Law schools, unlike some other professional schools (e.g., medical school), typically do not require a specific major or even specific courses for admission. The prospective law student should therefore select a major which interests him or her. (Law schools do place a great deal of weight upon the student's grade point average, and it is usually easier to maintain a high average while pursuing a major that one enjoys.) Also, one should choose a major which provides a viable career alternative or supplement to the practice of law. (Admission to law school is competitive, and typically more than half the students who begin the admissions process will not be accepted to an accredited law school; the undergraduate's senior year will be too late to decide that a more practical major is needed.)
However, the campus does offer a pre-Law Minor to students who are interested in pursuing a law school education. The minor includes five required courses and one elective for a total of six courses earning 18 credits. Students in SPEA, the School of Business & Economics, and history majors in the COAS could double count courses that are required for their major or concentration, but they are required to take at least four courses or 12 credits outside of their major or concentration. The required courses of the minor are as follows:
Legal Environment of Business
American History II (Twentieth Century)
Introduction to American politics
American Criminal Justice System
Student may pick a course from the following courses for the single elective:
Introduction to Financial Accounting
Introduction to Microeconomics
Origins of Modern America
Recent U.S. History
American History I
Legal Aspects of Health Care
Substantive Criminal Law
Criminal Courts Administration
Students may contact a prelaw advisor at (219) 980-6841 or (219) 980-6636 for assistance.
While law schools give no preferential consideration to any particular major, admissions officers do often look for some exposure to areas essential to success in the study and practice of law, The courses below would also be beneficial to students interested in pursuing a law degree, particularly:
- Communication Skills: the law student must be able to express himself or herself concisely, precisely, and persuasively, on both written and oral levels. Competency in written expression is particularly essential. These skills can be perfected generally through courses that emphasize essay tests, term papers, and other written exercises, and specifically through English department courses in expository writing (e.g., W231, W233) and Communications courses in persuasive speaking (e.g., S121, S122, S223).
- Analytical Skills: courses in Philosophy (e.g., P150, P100), mathematics, and the sciences will enhance the logical thought processes essential to the study and practice of law.
- Research Skills: lawyers must know how to find data of all kinds and apply them to specific problems. A significant research project -- for example, a senior thesis or the equivalent in the student's major discipline -- will help develop these basic skills.
- Knowledge from the Humanities and Social Sciences: a good lawyer must understand the social and governmental context in which problems arise. Courses in history, political science, sociology, and psychology are recommended.
- Business Knowledge: a significant number of legal problems arise in or out of the business world. The School of Business and Economics regularly offers courses (e.g., L201) which introduce students to law and its connection to business. The study of economics, finance, and especially accounting can also be most useful.
Law school admission committees also judge the applicant on the overall quality of his or her undergraduate course of study as well as grades, so the Pre-Law student should avoid overloading schedules with pass/fail or lower level courses. Moreover, the study and practice of law is not purely an academic exercise; it deals with every aspect of society. Extracurricular experiences and practical work experience, especially for a lawyer or in a law-related field, strengthen the application. The development of leadership skills is a definite asset. Law schools are interested in students who have shown the ability to accept and handle responsibility.