Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Best Majors for Law School Applicants

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.

Law schools do not want to fill their classes with political science majors. Where is the diversity in that? Law schools want people from different backgrounds, and from different schools for that matter. Here is a rundown of the major groupings 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.)


  1. I have always wondered what the perception of an Elementary Education major would be in the admissions process? Many people say that it doesn't matter but then my peers in the School of Education are often critical of my decision to apply to law school. I do get to supplement my resume with something unique that most will not have and that is doing a portion of my student teaching in Australia! Thanks for the help!

  2. I graduated with a 3.1 at UCLA but I double majored in economics and sociology within the course of 3 years. Would admissions consider putting a little more weight in my intense curriculum despite my low GPA?

  3. Yes, but your reasons for graduating early would make it more compelling. And if you finished in 3 years at the expense of lacking in work experience or leadership experience then it probably would do you good to explore those options. It's always better to have better grades, but if you have an upward trend in your grades that would help. If schools will only be able to see 2 years of grades by the time you apply, it might not be enough to go on. It sounds like you already graduated, so you are probably gaining work experience now and this would not be an issue for you.

  4. Regarding the education major:
    Your peers being critical of your decision has absolutely nothing to do with how law schools view your decision. However, because elementary ed is such a specific trade type education, people will wonder what made you decide not to pursue it. Most people teach for at least a few years after graduation. This may be something the would need to be addressed in your application so it doesn't look like "Hey, I couldn't get a job teaching so I guess I'll apply to law school." But law schools won't dismiss you from consideration based on your choice of major.

  5. I wonder what admissions would think of an applicant who has a B.F.A. in Dance...

  6. Is there a way to quantify major difficulty adjustment for admission predictions? For example, if I have a 3.5 in electrical engineering with a minor in math, may I consider a certain point boost in order to better predict my chances of admission?

    Also, do admissions departments take into consideration the number of credits taken per semester? Some students take only 15, while others take 21 or more. It could be conceived that it would be easier to achieve a higher GPA with a smaller amount of credits and a higher availability of time for studying.

    Thank you so much for you help!

  7. Thrifty-dig, this is what they call a "soft factor" - no way to quantify. While there is no "certain point boost", your strong GPA in a very difficult major will absolutely work in your favor. If you feel your program is unique in the number of credits taken, you may want to submit a brief addendum (BRIEF!) explaining that but don't compare yourself to all of the lazy people taking fewer credits ; )

  8. Hi, I have a 2.9 LSDAS GPA and a 3.1 School GPA as a Business major, and the low GPA is due to the Finance and Accounting courses I have taken but I have a high LSAT score. How would my business major be taken into account vs. that of a History or a Political Science major? And does the undergraduate school where I recieved my BBA from play a significant factor in determining admissions if I have a high LSAT score?

  9. Adnan,
    First, Congrats on your "high" LSAT score ; )
    Second, Finance/Accounting is recognized as a tough major, but of course it's better to have good grades in a tough major....At this point, there's not much you can do about that except make your application as strong and possible and choose your school list wisely.

    The caliber of your undergrad school is also important, and taken into account. Going to a more highly regarded school will help you. You'll need to show that whatever factors kept you from doing well in undergrad won't hinder you in law school.

  10. What if you never took school seriously until the age of 29 and decided to go back to school and redeem yourself? How will you be evaluated?

  11. I am an accounting major with a current 3.72 gpa but i'm only a sophomore. Is being an accounting major good for law school or not? I also plan to use all of my elective credits for poli sci classes such as legal writing.

  12. yera, The new blog link is: http://www.lawschoolexpert.com/blog

    Please check it out and leave a comment there. Thanks!

  13. I have both a Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing degree. The MSN degree with 4.0 and focuses in Nursing Education. The BSN degree with 3.3. I have not yet taken the LSAT. Please advise.

  14. Kelli, I haven't used this blog in over a year. The discussion continues at

    I'm not sure exactly what advice you are seeking, so if you have a specific question, please include it in a comment on the new blog.

  15. Right now, I'm a chemistry major with minors in Political Science and Speech. I'm getting ready to enter for fourth year in college, and I plan on staying for five. I am also a ncaa athlete and the student body president. When applying to law school, how much consideration do they take in for someone who is an athlete and student body president? Thanks


  16. Guys, this blog has been closed for a long time - my new blog has all of these posts and more. Please comment at :