You’re getting ready to apply to law school and you are getting all of your documents together to complete your application. You have already taken the LSAT, finished undergrad, and gotten your references together, but you have a deep pit in your stomach that law school admissions are going to look down upon other parts of your resume. Maybe you majored in a really soft social science or you went to a low tier state school. Do law schools actually care about these factors?
Every aspiring law student knows that the LSAT and your undergrad GPA are the two most important factors in law school admissions decisions, but the evidence starts to get flimsy when we consider additional admissions factors. So, do law schools actually care about what you majored in?
No, for the most part, law schools do not consider your undergrad major in admissions decisions, and even when they do it is a very minor factor. It’s far more important that you perform well in undergrad and earn a high GPA, than that you take “the right” major.
That being said, I am now a 3L law student and I can tell you that there are some advantages in certain situations with some specific majors.
In this article, I will discuss the caveats to the general rule that law schools don’t care what you majored in and I will also discuss whether law schools care about what college you went to.
Law school typically don’t care what you majored in
Law schools usually don’t care about what you majored in because there is such a huge amount of variation between different schools and majors, and it is very difficult to pinpoint every major on a spectrum of academic rigor. It’s even more difficult to try and account for variations between majors at different colleges.
Therefore, law school admissions rely on far more standardized factors like the LSAT and GPA and will consider things like your major in a small number of cases such as splitters. A “splitter” is usually defined as where an applicant has an above-average GPA but a below-average LSAT or vice-versa.
Another case where a law school will sometimes look at an applicant’s major is “in close cases”. A close case would be where an applicant is toward the bottom of the individual law school’s admission criteria and the law school needs to look at “soft factors” to get a better picture of the applicant.
So, except for these two minor cases what you majored in matters very little in law school admission decisions. Even in cases where an admissions committee will look at your major it certainly is not a major factor.
You can check out how to actually prepare for law school in undergrad here!
Are there any advantages with picking a certain major?
Some majors do provide some real advantages in law school. I have seen it with my own eyes, and there is one set of majors that provide a bigger advantage than the rest. You might be surprised to hear that the STEM majors provide the clearest benefit to law student job prospects out of any of the majors.
In fact, obtaining a STEM major in undergrad increases your job prospects enormously after law school. Why on earth would a STEM major be so helpful for law school? Well because students with these types of backgrounds are sought after for Intellectual Property (IP) practice groups. Most law firms require that IP applicants have a STEM background.
I’m not saying that a STEM background will guarantee you a job at an Am 100 law firm upon graduation, but it will radically increase your chances.
Do law schools care what college you went to?
Okay, so we have established that law schools generally don’t care about what you majored in, but that there are some real, concrete advantages to a few specific majors. The truth is that not all colleges are equal in terms of academic rigor and prestige.
In my own home state of North Carolina, the college I went to was considered significantly less demanding than Chapel Hill, which is the preeminent state school in NC. So do law school admissions take your college into account?
No, law schools do not care where you went to undergrad as long as it is a legitimate university. Whether you attended Harvard University or a state university, it doesn’t really matter in the eyes of the admissions department. Law schools will overwhelmingly focus on your undergrad GPA and LSAT score.
This makes a lot of intuitive sense because it would be impossible to develop a fair and efficient ranking system for every single college in the United States. Focusing on undergrad GPA certainly is not perfect because it’s true that a 4.0 GPA at Harvard University was probably far more difficult to obtain than a 4.0 GPA at a state school.
But GPA is the best standardized option that law schools have and in conjunction with the LSAT, it is a pretty good indicator of success in law school.
My advice is to avoid worrying about weak “soft factors” such as where you went to college and what you majored in and focus on the major “hard factors” that are really going to determine what law school you attend and at what price.
Focus on getting the very best score you can on the LSAT and if you are still in college, focus on obtaining high grades.