If you’re interested in the U.S. legal system and plan to become an attorney, pursuing a pre-law program should be the first step toward your legal career. Designed to equip you for the rigors of law school, a pre-law emphasis covers the writing, research, and reasoning skills you need to succeed as you prepare for and enter the legal profession.
- What is Pre-Law?
- What Can I Do with Pre-Law?
- Is Pre-Law Worth It?
- Curriculum and Degree Requirements
- Admission Requirements
Pre-law describes a program designed to help you prepare for and apply to law school. Many students are surprised to learn that pre-law is not one specific major, but an emphasis on the preparation needed to pursue legal education. In fact, there are no preferred majors for admission to law school. Some of the most popular pre-law majors include:
- Political Science
What these programs have in common is a diverse range of courses that introduce students to skills they’ll need in law school. You’ll contemplate tough questions, like what it means to be a good citizen and live a moral life. You will engage with, analyze, and interpret texts. And you’ll gain experience in areas like research, argumentative writing, and public speaking. These activities are excellent practice for succeeding in law school and beyond.
Many students pursue a pre-law degree with the intent to become future lawyers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the legal profession will grow over the coming decade, due to the continuing need for legal services across diverse industries and settings—from finance to healthcare to criminal defense. In nearly all cases, lawyers need to complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. Completing a pre-law program as an undergraduate should be your first step to qualifying for a J.D. program.
Pre-law could also be good preparation for career paths that do not require a law degree, such as paralegal and legal assistant roles. These professionals support lawyers in their work, such as by conducting research, gathering facts, and drafting legal documents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in this occupation will increase 10 percent over the next decade—much faster than average for all occupations.
And by meeting additional requirements for certification, you could pursue a role as an educator. For example, high school teachers often earn a degree in a subject area such as history or English, in addition to completing a student teaching program and obtaining state licensure. A pre-law program could prepare you for this and many other potential career paths, making it a worthwhile degree even if you ultimately decide not to enroll in law school.
Many students find that earning a pre-law degree is a valuable investment—whether they plan to pursue a career as an attorney or something else entirely. Advantages of this degree include:
- LSAT preparation. A prerequisite for law school, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) tests candidates on skills such as logical and analytical reasoning, writing, and reading comprehension. A pre-law program offers plenty of practice in the above areas and more, so you’ll have the foundation you need to study for and ace the LSAT.
- Law school success. Students may enter law school with any academic background —from science to technology to the arts. That said, pre-law majors are designed to prepare you for the challenges you’ll face in a J.D. program, so you’ll be better equipped to succeed in law school.
- Higher earnings. A pre-law degree is the first step toward career paths that pay off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers earned a median average salary of $126,930 in 2020. That’s more than double the average salary earned in 2020: $56,310.
- Flexible career options. A pre-law degree teaches widely applicable skills that can help you stand out in diverse industries. You could have the option to pursue career paths in fields such as business, communications, education, political science, and more.
The pre-law emphasis at University of the Cumberlands offers the foundation you need to excel in law school and beyond. Our History and Political Science Department produces the largest number of law school applicants at University of the Cumberlands, and its graduates have achieved a 100 percent law school acceptance rate over the last 22 years.
Regardless of your pre-law major, to succeed in law school, you need effective communication and critical thinking skills. That’s where our pre-law program stands out. Along with 28 credits in history, you’ll take 18 credits of pre-law courses designed to provide a basic understanding of our legal system and an appreciation for the values that support it. The curriculum teaches and inculcates the meaning and value of ordered liberty and a free society. Through the study of American government, political theory, public policy, an introduction to the requirements of legal education, and more, you’ll prepare to take the next step on the road to becoming a lawyer.
Students are our top priority, and we are proud of the success our pre-law graduates have achieved. Since 1989, 100% of our history and political science majors who went to law school were accepted into one of their top three school choices. All students benefit from the support they need to pursue their chosen fields of endeavor.
Requirements for a Bachelor of Science with a Minor in History and Political Science Pre-Law Curriculum – 46 semester hours drawn from 28 hours in this history core described below, plus 18 hours of Pre Law Curriculum:
History Core required for all options (28 hours):
- HIST 137 World Civilization to 1648
- HIST 138 World Civilization since 1648
- HIST 231 American History to 1877
- HIST 232 American History since 1877
- HIST 224 Research Mechanics
- HIST 225 Research Composition
- POLS 131 Introduction to Political Science
- POLS 233 American National Government
- POLS 235 Introduction to International Relations
- HIST 490 Issues in History or POLS 490 Issues in Political Science
Pre Law (18 Hours):
- HIST 334 Early America
- HIST 335 England: 1485-1832
- HIST 337 The American Constitution
- POLS 230 Introduction to Law and Legal Education
- POLS 431 Internship
- POLS 433 Western Political Theory I and/or POLS 434 Western Political Theory II
- POLS 437 Public Policy and Administration
- HIST 450 Origins of American Consitutionalism
Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees.
In order to be considered for admission to this program, click here to view the undergraduate, on-campus admissions information.
Click here to view University of the Cumberlands' accreditation information.
The campus Pre-Law Advisor as recognized by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the body which produces the LSAT and handles all applications to law school, is Nathan Coleman, Ph.D. in the History and Political Science Department.
Dr. Coleman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-539-4269.
Click here to view a list of the faculty.