Pre-Law Curriculum

No particular undergraduate major or course of study is required for admission to law school or even recommended as the best preparation for the study of law. Rather, law schools typically emphasize the need for pre-law students to cultivate certain skills — such as clarity in written and oral communication, an understanding of human institutions and human nature, and creative and critical thinking — that can be developed in the context of a variety of majors offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Pre-law students are therefore encouraged to choose a major on the basis of their intellectual interests and to design, in consultation with the college’s pre-law advisers, an additional program of courses that will help them develop these relevant skills and introduce them to legal concepts and arguments.

While virtually any course in the Arts and Sciences can serve as an occasion to develop the skills essential to success in law school and beyond, the following might be particularly useful: SPCH 2120 (Argumentation and Debate), SPCH 3120 (Persuasive Speaking), PHIL 1210 (Critical Reasoning), PHIL 2010 (Symbolic Logic), PSCI 1100 (Introduction to American National Government), PSCI 3170 (Interest Groups), ECON 2200 (Microeconomics), ECON 2220 (Macroeconomics), and ENGL 2400 (Advanced Composition).

And while a wide variety of courses, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, will make reference to legal concepts and arguments, the following may be mentioned for the specificity of their concern with such issues: PSCI 4170 (Constitutional Law: Foundations), PSCI 4180 (Constitutional Law: The Federal System), PSCI 4190 (Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties), PSCI 4050 (The Judicial Process), PHIL 1020 (Contemporary Moral Problems), PHIL 3010 (Philosophy of Justice), HIST 4330 (U.S. Constitutional History to 1860), HIST 4340 (U.S. Constitutional History to 1860), HIST 4600 (Anglo-American Legal History), BLST 1220 (Law in the Black Community), JOUR 4410 (Communications Law), JOUR 4420 (Theories of the First Amendment: Free Speech and Press), GEOG 4820/BIOL 4820 (Introduction to Environmental Law and Regulation), and SOC 4500 (Law, Family, and Public Policy).

Undergraduate courses primarily concerned with the law are not a necessary preparation for law school, nor do they necessarily render one better prepared for law school than another student who has taken no such courses. Such courses might be useful, however, to those students who are unsure of their interest in law school or, on the other hand, those who are certain of their interest and who already have a sense of the particular field of law in which they are primarily interested. Generally, the pre-law student’s program of study should provide a balanced set of courses from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities that challenge the student to develop keen analytical skills and clarity and persuasiveness in a variety of forms of written and oral communication.

Students should begin the process of applying to law school at least a year in advance of the time of their desired enrollment. Consequently, those who intend to enroll immediately after the completion of their undergraduate degree should begin the application process near the end of their junior year and should take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in the June after that year or in October of their senior year. Information on how to apply for the LSAT and for the Law School Data Assembly Service, which compiles supporting materials for applications and supplies them to the law schools for which you have applied is available from the college’s pre-law advisers.