University of Penn­syl­va­nia Carey School of Law

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Every year, the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law admits one of the most diverse classes of law students into its impressive campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The roughly 250 students admitted each year are among the brightest students in the country and the incoming class is made up of over 50% women and more than 30% are minority students. As an Ivy League school, Penn Law (as it is commonly called) traces its roots to colonial America but officially began admitting students in 1850. Less than 40 years later, the school began admitting women and African-American students. To this day, Penn Law thrives on its diversity. The education at Penn Law is renowned for producing excellent attorneys which is seen in their graduate employment rates who leave Penn Law with an average salary of $180,000.


The first year curriculum at Penn Law includes the following core courses: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Practice Skills, and Torts. In addition, students choose electives for the Spring term from two areas: administrative law and a general elective. The administrative law elective allows students to be grounded in the complex regulatory framework that shapes the law by taking a class in areas such as environmental law, health law, or international law. The other elective is intended to compliment and build upon the other core courses of the first year.

For their second and third years, students at Penn Law have a notable selection of courses in all aspects of law. Penn Law’s catalog includes over 75 options as well as practical clinics and seminars.

In addition to their course work, graduates of Penn Law are required to complete at least 6 hours of experiential learning of which Penn Law offers numerous options. Penn Law students are also expected to complete at least 70 hours of Pro Bono work. Penn Law maintains the Toll Public Interest Center which provides numerous public interest opportunities for all students. Finally, all graduates are required to complete a multi-semester senior research and writing project overseen by a faculty member.

Additional Programs

Along with their Juris Doctor degree, the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law offers several advanced degrees. Penn Law offers a one year Masters of Law (LL.M) degree with a concentration in intellectual property and technology law as well as a concentrations in global Security, sustainability, and human rights. Penn Law offers a separate Masters of Comparative Law (LL.C.M) degree which requires 16 hours of advanced studies separate from the LL.M coursework. For students without a Juris Doctor degee, Penn Law has a Master in Law program for students who want to demonstrate an understanding of law in conjunction with another field of study. Finally, Penn Law offers a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree which is awarded after successful completion of a dissertation and generally takes three years to complete.

Like many top tier law schools, Penn Law prides itself on the interdisciplinary approach to legal education that is necessary in today’s legal careers. Over 15% of its students obtain joint degrees that pair the J.D. with another masters. Joint Degrees require admission to both programs separately but allow students to save roughly a year due to overlapping credits. In all, Penn Law offers over 30 joint degree in virtually every possible combination from the traditional J.D./MBA degree (with the renowned Wharton School of Business) to unique combinations such as joint J.D. and Masters of Islamic Studies degree.

Career and Career Placement

Within 10 months of graduation, almost all (99%) of Penn Law students are employed most in careers that require bar passage (89%). Over 70% of graduates accept employment in large (500+ attorneys) law firms. Penn Law graduates also command one of the highest median salaries immediately upon graduation at $180,000. Most of these attorneys relocate to nearby New York to practice while roughly 15% remain in Pennsylvania. The high median salary and employment rates reflects Penn Law’s stellar reputation for producing excellent practicing attorneys.

With a staff of 10 full time employees, the Penn Law career service center offer students an array of programs and services including resume collections, arranging on-campus interviews, job fairs, and networking opportunities. Career placement is personalized with interview coaching, resume and cover letter planning, and focused recruiting efforts.

Experiential Learning/Distance Education

Penn Law offers nine legal clinics in a wide array of practice areas as well as an externship program. Both programs offer student the experiential learning required to become practicing attorneys. The clinical program has been serving clients for over 40 years in fields such as criminal defense and child advocacy. The externship program allows student to put practical skills into work at government and non-profit agencies while being closely monitored by faculty in bi-weekly meetings.

Penn Law requires traditional Juris Doctorate students to complete their degrees in residence in six semesters.

Student Life

Set in the historic town of Philadelphia, Penn Law students enjoy the robust offerings of the city as well as one of the oldest universities in the country. The law school building is laid out with a central courtyard and four surrounding halls which offer numerous reading rooms and spaces for students. The law school has over 100 student run organizations which offer Penn Law students any number of opportunities for civil service, socialization, and academic advancement.

Penn Law also recognizes the importance of health and wellness to its students and in the practice of law by providing students with access to an onsite psychologist who can recommendation for treatment or counseling services.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?