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Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid

The Degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.)


The small size of Yale Law School—approximately 200 in each entering class—requires an extremely selective admissions process. Admission is subject to approval by the dean, pursuant to policies promulgated by the faculty of the School and the Corporation of Yale University. Overall, the Law School seeks the most promising students in terms of professional and academic distinction. Students are considered for admission regardless of financial need.

An information brochure may be downloaded through the Yale Law School Web site at www.law.yale.edu/admissions/jd-admissions/resources-brochures.

To apply for the class entering in September 2017, an applicant must:

  • 1. Have received or expect to receive a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent) from an approved college before registration day.
  • 2. Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) no later than February 2017.
  • 3. Arrange for the submission of transcripts of undergraduate and graduate schools attended to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) for the Law School Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Any new undergraduate grades received during the application process may be submitted through LSAC, which sends updated reports to law schools.
  • 4. Arrange for the timely submission of at least two letters of recommendation, preferably from professors under whom the applicant has studied and preferably in high-level courses in the major field of study. Applicants should submit letters through the LSAC letter of recommendation service, which is included as part of the CAS subscription. Please visit www.lsac.org for instructions on using this service. If a recommender wishes to write specifically about the applicant’s qualifications for study at Yale Law School, rather than for the study of law in general, the letter may be sent through LSAC or directly to Yale. All other letters should be sent through LSAC.
  • 5. Complete and submit an admissions application form electronically using the LSAC electronic application service, which is available online at www.lsac.org as part of the applicant’s CAS subscription. The application must be submitted by February 28, 2017. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make certain all items arrive at Yale in a timely fashion.
  • 6. Pay the nonrefundable application fee of $60.

A completed file consists of the application form, a 250-word essay, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a CAS report. Applications are considered in the order in which they are completed. Applicants may submit their materials at any time before the deadline. The timing of submission does not affect an applicant’s chances of admission to the Law School.

The Law School’s Office of Admissions notifies applicants by e-mail when their application has been received and when it is complete. Frequent phone and e-mail inquiries about application status delay consideration of applications. Applicants should not telephone to inquire about decisions. An applicant to whom an offer of admission is being made will be notified immediately after the decision is made. A file may be read by as many as four faculty readers; therefore, few applicants receive a decision before early March.

Upon notification of acceptance, an applicant must submit the Intent to Enroll form before the acceptance will be deemed final and a place held for the applicant in the next class. In submitting the Intent to Enroll form, an applicant agrees that he or she is not holding a seat at any other law school via a deposit or other type of enrollment commitment.

An accepted applicant to Yale Law School who has submitted the required enrollment form may request a one-year deferral by submitting a letter to the admissions committee explaining the reasons for and circumstances of the deferral. Deferral requests should be made as soon as possible after acceptance. Applicants admitted from the waiting list are ineligible for deferral. A two-year deferral may be granted in certain cases.

No person is eligible for admission who has been excluded from any law, undergraduate, graduate, or professional school for deficiency in scholarship or because of misconduct. Any material misstatements on the application form or any form of application dishonesty (including fraudulent practices relating to the LSAT) will be considered disqualifying misconduct by the admissions committee.

No student may commence studies as a first-year student in the J.D. program in the spring term; all new J.D. students must start in the fall term. The Law School does not have an evening division, nor is there a summer session. Yale Law School offers no online or correspondence courses.

Any requests for exceptions to the admissions and application requirements stated above should be addressed in writing to the Office of Admissions, Yale Law School, PO Box 208215, New Haven CT 06520-8215.

Personal interviews are not part of the admissions process.

Information concerning LSAC services, including the CAS and the LSAT, may be obtained directly from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), online at www.lsac.org; by mail at 662 Penn Street, Newtown PA 18940; or by telephone at 215.968.1001.

Transfer Policy/Advanced Standing

Students who have done one year of full-time work (or the equivalent) in residence at another U.S. law school may apply to transfer to Yale. At least two years’ work must be done at Yale Law School. Credit will be granted only if the other school is approved by the American Bar Association and if the applicant maintained a weighted grade average of not less than B (or an equivalent) for all work in that school. A maximum of 28 units will be transferred from that school toward the J.D. requirements at Yale Law School. To be considered, an applicant must have received or expect to receive a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent) before matriculating at Yale Law School. Applicants in special programs in U.S. law schools who have completed the first year of law school while completing the requirements for a bachelor’s degree may be considered for transfer.

Application forms for transfer are available online at www.lsac.org. Transfer applications must be filed by July 1. A completed file includes an application form, a 250-word essay, a personal statement, a CAS report, deans’ certifications from all degree programs in which the applicant has been enrolled, law school transcripts, and at least two letters of recommendation from law school professors. CAS reports should be updated to reflect the applicant’s complete undergraduate record. Spring-term law school grades must be received by Yale Law School before decisions can be made. Please see the application form for further information. Decisions on transfer candidates will be made by mid-July.

Normally, applicants from foreign law schools should apply for admission to the first year of the J.D. program. Requests for advanced standing based on work done outside the United States should be made to the appropriate associate dean after an offer of admission to the first-year program has been made.

Visiting Students

In special circumstances, a student enrolled at another law school may apply for admission on a full-time, nondegree basis. Visiting students may attend for a term or a year, earning credit toward a degree at their own institutions. The admissions committee considers past academic performance as well as the special circumstances in deciding about such requests.

Students who wish to apply as visiting students should submit their application to the admissions office in an envelope marked “Visiting Student Request.” Application forms for visiting students may be obtained by sending an e-mail to admissions.law@yale.edu, or by writing to the Office of Admissions, Yale Law School, PO Box 208215, New Haven CT 06520-8215. A complete application for visiting students contains an application form, a 250-word essay, a CAS report, deans’ certifications from all degree programs in which the applicant has been enrolled, a law school transcript, two letters of recommendation from law school professors, and a cover letter explaining the applicant’s reason for visiting. CAS reports should be updated to reflect the applicant’s complete undergraduate record.

A visiting student must have permission from his or her degree-granting school to earn credit for course work at Yale. Any conditions imposed by that school must also be communicated to the appropriate associate dean. The student must pay full tuition to Yale Law School and is eligible to apply for federal and supplemental loans, but is not eligible for Yale Law School scholarships/grants. The student may have limited or restricted access to participation in student-run journals and may have a lower priority than Yale Law students in limited-enrollment courses.

Financing Law School

Quality legal education is expensive, and the Law School draws on the University, alumni, and friends to keep annual tuition well below the per student cost of education. Through a combination of loans, grants, and postgraduate loan forgiveness programs, the School seeks to reduce further the burden of education costs on those students demonstrating financial need. Approximately three-quarters of the student body now receives some form of financial assistance. Extensive assistance to meet the cost of loan repayment for graduates is provided through the Career Options Assistance Program. Yale Law School is also an approved program for educational benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Tuition and Expenses

Tuition, including mandatory fees, in 2016–2017 is $29,933 per term. The total yearly bill is $59,866, not including other necessary expenses such as books, food, housing, hospitalization insurance fees, etc. Bills are payable before the beginning of each term at the University Office of Student Financial Services.

Previously deferred students who paid tuition deposits when they committed to enroll will have those deposits credited to their tuition bills. Should a previously deferred student withdraw before registration in the fall, all previously paid tuition deposits will be forfeited.

Students will be charged a special roster fee of $175 per term to be maintained on the school records during periods of nonattendance.

Tuition Rebate and Refund Policy On the basis of the federal regulations governing the return of Federal Student Aid (Title IV) funds for withdrawn students, the rebate and refund of tuition is subject to the following policy:

  • 1. For purposes of determining the refund of federal student aid funds, any student who withdraws from the Law School for any reason during the first 60 percent of the term will be subject to a pro rata schedule that will be used to determine the amount of Title IV funds a student has earned at the time of withdrawal. Funds are earned according to the percentage of the term completed. A student who withdraws after the 60 percent point has earned 100 percent of the Title IV funds. In 2016–2017, the last days for refunding federal student aid funds will be November 2, 2016, in the fall term and April 1, 2017, in the spring term.
  • 2. For purposes of determining the refund of institutional aid funds and for students who have not received financial aid, tuition will be rebated in accordance with the following policy:
  • a. 100 percent of tuition will be rebated for withdrawals that occur on or before the end of the first 10 percent of the term (September 8, 2016, in the fall term and January 27, 2017, in the spring term).
  • b. A rebate of one-half (50 percent) of tuition will be granted for withdrawals that occur after the first 10 percent but on or before the last day of the first quarter of the term (September 25, 2016, in the fall term and February 13, 2017, in the spring term).
  • c. A rebate of one-quarter (25 percent) of tuition will be granted for withdrawals that occur after the first quarter of a term but on or before the day of midterm (October 22, 2016, in the fall term and March 21, 2017, in the spring term).
  • d. Students who withdraw for any reason after midterm will not receive a rebate of any portion of tuition.
  • 3. The death of a student shall cancel charges for tuition as of the date of death, and the bursar will adjust the tuition on a pro rata basis.
  • 4. If the student has received student loans or other forms of financial aid, funds will be returned in the order prescribed by federal regulations; namely, first to Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, if any; then to Federal Perkins Loans; Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans; next to any other federal, state, private, or institutional scholarships and loans; and finally, any remaining balance to the student.
  • 5. Recipients of federal and/or institutional loans who withdraw are required to have an exit interview before leaving Yale. Students leaving Yale receive an exit packet from Student Financial Services with instructions on completing this process.

The estimated minimum amounts required for all expenses for the academic year, including tuition, are stated in the section on financial aid, below.

Student Accounts and Bills

Student accounts, billing, and related services are administered through the Office of Student Financial Services, which is located at 246 Church Street. The office’s Web site is http://student-accounts.yale.edu.

Bills Yale University’s official means of communicating monthly financial account statements is through the University’s Internet-based system for electronic billing and payment, Yale University eBill-ePay. Yale does not mail paper bills.

Student account statements are prepared and made available twelve times a year at the beginning of each month. Payment is due in full by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on the first business day of the following month. E-mail notifications that the account statement is available on the University eBill-ePay Web site (www.yale.edu/sis/ebep) are sent to all students at their official Yale e-mail addresses and to all student-designated authorized payers. From the eBill-ePay Web site, students can designate up to three authorized payers to access the eBill-ePay system in order to view the monthly student account statements and make online payments.

Bills for tuition, room, and board are available during the first week of July, due and payable by August 1 for the fall term; and during the first week of November, due and payable by December 1 for the spring term. The Office of Student Financial Services will impose late fees of $125 per month (up to a total of $375 per term) if any part of the term bill, less Yale-administered loans and scholarships that have been applied for on a timely basis, is not paid when due. Nonpayment of bills and failure to complete and submit financial aid application packages on a timely basis may result in the student’s involuntary withdrawal from the University.

No degrees will be conferred and no transcripts will be furnished until all bills due the University are paid in full. In addition, transcripts will not be furnished to any student or former student who is in default on the payment of a student loan.

The University may withhold registration and certain University privileges from students who have not paid their term bills or made satisfactory payment arrangements by the day of registration. To avoid delay at registration, students must ensure that payments reach Student Financial Services by the due dates.

Payments There are a variety of options offered for making payments. Yale University eBill-ePay (www.yale.edu/sis/ebep) is the preferred means for payment of your monthly student account bill. The ePayments are immediately posted to the student account. There is no charge to use this service. Bank information is password-protected and secure, and a printable confirmation receipt is available. On bill due dates, payments using the eBill-ePay system can be made up to 4 p.m. Eastern Time in order to avoid late fees.

For those who choose to pay the student account bill by check, remittance advice with mailing instructions is available on the eBill-ePay Web site. All bills must be paid in U.S. currency. Checks must be payable in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank. Payments can also be made via wire transfer. Instructions for wire transfer are available on the eBill-ePay Web site.

Yale does not accept credit card payments.

A processing charge of $25 will be assessed for payments rejected for any reason by the bank on which they were drawn. In addition, the following penalties may apply if a payment is rejected:

  • 1. If the payment was for a term bill, a $125 late fee will be charged for the period the bill was unpaid.
  • 2. If the payment was for a term bill to permit registration, the student’s registration may be revoked.
  • 3. If the payment was given to settle an unpaid balance in order to receive a diploma, the University may refer the account to an attorney for collection.

Yale Payment Plan The Yale Payment Plan (YPP) is a payment service that allows students and their families to pay tuition, room, and board in ten equal monthly installments throughout the year based on individual family budget requirements. It is administered by the University’s Office of Student Financial Services. The cost to enroll in the YPP is $100 per contract. The deadline for enrollment is June 25. Additional details concerning the Yale Payment Plan are available at http://student-accounts.yale.edu/ypp.

Financial Aid

Applicants for financial aid must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. A Need Access application is also required and is available online at www.needaccess.org. Applications must be submitted no later than March 15 for entering students, or April 15 for continuing students. No financial aid application will be processed unless it is completely filled out, including the required information about parents’ finances. Students who are twenty-nine years of age or older as of December 31 of the academic year for which aid is requested need not supply information about parental finances.

The estimated budget for a single student for travel, books, and all living costs for the academic year 2016–2017 is $20,365. Individual cases may, of course, vary from these estimates, but all financial aid need determinations are based on these averages.

Among the goals of the aid policy are allocating grant resources to the neediest students and balancing graduates’ educational indebtedness. The Law School therefore uses a formula that increases the proportion of grant as total need increases. Students whose total need is relatively low will normally receive only loan assistance. While the formula varies each year, in 2016–2017 students are expected to meet $43,000–$45,000 (depending on their class year) of need with loans, typically relying on federally guaranteed loans to the maximum extent possible. The remainder of each award above the required loan portion is ordinarily met through supplemental loans and grants from the Law School. The Law School expects students who receive grants to help provide stewardship through letters, reports, or meetings with donors.

In calculating individual financial aid awards, the student’s financial resources—including student assets, summer and term-time employment, and spouse’s and parents’ contribution—are taken into account. The Law School treats students who are twenty-nine years old or older as of December 31 of the academic year for which aid is sought as financially independent from their parents. For students twenty-seven and twenty-eight years old as of December 31, only one-half of the calculated parental contribution will be treated as a resource.

A handbook containing detailed information on financial aid policies is available from the Financial Aid Office, Yale Law School, PO Box 208215, New Haven CT 06520-8215 or www.law.yale.edu/admissions/cost-financial-aid. The director and staff of the office are available to discuss financial aid matters.

Summer Public Interest Fellowship

The Summer Public Interest Fellowship (SPIF) program provides funds to Yale students working at public interest, government, and nonprofit organizations. In the summer of 2015, the Law School provided fellowships for 188 students in the United States and around the world.

Student eligibility is based on financial need. Those who do not meet the needs test may still be able to receive SPIF funding or loans. In 2016, students are eligible to receive up to $7,500 through SPIF.

Career Options Assistance Program

Yale Law School has long encouraged its graduates to consider the broad spectrum of careers available to them. In 1988, the School established the Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) to mitigate the influence of educational debts on the career choices of its graduates. COAP is one of the most generous postgraduation financial assistance programs in the country. In 2015 alone, COAP disbursed $5.1 million in benefits to 455 graduates.

COAP provides grants to cover the shortfall between graduates’ educational loan payments and the amounts graduates can afford to pay from relatively modest incomes. Unlike many other loan forgiveness programs, eligibility is based upon compensation levels, not type of employment. COAP participants work in local, state, and federal government; nonprofit organizations serving the public interest; academia; and private practice. COAP assistance is also available to judicial clerks in the form of loans. Eligibility does not depend on the political or ideological orientation of the graduate, the employer, or the work.

COAP grants are calculated on the basis of the participant’s income, indebtedness, and an imputed loan repayment schedule. Participants’ gross income is adjusted with regard to spouses, dependents, and assets, and for graduates whose adjusted income is less than a certain “threshold” level, COAP covers the entire calculated repayment for qualified educational loans. Those with adjusted incomes over the threshold are expected to contribute a percentage of their income in excess of that amount toward repayment. Provisions are made for parental leave and for part-time work.

For further information, please contact the Financial Aid Office, Yale Law School, PO Box 208215, New Haven CT 06520-8215.

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The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Law (Ph.D.)

Applicants for this program must apply through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. General information can be found at www.law.yale.edu/phd. The formal application process can be started at https://www.yale.edu/graduateschool/admissions/apply_online.html.

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The Degrees of Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.)


A J.S.D. applicant must:

  • 1. Show promise of superior scholarship. Admission to candidacy for the J.S.D. degree is highly selective. It does not follow automatically from admission to the LL.M. program or from the award of the LL.M. degree, but rests entirely on the graduate committee’s independent judgment of the applicant’s qualifications. The Yale LL.M. degree must ordinarily have been awarded within the five years preceding the student’s J.S.D. application.
  • 2. Submit:
  • (a) a completed application form from Yale Law School, plus a letter of application;
  • (b) a dissertation proposal;
  • (c) statements of contingent approval of three committee members willing to serve as supervisor and readers. The committee should be composed of at least two members of the Yale Law School faculty, one of whom must be the chair. A full-time faculty member of Yale University may serve as a second reader;
  • (d) letters of recommendation from two members of the Yale Law School faculty;
  • (e) a writing sample, which would ordinarily be a paper written as an LL.M. student.

The application and supporting materials should be submitted to the J.S.D. program by March 22, 2017. All J.S.D. admission decisions are typically announced in late April.

Students who have earned an LL.M. degree from another institution are admitted rarely and only under extraordinary circumstances. Interested students from outside the Law School should contact the director of graduate programs (203.432.1681) to discuss their plans.

An LL.M. applicant must:

  • 1. If from the United States, have graduated with high rank from a law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools or approved by the American Bar Association. If from another country, have graduated with high rank from a law school or law faculty with standards substantially equivalent to those of U.S. law schools. As a general rule, admission is not available to persons who have already obtained the LL.M. degree or an equivalent degree from another law school in the United States.
  • 2. Submit the following materials by December 1, 2016:
  • (a) a completed online application from Yale Law School along with the required essays;
  • (b) a current résumé or curriculum vitae;
  • (c) original or certified copies of college and law school transcripts (or, in the case of international students, the nearest equivalent record of courses, grades, and rank). Transcripts must be in English or accompanied by an English translation;
  • (d) at least two and no more than four letters of recommendation from law professors or other references commenting in detail on the academic and professional qualifications of the applicant (letters must be in English or accompanied by an English translation).
  • 3. Take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), administered at centers throughout the world by the Educational Testing Service, no later than November 1, 2016, unless the applicant’s undergraduate education was completed in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, or Canada (in a school where English is the medium of instruction). Applicants who have at least a four-year degree from the United States or the countries listed above may request a waiver of the TOEFL. The admissions committee requires a minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the Internet-based test.
  • 4. Pay a nonrefundable application fee of $75 (USD).

Application forms may be accessed online at www.law.yale.edu/llm. Early filing is recommended. The LL.M. application and all supporting documents must be submitted through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). LL.M. admission decisions are typically announced in mid-March. Previous applicants who were not admitted to the LL.M. program must submit a completely new application and pay the application fee. Applicants who have been denied admission three times may not file further applications.

Expenses and Financial Aid

Tuition and estimated living expenses for graduate students in the LL.M. program in 2016–2017 are the same as for J.D. students (see Financing Law School, above). Tuition for resident J.S.D. candidates in 2016–2017 is 22,405. To be maintained on Law School records, nonresident J.S.D. candidates are charged a $175 fee per term. An additional fee of $175 will be charged upon approval of a dissertation.

Grants and loan funds for tuition and living expenses are awarded by the Law School on the basis of the individual student’s financial need, which includes an assessment of student assets and, if the student is twenty-eight years of age or younger, parental assets. Awards do not include funds for travel and research expenses. Applicants to the graduate programs are urged to apply to sources outside Yale Law School for support.

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The Degree of Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.)


Applicants for this program must:

  • 1. Have a doctoral degree or be a doctoral candidate in a field other than law, unless the applicant is a working journalist. Journalists must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • 2. Submit:
  • (a) a completed application form (www.law.yale.edu/msl);
  • (b) a current résumé or curriculum vitae;
  • (c) a letter describing the applicant’s professional experience and interest in the program;
  • (d) official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work (transcripts must be in English or accompanied by an English translation);
  • (e) at least three and no more than five letters of recommendation from persons having knowledge of the candidate’s academic ability and professional promise (letters must be in English or accompanied by an English translation);
  • (f) three to five examples of professional work for those applying as journalists;
  • (g) TOEFL report, unless the applicant’s undergraduate education was completed in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, or Canada (in a school where English is the medium of instruction). Applicants who have at least a four-year degree from the United States or the countries listed above may request a waiver of the TOEFL.
  • 3. Pay a nonrefundable application fee of $75 (USD).

Previous applicants who were not admitted to the M.S.L. program must submit a completely new application and pay the application fee. Applicants who have been denied admission three times may not file further applications.

The letter of application, supporting materials, and the nonrefundable application fee of $75 payable to Yale Law School should be submitted to the M.S.L. Program, Yale Law School, PO Box 208215, New Haven CT 06520-8215, by January 10, 2017. All M.S.L. admissions decisions are made and announced in March.

Expenses and Financial Aid

Fees for the program are the same as for the J.D. program. Financial aid for M.S.L. candidates is designed to supplement grants from outside sources, sabbatical salaries, and personal resources.

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