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What is the Difference Between and Public and Private Law School?

While going to law school can prepare you for taking the bar exam and becoming a licensed lawyer, you need to look at the difference between public and private law school programs first. The main difference applies to how the schools receive funding. Public law schools receive more government funding, which helps keep tuition costs down. Private law schools receive limited government support and more funding from alumni and other individuals. Both types of programs have some benefits, but it’s important that you look closely at the differences before deciding which type of program will help you achieve your goals.

Tuition and Other Costs

The average cost of attending law school depends on whether you enroll in a private or public school. Public schools work hard to keep costs down and usually cost under $20,000 a year. Private schools are more expensive and can cost as much as $40,000 a year. If you attend a traditional program, you might graduate with more than $100,000 of debt in your name. Miscellaneous fees for using campus resources will cost more at private schools than at public schools too.

Overall Size

According to Peterson’s, a clear difference between public and private schools is the overall size. Peterson’s points out that a public university can have more than 40,000 students enrolled. Though this figure relates to undergrad programs, law school classes will differ in size between the two campus types too. A private law school may admit just 100 students each year or less. Public schools have larger law programs and more space available, and those schools may admit 1,000 or more new students every year.

Acceptance Rates

Another difference between and public and private law school programs is the number of students accepted every year. A top rated private law school may admit less than 10% of those who submit applications, while a bigger public law school may admit more than half of all applicants. Those schools use different methods to determine who it accepts too. Private colleges are much more selective and look for students who have a high undergrad grade point average and those who successfully completed a pre-law program. The schools may require that students do volunteer work, have a high LSAT score and submit several letters of recommendation. Public law schools are more lenient about their requirements and may admit students with lower test scores or grades.

Classes Available

Though you may think that all law school programs are the same, each school has the right to design its own program. Most programs feature required courses on constitutional law, civil rights law, legal writing and torts. Private colleges often have more experienced professors working in its programs who can give you a better understanding of those topics. Public law schools have more instructors working in its programs and can offer more classes too. A public school may offer classes on intellectual property law, real estate law and other areas of the law that you can’t take in a private law school.

Public and private law schools both offer lots of opportunities for students and prepare those students for taking the bar and later practicing as attorneys. Looking at the difference between and public and private law school programs, including tuition rates and acceptance rates, is the best way to decide where you should apply.

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