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Pre-Law Advising for Political Science Majors

Political Science is a traditional undergraduate field of study for students applying to law school. There is a close relationship between the study of law and politics. The discipline of Political Science is concerned with advancing students’ understanding of: how laws are made, the political actors who are responsible for making the laws within the context of political institutions at the state, national and international levels, and how laws are interpreted by legal institutions and implemented by bureaucracies and political communities.

According to the most recent data obtained from the Law School Admission Council, Political Science continues to be the top undergraduate major of law school applicants:

Major Total Percent
  56,552 100%
Political Science 10,548 19%
English 3,913 7%
History  3,320 6%
Psychology 3,139 6%
Economics 2,730 5%
Finance 1,836 3%
Philosophy 1,796 3%
Humanities-Other 1,650 3%
Communications 1,461 3%
Criminal Justice 1,452 3%

The Political Science pre-law curriculum follows The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools’ recommendations for preparing undergraduates for law school.  The Political Science major is compatible with what law schools are looking for in prospective students: students who are able to think, read, write and communicate well. 

The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools states that there are some areas of basic knowledge that are helpful in preparing for law school.  The Political Science major helps students develop general knowledge in 4 of the 5 areas listed in the official guide:

  • “A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.”
  • “A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.”
  • “A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.”
  • “An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.”

Political Science Pre-Law Curriculum 

Introductory Level Courses

  • PS 1100: Introduction to American Politics
  • PS 1500: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Courses in Political Theory
Any course in political theory

Law-Related Courses

  • PS 1200: Foundations of Law: Introduction to Legal Studies
  • PS 2260: Law, Politics & Society
  • PS 2280: Judicial Politics & Policy
  • PS 2290: Gender and the Law

Case Law Courses
These courses are taught in Political Science using the “case law” format which requires students to read, brief and critically examine U.S. Supreme Court cases in the areas of separation of powers, federalism, property rights, First Amendment rights, rights of the criminally accused, equality and the right to privacy. Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties courses (the names of the courses may vary in law schools) are part of all ABA-approved law schools’ curricula.

  • PS 3200: Constitutional Law
  • PS 3210: Civil Liberties 

Courses in American National Institutions
These courses help students understand the structure and operation of national political institutions:

  • PS 3260: The Supreme Court
  • PS 3300: The American Presidency
  • PS 3310: Congressional Politics
  • PS 3400: Bureaucratic Politics
  • PS 3350: Political Parties and Elections

Courses in Comparative Politics or International Relations
For those students interested in International Law:

  • PS 4850: International Law; and
  • Any 2000-3000 level course in comparative politics or international relations, depending on the student’s interest

Public Affairs Internship

The Official Guide states that members of the legal profession should promote the values of serving others and improve fairness and the quality of justice in the legal system. One way for undergraduates to demonstrate their commitment to these principles is through participation in campus or community service projects. Another way is to sign up for an internship for course credit through the Political Science Department. The Department’s Faculty Internship Coordinator will assist students in choosing an internship in a law-related organization (Public Defender’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office, ACLU, for example).

PS 3940: Public Affairs Internship

Other Courses:

  • PS 3900: Special Readings, is an independent-study flexible course option for students who wish to do in-depth reading and research in some substantive area beyond the regular course work they have already taken in that area.
  • Study Abroad gives Political Science majors a global outlook and enhance their studies.
  • Any elective course that emphasizes critical thinking, analytic, problem solving and research skills will prepare students for a challenging legal education. 

Pre-Law Advising Information

The Political Science Department assigns a faculty member in the law-related area to act as advisor to Political Science majors who are interested in attending law school. The Political Science Pre-Law advisor assists students in designing their political science curriculum and choosing elective courses that will reveal their capacity to perform at an intellectually challenging level to law school admission committees. 

The Political Science Pre-Law Advisor assists political science majors in the following ways:

  • Selecting challenging courses that will help majors prepare for law school.
  • Help majors understand the law school admission process, including filling out applications, writing personal statements, how to obtain good letters of recommendations, the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service), financial aspects of law school and dispelling “myths” about the law school admission process.
  • Assist in preparation for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) which is required for admission to all ABA-approved law schools.