Average Cost of Law School

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

  • The average total cost of law school is $205,744.
  • 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 Education Data Initiative

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
Albany 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 $32,711 $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 $45,886 $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 $66,200 $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 Education Data Initiative

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