- Offered as:
- Specialization track
Several majors at Washington State University offer pre-law as a curriculum option.
The term "pre-law" does not refer to any specific academic major. Law schools do not prescribe particular undergraduate courses, nor do they favor certain majors in admission decisions. Any major you choose can serve as pre-law preparation.
Pre-law prepares students for law school and opens doors to advanced degrees and a wide variety of careers.
While any major that develops strong critical thinking and communication skills can serve as pre-law preparation, Washington State University offers a curriculum specially tailored to pre-law study in the following majors:
- Natural Resource Sciences
- Political Science
You can further specialize your pre-law studies by taking courses in business and environmental resource economics and management, among other possibilities.
This option emphasizes the law's historical evolution and the role of legal change in the formation of the modern world's social, political, and economic structure. Students enrolled in this program will gain knowledge of legal institutions as they exist today and of the ways in which they evolve.
Natural resource sciences
The policy/pre-law option within the natural resource sciences major focuses on the social, economic, and political factors that influence how natural resources are viewed, valued, utilized, and managed. By choosing certain courses within this option, you can also get a minor in sociology or political science.
The natural resources major at WSU gives you a strong grounding in the science, technology, and law that underpin the management of natural landscapes and wildlife for conservation and sustainable, responsible use. In the integrated curriculum of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, you learn to understand and use the latest science and technology in managing land use and conservation. The combination of flexibility, in-depth knowledge, and broad understanding helps you fully understand the many factors that affect the use and management of land and resources.
This option emphasizes reasoning, ethics, and political philosophy. In particular, it focuses on logic and ethics for developing the skills one needs to handle problems such as those found in the study and practice of law. The Law School Admission Test largely evaluates a student’s reasoning abilities, not factual knowledge, and philosophy majors on the whole tend to outperform students from other majors. Philosophy in general and the pre-law option in particular are outstanding preparation for law school.
This option focuses on how political and social forces shape and give meaning to American law and legal institutions. The program prepares students for the postgraduate study of law, providing them both specific skills and breadth of education. The approach is multidisciplinary and draws on courses not only in political science but also in English, economics, philosophy, sociology, history, and other disciplines.
Law schools do not favor any major over another; you can major in anything you want and have an equal chance of admission.
Whatever major you choose, you'll want to make sure you do a few things to best prepare for law school:
- Take some courses that deal with developing a critical understanding of the human institutions and values that the law deals with. In addition, pre-law students should develop a broad understanding of social, political, and economic institutions within a historical framework. There are several ways to do this at WSU:
- The general education curriculum includes courses organized around basic exploration of these topics;
- Most majors in the humanities (political science, sociology, psychology, history, English, philosophy, foreign languages, etc.) include courses dealing with human values, institutions, and behavior;
- Take elective courses; all majors at WSU have room for elective courses that can serve as pre-law preparation.
- Develop your powers of creative and critical thinking.
- Build strong oral and written communication skills.
Your major should offer preparation not only for admission to law school, but also for an alternate career. Admission to law school is competitive; WSU students have excellent placement records, but not everyone gets in.
If you haven't decided on a major yet, start by taking general education requirements. Along the way, you can explore various academic disciplines and work on developing skills in reading, writing, analytical and critical thinking, and task management — these general skills will benefit you in any major, and are also good foundational skills for law study.
The bottom line: Choose a major you enjoy and can do well in. Your overall academic record is important — and the more you enjoy your studies, the better your grades will be.
The University supports an active and highly successful mock trial team.
Students enroll in a preparatory class together and receive personal coaching, both from faculty advisors and from alumni who are practicing attorneys. The team regularly places well in competitions; recently a WSU team won an invitation to participate in the American Mock Trial Association's national tournament.
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs. Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
Students should complete the Washington State University general scholarship application and the FAFSA to ensure their eligibility for the widest range of scholarships and need-based financial aid.
For information or to apply for financial aid and scholarships from WSU, see the Scholarships and Finances section of the WSU website.