Since I joined Concord Law School at Purdue University Global earlier this year, we've been spending time thinking about why individuals interested in learning the law choose us. On its face, our value proposition is fairly straightforward.
From its inception in 1998 as the nation's first fully online law school, Concord's core mission has been to make a high-quality legal education affordable and accessible. But are we living up to our value proposition? Let's review some recent comparative data, starting with cost.
Concord's JD program tuition cost is currently $39,936. By comparison, the average cost of a 3-year full-time program at schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) nationwide is $124,476 (3.1 times higher), and within California is $146,544 (3.7 times higher). So Concord is clearly more affordable than many traditional schools. But perhaps the higher cost of traditional schools is justified by superior outcomes and more satisfied and fully engaged students? The evidence suggests otherwise.
On the most recent administration of the California Bar Exam for which data are available, from February 2016, Concord Law School students' first-time pass rate was 46.4%, as compared to 46.8% for graduates of ABA schools nationwide—just 0.4 points higher. Even the first-time pass rate for ABA schools located within California was 47.5%, just 1.1 points higher.
The Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) is a national survey administered to tens of thousands of students, almost all of whom attend ABA-accredited schools. In the most recent data from 2015, Concord students responded more favorably than all LSSSE respondents on a variety of metrics, including some for which one might expect traditional schools to outperform an online school. (Responses averaged on a 4-point scale unless otherwise indicated.)
|LSSSE Category||Concord||All Respondents|
|I asked questions or participated in class discussion||3.02||2.92|
|My education prepared me to think critically and analytically||3.66||3.39|
|My law school experience contributed to writing clearly and effectively||3.46||3.17|
|My law school experience contributed to developing legal research skills||3.38||3.19|
|My law school encouraged the ethical practice of law||3.40||3.21|
|Quality of relationships with faculty members (7 pt. scale)||5.70||5.43|
|Overall satisfaction with educational experience||3.41||3.17|
|If I could start over, I would attend the same law school again||3.45||3.16|
Accessibility and New Opportunities
Another core tenet of our value proposition is accessibility. For many individuals who are older, raising families, and in successful careers already, taking 3 or more years off to attend a traditional law school is not feasible. Geography is also a significant barrier for anyone not living within commuting distance of a brick and mortar law school.
On this front, I have some good news to share regarding new opportunities. Recently, North Carolina's State Bar changed its rules so that graduates of non-ABA schools may sit for that state's bar exam immediately upon becoming licensed in another jurisdiction. That means Concord graduates can now apply for the North Carolina exam immediately upon passing the California Bar Exam, just as they can already do in Wisconsin.
Concord is preparing to petition other jurisdictions as well, to try to open up even more paths for licensure for our graduates. We know that this is a benefit not only to our graduates but to the clients they would serve, many of whom live in geographic areas that are not adequately served by the traditional law market.
Purdue University Global
It is not only Concord that is demonstrating its quality and therefore its value. Purdue University Global is regionally accredited and has the same institutional accreditation as other major universities.* The University comprises 8 academic schools, including Concord Law School. Click here for more information.
As I think about our value proposition today, I realize what an exciting time it is to be part of an institution increasingly positioned at the forefront of the future of legal education and the legal profession. But you don't have to take my word for it. The evidence speaks for itself.
All the best,