Process of Admission
Admission is highly competitive.
Our Admissions Committee bases its decisions on such non-quantifiable factors as:
We also consider factors such as:
Applicants are encouraged to submit a separate statement detailing aspects of their ethnic, cultural or linguistic backgrounds that will add to the diversity of the student body.
Overview of Fall 2012 entering class:
Typically, it takes eight to twelve weeks after your file is complete. However, it depends upon the volume of applications received. If your file is complete by February 1, every attempt will be made to send a decision no later than mid- April.
The online status checker allows you to check your status at any time during the application process.
Early Action Option
The Early Action process is a non-binding, early notification process. In order to apply through the Early Action process, you must:
We apply the same admission standards during early action and regular decision processes. However, the Early Action applicants are the first applications reviewed, which means more seats are available at that time.
Yes. Your file does not need to be complete with test scores until November 15.
If your file is still incomplete by much after November 15, your application will be deferred to the regular rolling admissions process. If you would like to withdraw your application from Early Action (for example, in order to retake the LSAT in December), simply send us an email request as soon as possible.
Applicants will be Admitted, Denied, or placed on Reserve.
As with all admitted applicants, the first deposit deadline is mid-April.
Recently, we received over 4,000 applications for approximately 195 - 199 seats in the first year J.D. class.
Sometimes the Admissions Committee will request an evaluative interview. Due to our workload, we are not in a position to grant interviews upon applicant request.
We will consider a need-based waiver of the fee upon receipt of the following information:
If you were granted a fee waiver from LSAC, the fee will be automatically waived when you apply using the LSAC electronic application.
Fee waivers are generally granted only to those extremely needy applicants who would not otherwise be able to apply to the Cornell Law School.
We will consider your request for a merit-based fee waiver if you are registered with the LSAC Candidate Referral Service. Should you be selected to receive an application fee waiver from us, you will receive an email and letter in the mail and the fee will be waived in advance for you in the LSAC system. If you receive a fee waiver from us after you apply, please follow the reimbursement procedures on the back of the fee waiver letter.
If you were or currently are a participant of Teach for America, please email us a copy of a letter verifying your participation.
Transfer Admissions (Advanced Standing)
& Visiting Students
Cornell Law accepts transfer applications from students who have completed one year of study at a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Please refer to the application for instructions on applying as a transfer or visiting student.
In recent years we have normally had spaces for between five and ten transfer students in the second-year class, but the exact number of available spaces is not known until late summer.
Our Admissions Committee is interested primarily in your academic performance at your current law school, as well as in your reasons for wishing to transfer. Accepted transfer students are almost always at least in the top 10% of their first-year class.
For a complete transfer application we need the following:
As a transfer student, Cornell Law may grant you up to 32 hours advanced standing toward the J.D. degree. Transfer students may be awarded less than 32 hours advanced standing, depending upon the correspondence between first-year courses at Cornell and those of your current law school.
Our Financial Aid Office normally does not award institutional scholarship assistance to transfer students. Transfer students are eligible for loan assistance during their attendance at Cornell.
We receive over 75 applications every year for Fall transfer. To be competitive, students should be in the top 10% of their class.
Yes, the Career Services Office will do its best to accommodate transfer students' participation in the Fall Recruitment Program.
Due to the timing of the summer writing competition, transfer students are not able to be a member of a journal.
You may submit your transfer application when it is available in mid to late-April, but the deadline is in mid-July and your application will not be complete until your first year law school grades are received. Please refer to the application for the actual deadline.
Yes, but you must take the LSAT. You are eligible to receive advanced standing if you are admitted.
Yes, students currently enrolled in a law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools may apply to be a visiting student at the Law School. If you will be applying as a visiting student please email the Admissions Office for detailed instructions.
No, visiting students may not apply to transfer.
Visiting students are charged the same the tuition and fees that Cornell Law charges its JD students.
Visiting students are not eligible to participate in Fall Recruitment activities but with a letter from their home law school they can obtain access to certain career services resources at Cornell Law.
Applicants who are denied admission may reapply to Cornell Law in a subsequent year. The Admissions Committee will review your entire application, but will also focus on any significant changes since your prior application.
To reapply for admission you should submit new versions of the following:
The Admissions Office keeps old applications in storage for one year; therefore, if it will be a hardship for recommenders to submit new letters of recommendation as part of a new application, a re-applicant may use recommendations submitted the previous year.
To do so, the re-applicant should email or write to the Admissions Office and tell us exactly which recommendation(s) from last year's application you would like to use for your new application. We will consider the old recommendation(s) specified to be part of the new admissions file. Because we keep old admissions files for only one year, we unfortunately cannot honor requests to retrieve any recommendations from applications that are over one year old.
Please note that unless we are informed in writing that you wish to reactivate one or more prior recommendations, we will assume that a re-applicant is submitting a new set. While the Admissions Office will do its best to assist with your reapplication, it is ultimately the applicant’s responsibility to assure that his or her file is complete.
Reserve and Waitlist Status
At Cornell Law, if we have given you a decision of reserve, it means that we have reviewed your application, but we have not reached a final decision of admit or deny on your application. We will review your application at least one more time before reaching a final decision.
You may submit additional information to support your application as you are waiting for the final decision. Typically, applicants submit additional grades, new honors or promotions or an additional letter of recommendation.
In early summer, we review all the applicants still on hold and create a summer waitlist.
Applicants who are placed on Early Action Reserve are reviewed after February 1 and typically, although not always, receive a decision (admit, deny or reserve) in February or March.
Applicants who are placed on Regular Decision Reserve usually receive a decision (admit, deny, or summer waitlist) in early summer.
We create the summer waitlist in early summer. When there is space available in our entering class during the summer months, we will review applicants on the summer waitlist to make additional admission offers. Accordingly, you could hear from us at any time during the summer months.
We recommend that you keep us informed about your whereabouts, so that we can find you easily, if necessary.
Our waitlist is not ranked.
The number of candidates who are placed on the waitlist and who are offered admission from the waitlist varies dramatically from year to year.
Several factors affect the waitlist, such as:
We know that some applicants are not in a position to remain on our summer waitlist but we do advise applicants that the longer you can remain on the summer waitlist, the better your chances for admission are.
Enrollment Options and Deferrals
No. We only have a full-time day program.
No. Cornell Law only offers Fall enrollment.
One-year deferrals are granted on a case by case basis.
The Admissions Committee generally will guarantee an admitted applicant a one year deferral if it is requested in writing before the second deposit deadline (mid-May), and if the following are submitted by their respective deadlines:
The deadline for the following items is the beginning of February. A letter with the exact date will be sent in November:
Please note that financial aid awards are not deferred; you need to reapply for financial aid for the year you intend to enroll.
The Admissions Committee will consider requests for two-year deferrals. These are granted on a case-by-case basis.
The Admissions Committee only grants deferrals for compelling two-year commitments, such as:
Please contact the admissions office by email to request a deferral.
Preparation for Law School
There is no particular major or curriculum that is required for admission to and success in law school. An entering class typically represents 40 or 45 different majors. The majors most commonly found in our entering classes are political science, history, economics, English, psychology, and philosophy. Some atypical majors that we think provide particularly good training for law school are computer science, mathematics, classics, and physics. Usually, ten percent of the entering class has majored in a "hard" science.
Pursuing a particular major simply because you think it will give you an advantage in the law school admissions process is an exercise in futility. You are less likely to perform well in a major that doesn’t engage you. We recommend, therefore, that you study subjects that are challenging and interesting to you and to follow your academic passion.
Because we seek curricula that are both broad and deep, we also recommend that you take challenging courses in your chosen core field and that you branch out and test yourself in areas outside your comfort zone. Classes that give you experience with close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing are always helpful.
As with majors, we have no pre-conceived list of “best extracurricular activities.” You should pursue the areas that interest you. Although as a general matter we like to see some evidence of involvement and engagement in something outside one’s studies, we have no particular preference for the type of activity.
We advise students to focus their interests and work to obtain a leadership role in whatever activities they pursue. We are looking for the quality of your extracurricular activity, not the sheer quantity of your memberships in clubs or groups.
In preparing your application, bear in mind that it is helpful if you give us some sense of the nature and extent of your involvement; furthermore, if the name of a group or organization is a little mysterious to the uninitiated, it might be helpful to describe briefly the mission or purpose.
It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide an explanation. The Admissions Committee reviews both the factual disciplinary record and how the applicant addresses his or her record.
Yes. Each application is thoroughly reviewed, and Admission Committee members take all factors into account. We do not make any automatic decisions to offer or deny admissions solely on numerical scores.