University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
The information on this page was provided by the law school.
Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs
The JD Program
The hallmarks of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School experience are a cross-disciplinary, globally focused legal education and a vibrant and collegial community. This pedagogical focus prepares graduates to navigate an increasingly complex world as leaders and influential decision makers. As one of the nation’s leading law schools, Penn Carey Law is part of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world’s preeminent research universities. Our faculty collaborate with renowned scholars across Penn and throughout the world. Students enrich their legal educations via cross-disciplinary coursework, clinics, certificate programs, joint-degree programs, and public interest projects.
As part of the rigors of legal studies at Penn Carey Law and unique among top law schools, our students truly own their educational experiences, actively contributing to a collaborative and supportive environment where they learn to solve problems while developing critical professional skills. By taking risks in the classroom, students learn to challenge their thinking. Working effectively with colleagues on and off campus, they learn about management, leadership, and networking. By immersing in the full life of Penn Carey Law, they discover their strengths and hone their talents.
Penn Carey Law faculty are distinctive in the depth and breadth of their intellectual interests, the quality of their scholarship, and their teaching excellence. Approximately 70% of standing faculty members hold advanced degrees in addition to the JD, and many hold secondary appointments or an affiliation with another school in the University. Research institutes, centers, and programs foster innovation and attract leading scholars and practitioners from around the globe to address critical legal questions and problems affecting society in such areas as business, the environment, international and comparative studies, health, intellectual property, regulation, and technology.
The Law School enjoys a low student-to-faculty ratio, and faculty employ an open-door policy and encourage students to join in their research endeavors.
Physical Facilities and Library
Penn Carey Law occupies the finest urban law school campus in the country. Our four fully connected buildings around a courtyard are designed to encourage collaboration among students, faculty, and staff. State-of-the art facilities include Gold LEED-certified Golkin Hall, a preeminent library, high-tech classrooms, student lounges, clinics, institutes, a courtroom, an auditorium, and a conference center. Close proximity to other schools and departments within Penn’s campus, including the Wharton Business School, enhances the cross-disciplinary program.
Biddle Library is a modern complex with expansive areas, group study rooms, computer labs, and places for quiet study. Librarians teach legal research courses and work closely with students and faculty.
Curriculum and Clinics
Penn Carey Law’s cross-disciplinary curriculum is unrivaled among the leading law schools, providing future lawyers with insights and skills in the various fields in which their clients operate. Students may take classes and choose from 40 certificates or joint/dual degrees throughout Penn. The 1L curriculum includes foundational courses, two electives, and legal practice skills instruction taught in small-group courses. Upper-level students choose electives in standard subjects, introductory courses in specialized areas of the law, and cutting-edge seminars in emerging fields. As part of their JD degree, students may supplement their legal education with four courses at Penn’s esteemed graduate and professional schools. Students may also choose to participate in a wide range of experiential learning opportunities, including clinical programs, externships, moot court competitions, and participation in publishing one of the school’s seven legal journals.
Our clinical programs are designed to help students build strong relationships with a diverse array of actual clients and develop essential lawyering skills in a real-world professional setting. Penn Carey Law’s nine live-client clinics include opportunities in litigation; business transactions; entrepreneurship; child advocacy; mediation; legislation; international, appellate, and Supreme Court advocacy; and intellectual property and technology law. The Law School also offers extensive externship opportunities in law firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
We also offer the Master of Laws (LLM), Master of Comparative Law (LLCM), Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD), and Master in Law (ML).
Joint-Degree and Certificate Programs
Because Penn celebrates cross-disciplinary learning across the University, law students have the opportunity to take advantage of several accelerated 3-year JD/master’s degree programs. Penn’s three-year Francis J. & Wm. Polk Carey JD/MBA Program with Wharton Business School is the country’s first fully integrated, three-year program offered on one campus by elite law and business schools. A first-of-its-kind Wharton Certificate in Management is also available to all students upon completion of a three-semester-hour course offered at Wharton. The Law and Technology program allows students to earn a JD/MSE (Master of Science in Engineering) or JD/MCIT (Master of Computing and Information Technology) in partnership with the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Penn also offers accelerated, three-year JD/master’s degrees in Bioethics, Criminology, Education, International Studies, Nonprofit Leadership, Social Policy, and Social Work.
Additionally, Penn offers joint JD/PhD degrees in American Legal History, Philosophy, and Psychology. Other degree programs include City and Regional Planning, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Islamic Studies, Medicine, Public Administration, Public Health, and Social Work. We also encourage ad hoc cross-disciplinary studies and offer dual master’s degrees in Finance and Law with Sciences Po in Paris and a JD/LLM with Hong Kong University.
Moreover, students can earn certificates in Africana Studies, Business Economics and Public Policy, East Asian Studies, Energy Management and Policy, Engineering Entrepreneurship, Environmental Policy or Science, Experimental Ethnography, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Global Human Rights, Latin American and Latino Studies, Middle East and Islamic Studies, Neuroscience, Nonprofit Administration, Nonprofit Leadership, Politics, Public Finance and Economic Development, and other individually designed programs.
Penn Carey Law’s curriculum is infused with a global perspective at all levels. Students have access to world-class faculty and globally recognized visiting scholars; overseas fellowship and internship opportunities; pro bono opportunities that stretch across the world; and partnerships with UN agencies.
In our intensive Global Research Seminars, students and faculty investigate contemporary legal challenges, culminating in meetings with experts and stakeholders during an overseas research trip. Our study-abroad program offers opportunities in Tokyo, Beijing, Barcelona, Paris, and Hong Kong. This wide array of programming allows students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world settings abroad.
Penn Carey Law has a long-standing commitment to public service. All students participate in our ABA award-winning pro bono program to gain practical experience and professional skills while implementing solutions to complex societal problems that benefit underserved causes, communities, and government agencies. The Toll Public Interest Center is dedicated to ensuring that all students graduate with valuable pro bono experience and a commitment to service wherever their legal careers take them. The center offers strong mentoring to public interest students and oversees two dozen student initiatives as well as the Toll Public Interest Scholars and Toll Public Interest Fellows Programs.
We are at the forefront of support for public service careers, with scholarships, guaranteed summer funding, fellowships for postgraduate work, and a loan repayment assistance program that leads the country, permitting graduates to have significant debt eliminated.
Student Body Profile and Activities
Our JD students that make up the Class of 2024 are drawn from 36 states; Washington, DC; eight foreign countries; and 153 undergraduate institutions, creating one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. About 11 percent of students hold advanced degrees and, on average, 77 percent of the student body have taken time off before law school. Within the JD Class of 2024, 48 percent identify as people of color, 55 percent are women, 14 percent are first-generation college graduates, and 31 percent are first-generation professional school degree candidates. Several are also first-generation Americans.
The diversity of the community, including more than 100 LLMs from around the globe, creates a dynamic and engaging classroom environment.
Over 90 student groups provide countless opportunities for students to work and socialize together. Activities cover a wide spectrum of academic interest areas, identity groups, political affiliations, sports, journals, moot court and mock trial programs, and service organizations.
The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is the nation’s oldest law review and among the most distinguished. Penn Carey Law's tradition of exceptional journal scholarship also includes the Asian Law Review, Journal of Business Law, Journal of Constitutional Law, Journal of International Law, Journal of Law and Public Affairs, and Journal of Law and Social Change. Students are also actively engaged in the publication of The Regulatory Review, a leading source of regulatory and administrative law scholarship.
Penn Carey Law’s nationally recognized moot court program is sustained by great student interest in appellate advocacy. Our many mock trial teams travel and compete successfully in competitions throughout the country and overseas.
Career Placement and Bar Passage
Our Office of Career Strategies provides students with a competitive advantage throughout their careers. Students have access to a vast array of legal employers, nationally and internationally, as well as to Penn alumni worldwide. A wealth of resources and programs assist students in determining their professional goals and preparing for rewarding careers.
Penn Carey Law’s Center on Professionalism offers students programming to develop critical executive, management, and leadership skills and expand students’ knowledge of the competencies needed for success in the profession.
Penn Carey Law graduates enjoy fulfilling and rewarding careers in every arena of practice, business, and advocacy. In recent years, graduates began their careers in private practice, judicial clerkships, government and public interest organizations, business and industry, and academia.
Tuition and Aid
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Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers
The admissions process at the Penn Carey Law School is highly selective. Last year, we received over 8,000 applications for the approximately 250 places in the first-year class. Students who apply to Penn Carey Law come from every state in the nation, from many countries around the world, from more than 200 undergraduate institutions, and from a broad range of academic, ethnic, cultural, professional, and economic backgrounds.
There is no prelaw educational requirement or even a specific recommended course of study for admission to Penn Carey Law. Strength of character, breadth of knowledge, and intellectual maturity constitute the base upon which our legal education builds. As such, Penn Carey Law seeks to enroll individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic success, who are intellectually curious, and who possess superior writing, oral communication, and analytical skills. Importantly, we also seek individuals who will positively contribute to the Penn Carey Law community, and ultimately, to the legal profession, based on their diverse backgrounds, their personal and professional experiences, and any challenges or obstacles that they may have overcome.
The Admissions Committee considers numerous factors in the admissions process, including the student’s academic record, course selection and grade trends, standardized test score, letters of recommendation, leadership, community service, extracurricular activities, professional and life experiences, and the applicant’s examples of written expression (standardized test writing sample, personal statement, and optional essays). Importantly, the Admissions Committee bases its decision on all material submitted on behalf of each candidate. Though an applicant’s academic record and standardized test score are significant factors in the review process, they are not the sole factors. We do not have numerical “cut-offs” in the application process, nor do we employ the use of an admissions index.
First-year students who have achieved excellent records in a full-time AALS and ABA law school program may apply as transfer students by June 15 following their first year. Transfer decisions are made on a rolling basis, beginning in mid-June.