The 20 American law school programs that lead graduates to the highest salaries

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These law schools set you up to make bank. Pictured: graduates of Fordham Law, which ranked 15th.
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Fordham Law/Facebook

Earning a law degree was once a sure-fire path to a lucrative career. Law school enrollment remains high, but an oversaturation of lawyers has left graduates struggling in the job market. Even the grads who find jobs aren’t guaranteed a six-figure salary, leaving many stuck under a mountain of student debt.

For its new report exploring the value of a law school degree, online lender SoFi culled data from 60,000 of its student loan refinancing applicants who self-identified as having a law degree and, on average, three years of work experience.

They used the applicants’ self-reported data to determine which schools produce the highest-earning graduates and how that salary compares to the amount of student debt they incurred. About 20% of applicants reached the underwriting stage where their degree and salary were verified by SoFi.

SoFi ranked 218 law school programs, excluding schools for which they didn’t have sufficient data. When ranked solely by average salary, the data shows that while banner laws schools like Harvard and Yale expectedly produce high earners, a degree from a prestigious school isn’t the only ticket to big earnings.

Grads of the top-20 law schools on SoFi’s list earn an average salary of $166,155 three years after graduating. And the top-3 schools – all located in New York – earn upwards of $175,000. Moreover, each school on the list leaves grads with a positive salary-to-debt ratio where they earn more money in a year than they owe in student debt.

Below, check out SoFi’s ranking of the 20 law schools that lead grads to the highest salaries.


20. University of Texas at Austin

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University of Texas Law/Facebook

Location: Austin, Texas

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $147,444

Average total debt: $105,254

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.40


19. Vanderbilt University

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Vanderbilt University Law School/Facebook

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $149,475

Average total debt: $130,130

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.15


18. University of California at Los Angeles

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UCLA School of Law/Facebook

Location: Los Angeles, California

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $152,469

Averagetotal debt: $125,579

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.21


17. George Washington University

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The George Washington University Law School/Facebook

Location: Washington, DC

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $153,302

Averagetotal debt: $147,134

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.04


16. Stanford University

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Stanford Law/Facebook

Location: Stanford, California

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $158,088

Averagetotal debt: $122,964

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.30


15. Fordham University

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Fordham Law/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $160,590

Averagetotal debt: $151,406

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.06


14. University of Southern California

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USC Gould School of Law/Facebook

Location: Los Angeles, California

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $161,823

Averagetotal debt: $148,690

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.10


13. University of California at Berkeley

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UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall/Facebook

Location: Berkeley, California

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $163,940

Averagetotal debt: $138,677

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.20


12. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

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University of Michigan Law School/Facebook

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $164,713

Averagetotal debt: $138,688

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.20


11. University of Virginia

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University of Virginia School of Law/Facebook

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $166,396

Averagetotal debt: $137,368

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.21


10. Duke University

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Duke Law School/Facebook

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $169,096

Averagetotal debt: $137,257

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.23


9. University of Pennsylvania

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Penn Law/Facebook

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $170,954

Averagetotal debt: $146,708

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.17


8. Yale University

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Yale Law School/Facebook

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $171,779

Averagetotal debt: $123,793

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.40


7. Northwestern University

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Northwestern Law/Facebook

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $173,204

Averagetotal debt: $157,363

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.10


6. Georgetown University

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Georgetown Law/Facebook

Location: Washington, DC

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $$173,464

Averagetotal debt: $150,359

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.15


5. Harvard University

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Robert Spencer/Stringer/Getty Images

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $173,578

Averagetotal debt: $134,374

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.30


4. The University of Chicago

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The University of Chicago Law School/Facebook

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $174,238

Averagetotal debt: $153,210

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.14


3. New York University

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NYU School of Law/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $177,962

Averagetotal debt: 156,052

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.14


2. Columbia University

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Columbia Law School/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $177,962

Averagetotal debt: 156,052

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.14


1. Cornell University

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Cornell Law School

Location: Ithaca, New York

Average salary 3 years after graduation: $183,377

Averagetotal debt: $148,443

Salary-to-debt ratio: 1.24