA law school acceptance rate may be rather low, but if one is determined to study law then it may be worth applying. Graduating from the most prestigious law school in Southern California would certainly give you an advantage when getting into the profession. More than anything though it is important to develop the relevant skills that will help you flourish as a lawyer.

To summarize, to increase your chances of being accepted you should get good scores on the LSAT and GRE, construct a portfolio of scholarly works, awards, and published work, acquire recommendation letters from relevant people and have a great GPA in your bachelor’s program.

If the UCLA law school acceptance rate is too low for you to get in, however, you could always apply again next year. Alternatively, you should also take steps to apply at many other law schools, to increase your chances of being accepted somewhere. You don’t have to lower your standards if reapplying is something that worries you as there are many other prestigious law schools to choose from that have rates of admission similar to or stricter than the UCLA law school acceptance rate.

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