Are you planning to go to law school but don't know what to major in for your undergrad studies?
Ask people what the best majors for law school are, and many will say a major in something related to business or law. But some data shows law school applicants with a major in the liberal arts stand a better chance of getting into a top-ranked law school.
While it might seem counterintuitive, it is the reality. To help you choose the best pre-law courses to gain admission to your chosen school, here are the majors that top law schools like to see.
The Best Undergraduate Majors for Law School
Law schools want applicants with the below majors because these courses provide students with the research, critical thinking, and analytical skills to cope with the law school curriculum.
Students who major in the following are also better equipped and prepared to manage the scenarios law school students and practicing lawyers regularly face. Remember to understand law school requirements, as to be accepted and prepared for law curriculum, you'll have to have passed all prerequisites.
The cornerstones of every successful lawyer, regardless of their practice niche, are exceptional reading comprehension and persuasive writing. These are both skills that a major in English will improve.
A solid grade point average as an English major indicates the applicant has developed the skills needed to process written information quickly. They can also successfully extract information from their reading to form organized opinions and arguments.
When arguing in court, a lawyer's position has to be well-researched and developed. Strong reading and writing skills contribute to this by allowing you not only absorb lots of information but also formulate persuasive and intelligent arguments quickly.
Also, the grammar, critical thinking, and other skills gained from majoring in English are useful for tackling logical reasoning and reading comprehension questions. Both of these areas make up a large part of the LSAT exam. English majors have a high admission rate (about 80 percent) into top-ranked law schools because the admissions board knows the value of all these skills.
A good alternative to an English major is Linguistics, as it provides skills similar to those offered by English coursework, although it focuses much more on technical English skills than abstract ones. Linguistics can help you analyze the finest details of the law, while English helps with broader strokes.
This is one of the best majors for law school preparation because of its high acceptance rate—around 90 percent of classics majors that apply to law school get accepted.
Law schools are interested in these applicants because it means the applicant has a background in reading and understanding classical texts and languages. This is a useful skill, considering that a lot of our laws and other legal documents are written in a more antiquated English. With a major in classical studies, you'll have an easier time reading and understanding the meaning of complex or old laws or rulings.
If you care about the environment, this is one major that increases your chances of getting into law school and becoming a lawyer that can make a difference.
Applicants that major in this area have an acceptance rate close to 90 percent. Law schools are interested in this major because these students have developed critical thinking, research, and problem-solving skills.
Also, Environmental Sciences teaches students about patterns of human behavior, which is crucial for effective negotiation and arguing skills. Environmental Science should also give students a foundation of reading legal texts and decisions. Both of these aspects are necessary in legal practice.
Law schools also appreciate the diversity these majors add to their roster, especially if the applicant intends on practicing environmental law.
Literature majors have experience in reading a variety of texts, some written in archaic English. This means you've honed your reading comprehension skills, and the same goes for your logical reasoning skills, useful to extract and retain information from written works.
Also, literature majors can interpret the contents of books by applying literary theories — much like a lawyer that has to apply relevant laws to specific scenarios.
Law schools are looking for these skills, and they are tested by the LSAT, which explains the above 80 percent acceptance rate of applicants with a literature major.
Here's another less-common major with a high law school acceptance rate–above 80 percent. Studying this as an undergrad introduces you to public affairs, which laws affect the public, and how they affect the public.
If you choose to become a government employee or run for public office after law school, this degree can be incredibly useful.
It's also going to be useful for getting into law school because the admissions board knows that this major develops your critical thinking skills. It also boosts your understanding of human psychology and what factors influence human behavior–all of which are crucial to successfully practicing law.
Here's a favorite on our list of best majors for law school because of its real-world applications and above-80-percent acceptance rate.
By majoring in Industrial Relations, you'll develop conflict resolution, negotiation, and personnel management skills. These are critical skills that a lawyer needs.
Furthermore, if practicing civil law, a number of your clients (companies and industries) may need you for industrial relations-related cases (employment, compensation, termination, insurance, and others). The actual concepts learned in the major can be quite useful on the job.
While studying History, your coursework will involve learning about famous trials, developing societies and political systems, and international events that shaped the course of the world.
You'll do a lot of research, develop theories, and come to understand how society was affected by laws and political changes. You'll also be introduced to the precedents that influenced the creation of certain laws.
History majors, they enjoy over an 80 percent acceptance rate, which makes it a top contender on our list of best majors for law school.
As unlikely as it may seem, the top law schools in the US are big fans of students that major in Mathematics. Students with a Math degree excel at critical thinking and logical reasoning, which is why they tend to have high LSAT scores, well above 160 on average.
Also, the American Bar Association advises that pre-law students have a strong foundation in math and an understanding of financial math. This is because competence in math makes statistical analysis and the quick processing of other information easier. It also boosts the additional skills needed to fulfill law school coursework, such as logical reasoning.
Knowledge of math also enables lawyers to excel in niches such as taxation, bankruptcy, real estate, patent, and healthcare law, as well as legal niches related to trusts, securities, and estates.
If you have a background in math and a strong GPA, you'll have an edge, regardless of the law school you are applying to. Math majors are also relatively rare, which can help as well.
Arts and Humanities
Not all colleges offer a broad degree in Arts and Humanities. But if you can find one that provides this area of study and graduate with a good GPA, you'll be in good company. About 80 percent of law school applicants with an Arts and Humanities major get accepted.
Why are law schools interested in those who major in Arts and Humanities? Majoring in this course of study exposes you to wide-ranging coursework, which is something law schools desire — applicants with well-rounded knowledge. A lawyer is expected to know something about everything. So, if you feel you can thrive as an Arts and Humanities major, go for it as your pre-law. The rarity of the course also means less competition and the higher your chances of being accepted.
Law schools in recent years have looked to diversify their admitted students, and while Arts and Humanities majors may sound unconventional for JD candidates, it actually might give you an edge over conventional pre-law candidates.
Top law schools target philosophy majors because their coursework has taught them how to understand, analyze, and interpret situations, as well as build theories and apply ethical and rhetorical principles.
Philosophy coursework also trains students on how to create compelling, cohesive, and logical arguments by examining available evidence. These students also develop an understanding of how humans think, are enlightened about various opinions and worldviews, and possess confident speaking skills.
All these attributes are essential for thriving in law school and practicing law, which explains the high LSAT scores and above 80 percent acceptance rate of applicants with a Philosophy major.
This is one of the best majors for law school, not just because of its high acceptance rate in top law schools, but also because of the real-world applications of its teachings in legal practice.
A Psychology major gives you an insight into the human mind — how it is motivated, influenced, and operates. It also covers human behavior and how certain experiences motivate certain actions. For a lawyer, this is a powerful skill that helps with predicting an argument's course and how best to counter it.
Law schools want applicants that major in this field because they have the skills to communicate effectively with various types of people in many situations. They also have the skills to steer conversations as they please, and root out answers through questioning.
Psychology also provides the skills for investigation and statistical analysis. These areas of study are needed for success in law school and legal practice, regardless of what area of law you hope to specialize in. The acceptance rate for law school applicants with a Psychology major is around 80 percent.
There are a variety of science courses that you can major in to increase your chances of getting into law school. Some of the most popular are chemistry, biology, ecology, animal sciences, natural sciences, and others.
Applicants who've majored in these courses historically have a law school acceptance rate of around 80 percent. Law schools are attracted to this category of applicants because of the research and analytical skills picked up in college, and the unique niches of legal practice such applicants may end up in, such as pharmaceutical or environmental law.
This is one of the best majors for law school if you don't necessarily intend on practicing law. Law school applicants who've majored in this course typically end up in public office or government jobs.
That said, majoring in political science can still be helpful if you intend on practicing law since it exposes you to various aspects of the judicial system. Studying political science introduces you to the structure of the law, how laws are implemented, the operation of the Constitution, how different courts operate, historical cases, foreign policy, foreign legal systems, and more.
It also teaches public speaking, comprehensive reading, and writing skills, all of which law schools look for in applicants. The acceptance rate for Political Science majors is in the range of 80 percent, up there with other high-acceptance-rate majors.
Majoring in corporate business or business administration is a great pre-law choice. Law schools find applicants with this major appealing because of the difficult coursework involved and the skills the courses provide. While some other majors are universal for law school, however, business majors are better for those going into a specific type of law.
Because of the rigors of studying this course, graduating with a 3.50 GPA or above may be more difficult than with the others on our list of best majors for law school. But if you do manage to graduate with a high GPA, top-ranked law schools will definitely consider you as a prime candidate for admission.
Law schools also want candidates that major in this because it hones skills like reading, writing, public speaking, document drafting, familiarity with business processes, negotiations, critical thinking, problem-solving, and more.
Other Good Options
Aside from the above majors, the following fields are also great choices for boosting your chances of getting into the law school of your choice:
- International Relations
- Natural Sciences
- Computer Science
- Health Professions
Any of these courses will distinguish you from other law school applicants, which is important because law schools aim for diversity among the candidates they accept.
Is Pre-Law the Best Major to Prepare for Law School?
Pre-law generally means any undergraduate course that's being studied to get into law school. Because law schools don't require you to major in any specific courses to gain admission, an undergrad course from any discipline can count as pre-law.
But certain colleges specifically provide pre-law programs for those aspiring to attend law school. Such a program typically covers writing, politics, reading, history, and government to ensure a student has the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in law school.
There aren't too many schools that offer such programs. But the most popular ones are Cornell University, Kansas State University, New York University, Miami University, Saint Joseph's University, University of Dallas, Carroll University, and Seattle University.
Since a pre-law program is created for the sole purpose of preparing students for law school, you might think it's the best major for law school. But law schools aren't on the same page.
First, top law schools don't consider this type of pre-law program to be challenging or well-rounded enough to deliver the skills they desire in applicants. These upper-echelon law schools want students that have excelled in more difficult courses and subjects, which they feel the pre-law program doesn't offer. Law schools want diverse and interesting thinkers, not students who need to prepare four years just to enter.
As such, they don't really value a pre-law program's degree, regardless of the quality of an undergraduate's GPA. For example, top law schools find a 3.5 GPA in math more impressive than a 4.0 GPA in pre-law.
Second, majoring in pre-law won't help you stick out as an applicant. Top law schools want applicants from diverse and unexpected backgrounds, which is why the more unrelated a major is to law, the higher the acceptance rate of the applicant.
For example, in recent years, applicants that majored in Nuclear Engineering and Inter-American Relations had almost a hundred percent acceptance rate. This is remarkable, especially as compared to the 65 percent acceptance rate for applicants that majored in Criminal Justice or Legal Studies.
Yes, a pre-law major may give you an edge in law school by teaching you about the legal system and analyzing legal cases. But you may find it difficult getting into the law school of your choice with such a major, regardless of how high your GPA is.
For this reason, we recommend that you major in any area that you enjoy–one that you believe you can achieve a high GPA in. Law schools don't care if the major is related to law or not. They are mostly concerned with whether your chosen course of study requires critical thinking, research, and other skills that are invaluable to legal practice. And all of that is just a factor alongside other application factors: LSAT scores and a personal statement.
There are a lot of things you need to consider before choosing the best major for law school. But the one thing to avoid is selecting a major simply because it's what everyone else is doing. Find what makes you unique and study that: following your passions and learning how to think critically about that subject will lead you to become the best student possible.
We've also noticed that the rarer your major is, the higher your chances of getting into law school. For example, according to Zippia, of the seven law school applicants that majored in Inter-American Relations, 100% of them were admitted: keep in mind that it's a smaller data pool, but law schools love unique students.
We recommend choosing a major based on your passion or personal interests. The more interested you are in your major, the higher your chances of doing well in it and graduating with a higher GPA. And the higher your GPA, the higher your chances of getting into your preferred law school.
Alternatively, you can pick a major based on what area of law you intend on practicing. The important thing is to graduate with a major that allows you to develop thinking skills, work on deepening and evolving your interests, and getting a high GPA that will complement your LSAT scores and boost your chances of getting into a top-ranked law school.