Preparing for Law School

Choosing an Undergraduate Major

There is no single or ideal path to law school.  In fact, students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline.  Therefore, UMBC does not offer an undergraduate degree in “pre-law.”

Students interested in law school are encouraged to pursue areas of study that interest and challenge them.  Common majors include political science, history, English, philosophy, or economics.  However, aspiring law students may complete undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science and mathematics, computer science, engineering, psychology, and anthropology, among many others!

Choosing Undergraduate Courses

Aspiring law students are encouraged to take a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors.  Regardless of major, students are advised to take courses that will enhance those skills that are essential for success in law school and legal practice.

The American Bar Association recommends that prospective law students develop the following key skills:

  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing and Editing
  • Oral Communication and Listening
  • Research
  • Organization and Management
  • Relationship-building and Collaboration
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
  • Background Knowledge
  • Exposure to the Law

Law school and the practice of law require significant amounts of reading, writing, and research.  Classes that provide experience with close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing are particularly beneficial.

The America Bar Association (ABA) also advises that greater familiarity with the legal system, including its institutions, concepts, and vocabulary, can advance a student’s understanding of the law school curriculum.  UMBC offers many courses to help students enhance their exposure to and understanding of the legal system and law school curriculum.

UMBC’s Political Science Department offers strong preparation for students interested in law school or employment in law-related areas.  The curriculum offers a rich variety of courses designed to help students understand the case method approach of legal interpretation, the politics and procedures of the judicial system, and the relationship of the courts in the creation of public policy.

Students should discuss options with their academic advisors and with the Pre-Law Advisor.

Law-Related Political Science courses include, among others:

POLI 220 – The Constitution and American Democracy 

POLI 230 – Introduction to Constitutional Law

POLI 233 – Law and Legal System

POLI 330- Mock Trial

POLI 331- Moot Court

POLI 334 – Judicial Process

POLI 337 – Comparative Justice (Writing Intensive)

POLI 338 – Women and Law

POLI 352 – Administrative Law

POLI 421 – Baseball, American Politics, and the Law

POLI 431 –  Spies, Assassins, and Cyber-Warriors – Modern National Security Law

POLI 435 – Legal Reasoning

POLI 436 – Health Law

POLI 437 – International Human Rights Law

POLI 438 – Legal Internship

POLI 445 – Law, Politics and American Educational Policy

Minors and Certificates

  • Law and Justice Minor
    • The Political Science Department also offers a minor in Law and Justice to undergraduates of all majors.  This minor is excellent training for students who plan to attend law school, or to work in the many fields where knowledge of the law is a powerful asset.
    • Students interested in exploring a particular area of law (e.g., intellectual property, health law, international law, elder law) are encouraged to consult with the pre-law academic advisor to consider other beneficial academic and co-curricular opportunities at UMBC.
  • Practical Policy and Politics Minor
    • The Political Science Department offers an 18-credit minor in Practical Policy and Politics.  This minor immerses students in study of the theory and practice of American democracy.  It aims to enhance students’ capacities as citizens and to prepare them for potential careers in politics, public policy, or public administration and management.
  • Social Welfare Minor
    • The Social Work Program offers a minor in Social Welfare.  The minor provides a comprehensive background in the social welfare system in the United States, its relationship to the market economy, and the historical, political, and cultural factors that shape its course.
    • It also offers the opportunity to explore in depth some of the challenging issues confronting society in the alleviation of poverty and the delivery of health and welfare services to families and children, older adults, and people with physical and mental challenges.
  • World Politics Minor
    • The Political Science Department offers an 18-credit minor in World Politics.  This minor explores the politics of interstate relations and its interaction with the domestic political systems of different countries.
  • Certificate in Public Administration and Policy
  • Certificate in Philosophy, Law, and Politics
    • The Philosophy Department offers a 15-credit Certificate in Philosophy, Law, and Politics for students looking to gain a strong background in the philosophical foundations of law, legal studies, political theory and public policy.
  • Security Studies Certificate
    • The Political Science Department offers a 15-credit Certificate in Security Studies (SEST). The SEST certificate enables UMBC undergraduates to choose a curricular focus in international security affairs.

Other Law-Related Courses

Many other Departments offer relevant coursework in law and law-related topics including, but not limited to, the courses outlined below.  This list also includes courses that may be particularly beneficial for developing some of the key skills described above (e.g., close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing).

AFST 275 – The Criminal Justice Process and Black Americans

AFST 392 – Race, Crime and Public Policy

AGNG 200 – Aging People, Policy, and Management (Writing Intensive)

AGNG 300 – Introduction to Policy and Aging Services

AGNG 430 – Legal and Ethical Issues in Aging Services

AGNG 401 – Critical Issues in Management of Aging Services

ANCS 120 – Ancient Greeks and Romans in the Mediterranean World

ANCS 150 – English Word Roots from Latin and Greek

ANCS 201 – The Ancient Greeks

ANCS 202 – The Roman World

ANCS 453 – Ancient Greece

AMST 413 – Policing and Prisons in U.S. Society

ANTH 322 – Forensic Anthropology

BIO 397- Ethics and Integrity in Scientific Research

CMSC 426 – The Principles of Computer Security

ECON 121 – Principles of Accounting I

ECON 122 – Principles of Accounting II

ECON 416 – The Economics of Law

ECON 410- Crises, Bubbles and Fraud

ECON 418 – Economics of Innovation and Technology (Writing Intensive)

SPCH 100 – Public Communication

ENGL 240 – Writing for Social Change

ENGL 301 – Analysis of Literary Language (Writing Intensive)

ENGL 330 – Researching Communicative Practices

ENGL 379 – Principles and Practices in Technical Communication

ENGL 391 – Advanced Exposition and Argumentation

ENGL 393 – Technical Communication (Writing Intensive)

FYS 101 – Struggling for Social Justice

FYS 102- Diversity, Ethics and Social Justice in the Contex of Schooling

FYS 102 – Poverty Amidst Plenty: The Economics of American Poverty

FYS 106 – Introduction to Disability Studies

NOTE: First-Year Seminar (FYS) courses are open to all students during their first year at UMBC

GWST 328 – Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Political Power in the U.S.

GWST 338 – Women, Gender, and Law

GWST 381 – Reproductive Justice in the US

GWST 480 – Theories of Feminism

GES 462- GIS and Human-Environmental Systems

GLBL 383 – Global Citizenship

GLBL 483 – International Negotiation

HIST 101 – U.S. History to 1877

HIST 102 – U.S. History, 1877 to the Present

HIST 201 – Introduction to the Study of History

HIST 302 – The History of Maryland

HIST 303 – The Second World War

HIST 306 – The First World War

HIST 313 – America as a Great Power? U.S. Foreign Relations in the Twentieth Century

HIST 315 – Native American History, 1800-Present

HIST 317 – American Political Development

HIST 318 – United States Constitutional History

HIST 321 – African American History to 1865

HIST 322 – African American History Since 1865

HIST 325 – History of Women in America to 1870

HIST 326 – History of Women in America Since 1870

HIST 340 – Atlantic Revolutions

HIST 341 – American Colonies

HIST 344 – American Civil War

HIST 346 – The United States, 1917 to 1945

HIST 347 – The United States Since 1945

HIST 372 – Nazi Germany

HIST 413 – The American Revolution

HIST 420 – American Political Development (Also a 300-level course previously listed)

HIST 423 – Creating the Constitution

HIST 425 – Making a Buck: The History of American Capitalism

HIST 447 – The Civil Rights Movement

HIST 465 – The Renaissance

HIST 468 – The Age of Enlightenment

IS 296 – Foundations of Data Science

IS 304 -Ethical Issues in Information Systems

IS 474 – Legal Aspects of Information Systems

LATN 101- Elementary Latin I

LATN 102 – Elementary Latin II

LATN 201 – Intermediate Latin

MGMT 310 – Human Resource Management

MGMT 360 – Business Law

MGMT 385 – Business Ethics and Society

MCS 144 – Professional Communication and Development

MCS 355 – Social Media: Networking and Mobility

MCS 388 – Modern Public Relations

MLL 301 – Textual Analysis: Words, Images, Music

PHIL 100 – Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 146 – Critical Thinking

PHIL 150 – Contemporary Moral Issues

PHIL 152 – Introduction to Ethics

PHIL 321 – History of Philosophy: Ancient

PHIL 322 – History of Philosophy: Modern

PHIL 345 – Philosophy of Language

PHIL 346 – Deductive Logic

PHIL 350 – Ethical Theory

PHIL 352-  Ethics and Technology

PHIL 354 – Ethics, Animals, and the Environment

PHIL 355 – Political Philosophy

PHIL 356 – Philosophy of Law

PHIL 357 – Philosophy and Human Rights

PHIL 455 – Applied Ethics

PHIL 456 – Justice and Climate Change

PHIL 486 – Kant’s Moral and Political Philosophy

PHIL 482 – Aristotle’s Ethics

PHIL 483 – Plato’s Republic

PSYC 350 – Psychology and the Law

PSYC 387 – Community Psychology

PBHL 398 – Selected Topics in Public Health (e.g., Migration, Health & Human Rights)

PBHL 497- Health Planning and Adminstration

SOCY 330 – Deviance in Contemporary Society

SOCY 372 – Juvenile Delinquency

SOCY 374- Drugs and Alcohol in Society

SOCY 458 – Sociology of Mental Health and Illness

SOWK 370 – Social Work and the Criminal Justice System

SOWK 374 – Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees

Strong Academic Performance and Test Scores

Law schools are looking for applicants with academic excellence and the ability to perform at a high scholarly level.  Undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) and LSAT score* are generally considered the two most important factors.

*Note:  Some law schools are beginning to accept GRE scores in lieu of the LSAT.  Please review the ETS website for a list of schools that accept GRE scores for their J.D. Programs.

Students should strive to do their best in all courses, build relationships with their professors and other mentors, and participate in activities that support their interests and potential career goals.

Co-Curricular, Volunteer, and Leadership Activities

Aspiring law students at UMBC are encouraged to get involved in co-curricular, leadership, service-learning, and/or volunteer activities that are interesting and impactful.  Students should also consider opportunities to study abroad.  These opportunities may enhance a student’s law school application and resume.  Learn more about pre-law student organizations and activities at UMBC.

Internships and Exposure to the Legal Profession

Prospective law students do not need any legal experience to apply to law school.  Nevertheless, to help determine whether law school and the legal profession is the right choice for them, students should consider gaining some practical exposure to the legal profession through internships, job shadowing, and networking.

  • The Political Science Department’s Legal Internship Program offers internship opportunities for academic credit with courts, law enforcement agencies, private law firms, and other legal institutions.  Applications for this internship program are typically due in mid-October each year.
  • UMBC’s Career Center also assists students with finding internships, job shadowing opportunities, and networking contacts.  Please visit the Career Center’s page on Where to Find Internships & Jobs.