Best universities for law degrees 2018

Find the best universities for law degrees using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

October 4 2017

A law degree is the first step to a number of careers including a solicitor, barrister or judge. Many universities around the world provide law degrees so it can be difficult to know which is the best one for you. 

For the first time, Times Higher Education has ranked the top 100 universities for law degrees. Duke University in the US takes first place followed by Stanford University and Yale University, both also in the US. In fact nearly a third of the universities in the law ranking are located in the US.

The highest ranked university from the UK is the University of Cambridge in fifth place followed by the University of Oxford in sixth. There are 23 UK universities in the ranking in total.

The University of Melbourne is the only Australian university to enter the top 10, taking eighth position. Eight more Australian universities feature in the rest of the ranking. 

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Times Higher Education subject tables are based on the same 13 performance indicators used in the overall World University Rankings 2018. However, the methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields. The full methodology can be found here.

Scroll down for a more comprehensive guide to what you can do with a law degree and the top 100 universities. 

Top 5 universities for law degrees

1. Duke University

The Duke University School of Law is one of 10 schools at Duke University. It is consistently ranked highly and has a competitive admissions process, accepting only about 20 per cent of applicants a year. 

The school publishes eight academic journals or law reviews. Law and Contemporary Problems is the university’s oldest law journal. The Duke Law Journal was the first of the law journals to be edited by students and publishes articles from scholars on topics of general interest about the legal system and the study of law. 

The school also offers a number of joint degree programmes with a number of the other schools such as the graduate school, the business school and the medical school. About a quarter of students are enrolled in joint degree courses. 

2. Stanford University

The Stanford Law School is known for having one of the lowest student-to-staff ratios in the country at 7.3:1. 

The law courses are varied and diverse, beginning with an overview in the first year covering criminal law, contracts, tort, and legal research and writing. After the first year, students can choose from some 280 different course titles in order to specialise in the area that interests them. 

The Robert Crown law library at Stanford holds about 500,000 books.

As well as studying, there are more than 50 student organisations run by Stanford law students including the Stanford law and wine society, Stanford law students against gendered violence, women in politics and the black law students association. There are also 12 legal journals affiliated with the law school. 

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3. Yale University 

The admissions process to the Yale University School of Law is one of the most selective in the country with less than 10 per cent of applicants accepted each year.  

The school hosts a number of clinics that allow students to represent clients in real-world problems. Up to 80 per cent of Yale law students take part in these clinics before they graduate. The clinics cover a wide range of legal areas and new ones are added all the time. 

Alumni of the law school include presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former US presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford. 

4. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Law School produces six professional journals, three of which are run by students: University of Chicago Law Review, Chicago Journal of International Law and University of Chicago Legal Forum. If students are interested in membership of any of these journals, they have to take part in a writing competition at the end of the first year. A group of students will then be selected based on their grade point average and the quality of their submissions to the writing competition, depending on which journal they have applied for. 

There are also about 60 student organisations associated with the law school including the criminal law society, the education and child advocacy society, the law school musical and the Muslim law society. 

5. University of Cambridge

The Squire Law Library at the University of Cambridge is one of the three largest legal collections in the UK with almost 180,000 volumes. The collection is strongest in UK law, but contains collections on legal systems across the world including the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. There are also smaller collections for many other countries. 

The Faculty of Law offers six different degrees as well as an MPhil in criminology, an MPhil in criminological research, a diploma in legal studies and the diploma in international law. 

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Top universities for law degrees 2018 

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2018 profile  

Law Rank 2018 University Country
1 Duke University United States
2 Stanford University United States
3 Yale University United States
4 University of Chicago United States
5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom
7 University of Melbourne Australia
8 University College London United Kingdom
9 Harvard University United States
10 University of Toronto Canada
11 University of Pennsylvania United States
12 New York University United States
13 McGill University Canada
14 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
15 University of Michigan United States
16 University of British Columbia Canada
17 Columbia University United States
18 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
19 University of California, Berkeley United States
20 Leiden University Netherlands
21 University of California, Los Angeles United States
22 Cornell University United States
23 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
24 KU Leuven Belgium
=25 Georgetown University United States
=25 King’s College London United Kingdom
27 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
28 University of Manchester United Kingdom
29 University of Virginia United States
30 National University of Singapore Singapore
=31 University of New South Wales Australia
=31 University of Washington United States
33 University of Sydney Australia
34 Utrecht University Netherlands
35 Northwestern University United States
36 Tilburg University Netherlands
37 Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
38 George Washington University United States
39 University of Antwerp Belgium
40 University of Nottingham United Kingdom
41 University of Copenhagen Denmark
42 Australian National University Australia
43 Boston University United States
44 York University Canada
45 Stockholm University Sweden
46 Vanderbilt University United States
47 University of Essex United Kingdom
48 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
49 University of Bristol United Kingdom
50 University of Kent United Kingdom
51 Durham University United Kingdom
52 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
53 University of Sussex United Kingdom
54 University of Queensland Australia
55 University of Texas at Austin United States
=56 University of Helsinki Finland
=56 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
58 Ghent University Belgium
59 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
60 Arizona State University United States
=61 Maastricht University Netherlands
=61 University of Tasmania Australia
63 Autonomous University of Madrid Spain
64 University of Leeds United Kingdom
65 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile
66 University of Montreal Canada
67 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
68 Monash University Australia
69 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
70 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
71 Northeastern University United States
72 University of York United Kingdom
73 University of Groningen Netherlands
74 Dalhousie University Canada
75 Georgia State University United States
76 University of Strathclyde United Kingdom
77 Ohio State University United States
78 University of California, Irvine United States
=79 Laval University Canada
=79 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
81 George Mason University United States
82 Lancaster University United Kingdom
=83 University of Alberta Canada
=83 University of Georgia United States
85 University of Wollongong Australia
=86 University of Birmingham United Kingdom
=86 University of Chile Chile
88 University of South Australia Australia
89 University of Southampton United Kingdom
90 University of Warwick United Kingdom
91 University of Zurich Switzerland
92 University of Pretoria South Africa
93 University of Exeter United Kingdom
94 Tel Aviv University Israel
95 Complutense University of Madrid Spain
=96 University of Bologna Italy
=96 University of Oslo Norway
=98 American University United States
=98 University of Hamburg Germany
=98 University of Ottawa Canada

Click here to view the sortable ranking table 

What can you do with a law degree?

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