Finished your bachelor’s and pondering the next step? Whether it’s diving into graduate studies, gearing up for medical school, stepping into the job world, or dreaming of law school, the options are vast. But if law school is on your radar, there’s good news: no specific degree is mandatory. That’s right, any bachelor’s degree could be your ticket in. Dive deeper to discover which majors prime you for success in law school and what the application process demands.
Jump Ahead To:
Essential Criteria for Law School Admission
While there are no specific degree requirements to get into law school, there are some requirements a student must meet in order to be considered when applying. These requirements are:
- Having a bachelor’s degree
- Taking the admissions test (LSAT) and performing well
- Having letters of recommendation
- Having a personal statement
The biggest of the requirements that students will focus on is the LSAT. Much like the SAT, the LSAT is meant to test your reading comprehension, reasoning, and analytical skills. You do not have to have any previous knowledge of the law in order to do well on this test.
Applying to law school is similar to applying to a university, except you already have gone through this process once before and obtained a degree.
Curious about what law school you can get admitted to? Check out our admissions predictor!
Top Undergraduate Majors for Aspiring Lawyers
While it is possible for a student with any bachelor’s degree to apply and get into law school, there are some degrees that help students better prepare for law school over some other degrees.
Some of the best degrees that help prepare you for law school are:
- Political Science
- Criminal Justice
Why Political Science Grads Excel in Law School
Political Science is more of the obvious choice for students who plan on attending law school after graduating with an undergraduate degree. Most college students pick majors that are interesting to them and that they will enjoy. This applies to using a political science degree to prepare for law school, as those who are interested in law are often also interested in politics and government.
Students who pursue a degree in political science are able to gain a more solid understanding of how the judicial system works, and this can help them when pursuing a law degree.
Criminal Justice: The Law School Advantage
Along with Political Science, Criminal Justice is another degree path that students who plan on going to law school follow. The coursework required to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice focuses on topics such as exploration of the law, the corrections system, court proceedings, as well as other aspects of the legal system. Students who work on this degree path are also able to work on their research and writing skills.
All of these different aspects of the Criminal Justice degree path can help to prepare a student for law school.
History: Understanding the Foundations of Law
History is another popular degree path for students who plan on attending law school. Studying history helps to give a better and deeper understanding of how the American legal system developed. The coursework can also involve the study of landmark court cases and rulings as well as treaties and the development of other political and judicial systems throughout the world.
Philosophy: Grasping the Ethical Pillars of Law
When choosing a degree that can help one get into law school, many students can overlook philosophy as an option. Law tends to be heavily based on aspects of philosophy, such as ethics and human nature, so a degree in philosophy can help a student better understand those concepts before dealing with them in terms of the law.
English: Mastering the Language of Law
A degree in English can also be beneficial to anyone planning on attending law school. The coursework for an English degree heavily relies on reading and writing. More specifically, it relies on reading comprehension and persuasive writing. Reading comprehension, as well as the critical thinking skills obtained through the coursework of an English degree, are helpful when taking the LSAT, which is an exam that must be taken to get into law school. Not to mention you’ll need those persuasive writing skills when you’re drafting your opening and closing statements!
Business Studies: Prepping for Corporate Law and Beyond
When a student chooses to pursue a business degree, they may first be considering working in the corporate world as a CEO, Accountant, or other field related to these majors. Business degrees, however, can also be beneficial to students who plan on going to law school.
Topics such as public speaking, corporate structure, negotiations, and contract structure can be discussed in the coursework of a business degree, so a student can have a better understanding of these topics before focusing on them in the context of the law.
A Business degree can also be useful if a law student chooses to take the road of a corporate lawyer. Corporate lawyers work hand in hand with large and medium sized corporations, private equity firms and other corporate world players. A Business degree can give young corporate attorneys a better “big picture” view of what is going on in often what seems like extremely complex mergers and acquisitions.
Why Some Degrees Might Not Fully Prepare You for Law School’s Rigors
Law school is a demanding environment, known for its rigorous curriculum, high expectations, and intense competition. While it’s true that any bachelor’s degree can serve as a foundation for entering law school, not all degrees provide the same level of preparation for this challenging journey. Here’s why certain degrees might not offer the best foundation for the legal academic environment:
- Lack of Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
Courses that don’t emphasize critical thinking or analytical reasoning might leave students underprepared for the depth of analysis required in law school. Legal studies often involve dissecting complex situations, understanding multiple viewpoints, and formulating arguments based on evidence and precedent. Degrees that don’t hone these skills can put students at a disadvantage.
- Insufficient Writing Practice
Clear, concise, and persuasive writing is a cornerstone of legal practice. Degrees that lack significant writing components might not prepare students for the extensive writing they’ll encounter in law school, from essays and research papers to mock trial arguments.
- Limited Exposure to Dense Texts
Some programs focus on practical skills or hands-on training but don’t require students to navigate dense and complex texts. Law school involves reading intricate legal documents, cases, and statutes. Being unaccustomed to such reading can make the initial months of law school especially daunting.
- Absence of Research Component
Degrees that don’t emphasize research might leave students unfamiliar with the in-depth research process integral to legal studies. From understanding where to find legal precedents to how to use them effectively in arguments, research is a pivotal skill in law.
- Overemphasis on Memorization
Some programs stress memorization over understanding and application. However, law school is more about applying legal principles to varied situations.
- Lack of Interdisciplinary Understanding
The law interacts with various aspects of society, from economics and environment to technology and human rights. Programs that are too niche or don’t provide a broad overview might leave students with gaps in understanding how law intersects with these diverse areas.
While these points highlight potential gaps, it’s essential to remember that individual determination, work ethic, and passion for the law play a significant role in law school success. If you come from a background that might not seem perfectly aligned with legal studies, consider supplemental courses or self-study to bridge the gap. With dedication and the right preparation, any degree can lead to a rewarding legal career.
Law School Preparation: Additional Activities and Extracurriculars
While the degree you pursue is undeniably vital in prepping for law school, there’s another dimension that aspiring lawyers often overlook: extracurricular activities and real-world experiences. Engaging in these can not only bolster your application but also provide invaluable insights into the legal world.
- Internships and Clerkships
Jump into a law firm or a related field’s internship. It’ll give you a sneak peek into the daily life of a lawyer and furnish you with practical experiences. From attending court hearings to understanding the nitty-gritty of paperwork, these stints are golden opportunities to discern if law truly resonates with you.
- Debate and Moot Court Teams
Joining your university’s debate team or participating in moot court competitions will hone your argumentative skills. Crafting and defending your perspective is a quintessential aspect of the legal profession, and these platforms provide the perfect training ground.
- Volunteering and Pro Bono Work
Engaging in community service, especially in legal aid clinics, can give you a firsthand experience of the societal implications of the law. This not only adds value to your application but also enlightens you about the broader impact of the profession.
- Networking and Law Workshops
Regularly attending workshops, seminars, or webinars about contemporary legal issues will keep you updated with the latest in the field. Moreover, these events often provide opportunities to network with established professionals, helping you gather insights and possibly even recommendations.
- Legal Research and Publications
Engage in research on a legal topic that intrigues you and consider publishing your findings. Many law schools value students who exhibit an analytical mindset and the ability to contribute to legal literature.
In Summary: Paving Your Path to Law School
There are no specific degree requirements for a student who plans on attending law school. Any bachelor’s degree is accepted as a basis for applying and getting into law school. However, there are certainly degree paths that can help a student who plans on attending law school and will make that journey slightly easier. Some of the degree paths that can help a student who plans on going to law school are political science, criminal justice, history, philosophy, English, and business.
While it does not matter which bachelor’s degree a student has when applying for law school, having a bachelor’s degree in some field is required. Other requirements for getting into law school are doing well on the admissions tests, having letters of recommendation, and having a personal statement. These are all of the things a person must have if they plan on applying to law school.