Academic Profile & Classes
Pre-Law is a declaration of intent to attend law school. There is no pre-law major at UGA, nor a pre-law degree, nor is there any major that will increase your chances of being accepted to law school. Rather law schools look at the whole student—your program of study, your academic credentials, your extra-curricular activities, your skills, and your reason for wanting to study law. There is no approved pathway into law school, but what you can and should do is tell your academic advisor that you plan to attend law school so you and your advisor can plan your program of study to include courses that may be helpful preparation for law school.
This is probably the most asked question by incoming students who wish to go to law school. Well, as with most issues dealing with the law, it is at the same time very simple and complicated. In almost all cases, no specific major is required to enter a legal specialty. (The exceptions are certain, very technical areas of patent law.) For example, you do not have to get a business degree if you want to be a corporate lawyer or a major in criminal justice to be a criminal defense attorney. However, your interest in a particular area of law may mean you have a natural interest in majors which are similar. Law schools select students who demonstrate they have developed the ability to think and write clearly. These analytical and communication skills can be developed in many different academic disciplines. So, choose a major that you like and one in which you will be able to realize your full academic potential. In short, the best major is the one that is best for you.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA) you should prepare for law school by developing a series of essential skills:
● Critical reading
● Problem Solving
● Writing and editing
● Oral communication and listening
● Organization and management
● Public service and promotion of justice
● Relationship-building and collaboration
● Background knowledge
● Exposure to law
Certain courses are particularly useful in developing the skills you will need to do well on the LSAT, in law school, and in the practice of law. Consider including some of the following courses in your degree program. For more information on the courses listed below, visit the UGA Course Bulletin.
English Composition and Literature
Any composition or literature course may be helpful. Look especially for smaller classes which are described as “Writing Intensive.” There are majors and minors available in English, classics, and comparative literature, all of which emphasize critical thinking and help develop your writing skills.
The study of any foreign language can develop a better understanding of the structure of language and the tools of communication. Certain types of public service law or international law may be enhanced by proficiency in an appropriate modern language. Ancient Greek and Latin classes also help improve your vocabulary and reading comprehension. Many degrees at UGA do not require foreign language, and you should talk with your academic advisor about choices for your limited elective hours.
Philosophy courses may be especially helpful and may be used to fulfill core requirements in various degrees. You may earn a major or a minor in philosophy.
Strongly recommended classes include:
- PHIL 2010 - Introduction to Philosophy
- PHIL 2020 - Logic and Critical Thinking
- PHIL 2030 - Introduction to Ethics
- PHIL 2500 - Symbolic Logic
More advanced selections include:
- PHIL 3200 - Ethical Theory
- PHIL 4210 - Social and Political Philosophy
- PHIL 4220 - Environmental Ethics
- PHIL 4240 - Philosophy of Law
The department of Educational Psychology offers a course called EPSY 2130: Exploring Teaching and Learning (formerly EPSY 2020) that may interest you as this course discusses basic issues and concepts related to how people are motivated, how they learn, and how common developmental factors affect learning and motivation with a broad range of settings such as client advising and “education” in law.
Political Science is a popular and useful study for Pre-Law students.
The following courses are considered extremely helpful for any Pre-Law student:
- POLS 4700 - Constitutional Law: Powers
- POLS 4710 - Constitutional Law: Rights and Liberties
- POLS 4740 - Judicial Process and Behavior
Other useful courses include:
- INTL 4210 - International Law
- POLS 4750 - Gender, Law, and Politics
- POLS 4720 - Criminal Procedure
- POLS 4730 - Criminal Law
Speech courses are strongly recommended and are helpful for any Pre-Law student.
Some basic choices include:
- COMM 1100- Introduction to Public Speaking
- COMM 1500 - Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
More advanced courses include:
- COMM 4220 - Theories of Argumentation
- COMM 4330 - Communication Strategies in the Courtroom
Criminal justice is a multi-disciplinary major or minor that may be useful if you are interested in criminal law. Courses are primarily taken from political science, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history; the major includes an internship as well. If interested in this major, you must submit an application for acceptance to this major at the end of your sophomore year.
Sociology gives insight into the wider social and political contexts in which decisions in society are made.
Courses which specifically address legal and criminal issues include:
- SOCI 3070 - Juvenile Delinquency
- SOCI 3140 - Social Control of Crime
- SOCI 3150 - Criminal Punishment and Society
- SOCI 3810 - Criminology
- SOCI 3830 - Violence and Society
- SOCI 4830 - Sociology of Law
A good background in American history is important, and you may feel that you need the benefit of both HIST 2111 (American History to 1865) and HIST 2112 (American History since 1865), although only one is required to satisfy the Regents' requirement for American history. History is a popular major or minor for Pre-Law students. Courses that emphasize critical thinking, research, and writing will be valuable.
A course directly concerning law is:
- HIST 4060 - American Legal History
Courses in Science and Technology
If you wish to pursue such fields as health, environmental, intellectual property or patent law, you may benefit from a background in the chemical, biological, and physical sciences, as well as courses in genetics, computer science, environmental health science and ecology. You may choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and
Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources, or various other degrees, or you may ask your advisor how to use specific classes in your Bachelor of Arts degree.
If you are earning an A.B. you may also consider non-prerequisite courses with an environmental emphasis such as:
- ECOL 1000-1000L - Ecological Basis of Environmental Issues
- GEOG 1125-1125D - Resources, Society, and the Environment
- GEOL 1121 - Earth Processes and Environments
Possibly followed by:
- GEOL 3150 - Coastal Processes and Conservation
- GEOL 3250 - Earth Resources and the Environment
A couple of courses dealing with environmental law:
- AAEC(ECOL) 4770H- The Business of Environmental Law (Honors)
- FANR 4810/6810 - ECOL 4810/6810- Natural Resources Law
- The First-Year Odyssey Seminars (fyo.uga.edu), offer freshmen a wonderful opportunity for a serious, in-depth academic experience in a small class with some of the most esteemed members of the University faculty. Seminars are offered on a variety of topics, and the list of offerings each semester is available online or from your advisor.
You may want to consider the Bachelor of Business Administration degree which requires admission to the Terry College of Business. If you want to obtain some basic business concepts and vocabulary, consider taking some of the courses listed below in your core or electives.
A class in economics is generally recommended for all Pre-Law students. ECON 2106 is Microeconomics; ECON 2105 is Macroeconomics. Additional upper-level classes may also be useful. Economics classes are also considered Arts and Sciences classes and may count in the social science area in many degrees. Economics is available as an A.B. degree through Arts and Sciences, and is a good option for a business-oriented student who desires a liberal arts degree. Although an A.B. degree, the level of math required for the Economics major is: MATH 2200, Analytic Geometry and Calculus.
Courses in legal studies are offered through the Terry College of Business Administration. Students may wish to consider the introductory course, LEGL 2700 - Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business, or any of the more advanced courses in Legal Studies.
As with the Legal Studies classes, ACCT 2101 and ACCT 2102, Principles of Accounting I and II, are available to all students not only those enrolled in the College of Business Administration. A more general introduction is available through ACCT 1160 - Survey of Accounting, which is for the non-major and takes a non-technical approach.
Students often go to law school after earning the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. The Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers elective classes or a minor to students who do not wish to pursue an A.B.J. degree. A particular course you may be interested in is JRLC 5040 - Law of Mass Communication. If you are not a student in the College of Journalism you may seek Permission of School (POS) for this course if it is officially recommended by your advisor. This course has the prerequisite of at least one basic JRL course.
You should make good use of every opportunity that you have as a UGA student to enhance your readiness for law school. Expanding your general knowledge and enhancing your analytical, writing, and research skills are possible in any course in your curriculum, and the course suggestions found in this guide are in no way intended to exhaust the options of valuable courses for the Pre-Law student. Fine arts, religion, anthropology, psychology—truly every course you take has the potential to develop your academic skills. Admissions committees look closely at your transcript to see evidence of a curious mind, a critical thinker, and an enthusiastic learner. It is not all about the “A.” Rather it’s about who you are, what interests you, and how you engage with issues. Use your course selection to develop and enhance the person you are and the lawyer you are seeking to become.
Become engaged on campus. Find a student activity or student organization that interests you. Take full advantage of the Experiential Learning requirement. These activities reflect that you are a “well-rounded” person who is concerned about your community.
Also consider earning an academic certificate to enhance your major. UGA has many certificate programs that are designed to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to a variety of issues, subjects, or areas of academic inquiry. Often representing newer fields of research, many certificate programs feature classes which strongly emphasize critical analysis.
Information about certificate programs is available from advisors, academic departments, or online. For a full list of programs, go here.
Programs to consider
Environmental ethics is a certificate program in which students benefit by viewing environmental issues from an interdisciplinary perspective, including courses from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as Arts and Sciences, and is available to students in any college. For students in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Certificate in International Agriculture focuses on the special problems of international agriculture and trade relationships. Global Studies is a program that offers a certificate or a major through Interdisciplinary Studies. Classes draw from many disciplines, and students include a concentration in a geographic area, and earn additional hours in a foreign language.
The Certificate in Leadership and Service is designed to enhance the leadership skills and orientation to service of students through an interdisciplinary approach to the study and practice of leadership. Students will gain experience in leadership in personal, team, organizational and community contexts. Courses to complete the certificate will provide students with the opportunity to work in groups,
develop skills in communication and critical thinking, practice skills in decision making and problem solving, and serve in leadership roles in their college, campus organizations or community.
The Institute for African American Studies provides a central focus to the study of the impact of African American contributions upon human culture.
African studies, Latin American studies, German studies, French studies, and medieval studies are available for students who have specific geographic, language or historical areas of interest.
The Women's Studies Program offers students an interdisciplinary perspective on women. Like the women's studies minor and major (through Interdisciplinary Studies), the certificate in women's studies exposes students to the new scholarship on women emerging in different fields. WMST 4250 is a Special Topics course in Women's Studies. Recent offerings have included such topics as: WMST 4250 - Power, Privilege, and Law.
International Relations and Marine Science are two more among several Interdisciplinary Studies majors available to the qualified student that may be of special interest to the Pre-Law student.
Studies Abroad and National Student Exchange programs are excellent opportunities to study in a different location, broadening your academic and cultural experiences.
Earning a double major, a minor, or a certificate in addition to your primary major can show an admissions committee that additional forethought and commitment have been applied in your undergraduate career. A second area of study will include more major-level classes, which often require more serious study, analysis and writing. A full list of majors, minors and certificate programs are available at bulletin.uga.edu.
However, you need not feel that you must have such an addition. You may find that you will benefit more from choosing good courses from many departments. Thoughtful choices of useful and complementary core and elective classes will be evident to an admissions committee, even if they do not carry an official recognition as a minor or a certificate. You may also want to point out such course selections in the personal statement you include with your application, particularly if organized around a general theme or interest of yours.