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    Best 15 law schools that don’t require LSAT in 2023 – ranked

    Jeremy Coppock
    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy is an education researcher, journalist, and editor for Degreechoices. He majored in Slavic languages and has a master’s degree in Eastern European studies.

    He has previous experience as a fraud analyst, in-house translator, teacher, and truck driver.

    Author
    Updated May. 21, 2024
    Best 15 law schools that don’t require LSAT in 2023 – ranked
    Contents

      More and more law schools are accepting the GRE in place of the LSAT.

      Colleges are claiming that this lowers barriers to entrance for underprivileged students.

      We have ranked the best law schools without LSAT according to value for money.

      Make your decision on whether to take the LSAT or GRE carefully.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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      Infamous for being one of the trickiest entrance exams in U.S. higher education, the LSAT is dreaded by many aspiring lawyers.

      The exam’s difficulty, as well as its inconvenience (the LSAT costs $222 and is only administered 4 times a year), could act as a discouraging factor for many law-school hopefuls.

      Fortunately, an increasing number of universities, including prestigious T14 law schools (law school parlance for “Top 14,” an unofficial designation), are opting for more holistic admissions criteria that doesn’t center around a single standardized test result. As such, many schools are also dropping the LSAT requirement and allowing applicants to take the GRE instead (although this remains an unpopular route, and how much it actually helps underrepresented students is questionable).

      In this article, we reveal the best-value law schools without LSAT and give some practical advice on whether you should skip the exam in favor of the GRE.

      We also touch on how to make your law school application shine if you do decide to forego the LSAT and highlight some key differences between the LSAT and the GRE.

      Is the LSAT required for law school?

      Many law schools require the LSAT. Many – but not all. Far from it, a growing number of top universities are dropping the LSAT requirement.

      According to a report by the ETS, the organization behind the GRE, more than half of all law schools now accept the GRE in place of the LSAT. These colleges include world-renowned T14 law schools like Harvard Law and Stanford.

      Note that the no-LSAT law schools will still require you to take some entrance exam, usually the GRE. More rarely, some colleges may accept the GMAT – especially if your doctorate program combines legal studies with an MBA.

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      What is the LSAT?

      The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, is a standardized exam for law school admissions in the US and Canada. It evaluates skills like logical reasoning and reading comprehension through multiple-choice questions and a writing sample.

      Developed in 1947 by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), it has historically been a key admissions factor.

      The test comprises 4 separate 35-minute sections that assess candidates’ logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension; 1 of these sections is “experimental” and unscored. There is also an unscored writing sample that is sent to the law schools you apply to.

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      The best-value law schools that don’t require LSAT

      Below is a list of the 15 best LSAT-optional law schools. We have ranked them according to our signature methodology, which evaluates the return on investment (ROI) of specific degrees and colleges. Note that these schools still require some standardized test instead – notably the GRE.

      To rank a degree’s value, we calculate an Economic Score (the lower the better). Degrees that cost relatively little and lead to high earnings 4 years after graduation are rewarded. All data is taken exclusively from official government sources – namely IPEDS and College Scorecard. For acceptance rates and GRE numbers, we used colleges’ official ABA 509 disclosures.

      Our ranking system helps ensure you get the best economic value out of your education, mitigating toxic student debt.

      According to our economic criteria, the top 3 law schools without LSAT are the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and Columbia.

      #1 in Law school no LSAT

      University of Pennsylvania

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Economic score 0.25

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $261,434

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $161,363

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of Pennsylvania’s law school, Penn Carey Law, tops our list. UPenn is a private university located in Philadelphia. It’s part of the Ivy League.  

      Penn Carey’s stellar reputation makes it highly competitive, and it accepted just 9.74% of applicants in 2022. Of the 249 students in the 2022 first-year class, 20 chose to submit GRE scores rather than LSATs. 

      The school also offers a 3-year JD/MBA program. 

      See more
      #2 in Law school no LSAT

      Stanford University

      Stanford, California

      Economic score 0.25

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $247,989

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $142,229

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Located in California’s vibrant Bay Area, Stanford Law’s most recent acceptance rate is just 6.88%. This elite private university is world-renowned for high-quality education.

      In 2022, 21 out of 178 students in the first-year enrolled class submitted GRE scores. 

      #3 in Law school no LSAT

      Columbia University

      New York, New York

      Economic score 0.26

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $280,926

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $188,253

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Columbia University is an Ivy League school located in Manhattan, New York City. This private university is highly competitive, with only 11.8% of applicants accepted in 2022.

      In that same year, 26 students out of a first-year class of 402 people were accepted with GRE results rather than LSATs. 

      #4 in Law school no LSAT

      University of Chicago

      Chicago, Illinois

      Economic score 0.28

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $256,407

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $169,731

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of Chicago Law School is a private research institution with more than 600 students in its JD program. 14.24% of students were admitted in 2022.

      Its distinguished alumni include Barrack Obama and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, and Elena Kagan. 

      13 students submitted GRE scores rather than the LSAT in 2022. 

      See more
      #5 in Law school no LSAT

      Harvard University

      Cambridge, Massachusetts

      Economic score 0.28

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $233,589

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $137,424

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      This Ivy League university hardly needs an introduction. Harvard Law School is the oldest law school in the U.S.

      Only 10.06% of applicants got in in 2022. Harvard was one of the first top law schools to accept GRE scores, and in 2022, 57 out of 564 first-year students took the GRE instead of the LSAT. 

      #6 in Law school no LSAT

      Northwestern University

      Evanston, Illinois

      Economic score 0.29

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $227,792

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.6

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $135,060

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Another private research university in the Chicago area, Northwestern’s Pritzker School Law is one of the most prestigious in the country.

      In 2022, just 15.05% of prospective students were accepted. In this class of 238 students, 27 were GRE-only enrollees. 

      #7 in Law school no LSAT

      New York University

      New York, New York

      Economic score 0.39

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $230,197

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.8

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $184,028

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The NYU School of Law is located in bustling Manhattan, New York City. Famous alumni of this private research university include former Mayor of New York Rudi Giuliani and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.  

      Just 15.65% of applicants were accepted to this selective law school in 2022. 33 out of 376 students skipped the LSAT in favor of the GRE in that same year. 

      See more
      #8 in Law school no LSAT

      University of Virginia

      Charlottesville, Virginia

      Economic score 0.40

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $221,601

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.8

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $166,203

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville, Virginia is home to UV’s School of Law. It is the highest ranked public law school on our list.

      In 2022, only 12.88% of applicants were accepted, and 11 out of 315 enrolled students chose to submit GRE scores. 

      #9 in Law school no LSAT

      University of Southern California

      Los Angeles, California

      Economic score 0.55

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $164,409

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.8

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $132,495

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Strategically located in the heart of LA, USC’s Gould School of Law is in close proximity to both beaches and metropolitan LA culture. USC is a highly respected private research university.

      USC Gould School of Law admitted 12.7% of students in 2022, making it one of the most selective law schools in the country.

      In 2022, no enrolled students opted to take the GRE over the LSAT. 

      See more
      #10 in Law school no LSAT
      Economic score 0.55

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $182,943

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.9

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $156,898

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The UC Berkeley School of Law is another prestigious law school in California’s bay area. It is a public research university.

      Just 12.47% of applicants are admitted.

      4 enrolled students in 2022 opted to take the GRE instead of the LSAT. 

      #11 in Law school no LSAT
      Economic score 0.57

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $131,895

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $96,448

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The Washington University in St. Louis law school, known as WashULaw, is one of the nation’s most prestigious private law schools. 

      18.02% of applicants were accepted in 2022. 6 out of 250 enrollees opted to take the GRE over the LSAT.

      Undergrads at Washington University may enter the law school without GRE or LSAT through a special program. 

      See more
      #12 in Law school no LSAT
      Economic score 0.57

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $137,082

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.8

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $106,707

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      One of the best public law schools out there, UT at Austin is located in a trendy, big-city setting near the Texas Hill Country region.  

      Of all applicants, just 14.56% were admitted to Texas Law. 6 out of 264 enrollees opted to take the GRE rather than the LSAT. 

      #13 in Law school no LSAT

      Vanderbilt University

      Nashville, Tennessee

      Economic score 0.58

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $154,348

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.9

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $133,283

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. Its law school is one of the best in the South.

      Sometimes considered a “Southern Ivy”, it has an acceptance rate of just 14.53%. Of its 155 first-year students in 2022, only 3 opted to take just the GRE and forego the LSAT.  

      #14 in Law school no LSAT
      Economic score 0.62

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $151,546

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.8

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $121,453

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The UCLA School of Law is part of the renowned University of California system, which includes some of the best public universities in the country. It is in LA’s tree-lined Westwood neighborhood.

      In 2022, 15.5% of students were admitted. 11 out of 308 enrollees opted to take the GRE instead of the LSAT. 

      See more
      #15 in Law school no LSAT

      University of Iowa

      Iowa City, Iowa

      Economic score 0.65

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $94,146

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 0.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $62,250

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The University of Iowa College of Law is located in Iowa City, Iowa. It is another outstanding public university.  

      While it accepts the GRE, in 2022 there were no students admitted to the school with only a GRE score. 41.8% of students were admitted that year.

      UI undergrads with an outstanding academic record can seek admission without standardized test scores through the Kinnick Program. 

      See more

      List of law schools that don’t require LSAT or GRE

      Unfortunately, there are none.

      All law schools require some standardized test for admission. This is a requirement for accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA).

      Currently, however, some colleges do allow LSAT exemptions for students who meet specific criteria – like an exceptional GPA or relevant professional experience. Such exemptions are usually granted to high-achieving undergrads from the same university as the law school.

      Law schools without LSAT or GRE are therefore a bit of a myth, unless you’re a truly outstanding student.

      » ReadDiscover America’s cheapest law schools

      Why top law schools are dropping the LSAT requirement

      Ostensibly, the main reason law schools give for dropping the LSAT requirement is reducing barriers to entry for underprivileged students. Colleges believe that accepting the GRE as an alternative will allow them to diversify their applicant pool.

      While the GRE and the LSAT both cost roughly the same amount, the GRE has several advantages for students with limited resources.

      • First, it can be taken at any time, whereas the LSAT is only administered 4 times a year – and slots fill up quickly.
      • Second, the GRE can be used for many other types of grad school. This means that students who are wavering between applying for law school and, say, a graduate-level public health program do not have to pay for 2 different expensive tests.

      » Read more: Where are all the female lawyers?

      In addition, some law schools are beginning to doubt whether the LSAT is truly a good predictor of academic success in the first years of law school. Many have reached the conclusion that the GRE does an equally good job.

      The University of Arizona, the first college to accept the GRE for law school, followed students who had been admitted with the GRE, and found that it was just as good at predicting student success as the LSAT.

      Independent reviews came to similar conclusions. When Harvard Law School began accepting the GRE, many other colleges followed suit.

      Is it wise to skip the LSAT?

      While some colleges have embraced the LSAT, others are more hesitant to do away with the LSAT requirement for law schools. If you are determined to get a JD, opting for the GRE over the LSAT could limit your options.

      According to a 2017 survey by Kaplan, a test prep company, many law school admissions officers are not convinced by studies lauding the merits of the GRE, and they prefer to wait for more research. 44% were disinclined to consider accepting the GRE.

      Likewise, some sources are convinced that LSAT scores are preferred over the GRE by law schools, with some admissions officers stating that those who skip the LSAT may not get as good scholarships.

      While this may not be true across the board, law school applicants may not want to take their chances. The vast majority of prospective law students still choose to take the LSAT.

      Making your college application shine without the LSAT

      If you choose to take the GRE instead of the LSAT, you will want to make sure your application shines beyond your test scores.

      Remember that colleges prefer to think of your application as a holistic overview of your experience prior to law school.

      Your GPA, letters of recommendation, and life experience are just as important as standardized test scores – if not more so. Below are the most important parts of any law school application.

      Transcripts

      This is an official record from your undergrad alma mater of the classes you took and your GPA. Note that some colleges place more value on high grades than on your LSAT score.

      Letters of recommendation

      It is important to secure strong letters of recommendation for your application. Most law schools require 2 letters, at least one of which should be academic. Some colleges may accept more.

      Resume

      Not all colleges require a resume, but this can be a helpful way to summarize awards and achievements you’ve received on your way to law school.

      Essays

      Most colleges require you to write a personal statement. Some may ask for an additional essay on a topic of their choice. This is an opportunity to describe your journey to law school and bring a more personal touch to your application, as well as to display your writing skills.

      Some law schools may offer you the chance to submit additional essays or personal statements explaining gaps or flaws in your application – like poor test scores or sub-par grades as an undergrad.

      Work experience

      Having experience working in law can give you a leg up on the competition as you apply for law school. If you’ve worked as a paralegal, for example, highlight this in your application.

      GRE scores

      You must send your official GRE scores to law schools via an ETS report (ETS is the organization that makes the GRE).

      Some law schools may want you to send certain components of your application via a CAS report. This report packages your GPA, standardized test scores, and other application components in a format that’s convenient for law schools. Although CAS reports are run by LSAC, the company that makes the LSAT, GRE-takers may still have to submit one.

      There is a CAS subscription fee of $200, then every individual report costs $45.

      GRE vs LSAT

      In the end, it’s up to you whether to take the LSAT or the GRE. Research the admissions requirements of your dream schools and play to your strengths.

      GRE LSAT
      Purpose Can be used for many types of graduate education Only suitable for law school
      Test sections Verbal reasoning; Quantitative Reasoning; Analytical writing Logical Reasoning; Reading Comprehension; Analytical Reasoning; Writing Sample
      Math skills Includes math Minimal math
      Reading comprehension Various academic subjects Law-related passages
      Score range 130-170 120-180
      When you can take it Once every 21 days 4 times a year
      Score validity 5 years 5 years
      Length 3 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours
      Exam fee $220 $222

      How hard is the LSAT vs GRE?

      No matter your skillset, the LSAT is a very challenging test. And the GRE is too. Although the general consensus is that the LSAT is harder, in truth it depends on the individual.

      For example, if you have a sharp, analytical mind that is quick to grasp the essence of an argument – but you’re terrible with numbers – the LSAT may be the easier option, as it doesn’t contain math.

      Conversely, if you’re confounded by the LSAT’s “logic games”, you may want to try your hand at the GRE and opt for no LSAT law schools.

      Final thoughts

      If you want to go to law school, you’re probably going to have to take a standardized test – whether it’s the LSAT or the GRE.

      A law school without LSAT could be a smart choice for a number of reasons: you’re applying to non-law grad schools too, you can’t register for the LSAT on time due to limited spots, or you feel you would get a better score on the GRE. Nevertheless, keep in mind that some colleges may prefer candidates who took the LSAT.

      No matter your case, rest assured that GRE-friendly law schools are in no way inferior. And at the end of the day, your decision on college should be based on factors like value for money rather than prestige.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      Propel your career from anywhere.

      Take our quiz to find the online degree that’s best for you. Compare hundreds of schools and apply to your dream college today.

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