Does the major matter?
A. Choosing a major. There is no right or wrong
major in the sense that one major opens the door to law school and
another closes the door to law school. Pre-law is not like premed.
The path to medical school has historically been through science
majors, but there are many paths or tracks to law school.
B. What is a good pre-law major? The choice of a
major is important because not all majors develop the intellectual
skills measured on the LSAT. A good major is the one that is right
for you. Pre-law advisors recommend considering the following
suggestions when thinking about a major.
. Follow your abilities. If your academic skills are
strongest in the sciences (e.g., math, biology, physics, computer
science), then consider a science major. If your academic skills
are strongest in the arts, humanities, or social sciences, then
consider a major in one of those fields. If you are good at
writing and critical thinking, then consider a major that
develops those skills. Your performance on standardized tests in
high school and your course grades provide good indicators of
Your interests. Follow your interests. Choose a
major in a field that interests you. Look at the University
catalogue to see what kinds of majors are offered, and look at
what kinds of courses are required to receive a degree in a
major. If the courses interest you, then give that major serious
consideration as the right pre-law major for you. If you are not
interested in the subject matter, then the major probably is not
right for you because interest is related to performance, and it
is important to do well in your courses.
The LSAT. Choose a major that allows you to
develop the skills that the LSAT measures. Either the courses
that are required for the major or the electives can develop your
analytical reasoning skills. Some years ago, law school deans
were surveyed to determine what majors they recommended to
effectively prepare students for law school. The four majors most
frequently recommended were, in alphabetical order, English
(sometimes called literature), history, philosophy, and political
science (sometimes called government). Pre-law advisors advise
students to take the most demanding courses with the most
demanding professors because that is the best way to develop the
skills that the LSAT measures.
The law. Taking a course that exposes you to the
law can be useful preparation for the study and practice of law,
but do not focus narrowly on law. Taking lots of law courses that
require you to memorize cases, or teach you about the practice of
law, is not a good way to prepare for the LSAT. Law courses that
focus on teaching you what the law is (whether it is business law
or criminal law) are good preparation for the LSAT.
Students from every major in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College
of Arts and Letters have gone on to careers in law. Several
departments (English, History, Philosophy, Political Science,
Philosophy) explicitly focus on the connection between their majors
and the skills needed to succeed in a legal career. [Insert url for
overview page under the Programs item on the College home page
menu]. The College also offers a certificate in Ethics, Law and
Society (add link to certificate home page).