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Syracuse University College of Law
Published July 2008. Last updated October 2013.
The Syracuse University College of Law enjoys a reputation that exceeds its ranking and plays host to an increasingly strong set of academic programs. For these reasons, the school could be a good match for students who don't have the numbers to attend higher ranked schools or those who receive large scholarships and have a fondness for the Upstate New York region. It could also be a good match for students looking for specialized law programs in national security and counter-terrorism, technology commercialization, public administration, international relations, business administration, or politics and the media.
Admissions & Tuition
With an acceptance rate of nearly 59%, it is of no surprise that Syracuse earned an admissions selectivity rating of 60/100 from the Princeton Review. Last year, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range for admitted students was 3.06–3.45 and the range for the LSAT was 152-156. The medians for such measures were 3.29 and 155, respectively.
While admissions standards may not lead among similarly ranked schools, tuition does. For 2009-2010, Syracuse charged nearly $45,000 in tuition alone. Combine this with room and board, $1,200 for book costs, and approximately $2,000 for miscellaneous fees, and the total cost of attendance for one year at Syracuse is a daunting $63,300. A school of Syracuse’s rank could perhaps justify such a high cost if its students generally enjoyed great career prospects with high starting salaries; but, that is not necessarily the case (see employment section below).
Nearly 90% of Syracuse students do receive financial aid, however. Last year, grants ranged from $5,300 to $17,500 for the 25th to 75th percentiles, respectively. The median grant was $7,500. Regardless of the efforts of the Financial Aid Office, Syracuse graduates still average over $119,000 of debt upon graduation (USNews).
Bar Passage & Employment Prospects
According to the ABA, Syracuse sports a bar passage rate of 79.82%. This rate is lower than the state-wide (New York) rate of 84%, so it is hardly encouraging to know that over 20% of Syracuse students have to take the Bar (at least) a second time.
Unfortunately, Syracuse’s shortcomings continue beyond the Bar. The school does not provide a percentage of students employed at graduation, likely because the number is low. There is some hope for Syracuse students, however: within nine months of graduation, 88% of students generally find work in some type of job—and those who do enjoy more national mobility than most schools ranked similarly to Syracuse.
While 59% of graduates end up working in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, graduates in 2012 found work in 21 other states around the Country. 20% of students found work below the Mason Dixon Line, and 6% went as far as the Pacific States. This is a testament to the reputation that Syracuse enjoys around the country, or the connections its students have, or perhaps a bit of both.
According to US News, the majority of Syracuse graduates work in either law firms (42%), business (27%), government jobs (16%), or judicial clerkships (7%). Some students also found work in public interest fields (7%), and other fields (1%).
Those who entered the private sector earned the most, with starting salaries that ranged from $52,000 to $85,000 for the 25th to 75th percentiles. The median in the private sector was $74,000. The median in public service was $55,300.
Syracuse Law School is making a concentrated effort to boost its national reputation. The grading curve has gotten tighter, attendance policies more rigid and the curriculum more challenging.
This is not to say that Syracuse’s academic program was in dire need of revamping. The school boasts a powerful trial advocacy program, which was tied with Harvard Law for the 12th spot in the USNews specialty rankings. What’s more, students can take advantage of the numerous opportunities for research and practical experience provided by Syracuse’s many clinics and legal centers.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Syracuse Law School students can add to their coursework by cross-registering with one of Syracuse’s many other graduate schools. Or, for students with a strong interest in another field, Syracuse offers a number of joint degrees. For example, students at Syracuse Law School can choose to complement their JD with a Master’s in Social Work, Business Administration, or Public Administration, among other degrees (though they can expect the admissions standards for the MPA degree to be much higher than those of the JD program, as Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is among the best in the country). Syracuse Law School also offers international exposure, with study abroad programs and international moot court competitions.
Syracuse’s academic program does have its weakness, however, including, among other flaws, a cramped library with too few resources, and an administration focused more on incoming students than on existing ones.
Quality of life
Syracuse is cold; and its winters are really cold. So if you prefer warm weather, stay away. The growing crime rate does not speak well for life in Syracuse either. Beyond that, however, there seem to be few downsides to life in Syracuse.
The law shares a campus with its undergraduate counterpart. As a result, sports and drinking tend to dominate social activities. Syracuse has a healthy bar scene and there is plenty of live music. For those who want to get further away from campus, Upstate New York provides a plethora of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Water sports at Finger Lakes, Snowboarding at Hunter Mountain, Backpacking in the Adirondacks…. the list goes on.
To top it all off, housing is generally inexpensive. So, for students who don’t mind consistently cold weather (often times brutally so), Syracuse University College of Law has plenty to offer as far as quality-of-life is concerned.
Tuition could be lower (to say the least), and employment prospects could be higher; but students who do well at Syracuse may reap life-long benefits.
U.S. News Ranking: 96
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