Best Majors for Law School Applicants

Close-Up Of Lady Justice On Table With Lawyer In Background At Office

Alexander Kirch / Getty Images

There isn’t a prerequisite major or a specific set of classes required to apply to law school. However, future law school applicants must choose their major wisely to be able to navigate first year courses like civil procedure, torts, contracts, property, and criminal law. 

Admission committees expect a transcript which reflects a variety of courses that emphasize critical thinking skills, use of language, and the ability to reason through a problem. Majors that focus on logic, analytical reasoning, and written/verbal English skills better prepare the applicant for a successful law school experience. 

The American Bar Association does not recommend or endorse a particular undergraduate education for pre-law students, but the following majors provide a course of study that helps prepare students for the rigors of a law school curriculum. 

01
of 12

English

Critical reading and persuasive writing are two of the most important skills a law student can possess. English majors are especially prepared for those tasks, having studied literature, composition, and writing. As part of their program, English students learn to analyze passages and study the mechanics of writing, and some curriculums also require a research component and mastery of another language. 

The ability to process large amounts of information will help students interpret dense case law under time constraints. In addition, lawyers are expected to synthesize an argument with clarity and efficiency, a skill that English majors learn to master in their studies. 

Likewise, research is a large component in the study of law, and undergrad English courses adequately prepare students to not only interpret case law, but to have a coherent discussion about complex legal issues. And linguistic skills are handy when professors are questioning students in class via the Socratic method.

According to the Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC), in 2017-2018 a total of 3,151 law school applicants held an undergraduate degree in English; 81% were admitted.

02
of 12

History

History majors are required to organize dense materials and present a persuasive argument, which is exactly what law students must do in a brief or during trial advocacy. 

In addition, a history curriculum offers students an opportunity to study treatises and the evolution of legal and political systems. This insight into how rules and laws were established offers a deeper understanding of the current legal system. Writing, researching, and presenting are all integral parts of a history curriculum and, of course, these are important areas in law school as well. 

Most history majors study a broad range of subjects, including colonial America, the Byzantine Empire, ancient Greece, medieval Europe, the Middle East, and Russia. The variety and depth of their studies provides history majors with a broader perspective, which also comes in handy when representing clients of different backgrounds or standing in front of a jury. 

According to LSAC data, 3,138 history majors applied to law school in 2017- 2018. Approximately 85% of applicants were accepted.

03
of 12

Political Science

Political science is a natural choice for students thinking about applying to law school. As part of their major, students learn about judicial systems and how laws are created and executed. They also explore foreign policy, treaties, and international law. 

Political science majors are required to learn the nuances of the American judicial system and the international courts, and often participate in presentations. In addition, many curriculums include at least a class dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, which gives students an advantage on the constitutional law course required in the second semester of their first year of law school. 

Law and politics is an obvious marriage and it isn’t surprising that in 2017-2018 a total of 11,947 applicants were political science majors; 9,612 were admitted to law school.

04
of 12

Criminal Justice

A criminal justice degree can offer undergraduate majors an introduction to law, with an emphasis on court proceedings, the corrections systems, and a broad overview of how the various levels of the legal system work. 

Having a primer on the court system and how cases are adjudicated will help law students gain familiarity with civil procedure, a course taken in the first year of law school. Writing, reading, and presenting legal arguments is part of the curriculum, which allows students to get a headstart on law school classes like criminal law, trial advocacy, and torts. 

Criminal justice students have a chance to attend court hearings and trials, which gives them an insight into the legal process in “real-life.” These experiences will certainly benefit those who want to pursue a career as a litigator, while others may be convinced to follow the path of transactional law. 

Of the 3,629 applicants in 2017-2018, 61% of the criminal justice majors were admitted to law school, according to LSAC.

05
of 12

Philosophy

An off-the-radar major that students may want to consider is philosophy. This major requires students to gain an understanding of complex philosophical issues that involve ethics, theory, human relations, and abstract concepts.

Students are often called to analyze dense reading material and apply critical thinking skills to come up with arguments for or against philosophical theories. The cultivation of this approach is a definite asset for law students.

In law school, students are often pushed to think on their feet and are expected to handle the Socratic method with ease. Learning how to analyze case law is a key component in mastering any class in law school, and philosophy students can parlay their undergraduate skills into success at the graduate level.

In 2017-2018, 2,238 law school applicants held an undergraduate degree in philosophy. Of those who applied, 83% were admitted to law school. Philosophy majors also tended to score higher on their Law School Admission Test (LSAT) compared to other majors. 

06
of 12

Psychology

The law often deals with human behavior and the underlying motivation of people’s actions. Majoring in psychology allows students to learn to interact with people in the legal world, whether it involves other attorneys, clients, judges, social workers, or ancillary staff. In addition, communication is a key pillar in becoming an effective attorney.

Particularly in litigation, a psychology degree is helpful in understanding a person’s psyche and pinpointing an effective strategy for depositions, voir dires, and general trial advocacy. Statistics and scientific aspects also help refine critical thinking skills for reading dense cases and using evidence to make arguments.

Approximately 3,753 psychology undergraduate majors applied to law school in 2017-2018, and 76.7% were admitted.

07
of 12

Economics

Most economics majors must process large amounts of data in a logical fashion. Concepts are usually presented as a problem and students must work to find a solution. Economics curriculums also include studying legal reform and its relationship with economic conditions, as well as the intricacies of supply, demand, recessions, and booms.

Learning the nuances of economics may help law students think about legal concepts with greater clarity and reasoning. Implementing logic in economics coursework allows law students to weave a narrative argument in front of juries and judges.

In 2017-2018, 2,757 economics majors applied to law school and 86% were admitted.

08
of 12

Business

Business may not be the first undergraduate major that comes to mind for those heading to law school, but the coursework is often rigorous and challenging, which impresses law school admissions committees.

Business students develop problem solving skills that are helpful in trial advocacy. They also hone in on reading and writing skills that are critical when taking the LSAT. For applicants interested in corporate law, a business background is a great way to lay future groundwork.

About 4,000 students who majored in business administration, business management, and accounting applied to law school in 2017-2018. Their acceptance rate hovered around 75%.

09
of 12

Science

A major in the sciences might seem like an unlikely undergraduate degree for a law school hopeful. However, undergraduate majors like biology and chemistry require thorough research, extensive dedication to lab time, and the ability to exercise analytical skills.

The rigor of a science curriculum teaches law school applicants patience, resolve, and persistence, especially when working through dense case law and creating novel ways to present an opening argument in a mock trial.

A combination of a science major and a minor in political science is a smart strategy, as it shows law school admissions committees that the applicant has a well-rounded background and the ability to exercise right and left brain skills.

The number of law school applicants who major in the sciences tends to be low, with less than 1,000 students. Their acceptance rate is moderate, close to 65%.  

10
of 12

Math

While math is not often associated with the legal field, abilities such as analytical skills, logical reasoning, problem solving, and dealing with different types of data are all integral tools in both math and legal careers.

A math undergraduate degree could catapult a law student into specializing in securities and litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate law. Also, math majors definitely attract the attention of the admissions committees.

Less than 300 undergraduate math majors applied to law school for the 2017-2018 academic year, but their acceptance rate was 87%. Also, math majors scored an average of 162 on the LSAT, which is better than the overall average of around 150.

11
of 12

Physics

Physics is an unconventional undergraduate major for law school hopefuls, but admissions committees recognize the rigors of this curriculum.

Physicists are often studying complex concepts that not only require mathematical calculations, but also an analytical mindset to work through difficult concepts. A relatively high GPA as a physics major will definitely attract the attention of committee members, since it isn’t a typical path for law school applicants.

Physics undergraduate majors number less than 122 applicants, but their acceptance rate is high at 81%, and they generally score around 161 on the LSAT.

12
of 12

Electrical Engineering

Another off the beaten path major for law school applicants is electrical engineering. Academic diversity is a strength and law school committee members notice majors that are out-of-the-box.

Electrical engineers are trained to think logically and methodically, which is an asset when navigating complicated litigation that involves multiple practices of law. Also, students who might eventually want to combine law and an engineering background can sit for the patent bar.

Of the 177 electrical engineering undergraduate majors who applied, 81% were admitted to law school. The mean LSAT score averaged 158.