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Did you know that psychology ranks as one of the most popular pre-law majors? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, psychology is among the top five majors overall, in addition to being a popular choice for pre-law students.
Psychology provides the research and writing skills, analytical competency, and fundamental education in human behavior needed for law school. Psychologists, much like lawyers, often help people in social services or the legal systems.
This page explores why psychology serves as a good pre-law major.
Is Psychology a Good Pre-Law Major?
The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular major or coursework for pre-law students. As such, law school students come from various undergraduate backgrounds. The ABA recommends undergraduates gain skills in problem-solving, critical reading, writing and editing, oral communication and listening, research organization and management, public service and promotion of justice, relationship-building and collaboration, and law.
Earning a bachelor's in psychology builds on these key skills needed for a legal career. Psychology pre-law undergraduates develop critical reading, analytical thinking, public speaking, and researching skills.
According to the Law School Admission Council's (LSAC) 2020-2021 enrollment report, the top 10 majors for pre-law students include political science, psychology, criminal justice, English, and economics.
People decide to go to law school at different stages in their lives. Pre-law students may have work experience — with a gap in between their undergraduate studies and law school — while others go to law school immediately after earning a bachelor's degree. No particular major or pathway determines your success in law school. More than any major or undergraduate grades, the LSAC found the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) best predicts student graduation outcomes and performance in law school.
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Psychology Classes for Pre-Law Students
Psychology pre-law teaches students about human behavior and judgment. This research-based degree also focuses on interpreting and analyzing research findings. Specific lessons vary with each program, but many psychology degrees cover cognitive, behavioral, personality, social, and clinical psychology. Some schools offer psychology degrees with a concentration in pre-law.
Human Judgment and Decision Making
Why do people make certain decisions? How do they process risk assessment? Students enrolled in this course examine these questions. They study human judgment and decision-making in various settings to better understand how emotions, motivations, and neural processes affect human decisions and judgment. The course also covers historical and current research on the topic.
Social Psychology of Justice and Morality
This course provides a foundational understanding of social justice and how it relates to psychology. Undergraduates analyze current issues using philosophical, psychological, and political science theories and concepts. Class discussions focus on privilege and inequality. Other concepts explored in this course includeââ conformity, compliance, obedience, and group processes.
American Law and the Legal System
The broad curriculum in an American law and legal system course covers tort law, contract law, constitutional law, and criminal and civil law. Students study landmark state and federal cases and draw comparisons between other countries and America's unique legal system.
Applying for Law School
Can I get into law school without a pre-law major? Students do not need to study pre-law to get into law school, but they need to meet other requirements. Undergraduates need high GPAs and LSAT scores. The LSAT, which has been the standardized test for law school since 1948, serves as a good indicator of who will succeed in law school.
Students should develop relationships with professors to help in the law school application process. Professors can provide letters of recommendation, academic guidance, and even job leads. A pre-law advisor also helps outline what students need to get into law school.
Research shows that applying as early as possible improves an applicant's chances of getting into law school. Colleges like Emory give preference to early decision applicants. It also saves money at some institutions, such as Columbia, to apply early.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do colleges offer psychology pre-law programs?
Yes. Some schools offer psychology degrees with pre-law concentrations. These programs appeal to students who want to pursue a legal education and career as a lawyer, lobbyist, or nonprofit advocate. Courses in this program may include psychology, political science, communication, and human behavior.
What type of internships or fieldwork can I find with a psychology degree?
Internships provide the basis for a project or research paper. Connections formed during an internship or clinical experience can often lead to paid work. If a bachelor's in psychology degree does not require a clinical or internship, students can take experiential learning as an elective.
Can I get into law school without a pre-law degree?
Yes. The LSAC notes that prospective law students do not need any specific undergraduate education. However, future law students should major in a field that interests them. Law schools do not require prerequisites or pre-law study. More than anything, GPA and LSAT scores determine law school admission.
What LSAT score do I need to get into law school?
Test-takers receive an LSAT score based on the correct number of answers. LSAT scores tests from 120-180, with the average score at 150-152. The top law schools require a score above 170. Students pick which law schools receive their scores. The test includes four parts on logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, reading comprehension, and an unscored variable section.