Average Cost of Law School

Last Updated: July 12, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Report Highlights. The price of law school is on the rise, with the the average total tuition increasing by $1,065 per year.

  • The average total cost of law school is $205,744, or $215,674 per year.
  • The average total cost of tuition alone for law school is $137,533, or $45,844 per year.
  • Living expenses on average total out at $68,211, or $22,737 per year.

Related reports include Average Cost of Medical School | Average Cost of a Master’s Degree | Average Cost of College & Tuition | Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree | Average Cost of Community College

Cost by Year

Since 2005 the cost of tuition has risen on average by $5,326 every 5 years. Historical data since the 1970’s shows tuition has increased at all ABA-accredited law schools. Some experts attribute the rise in tuition to declines in student-faculty ratios, raises in faculty salaries, the development of legal clinics for practical education, the growth of administrative staff rosters, and expansive school construction projects. 

  • On its current trend, the average yearly cost of tuition will be $51,170 for the 2020 to 2021 school year.   
  • From 2021 to 2022, the average yearly cost of tuition is projected to be $56,496. 
  • From 1997 to 2015, the rate of tuition at Minnesota Law School rose from $11,890 to $35,000. 
  • From 1997 to 2015, the rate of tuition at Ohio State Law School rose from $5,860 to $27,800.   

Yearly Tuition Rate on EducationData

Cost by School

Similarly to other fields of study, public schools on average end up being cheaper for tuition than private schools by roughly $21,126. Within the traditional 3 year study, the tuition gap between public and private school increases to $63,378. 

  • The most expensive law school tuition wise is Columbia University at $72,360 a year.
  • The least expensive law school tuition wise is Inter American University at $15,510 a year.
  • The most expensive law school due to annual living expenses is Stanford University at $39,177 a year.
  • The least expensive law school due to annual living expenses is University of North Dakota at $9,444 a year. 
  • The table below does not take into account the cost differences of out-of-state or in-state expenses. 
List of Schools
Name Annual Tuition Cost Annual Living Expenses
Albanay Law School $49,814 $16,338
American University $57,836 $26,032
Appalachian School of Law $36,500 $19,800
Arizona State University $47,302 $22,714
Ave Maria School of Law $43,206 $23,834
Barry University $37,430 $27,400
Baylor University $64,512 $20,334
Belmont University $46,220 $26,425
Boston College $57,150 $22,488
Boston University $56,982 $20,026
Brigham Young University $26,900 $21,912
Brooklyn Law School $61,996 $26,675
California Western School of Law $54,310 $25,520
Campbell University $43,370 $26,620
Capital University $37,920 $18,504
Cardozo-Yeshiva University $62,408 $28,664
Case Western Reserve University $53,674 $25,244
Catholic University of America $52,400 $31,484
Chapman University $54,718 $33,849
Charleston School of Law $42,134 $23,946
Chicago-Kent College of Law $48,650 $22,305
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law $29,464 $19,988
Columbia University $72,360 $25,447
Concordia University School of Law $30,343 $16,034
Cornell University $67,833 $23,524
Creighton University $41,554 $24,505
CUNY $26,204 $22,562
DePaul University $49,166 $23,132
Drake University $42,624 $22,527
Drexel University $45,500 $23,474
Duke University $67,398 $22,905
Duquesne University $47,080 $16,788
Elon Law School $38,000 $29,100
Emory University $59,062 $24,748
Faulkner University $39,370 $28,000
Florida A&M University $33,146 $28,296
Florida Coastal School of Law $39,900 $23,122
Florida International University $35,298 $27,086
Florida State University $40,706 $16,750
Fordham University $62,652 $28,586
George Mason University $40,742 $27,466
George Washington University $63,204 $27,550
Georgetown University $64,548 $29,952
Georgia State University $37,618 $22,991
Golden Gate University $51,500 $29,850
Gonzaga University $42,755 $20,737
Harvard University $67,080 $32,119
Hofstra University $60,970 $28,893
Howard University $35,244 $33,049
Indiana University – Bloomington $56,872 $22,268
Indiana University – Indianapolis $49,857 $19,930
Inter American University $15,510 $21,956
John Marshall Law School – Atlanta $44,830 $29,271
Lewis and Clark College $48,222 $28,100
Liberty University $37,922 $24,634
Lincoln Memorial University $37,700 $21,850
Louisiana State University $39,110 $23,940
Loyola Marymount University $59,340 $32,800
Loyola University Chicago $50,348 $24,395
Loyola University New Orleans $45,156 $22,866
Marquette University $47,550 $19,400
Mercer University $39,484 $19,180
Michigan State University $45,676 $18,982
Mississippi College $35,520 $23,025
Mitchell Hamline School of Law $45,806 $19,450
New England School of Law $51,048 $24,891
New York Law School $54,382 $23,759
New York University $68,934 $30,924
North Carolina Central University $38,868 $20,337
Northeastern University $53,040 $19,500
Northern Illinois University $22,170 $21,962
Northern Kentucky University $36,186 $14,020
Northwestern University $67,106 $23,364
Nova Southeastern University $42,892 $30,439
Ohio Northern University $30,200 $15,728
Ohio State University $46,835 $20,144
Oklahoma City University $35,630 $14,340
Pace University $49,458 $25,302
Pennsylvania State University – Dickinson Law $53,212 $21,276
Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Law $50,980 $23,768
Pepperdine University $57,560 $27,800
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico $16,696 $19,206
Quinnipiac University $50,440 $22,036
Regent University $38,260 $24,580
Roger Williams University $38,604 $17,500
Rutgers University $45,900 $27,924
Samford University $41,338 $17,834
Santa Clara University $52,528 $28,956
Seattle University $48,518 $27,154
Seton Hall University $55,788 $22,562
South Texas College of Law Houston $34,050 $21,900
Southern Illinois University $31,516 $18,363
Southern Methodist University $55,808 $26,100
Southern University Law Center $31,610 $21,300
Southwestern Law School $55,716 $30,755
St. John’s University $61,550 $24,267
St. Louis University $43,194 $21,244
St. Mary’s University $38,510 $20,064
St. Thomas University – Florida $42,190 $29,490
Stanford University $64,554 $39,177
Stetson University $44,964 $17,850
Suffolk University $51,438 $24,585
SUNY Buffalo $32,370 $18,464
Syracuse University $53,638 $20,362
Temple University $42,488 $22,482
Texas A&M $39,250 $29,784
Texas Southern University $29,454 $20,818
Texas Tech University $38,664 $15,392
Thomas Jefferson School of Law $52,800 $26,660
Touro College $51,280 $24,602
Tulane University $58,610 $23,606
University of Akron $27,252 $22,404
University of Alabama $44,010 $19,686
University of Arizona $30,334 $21,350
University of Arkansas – Fayetteville $35,410 $17,524
University of Arkansas – Little Rock $16,767 $15,980
University of Baltimore $47,958 $23,500
University of California – Berkeley $55,346 $31,244
University of California – Davis $58,560 $23,702
University of California – Hastings $51,474 $26,508
University of California – Irvine $53,550 $32,650
University of California – Los Angeles $54,052 $29,770
University of Chicago $67,899 $29,436
University of Cincinnati $29,010 $17,768
University of Colorado $38,714 $20,546
University of Connecticut $62,330 $19,262
University of Dayton $35,421 $17,500
University of Denver $53,254 $19,790
University of Detroit Mercy $45,010 $25,706
University of Florida $38,038 $19,390
University of Georgia $38,652 $18,896
University of Hawaii $47,360 $21,214
University of Houston $48,434 $19,970
University of Idaho $41,496 $16,958
University of Illinois Chicago School of Law $51,616 $21,650
University of Illinois $48,146 $20,017
University of Iowa $47,766 $16,544
University of Kansas $30,738 $17,184
University of Kentucky $50,352 $18,778
University of La Verne $32,828 $30,812
University of Louisville $41,944 $19,930
University of Maine $36,104 $14,956
University of Maryland $52,302 $24,610
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth $38,368 $26,668
University of Memphis $32,112 $18,579
University of Miami $54,134 $28,682
University of Michigan $64,944 $20,920
University of Minnesota $54,868 $18,870
University of Mississippi $37,036 $18,870
University of Missouri – Columbia $40,720 $17,284
University of Missouri – Kansas City $36,526 $15,574
University of Montana $34,646 $16,984
University of Nebraska $38,396 $17,910
University of Nevada – Las Vegas $38,944 $24,874
University of New Hampshire $44,306 $20,915
University of New Mexico $38,242 $17,070
University of North Carolina $41,626 $25,368
University of North Dakota $44,812 $9,444
University of North Texas Dallas College of Law $31,685 $18,037
University of Notre Dame $61,220 $20,650
University of Oklahoma $33,338 $22,500
University of Oregon $47,102 $16,776
University of Pennsylvania $67,998 $26,340
University of Pittsburgh $35,852 $19,142
University of Puerto Rico $22,900 $19,306
University of Richmond $46,400 $17,750
University of San Diego $57,192 $25,355
University of San Francisco $50,770 $29,537
University of South Carolina $55,480 $19,421
University of South Dakota $50,420 $15,924
University of Southern California $67,192 $27,072
University of St. Thomas – Minneapolis $42,738 $21,000
University of Tennessee $38,842 $20,492
University of Texas $54,096 $20,936
University of The District of Columbia $26,266 $29,200
University of the Pacific $53,864 $25,806
University of Toledo $33,916 $18,246
University of Tulsa $26,028 $21,150
University of Utah $38,178 $20,820
University of Virginia $63,200 $19,786
University of Washington $48,588 $21,492
University of Wisconsin $44,384 $21,745
University of Wyoming $31,078 $17,060
Vanderbilt University $60,750 $26,504
Vermont Law School $49,414 $26,184
Villanova University $47,916 $22,732
Wake Forest University $47,352 $21,208
Washburn University $35,334 $17,032
Washington and Lee University $51,392 $19,125
Washington University in St Louis $59,460 $24,194
Wayne State University $37,008 $22,527
West Virginia University $40,248 $15,370
Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School $52,580 $18,314
Western New England University School of Law $45,338 $20,286
Western State University $43,350 $33,776
Widener University – Delaware $48,930 $22,069
Widener University – Pennsylvania $47,310 $22,308
Willamette University $45,920 $19,898
William and Mary $44,000 $20,722
Yale University $66,128 $22,465

Alternative Degrees

The Juris Doctorate (J.D.) is the traditional 3 year degree. In order to be eligible to take the bar exam and become an attorney, a student needs a Juris Doctorate. Alternative degrees exist for those seeking to work in the legal field but not become lawyers themselves. These alternative degrees to a J.D. typically have shorter and cheaper programs.  

  • Alternative degrees may include but are not limited to a J.M. Juris Master or a M.L.S. Master of Legal Studies.
  • A J.M. typically lasts 1 to 2 years and may cost anywhere from $12,000 to $34,000 for total tuition. 
  • A J.M. from Florida International University is a one year program that costs $24,726.30 for tuition. 
  • A J.M. from Liberty University School of Law costs $16,950 in tuition for the whole program.
  • Many M.L.S. degrees are online, and can be completed within a year and a half. 
  • The University of Oklahoma’s M.L.S. degrees typically cost $16,678 for residents and $29,392 for non-residents. 
  • Seattle University School of Law M.L.S. degree costs $33,780 with no price differentiation between residents and non-residents. 

One form of financial aid for law students are conditional scholarships. Conditional scholarships are awarded to students on the basis that they maintain a good grade point average or class standing. Conditional scholarships have decreased in popularity over the years, and the students who do have them have become less likely to lose them. 

  • From 2011 to 2012 roughly 61.4% of law schools had conditional scholarships.
  • From 2019 to 2020 roughly 42.6% of law schools had conditional scholarships. 
  • 36.1% of law students lost their conditional scholarships from 2011 to 2012. 
  • 9.8% of law students lost their conditional scholarships from 2019 to 2020. 
  • From 2011 to 2012 the average grant aid for law school was $4,760. 
  • During that same school year, public school students received $3,350 in grant aid. 
  • During that same school year, private school students received $5,340 in grant aid. 
  • In 2018, 6% of law school students received institutional grants paying the full cost of their tuition.
  • In 2018, 29% of law school students received institutional grants paying off at least half the cost of their tuition.     

Grant Aid on EducationData

Additional Costs 

At the end of law school a student receives their Juris Doctorate. In order to be able to practice law, the graduates must take a bar exam in order to receive their license. Each bar exam is generally administered and regulated by that state’s supreme court. 

  • The average cost of a bar exam ranges from $200 to $1,500 depending on the state. 
  • Using a laptop to take the bar exam is roughly $100 to $150. 
  • An out-of-state attorney seeking to practice law in a new state can expect to pay over $1,200 to take a new bar exam. 
  • A law degree can sometimes impede a candidate’s job search for non-legal jobs. 
  • A law school application fee costs roughly $80. 
  • The average applicant applies to 6 or 7 law schools totaling $480 to $560 in application fees. 
  • 30.4% of lawyers in a 2016 survey cited lack of money as a barrier to seeking help for mental health and substance abuse issues. 
  • 71% of law school graduates took out loans in 2016 and acquired debt
  • The average cumulative amount borrowed in 2016 was $125,100.  

Sources

  1. Law School Admission Council, Paying For Law School: A Preliminary Guide 
  2. Law School Transparency Data Dashboard: Law School Costs
  3. LawyerEdu.org: How Long is Law School? 
  4. American Bar Association (ABA), Disparities in Student Loans: How Did We Get Here and What Can We Do? 
  5. American Bar Association (ABA): Post-J.D. & Non-J.D. Overview of Other than J.D. Programs 
  6. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers 
  7. AccessLex Legal Education Data Deck
  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Lawyer 
  9. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, The Crisis of the American Law School
  10. ABA, Profile of the Legal Profession