Whether or not you know what you want to major in, it’s hard to decide where you want to go to college. And it’s safe to say that students put even more pressure on themselves when they’re leaning towards a career path that will require additional schooling.
We have made our feelings on choosing a college based on status clear in the past. It’s worth bringing up again here because we often hear people say something along the lines of “I want to go to law school, so I have to go to (insert name of highly regarded college here).” Or “I won’t get into law school if I don’t go to an Ivy League school.” Just so we’re all on the same page, there is not one specific college you can attend that will make you automatically get into Harvard Law.
If you’re considering eventually going to law school, we encourage you to research specific programs instead of focusing exclusively on law school matriculation data. We think it’s worthwhile to at least consider both, but it’s equally as important to understand that students from a wide variety of schools end up at reputable law schools.
Speaking of requirements for law school, here’s what the American Bar Association has to say:
“There is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education. Students who are successful in law school, and who become accomplished professionals, come from many walks of life and educational backgrounds…The ABA does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to major in subjects that are considered to be traditional preparation for law school, such as history, English, philosophy, political science, economics or business, or you may focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science and mathematics, computer science, engineering, nursing or education. Whatever major you select, you are encouraged to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills. Taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for legal education.”
TLDR; Choose a major that you are passionate about. One that challenges you. And while you’re at it, brush up on your research and writing skills. Are there majors that better prepare students for law school? Probably. Some of the more popular pre-law majors are political science, history, economics, philosophy, and business. Getting into law school requires taking the LSAT; and that exam is based on logical reasoning, analytical skills, and reading comprehension. To that end, pre-law students typically choose majors that foster those skills.
Colleges with high percentages of graduates that go on to study law typically have rigorous curriculum in the following disciplines: Political Science, History, Economics, and Liberal Arts. And yes, we’re referring to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, UChicago, etc. Rather than listing the top 25 schools in the nation, we’ve chosen to focus on schools that offer Legal Studies programs, other majors related to the law, top-notch law school advising teams, and interesting course catalogues. We think this approach is more helpful than reiterating the Ivy League.
NU offers an undergraduate major in Legal Studies. Classes such as “Law and Society,” “Sociology of Law,” and “Race, Politics, and the Law,” are taught by professors and lawyers currently working in the field. Northwestern states on their website that the Legal Studies major is not technically a Pre-Law program, rather the program “emphasizes the reciprocal relationships between law and society.” We still think this is a program worth considering. The long list of electives allows students to focus on a variety of topics; a few that caught our eye were “Environmental Law and Policy” and “Gender and Citizenship.” Friendly heads up: you have to apply to major in Legal Studies.
Tulane offers a Legal Studies in Business major. The program is a part of their business school, and could be a good fit for a student interested in the intersection of business and law. As the name suggests, the requirements include classes such as “Financial Management,” “Business Law,” “White Collar Crime,” and “International Business Law.”
The Legal Studies major at Berkeley is an interdisciplinary liberal arts major that examines how politics, culture, and economics shapes the law. This program stands out because it’s advised by Berkeley’s law school faculty. Berkeley has a pre-law advising office, and while it states that the school does not offer a specific “pre-law” major, it also says that the percentage of undergraduate Berkeley students admitted to their law school is “quite high.”
Michigan State University:
MSU offers a Political Science – Pre Law major. It leans towards law school preparation but is also a good fit for students interested in intelligence or law enforcement. The coursework focuses on analytical skills, which are crucial for passing the LSAT. Classes include introductory courses to American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Constitutional Law. MSU also has a co-ed undergraduate pre-law society.
University of Pennsylvania:
While the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics major at Penn isn’t specifically for pre-law students, it teaches students to use rigorous reasoning skills and often prepares students for careers in public policy and public service. There are five thematic concentrations: Choice and Behavior, Globalization, Public Policy and Governance, Disruptive Justice, and Ethics and the Professions.
University of Maryland:
There is no pre-law or legal studies major at University of Maryland, but the school has a Pre-Law advising office. It’s essentially a one stop shop for all future lawyers. The school does not suggest a specific major to choose, but they post a working list of courses that support pre-law interests. They’ve gone so far as to bold the classes they deem most important.
The school also offers a three-year program that allows students with exceptional records to apply to law school at the University of Baltimore School of Law and/or the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law while still pursuing their undergraduate degree. There are a ton of requirements, and you can read more about the program here.
We love helping clients figure out where to apply. Contact us here if you’d like to work with someone one on one.