What Are the Pre-Law Requirements?

The number of applicants to law schools in the United States is roughly 35 percent higher this year than it was last year at the same time, according to the Law School Admission Council. 

 

Law is a popular career path, and with admission to law school so competitive, you’re probably wondering how to improve your pre-law profile. Are there requirements? And which courses should you take to increase your chances of acceptance?

 

What is Pre-Law? Is it a Major?

 

There’s no specific pre-law major, just as there’s no pre-med major. Being pre-law simply means you’re planning on applying to law school.

 

Some of the most popular majors for pre-law students are political science, psychology, and history. That said, students can choose any undergraduate major and apply to law school. You could major in something that seems totally irrelevant, like music or the visual arts, and still become a lawyer!

 

In fact majoring in a less-traditional discipline may provide you with the background to pursue special types of law. For instance, environmental studies majors may go into environmental law, and music majors may go into entertainment and copyright law.

 

No matter what your major, look for a school that has strong pre-law advising. This will help you navigate the law school admissions process and give you support and resources throughout your undergraduate studies. For example, George Washington University and NYU will help students determine whether law school is the best choice for the student, prepare for the LSAT and GRE, identify the right schools, explore career options, offer webinars on the subject, and more.

 

What Are The Pre-Law Requirements?

 

Are there Course Requirements?

 

There are no specific course requirements for admission to law school, in contrast to medical school. While you may think it’s best to major in a law-related field, law schools often prefer a broad liberal arts education.

 

For example, Harvard Law School’s FAQs page states: 

 

…in preparing for law school, a broad college education is usually preferable to one that is narrowly specialized. The Admissions Committee looks for a showing of thorough learning in a field of your choice, such as history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature or the classics (and many others), rather than a concentration in courses given primarily as vocational training.

 

Typical Pre-Law Requirements

 

While there are no course requirements, you will need to meet other requirements to apply to law school, including:

 

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Strong LSAT score
  • Complete application, including essays and recommendation letters

 

The LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is especially important, as it’s a standardized way to compare applicants from diverse backgrounds. The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120-180, with the average score being a 151. Applicants to top 10 law schools, however, should aim for a 170 and above. The LSAT tests reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning. The formatting of the test is very different from other standardized exams, and students will need to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the question types.

 

Recommendation letters are also important in any grad school admissions process. Students should strive to build meaningful relationships with their professors; this will not only help them receive strong rec letters, but also help them find life-long mentors.

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What Courses Should Pre-Law Students Take?

 

While there are no course requirements for admission to law school, there are many courses that will help you prepare for the rigor of the curriculum and your legal career. 

 

Liberal arts and humanities courses, including English and history, will help you learn how to think critically, read efficiently, and write competently — skills that will be essential when you’re a lawyer. They’ll also give you experience reading and analyzing texts, another pivotal part of the law school curriculum.

 

Political science, government, and criminal justice courses will provide a good foundation for understanding how the government, law, and judicial systems work. Just bear in mind, if you’re considering majoring in one of these disciplines, these are popular choices for law school-bound students and law schools value diversity.

 

Psychology and sociology can help you understand people and their behaviors, which will also be useful in your career as a lawyer. Meanwhile, economics will give you insight into the business world, something that will come in handy if you’re interested in corporate law or have a practice later on.

 

STEM courses can also be useful, especially if you’re interested in the legal and regulatory issues related to these fields. Harvard Law School actually encourages applications from all backgrounds, and states that STEM students “may wish to work in the field for a few years to garner practical experience in the sciences before studying the legal aspects that regulate such work.”

 

Besides that, taking logical reasoning courses like mathematics and philosophy can help prepare you for the logic-related questions on the LSAT. This is especially true for mathematics courses that are proof-heavy, like Geometry and Linear Algebra.

 

To sharpen your public speaking skills, you may consider taking a speech class, or participating in extracurriculars like Debate or Mock Trial.

 

Want to learn more about becoming a lawyer? See our step-by-step pre-law guide, beginning from high school.

Your path to becoming a lawyer starts with the best undergraduate education for you. To find out your chances of being admitted to your top-choice colleges, check out CollegeVine’s free Chancing Engine. This tool uses your unique information, including your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and more to estimate your real odds of acceptance.


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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