Will A Political Science Major Prepare You For Law School?

Political Rubix Cube

I frequently come across the question of whether a certain undergraduate major will help or harm a prospective law student. On Quora, one questioner asked about the impact of a political science degree. I was a political science major before attending law school. I’d say it was marginally helpful with my law school experience, but that it did not significantly prepare me for the challenges that I would face in law school.

My Experience

Sure, you’ll learn about the inner workings of government, the Constitution, and the court system. But even if you take a course (or courses) on distinctly legal issues, I still don’t think you’ll come out with any particular advantage over other matriculating 1Ls.

As just one example, when I was a junior in college, I took a course on national security law. I found the content and discussions interesting, however, I can’t say that it was that helpful in preparing me for my 1L year. I found it difficult to understand the assigned case law, and since my professor tried to use the Socratic Method in each session, I became even more confused on what I needed to know. I just didn’t have the foundational training to understand some of the vocabulary, the procedural posture of cases, and (at times) the legal holdings of cases. You learn all of these basics by being fully immersed during the first semester of your 1L year. It’s hard to replicate this experience by taking one or two “legal” courses as part of your political science curriculum.

Harm or Help?

In reality, I don’t think that your undergraduate major will harm or hurt you unless you want to enter certain discrete practice areas. For instance, a hard sciences background is almost a requirement if you intend to specialize in intellectual property law. Beyond that point, I’d follow your interests and select a major that speaks to your passions. If that’s political science, so be it.

Finally, I think that one of the best ways to prepare for law school is to find an internship in the legal industry. You’ll learn some of the vocabulary and, more importantly, will have a better idea of whether law school is right for you.