List of law school GPA curves

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Many, or perhaps most, law schools in the United States grade on a curve. The process generally works within each class, where the instructor grades each exam, and then ranks the exams against each other, adding to and subtracting from the initial grades so that the overall grade distribution matches the school's specified curve (usually a bell curve). "The curve" is the permitted range of each letter grade that can be awarded, for example, 0-3% A+, 3-7% A, etc. Curves vary between different law schools, as do the rules for when the curve is mandatory versus suggestive. It is common for the curve to be mandatory for first year ("1L") courses, and for classes above a certain size.

Grading on a curve contributes to the notoriously competitive atmosphere within law schools. "The main source of this competition is the mandatory curve you will likely encounter once you enter law school. The curve affects the class rank, affects the chances of making law review, affects the chances of scoring that big job/externship."[1] Some law schools set their curve lower to retain scholarship funding; others set their curve higher to make their students more competitive in the job market.

The following list shows where law schools set the 50% mark for an individual class subject to the curve. Because not all classes are curved and because professors still have discretion within the curve's ranges, where a law school sets its curve is not necessarily revealing of that school's average student GPA (whether after 1L or upon graduation).

The list[edit]

Law School GPA Curve
Mississippi College School of Law 2.50–2.79(1L)
University of Akron School of Law 2.78[2]
University of Alabama School of Law 3.20[3]
Albany Law School 3.07[4]
American University Washington College of Law No official curve. Median GPA of 3.48[5]
Appalachian School of Law 2.50–2.67[6]
University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law 3.29[7]
Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law 3.30[8]
University of Arkansas School of Law 2.67[9]
University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law 3.0[10]
Ave Maria School of Law 3.08[11]
University of Baltimore School of Law 2.86[12]
Barry University, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law 2.75[13]
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law 3.16[14]
Boston College Law School 3.32[15]
Boston University School of Law Not Reported (Top-third: 3.51)[16]
Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School 3.30[17]
Brooklyn Law School 3.25[18]
Case Western Reserve University School of Law 3.0 (3.1 Median)[19] for 1Ls, varies from (3.2–3.67) for 2L/3Ls
UCLA School of Law 3.0 in First Year Courses; 3.2 Median in Most Upper Division Courses [20]
Chapman University School of Law 2.80[citation needed]
Charleston School of Law 2.67–3.00[citation needed]
University of Cincinnati College of Law 3.0 in First Year Courses; 3.3 Median in Most Upper Division Courses[21]
Columbus School of Law 2.80–3.00[22]
University of Connecticut School of Law 3.0 Median
Cornell Law School 3.35[23]
University of Dayton School of Law 2.80 (1L); 3.00 (2L/3L)[24]
University of Denver Sturm College of Law 3.00 (median); 2.85–3.15 (mean)[25]
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law 2.8–3.0 [26]
Duke University School of Law 3.30[27]
Duquesne University School of Law For each first-year course and all upper-level courses of 15 or more students, the faculty suggests that 20–25% of the grades be A- or above, 50–60% of the grades be B- to B+, and 20–25% of the grades be C+ or below.[28]
Elon University School of Law 3.39 (based on a scale where 2.8 was equivalent to C and 4.3 was highest A)[29]
Emory University School of Law 3.3[citation needed]
Florida Coastal School of Law 2.50 (1L mean); 2.70 (2L/3L mean)[30]
University of Florida Levin College of Law 3.15[citation needed]
Fordham University School of Law 3.19[31]
George Mason University School of Law 2.70–3.10 [32]
The George Washington University Law School 3.15–3.25[33]
Georgetown University Law Center 3.322[34]
University of Georgia School of Law 2.90[35]
Georgia State University College of Law 2.9-3.1[36]
Gonzaga University School of Law 2.60–2.90[37]
Thomas Jefferson School of Law 2.7[38]
University of Houston Law Center 2.9–3.1 (1L mean)[39]
University of Idaho College of Law 2.70[40]
University of Illinois College of Law 3.20 (1L mean)[41]
University of Kansas School of Law 2.80–3.00 (1L mean)[42]
University of Kentucky College of Law 2.9–3.1[43]
Lewis & Clark Law School 3.0 (1L and classes with more than 20 students); 3.3 expected maximum (all other courses) [44]
Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center 2.60 (1L); 2.80 (2L/3L)[45]
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law 3.017[46]
University of Massachusetts School of Law 1.9–2.3[47]
Massachusetts School of Law 2.0[48]
University of MemphisCecil C. Humphreys School of Law 2.67[49]
University of Michigan Law School 3.13–3.25[50]
University of Minnesota Law School 3.00–3.33[51]
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law 2.942 (median grade – grading guidelines vary by year in school and type of course)[52]
North Carolina Central University School of Law 1.67–2.33[53]
Northwestern University School of Law 3.26[54]
Ohio Northern University, Pettit College of Law 2.33 (L1) – 2.66 (L2/L3)[55]
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law 2.70[56]
Oklahoma City University School of Law 2.17–2.60[57]
University of Oregon School of Law 2.67–2.75[58]
Pennsylvania State University – Dickinson School of Law 2.90–3.10[59]
Quinnipiac University School of Law 3.02[60]
Roger Williams University School of Law 2.65–2.85 1L; 2.80–3.1 2L[61]
Rutgers School of Law–Newark 3.00[62]
St. John's University School of Law 3.30 (median); 2.95–3.05 (mean)[63]
Saint Louis University School of Law 2.80[64][65][66]
University of San Diego School of Law 2.95–3.05[67]
University of San Francisco School of Law 2.73–2.99[citation needed]
Seattle University School of Law 3.1–3.2[68]
Seton Hall University School of Law 3.0[69]
University of Southern California School of Law 3.30[70]
South Texas College of Law 2.85–3.15[71]
Southern Illinois University School of Law 2.55–2.80[72]
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law 3.093 1L/2E; 3.090 2L/3E; 3.198 3L/4E (graduating)[73]
Southwestern Law School 2.90 (1L mean); 3.00 (2L/3L mean)[74]
Suffolk University Law School 3.02 (1L); 3.16 (2L/3L)[75]
Syracuse University College of Law 2.90–3.10[76]
Temple University Beasley School of Law 3.05[77]
University of Tennessee College of Law 3.0(1L); 3.1 (2L); 3.2–3.3 (3L)[78]
University of Texas School of Law 3.30[79]
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law 3.00[80]
Thomas M. Cooley Law School 2.00–2.40[81]
Tulane University Law School 3.20–3.30[citation needed]
University of Tulsa College of Law 2.50–2.67[82]
University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law 3.38[83]
Valparaiso University School of Law 2.50–2.70[citation needed]
Vanderbilt University Law School 3.17[citation needed]
Vermont Law School 3.00[citation needed]
Villanova University School of Law 3.1[84]
Washington and Lee University School of Law 3.34[85]
University of Washington School of Law 3.40[86]
Whittier Law School 2.50–2.75 (1L); 2.50–2.88 (2L/3L)[87]
University of Nevada, Las Vegas: William S. Boyd School of Law 3.0[88]
Widener University School of Law 2.30–2.75 (1L), 2.50–2.85 (Upper Level Required), 2.50–3.10 (Upper Level Elective, >20 students), 2.50–3.40 (Upper Level Elective, ≤20 students)
William Mitchell College of Law 3.00[89]
University of Wisconsin Law School 2.85–3.10[90]
University of Wyoming College of Law 2.60–3.00[citation needed]

Class rank and GPA not reported[edit]

Irregular grading systems[edit]

The following law schools have adopted a grading system which does not allow for the calculation of a comparable median GPA on a 4.0 scale, if any GPA is recorded at all:

  • Berkeley Law (aka Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, Law School – pass/no pass system with 10% of first-years receiving pass with high honors and 30% of first-year students receiving pass with honors in each class; for upper division classes (2L and 3L years) up to 15% of in a class may receive high honors and up to 45% may receive either honors or high honors[99]
  • Campbell Law School – mandatory median (82, or a C)[100]
  • Harvard Law School – The current grading system of dean's scholar, honors, pass, low pass, and fail had at one time a recommended curve of 37% honors, 55% pass, and 8% low pass in classes with over 30 JD and LLM students,[101] but the curve is no longer enforced. Between 1970 and 2008 Harvard established a GPA cut-off required in order to obtain the summa cum laude distinction. During that time, only 6 students achieved the GPA required for the distinction of summa cum laude (32 out of the 38 years, the top student only managed to obtain the magna cum laude distinction, for example, there was a 15 year hiatus until Lisa Ann Grow managed to obtain summa cum laude). Those who have managed to obtain the summa cum laude distinction include Lewis Sargentich ('70), Isaac Pachulski ('74), Peter Huber ('82), Kristen Chiger ('86), Lisa Ann Grow/Sun ('97), Julian Poon ('99). Since 2008, to address the difficulty of obtaining the summa cum laude distinction, in a year where no student manages to meet the GPA cut-off, Harvard will now award summa cum laude to the top student of the year (a rank that did not guarantee summa cum laude in the past).[102]
  • Howard University School of Law – uses a scale of 72–100; the mandatory mean range for first-year courses is 81–83[103]
  • Northeastern University School of Law – written evaluations given for each course with "buzz words" used[citation needed]
  • Stanford Law School – pass/no pass system with honors and distinctions, with a limit of 30% honors in lecture classes and 40% in seminars[104]
  • University of Chicago Law School – uses unusual numeric grade with median of 177[105]
  • Wake Forest University School of Law – curved at 85.
  • Washington University in St. Louis School of Law – uses a scale of 70–100; the mandatory mean range for first-year courses is 86.5–87.5[106]
  • Yale Law School – honors/pass/low pass/fail system with no fixed curve[107]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Competition and the Mandatory Curve in Law School," Apr. 18, 2006, CALI's Pre-Law Blog ("The main source of this competition is the mandatory curve you will likely encounter once you enter law school. The curve affects the class rank, affects the chances of making law review, affects the chances of scoring that big job/externship.") See also, Barbara Glesner Fines, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, "Competition and the Curve
  2. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=33601&yr=2010
  3. ^ http://www.law.ua.edu/academics/curriculum/grading/
  4. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=23301&yr=2010
  5. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp
  6. ^ http://www.asl.edu/documents/standards.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=80301&yr=2010
  8. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=80302&yr=2010
  9. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=70401&yr=2010
  10. ^ http://ualr.edu/law/files/2010/11/Grade-Scale-and-Mandatory-CurveforWebsite.doc.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=32306&yr=2010
  12. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=52101&yr=2010
  13. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=51008&yr=2010
  14. ^ http://law.hofstra.edu/pdf/adjfr_grade_curve.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=12201&yr=2010
  16. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=12202&yr=2010
  17. ^ BYU Policies and Procedures
  18. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=23302&yr=2010
  19. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp
  20. ^ http://cdn.law.ucla.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/records%202/summary%20of%20academic%20standards%20as%20of%2008-31-09.pdf
  21. ^ http://law.uc.edu/current-students/resources/college-law-rules#sec8
  22. ^ CUA/CSL
  23. ^ Cornell OCS
  24. ^ http://law.udayton.edu/NR/exeres/6106124D-A155-454A-92A9-1160E03172DF.htm
  25. ^ DU Law Student Handbook
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ Duke OCS
  28. ^ Duquesne University School of Law Academic Bulletin
  29. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=53407&yr=2010
  30. ^ FCSL Student Handbook
  31. ^ http://law.fordham.edu/career-planning/1416.htm
  32. ^ George Mason Academic Regulations
  33. ^ http://www.gwsba.com/wp-content/uploads/WHITEPAPERS_Final.pdf
  34. ^ http://abovethelaw.com/2009/12/harvard-law-and-georgetown-law-make-grading-easier/2/
  35. ^ [law.uga.edu]
  36. ^ http://law.gsu.edu/resources/registrar/College_of_Law_Bulletin_2011-2012.pdf
  37. ^ [2]
  38. ^ [3]
  39. ^ UHLC Policy Handbook
  40. ^ No Grade Inflation at Idaho
  41. ^ Illinois Academic Policy Handbook
  42. ^ http://www.law.ku.edu/academics/regulations.shtml
  43. ^ http://www.law.uky.edu/index.php?pid=272
  44. ^ http://law.lclark.edu/academics/whats_what/grading_system_probation_and_dismissal/
  45. ^ http://www.law.lsu.edu/globals/sitelibraries/currentstudents/lsulawcatalog/LSULawCatalog_20092010.pdf
  46. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=71902&yr=2010
  47. ^ "University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth Student Handbook". Retrieved March 30, 2012. 
  48. ^ http://www.mslaw.edu/Directory_Reg_Standing.htm
  49. ^ http://memphis.edu/law/currentstudents/calendars/academic_regs2013.pdf
  50. ^ http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/registration/Pages/gradingguidelines.aspx
  51. ^ http://www.law.umn.edu/careers/grades.html
  52. ^ http://law.umkc.edu/pdfs/grading.pdf
  53. ^ NCCU
  54. ^ [4]
  55. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=33607&yr=2010
  56. ^ Moritz Law 2006 rankings Moritz Law Registrar
  57. ^ http://www.okcu.edu/law/
  58. ^ http://www.law.uoregon.edu/career/empgrading/
  59. ^ Penn State Dickinson School of Law – www.dsl.psu.edu
  60. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=10701&yr=2010
  61. ^ http://law.rwu.edu/academics/curriculum
  62. ^ http://law.newark.rutgers.edu/career-development/about-our-law-school
  63. ^ St. John's Student Handbook
  64. ^ SLU First Year Rankings
  65. ^ SLU Second Year Rankings
  66. ^ SLU Third Year Rankings
  67. ^ Grading
  68. ^ http://www.law.seattleu.edu/Academics/Curriculum/Grading.xml
  69. ^ http://law.shu.edu/Students/academics/examinations/Grading-Curves.cfm
  70. ^ USC Handbook
  71. ^ [5]
  72. ^ Southern Illinois University School of Law Rules
  73. ^ SMU OCS Current through Spring 2013
  74. ^ http://www.howtochoosealawschool.com/how_to_pick_a_law_school_updated_010.htm
  75. ^ NALP SULS GPA
  76. ^ Syracuse University College of Law Academic Rules
  77. ^ Temple University Class Rank Report
  78. ^ http://www.law.utk.edu/administration/records
  79. ^ "UT Law – Student Affairs Office – Grading Policy". Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
  80. ^ Texas Wesleyan University – Home
  81. ^ Wise, Carolyn C (2007-02-15). The Law School Buzz Book. ISBN 9781581314243. 
  82. ^ The University of Tulsa College of Law
  83. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=84502&yr=2010
  84. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=23906&yr=2010
  85. ^ W&L Admissions
  86. ^ http://www.law.washington.edu/Students/Academics/Grading.aspx
  87. ^ http://www.law.whittier.edu/pdfs/cstudents/Whittier-Law-School-Policies-2009-2010.pdf
  88. ^ [6] §8.06
  89. ^ http://web.wmitchell.edu/students/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/2011-2012-Handbook-2.pdf
  90. ^ Wisconsin Students
  91. ^ Columbia Law School: Grading, accessed March 22, 2007
  92. ^ http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2008/12/nyus-new-grading-curve.html
  93. ^ New York University School of Law | Grading System & Academic Standards (J.D. & Graduate Students), accessed October 1, 2014
  94. ^ Rutgers University School of Law – Camden Grading System, accessed June 12, 2009
  95. ^ http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp?lscd=23102&yr=2011 NALP Directory of Law Schools – Rutgers School of Law-Newark
  96. ^ [7], accessed March 16, 2009
  97. ^ Notre Dame Law School Grading Policy, accessed November 26, 2012
  98. ^ Penn Law Information on Law School Grades
  99. ^ Grading Policy, law.berkeley.edu, accessed June 9, 2011
  100. ^ http://law.campbell.edu/employers/class-rank-percentages.pdf
  101. ^ Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies 2009–2010
  102. ^ http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/careers/ocs/employers/about-our-students/grading.html
  103. ^ Student Handbook, law.howard.edu, accessed July 5, 2013
  104. ^ Stanford Law School Grading System, accessed December 7, 2010
  105. ^ top-law-schools.com
  106. ^ Washington University School of Law | Grades, accessed Nov. 14, 2010
  107. ^ Yale Law School | Grades, accessed March 22, 2007