Points to Ponder: US News & World Report Rankings

I was actually thinking about this while I was supposed to be resting (sad but I guess it is part of figuring out my future). Anyway, the U.S. News & World Report ranks law schools into four tiers. Each tier has 100 law schools and within that tier is ranked. This means of all the law schools worth mentioning on the USNWR website, the total is 400. When USNWR reaches the fourth tier it doesn’t even rank within the tier for obvious reasons–it doesn’t matter.

Then I thought wait, ABA has only accredited 200 law schools though a couple more have provisional accreditation. So how can an ABA accredited law school be ranked lower than so many other law schools without accreditation? What are the criteria that the ABA and USNWR uses when ranking these institutions of higher education and why don’t they reconcile? This means that a non-ABA accredited law school can be and is ranked at times HIGHER than an ABA accredited law school. Most jurisdictions won’t allow you to take their bar admission exams without graduating from an ABA accredited law school. Nor will many if not all federal jobs hire a law school graduate that hasn’t fulfilled the same criteria. Did I miss something?


  1. JD Underdog Said:

    ABA accredited schools are closer to 200.

  2. JD Underdog Said:

    Yes, they merely list the fourth tier in alphabetical order. Law students of unaccredited schools are at least given provisional accreditation to sit for the bar. But 0L’s should avoid these schools like the plague.

  3. Matt Said:

    Traditionally there were 4 tiers with 50 schools in each tier. A few years ago the first and second tiers were merged and ranked 1-100. This allowed schools 51-100 to announce they were “first tier’ schools. It is an awkward situation. USN does not rank provisional or unaccredited schools.

    • A Law School Victim Said:

      I see, there lies the confusion they combined Tier 1 and Tier 2, so it’s as if Tier 2 doesn’t exist, though one could just literally count over at 51. Interesting.

      • Matt Said:

        Right. It’s a weird situation. I’m not sure what USN’s plan is when there are say 240 schools. Divide each tier into 60 schools? Or would that just raise tiers for many schools since newer schools would likely be in the 4th tier. Create a fifth tier? That would mean some 4th tier schools would slip into that tier. No matter what the solution I’m sure in about 5 years it will be hilarious to watch.

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