Best Majors for Law School Applicants

Law School Expert Blog

How do law school admission committees evaluate people with different undergraduate majors? I have a lot of information about this in The Law School Admission Game Chapter 3: Undergraduate GPA But here is an overview:

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. (This post is originally from 2009; I’m updating it on July 29, 2019).

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. But the most important thing is that law schools are trying to determine whether you’ll be successful in law school. That’s why the rigor of your undergraduate major – and your performance in it – matters.

How Law Schools View Your Major:

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 or intellectual property lawyer if you have a science/math background. With a low GPA, you can risk looking like law school might be your “second choice.” This may be the case for people who started out thinking they might pursue a career in medicine. However, 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.

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 but they aren’t thought to be particularly challenging unless you studied political science or Government at a prestigious institution. For more on this, see this blog post about pre-law majors.

It’s 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 is not so impressive to admissions committees, 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. And if you have a degree in management or accounting, consider that you may need to explain why you’re pursuing law.

5. Philosophy

Again, writing and analysis. Great stuff.

6. Foreign Languages

These are good skills to have; lawyers need to communicate with clients from all backgrounds after all. It may be harder to find letters of recommendation that are relevant to skills you’ll use in law school, however.

Making The Major You Love Work For Law School

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 working with a professor as a research assistant, writing for your school newspaper 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.

Put Simply:
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.

And a final note: If you are worried that your physics degree will be competing against people who studied history, I would say that if your grades are solid, you have strong academic letters, and perhaps someone who can attest to your writing ability, then you’ll be absolutely fine.

Curious what else you will need to apply to law school? Check out this post about Law School Admission Requirements.

787 Responses

  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!

    1. Hello I have a major in sociology-social and criminal justice and I have a 3.9. I have not taken the LSAT and I’m not attending a very prestigious college. I didn’t have the money to go to a better college straight out of high school. Minor in philosophy. I dream of going to an elite law school but I don’t know if the status of my current school will hinder my chances?

      1. Makenzie, my motto is “Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.” Try! Don’t let your insecurity about this stop you from trying. Go for it!

    2. Hello. My name is john and i am 39 years old. At the moment i study crimm, but my question is this. Is it too late to be wanting to be a lawyer at my age. I mean some told me i will be in college for the next 4 years before i can even think about any type of work after studying law. I could really use the support here. Another thing is im actually blind as well but i know being blind doesnt mean i cant do it. Its my age that has me worried.

  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.

    1. I had a question, would a History major with a minor in Philosophy be a good pick for law school? Or would a Philosophy major with a minor in history supply me with a stronger foundation for law school? I have always enjoyed both history and philosophy majors; however, I’d like to pick the one that would give me the strongest foundation needed for law school.

  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.

    1. Hi Ann!

      I transferred from a top national art school to New York University in 2014. At NYU, I changed my major from painting (I have intensely studied art for two years) to Media Studies. If I calculate correctly, I will graduate from NYU in five semesters. I am very interested in continuing my education to Law School.

      A situation worries me is that the art school doesn’t have a GPA system but only a pass/fail system. (I got all pass and first year honor.) Therefore, my final college transcript will only show my GPA from my five semesters at NYU. In my first semester here, I got 3.4 GPA. Not good enough, but I am sure I can make it much better. Most my NYU classes require heavy writing. I am also planing to take some classes such as philosophy and sociology. Btw, I took roughly 7 literature or art history classes in art school.

      My questions would be:

      1. Will my five semesters only GPA heavily influence my law school chance?

      2. In NYC, I have plenty of chances to do internships. In art school, I nearly spent all my time in studio without doing any on-campus or off-campus activities. Currently I am having an internship off-campus as a researcher. It interests me; however it takes lots of my time on my study. Will doing such activities importantly strengthen my application?

      3. I dream law schools including the top three, Columbia and NYU? Is there any advices to me for improving my chance?

      1. Li, great questions:
        1. Your 5 semesters will carry a lot of wait so definitely do what you can to continue to improve your grades. You may want to explain your transcripts in an addendum, of course, but that’s fine. Also work hard to get to know professors who will attest to your academic abilities.
        2. It’s good to do some activities and pursuits outside of the classroom, if you can keep your grades up at the same time.
        3. Focus on grades and doing interesting things, getting great letters of rec, and then kill the LSAT : )

  5. 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!

  6. 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 ; )

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. Ok so I when I graduate I will have a 2.0 gpa, with my bs in biology and theatre. I worked while I was in undergrad, i also have a high LSAT score. That took some time to earn. I’m wondering if I can even be considered as a law school applicant? If you could give me advice I would greatly appreciate it.

    1. Hi Whitney,
      I don’t have enough information about your transcripts, LSAT history, or goals of where you want to attend law school but if your LSAT really is strong then I wouldn’t count you out completely. You may have some ‘splainin to do but just based on what you’re telling me I wouldn’t count you out.

  11. I am a music management major halfway through my junior year. I have a 3.76 gpa and I just got back my lsat score of 173. the college I go to isn’t very prestigious academically, I decided on it because I couldn’t afford to attend a school like Belmont or Miami or NYU for my major. I intern at a semi major record label. My dream law school is Columbia and my final goal is to be a lawyer in the entertainment industry which is why I chose this major. my major courses are about half music and half music business but I end up with a BS and not a BFA What would you say are my chances for Columbia?

    1. Hi Saxman,
      Great GPA, Great LSAT. Congratulations! You have a lot of potential. If Columbia is absolutely what you want (cost be damned!) then apply Early Decision.
      Keep me posted!

  12. Hi Ann!
    In the process of considering law shcool and I must say your blog has been a Godsend! So, here’s the lowdown, I messed around for several years, never earning that BA. Then, about 5 years ago, went back to school, got my paralegal certificate and have been working in the paralegal field ever since.

    I have about 20-30 hours left to recieve a BA from the local state school and have dreams of law school. My question is this: Should I pick up where I left off and go for my BA in psychology, or should I go the quick route and get my BA in general studies?

    PS I have not taken the LSAT yet, but plan to in June this year, then back to school to finish my last year.


    1. Hi Dizzy Lizzy,
      Take difficult courses and do well in them. It doesn’t have to be psych, but “General Studies” isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off…. Good luck, and so happy the blog is helpful!

  13. Hi Anne,
    I’m 21 years old and have had law school in mind since I began college. I went to Rutgers University for my freshman year and finished with a 3.7 gpa, however I got very sick at the end of the year and to leave. I’m still suffering from my illness and haven’t been able to go back to school and I’m considering finishing my degree online through Penn State University. Basically, I’ll have to get my degree in Business (instead of Economics and English like I was going for at RU) and my diploma will read Penn State University (no indication that it was online), which will also look like a lower tier school because it will not be through University Park which is their more prestigious campus. Do you think I should go ahead and do it anyway? It’s either this, or I wait it out to back to RU which may take me a year or two.
    If I can keep up my GPA through PU online and I get a nice score on my LSAT, will I be okay? I feel like I might have to forget any chance of getting into a really good law school…I’d really appreciate your input. Thanks!