The Philosophy Major for Pre-Law Students

Are you an AppState students interested in preparation for law school or a career in law? Consider pursuing a major in Philosophy! Why? Success in law school and in the practice of law demands rigorous analytical thinking and skill in argumentation, both of which form the core of an education in philosophy. Moreover, philosophy classes give students a deep understanding of the moral and political issues central to the law and public policy—issues related to medicine, environment, and race, for example.

Want to shine in your law school application?

  • Philosophy majors do remarkably well on Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which emphasizes analytic reasoning and writing.
  • Philosophy majors were admitted to law school at a higher rate than any other major in 2014 (75%).
  • The American Bar Association (ABA) notes that law schools favor applicants that pursue a rigorous analytical curriculum: "contrary to popular belief, law schools do not favor political science, criminal justice, and government majors over others. Choose major and elective courses that you will genuinely enjoy, instead of those you were told were required for pre- law students. You are likely to get better grades in a field you find interesting. And even if you don't, law schools will respect your pursuit of subjects you find challenging. This is especially true if the courses you take are known to be more difficult, such as philosophy, engineering, and science. Also, look for courses that will strengthen the skills you need in law school. Classes that stress research and writing are excellent preparation for law school, as are courses that teach reasoning and analytical skills. Classes that help you understand the complex relationships that motivate legal decision-making can be both fascinating and useful.
  • The ABA also notes: "in assessing a prospective law student's educational qualifications, admissions committees generally consider the chosen curriculum.... Solid grades in courses such as logic, philosophy, and abstract mathematics are generally considered a plus." Philosophy is great preparation for a successful application to law school

Thinking of a career in public policy and law?

Philosophy majors have the highest scores on both the Verbal Reasoning and the Analytic Writing sections of the graduate school entrance exams (GRE). Philosophy is great preparation for an advanced degree in fields relevant to policy and law.

Consider some of the topics you'll encounter in philosophy and how these will help to guide incisive thinking about policy matters:

  • Environmental law and policy: Consider our environmental ethics class, which acquaints students with topics in agricultural welfare, food law, animal rights, and environmental justice.
  • Medicine and biotechnology: consider our medical ethics course, which acquaints students with controversial matters in bioethics and medical technology.
  • Criminal law: a course in philosophy of mind can help prospective law students navigate theories of moral responsibility.
  • Evidence: take a course on theories of knowledge! Students will discuss the notions of evidence and justification.

Below are only some of the recommended courses. The bottom line is that any course in philosophy will help you develop the critical thinking, writing and speaking skills that lead to success in careers in law and policy.

  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Logic I and II
  • Philosophy, Society, and Ethics
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Ethical Theory
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Philosophy of Race
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Medical Ethics
  • Nature of Knowledge