People from all walks of life apply to law school. Many of them have earned a relevant degree as undergrads, while others apply with entirely unrelated degrees. There is no right or wrong answer to the question, “What is the best major for law school?” It is theoretically possible to get accepted into law school with a completely unrelated bachelor’s degree, such as a degree in nursing. By taking related classes as an undergrad, however, you will be better equipped to excel once you do get into law school. Here is a quick look at some of the most popular undergrad degrees among aspiring lawyers.
Justice Studies and Criminal Justice
One relevant degree program among aspiring lawyers is a bachelor’s in criminal justice. At some schools, this may be referred to as a “justice studies” degree. Most criminal justice degree programs will focus on criminal law, criminal procedure, public policy and threat assessment. You can also expect an overview of law enforcement, the court system and the corrections system.
While some programs may also explore civil law, the focus is on criminal law. For this reason, a criminal justice or justice studies degree can be particularly well-suited to individuals who aspire to become defense attorneys or prosecutors.
A government studies degree is another option for those who aspire to go to law school. This program is similar to a program in political science. You can expect to study topics such as the philosophy of law, research methods in government and the analysis of public policy. Students also explore governmental structures – both American and international – as well as the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to examining civil and criminal law, students may explore the practice of law, learning crucial skills such as legal reasoning, research and writing. Like many other pre-law degrees, a government studies degree is reading- and writing-intensive.
A history degree offers a well-rounded education that instills important pre-professional skills. As an aspiring lawyer, you may find a history degree particularly valuable because it empowers you to fine-tune your critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, both of which are essential for any career in the legal field. You will also develop strong research and communication skills, and you can expect to do plenty of reading and writing.
During your studies, you will be challenged to explore the past and its effects on the present by examining historical events, trends and issues from varying perspectives. Some history programs may focus on United States history, while others explore world history. Still other programs follow a hybrid model, with both United States and world history in the curriculum. Regardless of which type of history program you enroll in, you will gain a solid understanding of how legal systems and political entities have developed and changed over time.
Psychology is an intensive exploration of how the mind works and how thought patterns influence human behavior. Since the law regulates human behavior, psychology and law are closely intertwined. In addition, psychology majors tend to develop strong communication skills, both verbal and written. These are essential for a future law student. With a psychology degree, you can learn how to communicate clearly with people of varying personalities and from diverse backgrounds.
Furthermore, if you decide to pursue a career as a trial lawyer, your psychology background will serve you well when you appeal to juries. Juries are comprised of everyday people who can make significant decisions. With your psychological awareness, you will have insight into how to build a compelling case and encourage the jury to vote in your client’s favor.
Degree programs vary from one school to the next. However, you can expect to study topics such as cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and psychological research.
Law is fundamental to a functioning society. Since sociology is the study of human society, it is ideal for a pre-law degree. Sociology majors study the development of human societies, how people interact with each other and how various societal structures support humankind.
If you decide to become a sociology major, your professors will challenge you to develop advanced critical thinking skills as you explore the dynamics of societal groups. You will develop quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills and become an effective researcher and writer. These skills will serve you well in law school and beyond. Expect to study topics such as sociological theory, societal stratification, the perpetuation of inequalities, social psychology and globalization.
If you aspire to become a lawyer, you can build a solid academic foundation for success at Grand Canyon University. Apply to enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies program, the Bachelor of Arts in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies program, or one of our many other bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as sociology, history or English. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to explore your future at GCU.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.