Academic Scholars Program

The Academic Scholars Program identifies and provides academic and financial support for incoming J.D. candidates with strong potential and ambition to become law professors.

About the Program

Columbia Law School Academic Scholars are able to take advantage of both academic and financial support offered through the Program. Academic support includes mentorship by a member of the faculty and support in entering Ph.D. studies, if that will advance the Scholar’s career. In addition to automatic admission to the Legal Scholarship Practicum and an annual research and conference stipend, Academic Scholar receive a half-tuition grant for all three years of the JD program.

The Program welcomes applications from entering J.D. students. Incoming 1Ls can indicate their interest in the program on their J.D. application and will be invited to an optional information session via Zoom. Please see below for details on full application requirements. Deadlines will be updated for each year's admissions cycle.

Consistent with the Law School's commitment to diversity, equity, and anti-racism, the Program will strive to support the academic careers of students from a wide array of backgrounds, including students from traditionally underrepresented groups. 

Academic Support

Upon admission to the Program, each Scholar will be assigned a faculty mentor. The mentor will help prepare the Scholar for an academic career. The mentor will also work with the Columbians in Teaching Committee to (a) determine whether the Scholar should be encouraged to pursue a Ph.D. program and, if so, (b) work with the relevant Columbia unit to facilitate admission to its Ph.D. program. Students who have already earned a Ph.D., or are in the process of completing one, are encouraged to apply. 

During 2L and 3L years, Scholars will:

  • Participate in the Legal Scholarship Practicum focused on producing a research portfolio.
  • Be allowed to take up to 6 credits of supervised research per year (not more than 3 per semester)

Financial Support

Up to two incoming 1L Academic Scholars per year will receive merit scholarships in an amount that, when added to the recipient’s aggregate grants, if any, totals the annual half tuition. Scholars will also receive an annual research and conference stipend. 

In addition, the recipient will receive loans up to the full cost of attendance, which, subject to certain requirements, may be eligible for forgiveness.

How to Apply

Only incoming 1Ls are eligible for the Academic Scholars Financial Aid Award. Students should submit their application materials to [email protected]

Application materials should include:

  • Official undergraduate transcript and, if a current CLS student, official law school transcript. 
  • Resume.
  • Copies of scholarly publications and/or a sample of your academic writing. Scholarly publications are not required to apply to the program. If you would like to submit scholarly publications and have multiple possible submissions, please select your best 1-2 examples, preferably work that is entirely your own rather than co-authored. If you do not have any publications--or, if you have included publications but they are all co-authored--please submit a sample of your own academic writing, such as an undergraduate paper. 
  • Personal statement, 2-3 single-spaced pages long, that discusses your research interests (e.g., criminal law, legal history, environmental law, etc.) and explains why you think you’d like to become a law professor (you need not be sure!). You do not need to include citations to academic literature, but you may.
  • Names of potential faculty mentors at Columbia Law School. Please include these as a separate document. We do not expect you to contact any of these faculty members in advance.

Applications should be sent to: [email protected]

Application Deadlines

  • The application for the 2024 entering J.D. class is closed.
  • Information on how to apply as a member of the entering class of 2025 will be posted here when available.