USC Gould welcomes JD class that raises standards of achievement
Melissa Masatani • September 18, 2023
Dean Tolson addresses new 1L students at orientation
For the fifth consecutive year, the USC Gould School of Law’s incoming JD class has redefined the standards of scholastic achievement and professional accomplishment.
The Class of 2026 entered the law school with a median LSAT of 169 and a median GPA of 3.88, both record-setting marks. In addition, the acceptance rate was also Gould’s lowest ever, at 12.5%.
“This is – statistically – the strongest JD class to ever enroll at USC Gould,” noted Interim Dean Franita Tolson. “All of these students have earned their seat at Gould. We are fortunate to be able to teach such a strong group, and I have no doubt that their presence will enrich our community over the next three years.”
Breadth of backgrounds
Among the 189 new JD students, more than half – 53% – self-identify as members of a historically under-represented group, making this cohort the law school’s most diverse to date. Women comprise 60% of the class, and 38% are first-generation college students or the first in their family to pursue a graduate degree.
The Class of 2026 also represents a breadth of geographic and academic backgrounds. Students come from 25 states, 79 undergraduate institutions and nearly 50 undergraduate majors, with 10% earning a degree in a STEM discipline such as environmental sciences, biology, chemical engineering and math.
Difference-makers in different fields
In addition to their strong academic accomplishments, the newest JD students continue to represent a diverse assortment of professional and personal experiences, including Fulbright Scholars, a Peace Corps volunteer, world champion athletes, entrepreneurs and more. Students’ passions range from public interest and social justice-related work to social entrepreneurship and education reform.
The class includes founders of organizations that support undocumented and DACA students; a coalition of unhoused women and allies; an NGO that designed therapy for refugee children with mental health issues; and a company that designed zero-waste biodegradable paper products from elephant droppings. Students also volunteered for organizations such as Greenpeace, Heal the Bay, Amnesty International, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the French Refugee Council in Paris, and others. Several bring notable military service, including a combat medic in the U.S. Army and a platoon commander in the Marine Corps.
Creativity and athleticism are also abundant among the 1Ls, from film and theater producers to decorated athletes in basketball, tennis, fencing, gymnastics, soccer, water polo and football, along with a three-time national champion on USC’s beach volleyball team.
In his remarks to the Class of 2026, Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid David Kirschner shared his aspirations for the cohort.
“It is my hope that over the next three years, those of us who you will meet, the faculty and deans, the staff, and your classmates, can help you finish law school just like you started today: with optimism, with a sense of humor and a sense of duty, and with a passion for justice,” he said.