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Admission and Preparation

Process of Admission

What are my chances of admission?

Admission is highly competitive.

Our Admissions Committee bases its decisions on factors such as:

  • LSAT score
  • Undergraduate grades
  • Graduate work
  • Recommendations

We also consider non-quantifiable factors such as:

  • Extracurricular and community activities
  • Life experience
  • Work background

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 2017 entering class:

  • 3,918 applications were received.
  • Median LSAT score was 167, with the 25th and 75th percentiles for the class falling at 163 and 168, respectively.
  • Median GPA was 3.77, with the 25th and 75th percentiles falling at 3.68 and 3.87, respectively.

Does Cornell Law have rolling admission?


When will I know my admission decision?

Binding ED Round I notifications will be released by December 31.

Binding ED Round II notifications will be released by February 28.

Regular decision notifications will be released by mid April.

How do I check the status of my application for admission?

The online status checker allows you to check your status at any time during the application process.

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Binding Early Decision Options

What is Binding Early Decision?

Cornell's Binding Early Decision application process is for anyone who knows for sure that Cornell Law School is the school they most want to attend. In order to apply through the Binding Early Decision process, you must:

  • Submit a complete application by November 1 for Round I, and by January 8 for Round II.

You will be notified of your decision no later December 31 for Round I, and February 28 for Round II.

Do I receive more favorable consideration if I apply Early Decision?

We apply the same admission standards during our early decision and regular decision processes. However, we will view it as a positive aspect of your application that you have committed to attend if you are admitted.

Can I apply for Early Decision if I am taking the October or December LSAT?

Yes, but your file needs to be complete with test scores by November 1 for Round I, and January 8 for Round II.

What do I need to do to withdraw my application out of consideration for Early Decision?

If you would like to withdraw your application from Early Decision (for example, you decide that you will not be able to make the commitment needed to attend Cornell Law School if admitted), simply send us an email request as soon as possible.

What decisions will I receive through Early Decision?

Applicants will be admitted, denied, or placed on our non-binding reserve list.

When do I have to commit if I get admitted through Early Decision?

You will be required to pay the full $900 non-refundable deposit within five business days of acceptance.

If I apply for financial aid, will I know how much I am being offered by Cornell Law School before I have to pay the $900 deposit for Early Decision?

No, the binding process requires that you pay the deposit and commit to Cornell regardless of financial aid notification. However, if you apply, you will be considered for financial aid during the normal course of our financial aid application process.

Note: Binding early decision applicants admitted without an LSAT score who subsequently take the LSAT will be subject to admission reconsideration. In the event admission is rescinded, any seat deposits paid will be refunded.

How many people applied last year to the J.D. Program?

We usually receive around 4,000 applications, and seat a class of  approximately 200 in the first year class.

Do you grant interviews?

Interviews are at the request of our Admissions Committee only.

Do you grant fee waivers?

Merit Based

Register with the LSAC Candidate Referral Service, and if you are selected to receive a waiver based on our selection parameters, we will notify you by email.  CRS fee waivers are processed soon after each LSAT exam (the absence of a GPA on record with LSAC will not preclude you from consideration).

Teach for America, AmeriCorps, and Peace Corps

If you are a current or past member, email a copy of your participation letter along with your LSAC number to


If you are a current or past member of the United States military, email a copy of your documentation and LSAC number to (this does not include participation in a foreign military service).

Need Based

You should apply for a LSAC waiver initially, and if granted, our application fee will automatically be waived when you apply to Cornell Law.  If your request is denied by LSAC, you may complete and submit our application to 

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Transfer Admissions (Advanced Standing)
& Visiting Students

Does Cornell Law accept transfer 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. 

How many spaces does Cornell Law have available for transfer students?

We usually have space for between five and ten transfer students in the second-year class, but the exact number is not known until summer.

What is Cornell Law looking for in a transfer application?

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 in the top 10% of their first-year class.

What materials are needed for a transfer application?

A complete transfer application will consist of the following:

  • transfer application from LSAC (application fee waivers are not available to transfer applicants)
  • CAS report consisting of LSAT score(s), undergraduate transcript(s), law school transcript, and two letters of recommendation from law school professors with whom you have studied
  • class rank at the end of the first year of law school (if this information is not available, even with your authorization, please ask a dean or faculty member to provide us with an email indicating the relative strength of your academic record)
  • letter from your current law school stating that you are in good academic standing

How many advanced standing credits could I receive as a transfer student to Cornell Law?

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.

NOTE: If you hold an LLM degree, you are not eligible to apply as a transfer applicant, but you may apply for our regular decision JD program.  If you are admitted, you may petition for advanced standing. 

Is financial aid available to transfer students?

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.

How competitive is the transfer process?

We receive around 75 applications each year for fall transfer. To be competitive, students should be in the top 10% of their class.

Can transfer students participate in the Fall Recruitment Program?

Yes, the Career Services Office will do its best to accommodate transfer students' participation in the Fall Recruitment Program if timing permits.

Can transfer students become a member of a law journal?

Due to the timing of the summer writing competition, transfer students are not able to be a member of a journal.

When can I submit a transfer application?

Our application will be available mid-March and our application deadline is August 1.


Visiting Students

Does Cornell Law accept visiting students?

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.

Can visiting students apply to transfer to Cornell Law?

No, visiting students may not apply to transfer.

What tuition does Cornell Law charge for visiting students?

Visiting students are charged the same the tuition and fees that Cornell Law charges its JD students.

Can visiting students participate in Fall Recruitment activities at Cornell Law?

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.

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Re-Application Process


Applicants who are denied admission may re-apply 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 re-apply for admission, in addition to the electronic application, you should submit new versions of the following:

  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • CAS report (consisting of LSAT score(s), transcript(s), and two letters of recommendation)
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Reserve Status

If I am on Reserve, when will I receive a decision?

Applicants who wish to stay active and available for further consideration will be re-reviewed again before we make additional offers.  The reserve list is not ranked, and will remain active until the end of summer.

How many applicants are placed on the Reserve List and how many are offered admission?

The number of candidates who are placed on the reserve list and are ultimately offered admission varies from year to year. Factors that may affect this are:

  • The quantity and quality of applications received
  • The number of applicants who accept our admission offers
  • The number of applicants who defer to the following year, or who withdraw their seat in the class

We realize that some applicants are not in a position to stay active on reserve, but remaining active for as long as possible increases the likelihood of admission.

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Enrollment Options and Deferrals

Does Cornell Law have a part-time or evening program?

No, we only have a full-time day program.

Can I start at Cornell Law in the spring semester?

No, Cornell Law only offers fall enrollment.

Are deferrals granted?

Deferrals are granted on a case-by-case basis.

The Admissions Committee will generally grant 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:

  • A non-refundable registration deposit of $900 (deposit will be credited toward tuition upon enrollment). This deadline will be noted in a deferral approval email.

The deadline for the following items is the beginning of February. An email with the exact date will be sent in November:

  • An official final undergraduate transcript
  • An email indicating what you have been doing for the period of your deferment and stating:
    (1) That you have not registered with another law school in the interim year
    (2) That you have not been convicted of a crime and no charges are pending
    (3) If you have served in the military, that any discharge you received was honorable

One-year deferral requests received after our mid-May deadline, if granted, will include a binding commitment to enroll at Cornell Law School after your deferral period.

Please note that financial aid awards are NOT deferred, and you will need to re-apply for financial aid for the year you intend to enroll.

Do you grant deferrals for more than one-year?

The Admissions Committee will consider requests for two-year deferrals. These deferrals are only granted for compelling two-year commitments, such as:

  • Teach for America
  • Peace Corps
  • AmeriCorps
  • Academic fellowship
  • Military commitment

Please contact the admissions office by email to request a deferral.

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Preparation for Law School

What should I study?

There is no particular major or curriculum that is required for admission to law school. An entering class typically represents 40 or 45 different majors. The majors most commonly found in our entering class 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. Typically 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 that you 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.

What extracurricular activities should I participate in?

As with majors, we have no pre-conceived list of “best extracurricular activities.” You should pursue the areas that interest you. Although in general we like to see some evidence of involvement and engagement in something outside of academic 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, keep in mind that it is helpful if you give us some sense of the nature and extent of your involvement; 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.

What if I have a disciplinary record?

It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide a detailed explanation. 

Complete accuracy is required in all statements made on any portion of the application.  To ensure that decisions are based on factual information, we audit some applications at random each year.  In addition, you are required to update us about any changes that take place after submission of the application.  Inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading statements, or failure to update, can result in withdrawal of admission offers, honor code proceedings, dismissal from Cornell Law School, rescission or cancellation of any degrees you may have received from Cornell Law School, or other disciplinary sanctions.

Note: In some states you must register with the Board of Bar Examiners before beginning the study of law.  Make sure you check the requirements in the state(s) where you want to practice.  All applicants are advised that there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar.  Prior to your matriculation at Cornell Law School, you are encouraged to determine what those bar admission requirements are in the state(s) in which you intend to practice.

Are all applications read?

Yes, each application is thoroughly reviewed, and all of the components of your application will be considered. We do not make any decisions based solely on numerical scores.

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