The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Part-Time Law School
For those busy with a family or a career, part-time law school may seem like the right option for a law education. Many law schools offer part-time programs for students. But it’s important to look at some of the benefits and drawbacks that a part-time law program provides.
Julie Ketover, a contributor at U.S. News and a law school admissions counselor at Stratus Admissions Counseling, recently wrote an article for U.S. News discussing some of the pros and cons of part-time law school.
There are key aspects to part-time law school that applicants should know about. Ketover breaks these aspects down into 3 categories: time, money, and admissions criteria.
The biggest and perhaps most obvious aspect that interests prospective part-time law students is time. Yet, Ketover says, it also has the most consequences.
“The time factor differs dramatically in full-time vs. part-time law programs, and it is the aspect with the most consequences to consider,” Ketover says. “While most full-time students will receive a J.D. after three years of studies, part-time students typically take four years to complete their degree requirements.”
One benefit that a part-time law program provides is flexibility. While part-time law students may take more time to complete their law education, they often have the option of a more flexible schedule. Many law schools offer evening classes for their part-time students and, according to The Balance — a personal finance website, “part-time law programs allow students to carry fewer credits and take fewer classes than full-time students.”
Ketover says part-time students should still expect to spend 30 to 40 hours a week on course work and homework.
Money is a tricky aspect. While part-time law programs reduce the cost of an education over time, the overall cost is greater. Furthermore, Ketover says, “part-time students may also forgo eligibility for academic scholarships that can help lower costs.”
If financial scholarships are crucial for you, consider enrolling full-time.
Admissions criteria tend to lower for part-time applicants when compared to full-time. According to The Balance, “LSAT scores and GPA’s of students in part-time programs are excluded from U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings calculus, making it possible for schools to lower admissions criteria for part-time students.” However, this places greater importance on students’ professional experience and accomplishments. Ketover says, “this makes sense, since part-time programs are generally geared toward professionals who have spent time in the workforce already.”
The biggest drawback to a lower admissions criteria is the prestige factor. According to Ketover, “because part-time programs place less emphasis on the objective LSAT score and undergraduate GPA value, employers may view these programs as less impressive.”
Want to check out the best schools for part-time law programs? Click here.
Sources: U.S. News, The Balance