Deferral Policies as of 2003-2004

Deferral policies change quite often. As the applicant pool changes size and demographic, schools may adjust their deferral policies accordingly. This data is probably valid through 2011, but if this year's decline in applications continues, I wouldd place less reliance on it.

At the Fall 2003 Law Forums, we asked admissions staff about their deferral policies in this time of increasing applications.  We were able to obtain answers from 142 law schools, out of the 170 or so we interviewed.  In most other cases, the person we interviewed didn't know the answer.  As recruiting events increase, more of them are attended by hired recruiters (translate: salespeople) or by staff from other departments.  

POLICY:  I've divided the policies into Conservative, Moderate, and Liberal.  

  • "Conservative" is my term for words like "We very rarely grant them ."  
  • "Liberal" is my translation of "they're pretty routinely given."  
  • "Moderate" is anything in between.  
  • Note that a surprising number of schools said "None at all."

BASED ON:  There are four common criteria for deciding whether to grant a deferral:  the quality of the app, the reason for asking, the time of year, and how overenrolled a school is.  

  • "Quality" is usually a code word for numbers -- gpa and LSAT.  Applicants with numbers above median are much more likely to be given a deferral.
  • "Reason" means what it says, although it varies with the overall policy.  At a school with a conservative policy, medical emergency might be the only good reason, while at a school with a liberal policy, a chance to see Europe might be sufficient.  
  • "More likely Early" is subject to the same kind of interpretation.  At a school with a Feb. 1 deadline, "early" generally means April or May; at a school with a May 1 deadline, it might mean July.
  • "Only if overenrolled" could refer either to the current year or the upcoming one; there's no way to know.  Schools tend to watch their faculty-student ratio as well as their classroom seating capacity.  

COMMENTS: in most cases, I've used this column for a second answer to the "based on" question.  But note that there are a few surprises.  

AKRON Not Answered          
ALABAMA Conservative Reason     
ALBANY Not Answered        
AMERICAN Conservative Reason     
APPALACHIAN Not Answered          
ARIZONA Liberal Reason     
ARIZONA STATE Moderate More Likely Early     
ARKANSAS-FAYETTEVILLE Not Answered          
ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK Conservative Reason     
AVE MARIA Liberal Reason     
BALTIMORE Moderate Quality     
BARRY Not Answered         
BAYLOR None Must Reapply     
BOSTON COLLEGE Moderate Reason     
BOSTON UNIVERSITY Conservative Reason    
BRIGHAM YOUNG Moderate Reason    
BROOKLYN Liberal Reason     
BUFFALO - SUNY Liberal More Likely Early     
CAL-BERKELEY Not Answered         
CAL-DAVIS None Must Reapply     
CAL-HASTINGS Conservative Reason    
CAL-UCLA Conservative Reason   
CALIFORNIA WESTERN Conservative Reason     
CAMPBELL Liberal        
CAPITAL Not Answered          
CARDOZO Not Answered      
CASE WESTERN RESERVE Liberal          
CATHOLIC Conservative Reason      
CHAPMAN Moderate Quality And Reason       
CHICAGO Moderate Quality And Reason     
CHICAGO-KENT Moderate Reason More Likely Early
CINCINNATI Not Answered         
CLEVELAND STATE None Must Reapply       
COLORADO None Must Reapply     
COLUMBIA Liberal          
CONNECTICUT Not Answered           
CORNELL Liberal              
CREIGHTON Liberal              
DAYTON Moderate Quality And Reason       
DENVER Conservative Reason       
DEPAUL Liberal              
DETROIT MERCY Moderate Reason       
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Moderate Quality And Reason       
DRAKE Conservative Quality And Reason       
DUKE Moderate Reason More Likely Early
DUQUESNE Not Answered              
EMORY Liberal              
FLORIDA Not Answered              
FLORIDA COASTAL Not Answered              
FLORIDA STATE Moderate Reason More Likely If Overenrolled
FORDHAM Moderate Quality And Reason       
FRANKLIN PIERCE Conservative Reason       
GEORGE MASON Liberal              
GEORGE WASHINGTON Liberal              
GEORGETOWN Liberal              
GEORGIA Not Answered              
GEORGIA STATE Not Answered              
GOLDEN GATE Moderate Reason       
GONZAGA None Must Reapply       
HAMLINE None Must Reapply       
HARVARD Liberal              
HAWAII Moderate Reason       
HOFSTRA Liberal              
HOUSTON Liberal              
HOWARD Conservative Only If Overenrolled       
IDAHO Conservative Reason       
ILLINOIS Liberal              
INDIANA-BLOOMINGTON Liberal More Likely Early       
INDIANA-INDIANAPOLIS Moderate Quality And Reason       
IOWA Moderate Quality And Reason       
JOHN MARSHALL Liberal Reason       
KANSAS Not Answered              
KENTUCKY Not Answered              
LEWIS AND CLARK Liberal Reason       
LOUISIANA STATE None Must Reapply       
LOUISVILLE Liberal              
LOYOLA-CHICAGO Conservative Reason Require Substantial Deposit
LOYOLA-L.A. None Must Reapply       
LOYOLA-NEW ORLEANS Not Answered              
MAINE Moderate Reason       
MARQUETTE Moderate Reason More Likely Early
MARYLAND Conservative Reason       
MEMPHIS Moderate Reason       
MERCER Not Answered              
MIAMI Moderate Quality And Reason       
MICHIGAN Moderate Quality And Reason       
MICHIGAN STATE Not Answered              
MINNESOTA Liberal More Likely Early       
MISSISSIPPI Not Answered              
MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE None Must Reapply       
MISSOURI-COLUMBIA Liberal              
MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY Not Answered              
MONTANA Not Answered              
NEBRASKA Liberal Reason       
NEVADA Not Answered              
NEW ENGLAND Not Answered              
NEW MEXICO Not Answered              
NEW YORK - CUNY Moderate Reason       
NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL Conservative Reason       
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY Moderate Reason More Likely Early
NORTH CAR. CHAPEL HILL Liberal Reason       
N C CENTRAL Not Answered              
NORTH DAKOTA Not Answered              
NORTHEASTERN Conservative Reason       
NORTHERN ILL. Liberal              
NORTHERN KENTUCKY Moderate Reason More Likely Early
NORTHWESTERN Liberal              
NOTRE DAME Liberal              
NOVA Moderate Quality And Reason       
OHIO NORTHERN Liberal              
OHIO STATE Moderate Reason       
OKLAHOMA Not Answered              
OKLAHOMA CITY Liberal Reason       
OREGON Conservative Quality And Reason       
PACE Moderate Quality And Reason       
PACIFIC Conservative Reason       
PENN Liberal              
PENN STATE Liberal Overenrolled This Year       
PEPPERDINE Moderate Quality And Reason       
PITTSBURGH Conservative Quality       
QUINNIPIAC Moderate Reason       
REGENT Liberal              
RICHMOND Moderate Quality And Reason       
ROGER WILLIAMS Moderate Reason       
RUTGERS-CAMDEN Not Answered              
RUTGERS-NEWARK Moderate Reason       
SAINT JOHN'S Conservative Reason       
SAINT LOUIS Liberal More Likely Early       
SAINT MARY'S Liberal More Likely Early       
SAINT THOMAS Liberal Quality       
SAMFORD Conservative Reason       
SAN DIEGO Conservative Quality       
SAN FRANCISCO Conservative Quality And Reason       
SANTA CLARA Liberal              
SEATTLE None Must Reapply       
SETON HALL Liberal Reason       
SOUTH CAROLINA Not Answered              
SOUTH DAKOTA Not Answered              
SOUTH TEXAS None Must Reapply       
SOUTHERN None Must Reapply       
SOUTHERN CAL. Liberal              
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS Moderate Quality More Likely If Overenrolled
SOUTHERN METHODIST None Must Reapply       
SOUTHWESTERN Moderate Reason More Likely Early
STANFORD Liberal              
STETSON Moderate Quality And Reason       
SUFFOLK Liberal              
SYRACUSE Liberal              
TEMPLE Moderate Quality And Reason More Likely Early
TENNESSEE Not Answered              
TEXAS Moderate Reason       
TEXAS SOUTHERN Not Answered              
TEXAS TECH. Moderate Quality And Reason       
TEXAS WESLEYAN Moderate              
THOMAS COOLEY Moderate Quality And Reason       
THOMAS JEFFERSON Not Answered              
TOLEDO Moderate Quality       
TOURO Not Answered              
TULANE Moderate Reason       
TULSA Not Answered              
UTAH Liberal More Likely Early       
VALPARAISO Not Answered              
VANDERBILT Moderate Quality And Reason       
VERMONT Liberal              
VILLANOVA Moderate Reason       
VIRGINIA Liberal              
WAKE FOREST Conservative Only If Overenrolled       
WASHBURN Moderate Reason       
WASHINGTON Liberal              
WASHINGTON AND LEE Conservative More Likely Early       
WASHINGTON U. Liberal              
WAYNE STATE Not Answered              
WEST VIRGINIA Not Answered              
WESTERN N. ENG. Conservative Reason       
WESTERN STATE Conservative Quality       
WHITTIER Moderate Quality And Reason       
WIDENER (DELAWARE) Conservative Quality       
WILLAMETTE None Must Reapply       
WILLIAM AND MARY Moderate              
WILLIAM MITCHELL Liberal              
WISCONSIN Liberal Reason       
WYOMING Not Answered              
YALE Liberal              

Take me back to the
"After Words" Page

Take me back to
the Home Page