Harvard Law School Acceptance Rate, LSAT Scores, & Application Components – 2023-24
October 25, 2023
Harvard Law School is one of the top law programs, tied with Duke University and New York University for #5 according to the U.S. News & World Report. As you may have guessed, it’s quite competitive to get into this program. The median Harvard Law LSAT score is 174 (out of 180), and the Harvard Law acceptance rate is 10.1% (in 2022, Harvard Law School received 8,170 applications and accepted 822 students). Though Elle Woods may have made the cut with her iconic video essay, due to these factors, we would recommend a more thorough approach. Continue reading for information on the acceptance process, LSAT scores, GPA, and more.
A Little About Harvard Law School…
With over 500 courses and seminars, 47 clinics, 88 student organizations, and a wide range of interest areas, Harvard Law School is a top US program with a mission of “advancing the cause of justice all over the world through excellence and leadership in legal education and scholarship.” Alumni include US presidents, Supreme Court justices, and many others in influential government positions and at prestigious law firms.
Some background: Harvard Law School is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its campus is located in the famous Harvard Square, a student hub within Harvard University. The program has an annual tuition of $71,734. Though this is a steep cost, the program does have a Low-Income Protection Plan, which helps students manage loans. HLS is famous for its legal clinics, which are among the largest of any law school in the world, and students complete at least 40 hours of pro bono or volunteer work before graduating.
With an emphasis on putting skills to work early on in the program, students work on cases from their first year onward (cases range from helping musicians understand copyright laws to representing prison inmates at disciplinary hearings). HLS also offers study abroad options or participation in a joint program with the University of Cambridge in the UK. Some of the top areas of law include Business/Corporate Law, Constitutional Law, Dispute Resolution, Criminal Law, Contracts/Commercial Law, International Law, Health Care Law, and Environmental Law.
So, how does one get into this top law school? To start, you should carefully read all of the information on the Harvard Law School J.D. admissions website. Main components of the HLS admissions process include:
- Resume: You should limit this to 1-2 pages. Click here for some examples from the Harvard Admissions website.
- Transcripts: This includes all undergraduate and graduate transcripts to date.
- LSAT/GRE Scores: Either works, though if you are applying to other law schools, it could be wise to prioritize the LSAT
- Recommendation Letters: HLS asks for 2-3 letters of recommendation. At least one of these letters should be academic, since their admissions officers want to see that you can succeed in a rigorous academic learning environment. However, if you have been out of school for a number of years and cannot secure a letter from an academic source, HLS recommends asking your professional references to comment on skills that can apply in an academic context.
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- Written Statements: This includes a Statement of Purpose (what motivates you to pursue law?) and a Statement of Perspective (how have your experiences, background, and/or interests shaped you and how will they shape your engagement with the HLS community?) For these written statements, it is important that you follow all formatting instructions and take plenty of time to write drafts (a great admissions essay will probably require more fine-tuning than you think! Plus, HLS is looking for future lawyers with excellent written communication skills, so grammar and flow are important). We also recommend that you use these essays as an opportunity to add layers to your application that Harvard will not see from your resume. Students often use these essays as opportunities to convey important or unique aspects of their character or communicate deep intellectual interest in certain topics. Starting with a story can help!
- Interview: You may be invited to interview with a member of the admissions committee, and these interviews usually take place as 15-minute Zoom calls. The first batch of interview invitations will be sent out in early November, and admissions officers will continue interviewing qualified candidates as applications roll in. Interviewers are matched randomly according to applicants’ chosen time slots. If you are wondering how to prepare for this interview, HLS admissions recommends that you consider these three questions ahead of time: 1) why you?; 2) why Harvard Law School?; and 3) why now?
LSAT and GRE Scores
A major part of applying for any law school will be studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Your odds of getting into any of the T14 Law Schools, Harvard included, will be much higher if you score over 170 (out of 180) on the LSATs. Harvard’s median LSAT score of entering students is 174, with the lower 25th percentile being 170 and upper 75th percentile being 176. So, it would be best to score within that range.
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How does LSAT scoring work?
The LSAT has four sections, and the number of questions you answer correctly across these sections leads to your raw score. Then, based on results from all test-takers, LSAT graders decide how these raw scores correspond with scaled scores, which range from 120-180. A number of factors go into this, including the difficulty of the questions in a given year. Lastly, your scaled score translates to a percentile score, which is essentially how many test takers scored lower than you (averaged over several years). For example, if you scored in the 90th percentile, that means that 90% of other LSAT test takers scored lower than you over the past three years. Most accepted Harvard Law School students scored in the 99th percentile, which means that they scored higher than 99% of test takers over the past three years.
Can I submit my GRE score instead?
Yes, Harvard Law School will accept GRE scores. For the class of 2026, the 50th percentile of students scored 167 on the GRE Verbal (out of 170), 165 on the GRE Quantitative (out of 170), and 5.5 on the GRE Writing (out of 6).
Harvard Law School Admissions will also be looking for a high undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA). Harvard Law School’s median GPA is 3.92, with the lower 25th percentile at 3.82 and upper 75th percentile at 3.99. So, if you’re beginning your undergraduate degree and want to increase your chances, it will be essential that you keep your grades up in all of your coursework. It’s important to note that although you must maintain a high GPA, your grades need not come from a major in pre-law or political science. Many successful law school students applied from across diverse Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM majors.
More Application Tips
Harvard Law School admissions are rolling, which means, the earlier you get your application in, the more available spots there will be. The application to begin law school in the Fall 2024 term opened on September 15, 2023, and will close on February 15, 2024 (HLS begins releasing decisions in January 2024 and notifies all applicants of their admission decisions by early April).
Diversify your resume
According to the Harvard Law School report for the class of 2026, entering students did not all look the same, and they certainly did not all take straightforward pre-law tracks. Many students play musical instruments, speak multiple languages, majored in STEM, edited for their undergraduate newspapers, taught in schools, completed military service, and competed in competitions from mock trial, to marathon running, to chess. Harvard is looking for a diverse student body, so you’re better off following your passions than shaping yourself to be what you think a law school admissions committee will want to see.
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Take a year…or four
You do not need to go straight from your undergraduate degree to law school in order to get into a top program like Harvard Law School! HLS admissions reports that in the class of 2026, 82% of entering students took at least a year between college graduation and entering law school, 69% took two or more years, and 21% took four or more years. This data suggests that it could even improve your chances to take time away from school. Possibilities for how to spend years between undergrad and law school could include:
- working to save money or pay off already-accumulated loans, especially if you can find a job that can prepare you for what you may want to do after law school (this could include work at a nonprofit, at a tech firm, or in the health sector, for example)
- completing a fellowship or other prestigious program (a number of the entering class members have completed programs such as Fulbright, Rhodes, or AmeriCorps)
- getting a master’s degree (in philosophy, sociology, or history, for instance)
- volunteering or organizing for a cause you care about
Final Thoughts – Harvard Law School Acceptance Rate
So, getting into Harvard Law School is no easy feat, though it is possible for excellent students with the right combination of LSAT score, undergraduate GPA, extracurriculars, and strong written application. Even with all of these factors, you may not get in due to the extremely low admissions rate. If this is the case, don’t be too hard on yourself! There are plenty of great law schools, in the T14 Law Schools list and beyond, which can set you up for success in the legal field. Check out this article for more information on law school percentiles. For further reading on strategies for getting into a top law school, read these articles on undergraduate law school feeder programs and pre-law summer programs. Good luck!