We designed our Binding Early Decision option specifically for prospective J.D. students who have thoroughly explored a range of law schools and have determined that Vanderbilt Law School clearly stands out as the best personal fit for their legal education. If Vanderbilt is your clear first choice, consider expediting the application process by applying under Binding Early Decision.
In return for the benefits of receiving an expedited decision in November / December, candidates must attach to their applications a signed Binding Early Decision Agreement through which they commit to attend Vanderbilt if admitted.
While awaiting a decision from Vanderbilt, Binding Early Decision candidates may apply to other law schools, but may not participate in any other binding early decision program.
Binding Early Decision candidates must submit their Vanderbilt applications through LSAC, including a signed and dated Binding Early Decision Agreement in the Attachments section, on or before November 1. Early Decision candidates must subsequently activate their Vanderbilt Law Application Portal and upload the required video statement as soon as possible but no later than November 8.
The Law School will render decisions on Binding Early Decision applications during November / December. Please review the application instructions before beginning the application; LSAC sends your application to Vanderbilt only after they have received and processed all required materials. You must take the LSAT no later than the October administration.
Our selection process reflects our belief that the quality of the educational environment at the Law School benefits from considering a range of information about each prospective student that is much broader than GPA and LSAT. We review each file in its entirety for characteristics of successful law students and lawyers such as academic excellence, teamwork, intellectual curiosity, strong communication skills, obstacles overcome, respect for others’ views and interest in others’ welfare. We believe that talented students with a mix of backgrounds, perspectives and aspirations promote a vibrant educational environment and that full-file review in the admission process is central to that objective.
While we consider the enthusiasm for Vanderbilt that they demonstrate by applying under Binding Early Decision to be a particularly positive factor, Binding Early Decision candidates do not have a significant advantage in the competitive selection process through which Vanderbilt’s entering class of about 175 - 180 J.D. students emerges from approximately 5,000 applications annually.
We will notify Binding Early Decision candidates of the decisions on their applications during November and December. Acceptances under Binding Early Decision are for fall entry in the current admission cycle only; we will not approve requests for deferred enrollment.
Accepted Under Binding Early Decision
All candidates accepted under Binding Early Decision will receive an annual scholarship of at least $35,000 per academic year ($105,000 over 3 years).* Scholarship awards will immediately follow acceptance notifications.
Notification of acceptance under Binding Early Decision will include a 5-day deadline to complete the requirements of the Binding Early Decision Agreement:
1) submit a non-refundable $1,000 tuition deposit to reserve a place in the Vanderbilt Law entering class
2) submit the Binding Early Decision Agreement Acceptance Form affirming that the candidate:
If a candidate does not complete the requirements of the Agreement by the deadline given, our admission and scholarship offers will become subject to immediate revocation.
Held for further consideration
Some Binding Early Decision applications may be held for further consideration in the regular decision process and will subsequently receive an acceptance, wait-list, or deny decision. If ultimately accepted, candidates are considered for scholarship funding through our regular awarding process. Acceptance through the regular decision process is non-binding.
Some Binding Early Decision candidates who are not accepted or held for further consideration may be notified that their applications have been denied and will not be considered again in the current application cycle.
To apply under Binding Early Decision, you must submit the Vanderbilt JD application and all required materials to LSAC no later than November 1:
Vanderbilt Law Application Portal
When we receive your application from LSAC, we will notify you by email and provide instructions for activating your Vanderbilt Law Application Portal where you can view the status of your application and upload additional materials, including the required Video Essay. We will email you when there are updates to view on your application portal, including the decision on your application.
Video Essay (Required)
All Binding Early Decision candidates must complete a Video Essay on their Application Portals. A Binding Early Decision application is not complete and will not be considered under Binding Early Decision without a Video Essay. The Video Essay is an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to get to know you better and learn more about your interest in the legal field. You will be asked to answer a question during a video recording through your applicant portal. Complete instructions are available on your applicant portal.
Note Concerning Alumni Interviews
As with the regular decision process, an interview with a VLS alum is an option under Binding Early Decision. However, an alumni interview is not required and the lack of an alumni interview will not disadvantage an Early Decision application. Please note that we cannot guarantee availability of interviewers or timely completion of in-person interviews within the time constraints of the Binding Early Decision application process.
* Based on 2020-21 tuition ($62,230), a Vanderbilt student with a $35,000 scholarship would pay net tuition of $27,230 for the 2020-21 academic year ($13,615 each of 2 semesters).