Best Pre-Law Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Pre-law refers to the path undergraduate students take to prepare for law school. While no specific major is required, certain majors like political science, history, english, and philosophy tend to align well with law school admissions requirements. Many colleges have pre-law programs, societies, or tracks to provide targeted advising and preparatory coursework. When researching the best pre-law schools, it’s important to consider academics, experiential learning opportunities, alumni networks, cost, and other factors. Here are 10 of the top pre-law schools in the country:

Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $59,950

Website: https://admissions.yale.edu/prelaw

Yale University, ranked the #1 law school by U.S. News, also has exceptional programming for pre-law students. There are eight undergraduate majors that have a pre-law track. Yale’s career resources equip students with LSAT prep, personal statement reviews, and law school advising. With a 6% acceptance rate, Yale offers unparalleled academics.

Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 4%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $57,649

Website: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/planning/law

Stanford University, tied for #2 in law school rankings, provides undergraduate pre-law students with a Pre-Law Society, LSAT prep classes, a law career adviser, and alumni attorney networking events. Stanford encourages interdisciplinary study with over 70 available majors.

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $55,950

Website: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/jdadmissions/apply-to-harvard-law-school/the-application-process/preparing-for-law-school/

Harvard University, home to the #4 law school in the U.S., provides pre-law programming like Law School Link which connects students to Harvard Law mentors. Harvard’s undergraduate humanities and social sciences curriculum aligns perfectly with law school preparation. Over 70 undergraduate organizations are law-related.

Columbia University

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Avg SAT Score: 1520

Tuition: $64,530

Website: https://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/learn/academicareas/socialsciences/polisci-prelaw

The Core Curriculum at Columbia University, ranked the #5 law school nationally, promotes critical thinking skills vital to law school success through required courses in literature, writing, art, music, science, and more. Columbia provides pre-law mentoring, LSAT prep, even opportunities to observe real law school classes.

University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Avg SAT Score: 1560

Tuition: $63,556

Website: https://college.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors/pre-law

The University of Chicago, tied at #4 in law school rankings, offers a Liberal Arts pre-law track within any major, plus a Law, Letters, and Society certificate program. Resources like the Harlan Scholars honors program, Institute of Politics, career advising, and alumni network prime students for legal careers.

Washington and Lee University

Location: Lexington, VA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $55,950

Website: https://politics.wlu.edu/pre-law-preparation/index.aspx

Washington and Lee University provides a Pre-Law Society, LSAT prep, law career panels, mentorship programs, and individualized law school advising. With a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, students work closely with professors, 95% of whom have terminal degrees. Alumni at top law schools offer excellent networking.

Emory University

Location: Atlanta, GA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg SAT Score: 1440

Tuition: $57,058

Website: https://college.emory.edu/academics/pre-professional/pre-law/index.html

Emory University has an Center for Pre-Law Advising with law school guidebooks, test prep, personal statement editing, application assistance and more. Emory also hosts an LSAT prep course, pre-law mentoring program, and a Pre-Law Society. Students take advantage of Atlanta’s legal community for internships.

University of Notre Dame

Location: Notre Dame, IN

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 18%

Avg SAT Score: 1470

Tuition: $60,232

Website: https://prelaw.nd.edu/

The University of Notre Dame provides unparalleled support to pre-law students including the Pre-Law Society, LSAT prep programs, law faculty advising, legal internships, research funding, and more. Strong Catholic faith underpins social teachings relevant to law. Alumni connections yield a 90% law school acceptance rate.

University of Virginia

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 24%

Avg SAT Score: 1420

Tuition: $52,000

Website: https://politics.virginia.edu/pre-law-program

The University of Virginia, ranked #8 law school nationally, provides undergraduates in any major with pre-law advising, LSAT and law school prep courses, moot court, public service funding, journals, clinics, externships and more. UVA’s 77% law school acceptance rate among pre-law students is excellent.

University of California – Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Avg SAT Score: 1360

Tuition: $44,007 (in-state)

Website: https://www.polisci.ucla.edu/undergraduate/pre-law-program

UCLA’s Political Science department oversees a structured pre-law program which includes a Law & Society major, law prof shadowing, LSAT prep, personal statement workshops, student-alumni networking events. UCLA feeds top law schools and legal careers in Los Angeles.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Major in for Pre-Law?

While no specific major is required or recommended for pre-law, common ones are Political Science, History, English, Philosophy, Economics, and Public Policy. Choosing a major that sharpens reading, writing, analytical, research and communication skills tend to best prepare students for legal writing and practice later on.

Do I Need To Go To An Ivy League School for Law School Admission?

No, you absolutely do not need to attend an Ivy League or other elite university for law school admission. While highly ranked schools often provide excellent pre-law programming, many state schools and smaller private colleges also have great support systems, classes, and extracurriculars to get you law school ready.

How Important Are My Undergraduate Grades for Law School Admissions?

Your GPA factors heavily into law school admissions, often combined with your LSAT score. Work hard from freshman year on to maintain at least a 3.7 GPA or higher. This keeps top law schools within reach. The most competitive applicants have a GPA of 3.9 or higher.

Should I Plan To Work Before Attending Law School?

Gaining 1-2 years of work experience before applying to law school can demonstrate maturity, strengthen your professional skills, and reveal your true career interests. Many pre-law students benefit from paralegal work, Capitol Hill internships, court clerk positions, legal assistant jobs or public service fellowships.

What Extracurriculars Do Law Schools Look For?

Law schools want pre-law students who are actively building relevant skills through activities like moot court, debate club, Model UN, student government, political groups, writing for the school newspaper, university compliance boards, legal clinics or shadowing attorneys. Leadership and increasing involvement year to year viewed favorably.

How Much Does Law School Cost per Year?

Law school tuition averages around $50,000-$65,000 per year for private schools, and $20,000-$40,000 per year for in-state public schools. Total costs rise to $80k-$90k yearly with living expenses, books, fees accounted for. Over 85% of law students use financial aid via loans, scholarships, grants.

When Should I Take the LSAT Exam?

Most pre-law students take the LSAT during late spring or summer before applying, or early fall at the latest, allowing scores to reach schools in time for admission decisions. Scores are valid for 5 years. Sophomores can take to practice. Juniors and early senior year align best with application cycle.

How Do I Prepare for the LSAT Exam?

Well in advance, self-prep using LSAT guide books, free online practice tests, and taking timed sample tests is wise. Many pre-law students also enroll in commercial test prep classes, tutoring or boot camps to cement strategies. School pre-law centers also offer LSAT prep resources.

When Do I Apply for Law School Admission?

Those starting law school the following fall apply through the prior autumn and winter, with nearly all deadlines between October and March. Some schools have early decision options in September. Secure recommendation letters over the summer before applying. Align prep with this calendar.

What Types of Careers Can I Pursue With a Law Degree?

A JD degree provides paths to private firm attorney roles like corporate lawyer, criminal lawyer, tax attorney, litigation specialist, environmental law, health care law and more. Government careers include prosecutor, public defender, policy adviser. Other options are politician, judge, professor, journalist, entrepreneur, banker, agent and consultant.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.