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RIT’s pre-law program helps you navigate the admission process for law school, explore a range of legal careers, and guide you through course selection to ensure you build the skills and competencies required of competitive law school applicants.
Overview for Pre-Law
Unlike medical schools and graduate programs in the health sciences, which outline specific course requirements for admission, there are no distinct course requirements when applying to law school. Instead, law schools look for applicants who can demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding leadership experience, exceptional written and oral communication skills, and high-level competency in analytical and critical thinking. RIT’s pre-law program is open to students in all majors who are interested in pursuing a career in law.
What is Pre-Law?
At RIT, pre-law is an advising program designed to help you navigate the admission process for law school. Students in all majors, who are interested in pursuing a career in law, are encouraged to participate. Through personalized advising, LSAT preparation, academic counseling, and guidance on course selection, the pre-law program ensures that you will build the skills and competencies required to become a competitive applicant to law school.
Best Degrees for Law School
There are no specific undergraduate degrees suggested for students who wish to pursue admission to law school. In fact, law schools accept applications from students who major in any academic program, from English and history to engineering and computing. RIT recommends that you select a major that interests you and one that provides a challenging curriculum that includes the development of skills in problem-solving, critical thinking and analysis, and writing and communication. Some of the best degrees for law school are in:
- Political Science, History, International and Global Studies: In our political science, history, and international and global studies you’ll find courses that will help you develop a historical understanding of the American legal system, law and government, and international law. These majors also help define your critical thinking and analytical skills, your writing capabilities, and your ability to write persuasive arguments.
- Economics and Public Policy: Economics and public policy programs are well known for helping students develop their analytical skills, which aids future lawyers in analyzing legal cases presented in their law school courses.
- English, Communication, and Journalism: Law school course work involves a significant amount of research and writing. Majors in English, communication, and journalism teach you how to explore a topic from multiple angles, present coherent and well-thought-out arguments, and refine your critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Science and Math: The sciences for law school? Absolutely. The analytical skills gained in a math major, the investigative and discovery skills learned in biology, biotechnology, and chemistry majors, and the critical thinking skills needed in all science programs are necessary competencies for success in law school. Plus, the sciences are an excellent background for students interested in pursuing law careers in patent law, health care law, environmental law, and law surrounding emerging technologies.
- Engineering and Computing: Known for developing quantitative skills, students majoring in engineering and computing are well -positioned for success in law school. And, like the sciences, emerging technologies–in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, and more–are beginning to impact the legal field. Lawyers will need a level of scientific and technical knowledge along with their background in law and legal studies.
- Philosophy and Psychology: Most of the skills required for student and career success—how to learn, how to apply that learning in professional and personal environments, and how to communicate that knowledge—are central to both philosophy and psychology. In both majors, you’ll evaluate complex problems, identify and examine underlying principles, investigate issues from diverse perspectives, and communicate clearly in both written and oral forms–all skills you’ll need in law school and as a lawyer.
Minors and Immersions: Minors and immersions are concentrated areas of study in a particular subject area. Minors consist of five courses while immersions consist of three. RIT offers more than 170 minors and immersions–in topics such as legal studies, public policy, English, American politics, and more–that can further develop the skills and aptitudes needed for law school.
RIT’s Pre-Law Program
Designed to help you build the core competencies needed to become a strong candidate for law school admission, RIT’s pre-law advising program is a set of offerings centered around preparation for law school admission.
Personalized Academic Advising: Academic advisors assist you in designing your plan of study, which will ensure that you complete the course work required of your major as well as core competencies required for law school admission. Advisors provide advice on selecting elective courses, minors and immersions, extracurricular activities, cooperative education and internships, and other activities that help you develop and sharpen your leadership skills and other capabilities.
Extracurricular Activities: Getting involved in activities outside the classroom allows you to connect with other students who share your interest in the law, and provides the opportunity to hone the skills necessary to succeed in law school in new and fun ways. While you're encouraged to join a variety of clubs and organizations, several that may be of particular interest include:
- Pre-Law Association–The Pre-Law Association provides opportunities to visit law schools to sit in on a first-year courses, meet admissions representatives to learn more about what they look for in successful law school candidates, and attend LSAT review seminars. This is a great way to meet other pre-law students of all majors at RIT.
- Mock Trial Association–RIT’s mock trial team competes in both invitational and regional tournaments sanctioned by the American Mock Trial Association. It offers excellent preparation for students interested in attending law school, providing networking opportunities as well as practice in developing persuasive, cohesive arguments and delivering them in a court-like setting.
What to do and when? We have you covered with a year-by-year timetable for what you need to focus on for each step of your undergraduate journey to law school.
First and Second Years
- Work with your academic advisor and the pre-law advisor to review and register for the required courses for your degree program. Discuss with your advisors which general education and elective classes will be most beneficial in preparing you for law school.
- Begin conversations with your faculty advisor about co-op/internship opportunities that are required or recommended for your major.
- Participate in extracurricular activates that will help you develop the skills necessary to succeed in a law program, such as leadership, public speaking, critical thinking, analysis and communication, among others. (But don’t get carried away—studies come first.)
- Make this your best year academically. Your acceptance to law school will depend to a great extent on your academic record.
- Start reviewing old copies of the LSAT test and explore the option of enrolling in a commercial test preparation course.
- Start investigating law schools.
Summer Between Third and Fourth Years
- Visit Law School Data Assembly Service to learn more about registering for the LSAT. Read the site thoroughly to make sure you understand all phases of the application process.
- Register for the LSAT and LSDAS.
- Begin to develop a list of 10 to 15 law schools for which you’d like to apply. Ultimately, applicants submit applications to 6 to 10 schools.
- Prepare for and take the LSAT.
- If needed, make an appointment with the pre-law coordinator to discuss your plans.
- Pull together ideas for a personal statement or essay. Speak to professors about letters of recommendation.
- Request and send your undergraduate transcripts and apply for financial aid at law schools of interest.
- Finalize and submit your applications before Thanksgiving, if possible.
- By mid-January, follow up with law schools to ensure all application materials were received.
- Receive acceptance, make decision, send deposit.
- After graduation, send a final copy of your undergraduate transcript to the law school you will attend.
RIT/Syracuse University College of Law 3+3 Option
RIT has partnered with Syracuse University’s College of Law to offer an accelerated RIT/Syracuse University College of Law 3+3 BS/JD Option for highly capable students. This is a fast-track pathway to law school in which students earn a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate degree in six years. In the 3+3 option, students interested in the following RIT majors may apply to the option directly:
- Advertising and Public Relations BS
- Communication BS
- Criminal Justice BS
- Economics BS
- English BS
- History BS
- International and Global Studies BS
- Journalism BS
- Philosophy BS
- Political Science BS
- Psychology BS
- Public Policy BS
- Sociology and Anthropology BS
Successful applicants are offered admission to RIT and given conditional acceptance into Syracuse University’s College of Law.