List of Law School GPA Curves

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 the work, and then ranks the initial grades, adding to and subtracting from the initial grades so that the overall pattern of grades matches the school's specified curve (usually a bell curve).

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.

The following list shows where law schools set the 50% mark.

The List

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 Full-time / Part-time: 4L N/A / 3.38; 3L 3.41 / 3.40; 2L 3.34 / 3.37[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 2.87[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 (3.2–3.7) 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
Charleston School of Law 2.67–3.00
Columbus School of Law 2.80–3.00[21]
University of Connecticut School of Law 3.0 Median
Cornell Law School 3.35[22]
University of Dayton School of Law 2.80 (1L); 3.00 (2L/3L)[23]
University of Denver Sturm College of Law 3.00 (median); 2.85–3.15 (mean)[24]
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law 2.8-3.0 [25]
Duke University School of Law 3.30[26]
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.[27]
Elon University School of Law 3.39 (based on a scale where 2.8 was equivalent to C and 4.3 was highest A)[28]
Emory University School of Law 3.3
Florida Coastal School of Law 2.50 (1L mean); 2.70 (2L/3L mean)[29]
University of Florida Levin College of Law 3.15
Fordham University School of Law 3.19[30]
George Mason University School of Law 2.70 - 3.10 [31]
The George Washington University Law School 3.15–3.25[32]
Georgetown University Law Center 3.1667[33]
University of Georgia School of Law 2.90[34]
Georgia State University College of Law 2.9-3.1[35]
Gonzaga University School of Law 2.60–2.90[36]
Thomas Jefferson School of Law 2.7[37]
University of Houston Law Center 2.9-3.1 (1L mean)[38]
University of Idaho College of Law 2.70[39]
University of Illinois College of Law 3.20 (1L mean)[40]
University of Kansas School of Law 2.80–3.00 (1L mean)[41]
University of Kentucky College of Law 2.9–3.1[42]
Lewis & Clark Law School 3.0 (1L and classes with more than 20 students); 3.3 expected maximum (all other courses) [43]
Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center 2.60 (1L); 2.80 (2L/3L)[44]
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law 3.017[45]
University of Massachusetts School of Law 1.9-2.3[46]
Massachusetts School of Law 2.0[47]
University of Memphis- Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law 2.67[48]
University of Michigan Law School 3.13-3.25[49]
University of Minnesota Law School 3.00–3.33[50]
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law 2.942 (median grade – grading guidelines vary by year in school and type of course)[51]
North Carolina Central University School of Law 1.67–2.33[52]
Northwestern University School of Law 3.26[53]
Ohio Northern University, Pettit College of Law 2.33 (L1) – 2.66 (L2/L3)[54]
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law 2.70[55]
Oklahoma City University School of Law 2.17–2.60[56]
University of Oregon School of Law 2.67–2.75[57]
Pennsylvania State University – Dickinson School of Law 2.90–3.10[58]
Quinnipiac University School of Law 3.02[59]
Roger Williams University School of Law 2.65-2.85 1L; 2.80–3.1 2L[60]
Rutgers School of Law–Newark 3.00[61]
St. John's University School of Law 3.30 (median); 2.95–3.05 (mean)[62]
Saint Louis University School of Law 2.80[63][64][65]
University of San Diego School of Law 2.95–3.05[66]
University of San Francisco School of Law 2.73–2.99
Seattle University School of Law 3.1–3.2[67]
Seton Hall University School of Law 3.0[68]
University of Southern California School of Law 3.30[69]
South Texas College of Law 2.85-3.15[70]
Southern Illinois University School of Law 2.55–2.80[71]
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law 3.093 1L/2E; 3.090 2L/3E; 3.198 3L/4E (graduating)[72]
Southwestern Law School 2.90 (1L mean); 3.00 (2L/3L mean)[73]
Suffolk University Law School 3.02 (1L); 3.16 (2L/3L)[74]
Syracuse University College of Law 2.90–3.10[75]
Temple University Beasley School of Law 3.05[76]
University of Tennessee College of Law 3.0(1L); 3.1 (2L); 3.2–3.3 (3L)[77]
University of Texas School of Law 3.30[78]
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law 3.00[79]
Thomas M. Cooley Law School 2.00–2.40[80]
Tulane University Law School 3.20–3.30
University of Tulsa College of Law 2.50–2.67[81]
University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law 3.38[82]
Valparaiso University School of Law 2.50–2.70
Vanderbilt University Law School 3.17
Vermont Law School 3.00
Villanova University School of Law 3.25[83]
University of Virginia School of Law 3.30[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

Class rank and GPA not reported

  • Columbia Law School – no reported GPA, but 30–33% of class qualifies for a distinction awarded to those with "an academic average significantly better than B+"[91]
  • 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% High Pass and, 55% pass, and 8% low pass in classes with over 30 JD and LLM students,[92] 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).[93]
  • New York University School of Law – not reported but appears to be 3.2[94][95]
  • Rutgers School of Law–Camden – class rank was eliminated in 1972; each semester, the law school identifies Dean's Scholars as the top 5% and Dean's List as the next 20%; at graduation, highest honors and high honors are determined by the faculty and honors is given to the top 15%[96]
  • Rutgers School of Law–Newark – class rank is not published; however, upon graduation, rank is used to determine graduation honors with top 10% awarded Order of the Coif and cum laude; top 5% awarded magna cum laude; and top 1% awarded summa cum laude.[97]
  • University of Michigan Law School – class rank is not established until after graduation[98]
  • University of Notre Dame Law School – 1L class mean must be between 3.25 to 3.30. Large upper-level courses for 2L and 3L (>25 students) must have a mean between 3.25 and 3.35 with a mandatory distribution. Small upper-level courses (10 to 24 students) must have a mean between 3.15 and 3.45 with no mandatory distribution. Small courses (9 or fewer students) do not have a required curve.[99]
  • University at Buffalo Law School – no curve, but benchmarks for top 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% for each class are released each June
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School – not reported.[100]

Irregular grading systems

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:

Notes

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