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Application Materials and Deadlines for the JD Program

How can I apply?

What do I need to do to complete my application?

  • Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) 
  • Submit your electronic application and pay the $80 non-refundable application fee
  • Submit transcripts to LSAC for processing
  • Submit two letters of recommendation to LSAC for processing
LSAC will send your Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report to us after they receive your LSAT score, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

What are your application deadlines?

Early Decision Round I-Binding
Online application available at LSAC on September 1
File and complete application by November 1
Notification by December 31

Early Decision Round II-Binding
Online application available at LSAC on November 2
File and complete application by January 8
Notification by February 28

Regular Decision
Online application available at LSAC on September 1
File and complete application by February 1
Notification by mid-April

Please see the Admission and Preparation section of our website to learn more about our Binding Early Decision application process.


When should I apply?

Applications are reviewed in order of completion by our Admissions Committee, but applicants are not always notified in that order.  We recommend submitting your application as early as possible.


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LSAT and Grade Point Medians

When should I take the LSAT?

We recommend that you sit for the LSAT only once you are well prepared.

Taking the June, September, or December exam will allow you to apply under one of our Early Decision options. For regular admission, taking the exam in June or September will allow you time to retake it in December and still meet our February 1 application deadline.

Do you accept the February LSAT for admission?

Yes; however, your application will be considered late and admission will be on a space available basis.

How does the Admissions Committee view a canceled LSAT score?

A single canceled score has no impact on the evaluation of an application but please feel free to explain the circumstances surrounding your cancellation.

What is the oldest LSAT score you will accept in order to apply for the Fall 2017 cycle?

  • We do not accept LSAT scores that are more than five years old.
  • Applicants applying to enroll for fall 2017 must have taken the LSAT on or after June 2012.

What is the median LSAT score?

The median LSAT score for the 2016 entering class was 167 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.73.

If I got a low score the first time, should I retake the LSAT?

The decision to retake the LSAT is a complex and personal one. Factors we think an applicant should consider are:

  • Did your score significantly differ from your practice tests?
  • Can you identify something in particular that might have negatively affected your score the first time (you did not properly prepare, you were sick, there was a marching band outside the exam site, etc.?
  • Will I be able to increase my score by more than 3 points?

Depending on your answers, you should think about retaking the test. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has data that supports the view it is likely that a second score will not be a substantial improvement. Most people who retake the LSAT do not score higher than 1 to 2 points.

If I take the LSAT more than once, will you take the highest score or the average of the scores?

In general, Cornell Law’s policy is to take the higher score if it is at least 3 points higher than a prior score, but the Admissions Committee invites applicants to submit an addendum to their application explaining the different LSAT scores and why we should take the higher score. We will not hold an application from review for a future exam. The LSAT score(s) in the CAS report at the time of application will be considered during the review of your file.

Must I register with the Credential Assembly Service?

  • Yes, you must register for the Credential Assembly Service at LSAC.
  • LSAC will send your CAS report to us once it is complete based on our requirements

  • A complete CAS report consists of your LSAT score(s), your academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample, and two letters of recommendation.

Where do I find out about

Credential Assembly Service and the LSAT?

Find out more about both by going to LSAC.

How important is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)?

The Admission Committee looks at a number of factors when making admissions decisions. Certainly, academic potential as measured by the LSAT and GPA play an important role in the admissions process.

We use more than numbers to evaluate our candidates. We also consider extracurricular and community activities, life experience, work background, and recommendations.

We subscribe to Cornell’s long-standing tradition of affirmative action and members of traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to discuss their status where they think it relevant.

Is there a minimum GPA or LSAT requirement?

No, there is no minimum GPA or LSAT.

Do Admissions Committee members examine transcripts?

Admission Committee members review every transcript and take into consideration factors that may have had an impact on an applicant’s grade point average. We strongly consider:

  • Trends in an applicant's grades
  • Grading curves at the college or university
  • Rigor of the courses taken

Do you take into account grades received in graduate school?

While grades received in graduate studies are not counted as part of your grade point average, we do review graduate school transcripts and take note of grades received. A strong graduate school record is generally viewed as a plus.

How does the Committee view pass/fail grades on transcripts?

The Committee considers the circumstances, including whether such courses were required or optional, how many and in which subjects pass/fails were earned, etc. Please include any narratives or course evaluations of these courses with your transcripts and applications if they are available.

How should I submit foreign transcripts?

If all undergraduate work was completed at institutions outside the United States (including its territories) and/or Canada, we require that your foreign transcripts be submitted through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

If you completed any post-second­ary work outside the U.S. (including its territories) or Canada, you must use this service for transcript evaluation and authentication of your foreign transcripts. This service is included in the Credential Assembly Service subscription fee. A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and will be incorporated into your Law School report.

Exception: If you com­pleted the foreign work through a study-abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript.

To use the Credential Assembly Service, log in to your online account with LSAC and follow the instructions to regis­ter for the service. To use the authentication and evaluation feature, you must register for the Credential Assembly Service and you must request that the appropriate documents (e.g. mark sheets, academic records, diplomas degree certifications, transcription) be sent directly to LSAC from the institution(s) you attended. Remember you must print out a Transcript Request Form and send it promptly to each institution that possesses a transcript for you. Foreign transcripts usually require more time to process than U.S. transcripts.

Questions about the Credential Assembly Service can be directed to LSAC at 215-968-1393 or LSAC's help page.

Is a TOEFL score required for the JD program?

No, the TOEFL is not required for JD applicants.

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Personal Statement

What should I write about in my personal statement?

The topic of the personal statement is up to you. We suggest that you approach the personal statement as your opportunity to present personal information about yourself that you would discuss during an interview. Your statement will be evaluated for both content and construction, so write about something interesting and write about it well.

What length should my personal statement be?

The length of your personal statement is up to you, but keep in mind, our Admissions Committee reviews thousands of applications.  Two pages is a suggested length.

What sort of information do you like to see in a personal statement?

Include with your application a personal statement that will give the Admissions Committee any information you believe relevant to the admissions decision that is not elicited elsewhere in the application.

The statement is your opportunity to tell us about yourself; it may address your intellectual interests, significant accomplishments, obstacles overcome, personal or professional goals, educational achievements, or any way in which your perspective, viewpoint, or experiences will add to the richness of the educational environment of the Law School.

Should I include a resume?

Yes. We now require that a resume be submitted with your application.  A resume is an excellent way to present an applicant’s working and extracurricular involvement.

Does Cornell Law require a Dean's Certification with the application?

No, a Dean's Certification is not a required element at the time of application.  However, all admitted students must have a completed Dean's Certification Form submitted to the Admissions Office by July 1, 2016.  The form is required from all degree-granting institutions. Failure to submit a completed Dean's Certification by the July 1 deadline may constitute grounds for an admitted student to lose their place in the first year class. More information about this form will be provided upon admission.

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Letters of Recommendation

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendations?

You should ask faculty members who can provide detailed comments about your academic abilities compared with those of other students who are applying to law schools. If you are currently an undergraduate or if you have graduated but have only been out of school for two years or less, we prefer that the letters be from faculty members who have taught you.

If you have graduated and been out of school for more than two years, you may ask an employer or other individual who knows your academic abilities to submit the letters.

Please remember that we are interested primarily in the recommender’s judgment about your academic abilities and potential for success in the legal profession.

How many letters are required?

  • Two letters of recommendation are required.
  • Applicants may submit more, but often additional letters of recommendation are repetitious and add little value to an applicant’s file.

Can I have those writing letters of recommendations send them directly to you?

No, all letters must be submitted through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service which allows you to send letters to the schools to which you apply. This service is included with your Credential Assembly Service subscription. If your recommender has a special relationship with Cornell Law School, you can still use the Letter of Recommendation Service; just designate which letters you want sent only to Cornell Law School.

Letters submitted through the LSAC Service are copied and sent to us as part of your CAS report. Updated reports are sent weekly if additional letters are received after your initial CAS report has been sent.

What is your policy about the new LSAC Evaluation Service?

Evaluators may use this online tool to rate specific non-cognitive factors that will help law schools assess applicants. The Evaluation Service includes ratings of thirty individual attributes and skills in six categories. The evaluations are an adjunct to LSAC’s current letter of recommendation service and will function in a similar way, except that the Evaluation Service is entirely online. The use of the Evaluation Service is completely optional. If you choose to utilize the evaluation service, we will accept a maximum of two evaluations.

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