Posted by Ann Levine | August 5, 2008
How do law school admission committees evaluate people with different undergraduate majors? Are there good majors and bad majors for law school applications? I wouldn’t quite say there are bad majors – I think there are good things about most areas of study, and if you have good grades then you’re absolutely set. For a deeper look at what at best majors for law school and how to get in, check out the bestselling book The Law School Admission Game.
Law schools want people from different backgrounds with a wide range of undergraduate majors, and from different schools for that matter. Here is a rundown of the major types of undergraduate majors and how law schools are apt to evaluate you based on your undergraduate major area of study:
1. Majors with scientific fields: You often risk having a lower GPA, but it can be excused because of the difficult curriculum and lab hours. Of course, it also helps to make the case that you want to be a patent/IP lawyer if your have a science/math background. However, it can also risk looking like you really would have preferred to go to med school but you just didn’t have the GPA. If you did well in a science major, you will find that law schools like that and it will help you in the admissions process generally.
2. Pre-Law Majors: Law and Society, Pre-Law, Political Science, and Criminal Justice studies show you have a sincere interest in the subject matter. It’s especially helpful if you do a thesis and/or significant academic or internship work to supplement the curriculum. However, lackluster grades in these subjects will not impress an admission office. A 3.3 GPA in poli sci is not the same as a 3.3 in biomedical engineering or physics.
3. Art/Music Majors: A BFA makes things tricky, but if you do well academically and do a thesis or have something to show for yourself other than being an unemployed actor, then this absolutely works. Actually, I think Art History is one of the best majors for preparing you for law school because it teaches you to look at something you’ve never seen before and apply the facts you’ve learned to determine what you’re looking at. That’s pretty much a law school exam in a nutshell. Anything that shows you’ve done some serious writing will help. Music composition shows you’re a thinking person.
4. Business Majors: Marketing, not so impressive but if you have strong grades and showed a sincere interest in serious things then it’s fine. Economics is better – shows more analysis and academic inclination.
5. Philosophy: Again, writing and analysis. Great stuff.
The question is this – knowing how law schools view your major, what can you do to make up for that weakness? If you haven’t had much writing in your curriculum, how about writing for your school paper or trying to get research published? This is just one example of a way you can use your weaknesses to build your law school applications.
1. Pick a major that sincerely interests you.
2. Get the best possible grades in that major.
Law schools want to see people who are serious about their goals, but not singularly minded. Have a hobby too, and if that hobby demonstrates your thinking skills, cultural interests, passions – all the better. Do well at the things you do.
(For those of you worried that your physics degree will be competing against people who studied history, I would say that if your grades are solid and you have strong academic letters and perhaps someone who can attest to your writing ability, then you’ll be absolutely fine.)
Categories: Law School Application Tips