The law school at the University of California, Berkeley, is among the most selective in the United States. Candidates must build a strong body of work, excel on a standardized test and communicate effectively if they hope to gain admission and succeed here. Attention to detail when compiling the application is paramount.

The Basics

Prospective UC-Berkeley law students must complete their applications between Sept. 1 and Feb. 1 prior to fall admission. Applicants must have a superior undergraduate track record and perform well on the LSAT standardized test. Most accepted students have an undergraduate grade point average around 3.70 to 3.80. The graduate school requires at least a 3.0, although rare exceptions are made. Students should score around 167 to 170 on the LSAT, as well. The school recommends against retaking the LSAT unless you’re confident you can improve your score. Letters of recommendation and a personal statement make up the remainder of the admissions requirements.

Other Factors

The admissions office also considers previous graduate study, academic recognition, life and work experiences, a history of overcoming educational or socioeconomic disadvantage and nonacademic activities or public service when considering applications. The admissions office at Berkeley's law school assures prospective students that it recognizes that many people need a break between finishing college and beginning law school. The school's website points out that many enter Berkeley's law school from other professions, often from finance or journalism. One member of the class of 2016 played for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and another was a performing clown mime in Argentina. The school is looking for a diverse body of intelligent and passionate individuals who are ready to take on a challenge.

Who's Getting In?

Less than five percent of applicants were admitted in 2012 to the UC-Berkeley law school. The breakdown of statistics from the admitted class can give you an idea of what the law school is looking for. The students in this class came from 118 different schools, but the most represented were Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Princeton. The incoming class had 47 different undergraduate majors, so the school values a multitude of educational perspectives and backgrounds. Forty-one percent were people of color, highlighting the university's emphasis on diversity. Thirteen percent of the class of 2016 already had a graduate degree, with 32 of the 286 class members previously completing a master’s degree. Nine of the class members previously completed a doctorate. Women made up 54 percent of the class, as well.

Advanced Degrees

In addition to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, Berkeley also has Master of Laws (LLM) degree for those who already possess a law degree, and a Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) program for those with an LLM. Applicants must submit an application, curriculum vitae, academic records and two letters of recommendation. LLM candidates need to submit a thesis proposal, and JSD candidates need to submit a writing sample and dissertation proposal. The law school also admits about 8 to 10 students a year to its Ph.D. program through the school’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. Applicants must fill out an application and submit their grades transcript, their GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a sample of past written work.