Admissions Question: July 29
Q: I have a graduate degree. How will the admissions committee consider that when making a decision on my application?
A: An applicant’s statistical profile is comprised of your LSAT score (the highest of multiple scores at Lewis & Clark) and your cumulative undergraduate GPA. A graduate degree does not affect this statistical profile.
However, a graduate degree can often strengthen an applicant’s file depending on the type of degree, grades earned, quality of school attended, etc. The skills one hones in graduate school can be very helpful in law school, especially if one has done a lot of research and writing. Strong graduate grades can especially help offset lower grades in undergrad. A graduate degree can also show academic motivation and maturity. Those are the positives.
On the other hand, a graduate degree will not erase an undergraduate degree and it may not make as much of a difference to one’s application as one would like (again, relevance and type of program are going to be a factor). Also, graduate degree GPA’s are less varied (because a C- or lower is often considered failing). Therefore, a 3.50 in an undergraduate program is a good GPA, while it is just average in most graduate programs. So, a graduate degree is usually a plus, but the main emphasis may still be placed on the undergraduate degree.
I have found that admissions committees usually look at each applicant’s credentials as a piece of the bigger picture and that applicants are given very individual reviews. In other words, a graduate degree for one applicant may be a very influential factor and for another it may make no difference in a decision whether to admit. In any case, it almost never hurts.