List of law school GPA curves
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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." Some law schools set their curve lower to retain scholarship funding.
The following list shows where law schools set the 50% mark.
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+".
- Harvard Law School — not reported, but 10% of class graduates magna cum laude with a GPA slightly above an A-minus (roughly the equivalent of a 3.72) or higher; the next 30% graduates cum laude with a GPA between a B+ and an A-minus (roughly the equivalent of a 3.55 or higher). The current grading system of honors, pass, low pass, and fail has a recommended curve of 37% honors, 55% pass, and 8% low pass in classes with over 30 JD and LLM students.
- New York University School of Law — not reported.
- 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%.
- University of Michigan Law School — Class rank is not established until after graduation.
- University of Notre Dame Law School — No mandated curve, no class rank.
- University at Buffalo Law School — Just grades of A, A-, B+ etc for each class, no GPA, no official ranking system.
- University of Pennsylvania Law School — not reported.
- Vanderbilt University Law School — not reported beyond top 20%. While not publicly released, this number is traditionally close to 3.50. 
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:
- Stanford Law School — pass/no pass system with honors and distinctions
- Berkeley Law (aka Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, Law School — pass/no pass system with 40% of first-year students receiving pass with honors in each class.
- University of Chicago Law School — uses unusual numeric grade with median of 177.
- Yale Law School — pass/no pass system with honors distinctions with no fixed curve.
- Northeastern University School of Law — written evaluations given for each course with "buzz words" used.
- ^ Barbara Glesner Fines, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, "Competition and the Curve," 65 UMKC L. Rev. (1997); see also "Competition and the Mandatory Curve in Law School," Apr. 18, 2006, CALI's Pre-Law Blog ("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.").
- ^ WCL Office of Registrar
- ^ 
- ^ Cornell OCS
- ^ 
- ^ W&L Admissions
- ^ BYU Policies and Procedures
- ^ Duke OCS
- ^ Virginia website
- ^ Northwestern Academics
- ^ Minnesota Quartiles
- ^ USC Handbook
- ^ Illinois Academic Policy Handbook
- ^ Michigan Registrar
- ^ 
- ^ Georgetown Faculty
- ^ 
- ^ SMU OCS
- ^ St. John's Student Handbook
- ^ DU Law Student Handbook
- ^ 
- ^ Grading
- ^ 
- ^ 
- ^ Penn State Dickinson School of Law - www.dsl.psu.edu
- ^ Syracuse University College of Law Academic Rules
- ^ Wisconsin Students
- ^ George Mason Academic Regulations
- ^ Temple University Class Rank Report
- ^ 
- ^ Moritz Law 2006 rankings Moritz Law Registrar
- ^ 
- ^ [www.law.gonzaga.edu]
- ^ http://www.law.ua.edu/students/info.php?re=hb-grading
- ^ http://www.law.seattleu.edu/Academics/Curriculum/Grading.xml
- ^ SLU First Year Rankings
- ^ SLU Second Year Rankings
- ^ SLU Third Year Rankings
- ^ Texas Wesleyan University - Home
- ^ Southern Illinois University School of Law Rules
- ^ http://www.asl.edu/documents/standards.pdf
- ^ http://law.shu.edu/Students/academics/examinations/Grading-Curves.cfm
- ^ The University of Tulsa College of Law
- ^ 
- ^ 
- ^ No Grade Inflation at Idaho
- ^ NCCU
- ^ [law.cua.edu/clinics/cracow/CSL-AcademicRules.pdf CUA/CSL]
- ^ 
- ^ [law.uga.edu]
- ^ 
- ^ Columbia Law School: Grading, accessed March 22, 2007
- ^ HLS: GPA Cutoffs, accessed July 12, 2008
- ^ [Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies 2009-2010]
- ^ New York University School of Law | Grades & Academic Standards (J.D. & LL.M.), accessed August 19, 2007
- ^ Rutgers University School of Law - Camden Grading System, accessed June 12, 2009
- ^ , accessed March 16, 2009
- ^ Notre Dame Law School Grading Policy, accessed June 2, 2008
- ^ [http://law.vanderbilt.edu/academics/academic-policies--procedures/index.aspx#grade
- ^ Grading Policy, law.berkeley.edu, accessed March 22, 2007
- ^ Memorandum to the faculty, September 2006, accessed March 22, 2007
- ^ Yale Law School | Grades, accessed March 22, 2007