Pre-Law Majors: Requirements and Program Options

Learn about programs for pre-law majors. Get information on bachelor's degrees, course requirements and licensure requirements to make an informed decision about your education.

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Pre-Law Majors and Programs

The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend that aspiring lawyers select a particular undergraduate major. Rather, it encourages undergraduates to select majors that interest them, challenge them and help them develop skills that can enable them to succeed in law school. These skills include verbal and written communication, analytical thinking, critical reading, research and time management.

Although some schools offer majors such as pre-law studies, pre-law programs are commonly offered as non-major, pre-professional tracks that students can enroll in while concurrently pursuing a bachelor's degree. Majors declared by pre-law students have traditionally included history, political science and English, though other majors that meet the skills criteria described in the previous paragraph are acceptable. Program advisors typically coordinate with students to assist them with selecting a major and designing a curriculum focused on the development of key skills.

Undergraduate degree programs that offer a pre-law major typically incorporate a cross-disciplinary curriculum that can assist students in developing the skills that will help them pass the LSAT examination and succeed in law school. Some pre-law programs deliver courses online as well as onsite.

Education Prerequisites

College admission requirements typically include a high school diploma or GED. Some may also require taking placement exams. Certain colleges require applicants to have completed rigorous college-prep courses. Additionally, pre-law programs may require applicants to first complete specific lower-division coursework.

Course Topics

Pre-law students are exposed to both general studies courses and law-related courses. Course subjects may include the following:

  • Legal writing
  • Negotiation and dispute resolution
  • Legal analysis
  • American politics
  • Constitutional law
  • Civil rights
  • Criminology
  • Economics

Continuing Education Information

After completing a pre-law program, you can pursue entry-level careers that require analytical and critical thinking skills, but if you seek to become an attorney, it's important to realize that a pre-law major is only the first step. Graduates of pre-law programs typically seek admission to an ABA-accredited law school to obtain the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Following law school, many individuals seek state licensure to practice law. To apply for state licensure, individuals are required to meet the educational requirements, pass the state bar exam and complete other state requirements, such as passing an ethics exam. Alternatively, graduates may continue their educations by pursuing a related graduate degree, such as a Master of Law (LL.M.) or Master of Science of Law (JSM).

Popular Career Options

Once you've met the education and licensing requirements to become a practicing attorney, you might pursue one of the following positions:

  • Patent lawyer
  • Prosecutor
  • Public defender
  • House counsel
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