Echoing drops in applications to other parts of the University, the Yale Law School received 9.9 percent fewer applications this year than last year.
The fall comes after a 9.7 percent decrease in applications to Yale College and a 21 percent decrease in applications to the School of Music this year. Applications to law schools nationwide went down 5.6 percent this year, according to statistics compiled by the Law School Admission Council. The decline may be partially explained by the fact that fewer students are applying to law school right out of college than were in past years, Yale Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy said.
Applications to the Yale Graduate School and the School of Management increased in the most recent cycle.
Conroy said the Law School has not yet finalized its class, but out of a pool of 3,677 applications last year, 249 students — just under seven percent — were admitted. Many of them deferred their offer of admission to pursue work or fellowships, Conroy said. The target class size was 185 students, she said, but she would not comment on how many turned down Yale for other schools.
Law School Dean Harold Koh said fluctuations in application numbers are standard. As it becomes more difficult to gain admission into a law school, less qualified applicants tend to become discouraged, he said, which is particularly true for Yale because of its prestige.
“I’m not at all concerned,” he said “My impression is that the numbers got artificially high and the admissions rates got low. Our top quality applicant pool has not declined at all.”
The Harvard and Stanford law schools have not yet released their application numbers for this year. Last year, Harvard accepted 12 percent of 6,810 applicants and Stanford accepted just under 8 percent of 4,863 applicants.
Over the past decade, the law school’s acceptance rate decreased significantly, administrators said.
University President Richard Levin said the decreases in applications to the College, School of Music and Law School are merely year-to-year fluctuations. All elite schools have become more selective over the last decade, but the University’s relative competitiveness has increased as well, he said. He attributed the upward trend in Yale’s prestige to successful faculty recruitment and strong leadership at the different schools.
“About every single school [in the University] has gotten more competitive to get into,” he said. “The trend is toward a smaller and smaller percentage of applicants getting admitted.”
Students accepted to Yale Law School tend to defer admission more often than those at other schools because Yale attracts many students who also receive the Rhodes or Gates fellowships, Conroy said. As a result, the admissions process lasts well into the summer as the school tries to ensure that the correct number of students are ready to start class in the fall. The class will not be finalized until the day of registration for the fall term, Conroy said.
Law school candidates’ applications are reviewed by faculty members as well as admissions officers, Conroy said. Yale College graduates are well represented among the Law School student body, with 86 enrolled this year out of a total of 650 students at the school.