Academic Planning and Coursework
Is there a pre-law major at USC?
At USC, similar to the wide majority of universities in the United States, there is NOT a specific pre-law major or prerequisite courses required for law school. Law schools aim to recruit a diverse cohort of students with a variety of majors, minors, academic and work/internship experiences. In fact, over the past 5 years, USC candidates that were admitted to law school had been enrolled in 114 different majors across campus as undergraduate students!
How to express interest in pre-law
For those students interested in being pre-law, you are able to tell your academic advisor during New Or Transfer Student Orientation that you are interested in pre-law and they will enter that into myUSC. However, that information is not put on your transcript or shared with law schools once you graduate. The Pre-Law advising team uses that information to make sure they email you regarding pre-law related events and add you to the Pre-Law and Graduate School Advising newsletter. With that in mind, please consider signing up for our Pre-law and Graduate School Advising newsletter to receive weekly updates on events and workshops during the academic year.
How to pick related coursework
We encourage you to pick a major that fits your unique interests and empowers you to thrive academically while taking increasingly more challenging coursework. Your USC journey should demonstrate interest in developing the skills lawyers use on a daily basis including critical thinking and analytical skills.
USC embraces the concept that law schools are not looking for candidates that are exact replicas of each other; we strive to provide each student with diverse opportunities to discover what they are passionate about and give them the tools needed to transition to law school accordingly.
Once you review coursework or programs you are interested in, please connect with your academic advisor to ensure that the coursework fits with your current plan. The pre-law advisors are not academic advisors and cannot help you in this capacity.
Law Schools consider individuals with skills and attributes that support the study and practice of law. These skills include but are not limited to:
- Analytical and Problem Solving
- Reading Comprehension
- Communication (Oral and Written)
- Basic Research Abilities
- Organization and Management
- Attention to Detail
- Collaboration and Interpersonal skills
- Commitment to Service and Promotion of Justice
Do these skills sound familiar to you? They should!: USC strives to ensure ALL students across disciplines graduate with these and related skills! Take a look at the syllabi from your classes, reflect on your projects and involvement activities and assess the skills you have developed and skills that need development.
Remember, law schools are looking for well-rounded candidates with backgrounds that include a great GPA, solid LSAT score, varied extracurricular activities, diverse skill set and interests, an amazing personal statement, and glowing letters of recommendation.
USC offers several minors that help students further develop specific skills and knowledge sets that could be related to a future law career. If you are considering a minor, you will want to consult with your academic advisor to ensure you will be able to complete the coursework in the appropriate time frame.
Reflect on courses that develop critical reading and analysis skills. Give yourself honest feedback after each semester and ensure you are taking progressively more challenging coursework as you progress through USC. If you feel you are lacking in this area talk to your academic advisor about courses that might help round out your experiences.
Please make sure to highlight any honors thesis and/or research experiences that deepened your academic experiences.
While there are several minors at USC offered that allow you to gain exposure to the subject-matter of law, adding a law related minor will not put you at an advantage over another applicant who pursues a minor not related to law.
The basic rule for choosing a minor is the same as for choosing a major; choose something you like and work your very best to perform well in it. Loading your transcript with law-related courses that are not of interest to you is not a strategy we recommend.
The minors listed below are designed to supplement what you are learning in your major and are by no means required to attend law school.
Please consult the Course Catalog for more details about potential minors including the following:
- Business Law
- Communication Policy and Law
- Forensics and Criminality
- Gender and Social Justice
- Human Rights
- Law and Public Policy
- Law and Society
- Law and Technology
- Law and Social Justice
- Law and Migration
- Legal Studies
- Psychology and Law
Below is a list of some of USC’s law-related courses intended to provide students with an introduction to both the subject matter of the law and to the style of teaching at law school. Keep in mind law schools expect you to receive your formal legal education in law school- law schools are looking for well-rounded candidates with a diversity of knowledge and experiences to draw from.
While we suggest considering the option of taking a few of these courses to explore your interest and/or passion for law, please remember that coursework alone is not what makes a well-rounded candidate.
Some of the courses with specifically law-related content are as below. Please use the “Search” function of the Course Catalog (upper left corner on page) to learn more about each course and to determine which semesters these classes may be available:
- AMST 344/ REL 344 Islamic Law and American Society
- AMST 345 Law and American Indian Studies
- ANTH 345 Politics, Social Organization, and Law
- CLAS 307 Law and Society in Classical Greece
- COLT 475 Politics and the Novel
- COMM 302 Persuasion: Theories and research in social influence
- COMM 322 Argumentation and Advocacy
- COMM 421 Legal Communication
- COMM 422 Legal Issues and New Media
- ECON 434 Economic Analysis of Law
- ECON 451 The Politics of International Trade
- ENST 323/ IR 323 Politics of Global Environment
- ENST 436/ POSC 436 Environmental Politics
- FSEM 180 Ideas on Trial HIST 265 Racism, Sexism, and the Law
- IR 307 Contemporary International Politics
- IR 330 Politics of the World Economy
- ITP 479 Cyber Law and Privacy
- JOUR 208 Media Law and Ethics
- JOUR 371 Censorship and the Law
- JOUR 462 Law of Mass Communication
- LAW 200 Law and Society
- LAW 201 Law and Politics
- LAW 220 The Legal Profession
- LAW 300 Concepts in American Law
- LAW 402 Psychology and Law
- LAW 404 Mental Health Law
- LAW 444/ POSC 444 Civil and Political Rights and Liberties
- LING 412 Linguistic Interpretation of the Law
- LING 450 New Horizons in Forensic Speaker Identification
- PHIL 140 Contemporary Moral and Social Issues
- PHIL 166 Current Moral and Social Issues
- PHIL 174 Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
- PHIL 431 Law, Society, and Politics
- POSC 130 Law, Politics and Public Policy
- POSC 201 Law and Politics
- POSC 270/ ENST 270 Introduction to Environmental Law and Politics
- POSC 340 Constitutional Law
- POSC 347 Environmental Law
- POSC 441 Cultural Diversity and the Law
- POSC 452 Critical Issues in Law and Public Policy
- PR 428 Social, Legal, and Ethical Foundations of Public Relations
- PSYC 363 Criminal Behavior
- SOCI 351 Public Policy and Juvenile Justice
- SOCI 402 Human Trafficking
- SWMS 382/ POSC 380 Political Theories and Social Reform
- WRIT 340 Advanced Writing for Pre-Law Students
- WRIT 340 Moot Court
- WRIT 440 Advanced Legal Writing
All ABA law schools require applicants register through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). All law school application materials are required to be included in CAS.
Given that universities across the globe have different grading scales and grading policies (i.e.- some universities do not allow undergrad students to take freshman forgiveness or pass/fail courses) LSAC converts all candidate GPA’s to a LSAC GPA. The LSAC GPA converts your USC grades to a standard 4.0 system in order to furnish law schools with a uniform basis for comparing applicants.
When you apply, law schools will receive your USC transcript AND your LSAC GPA when you apply. Learn more about the LSAC GPA conversion process here.
Please review our FAQ regarding GPA conversions HERE.
One very important note to your LSAC GPA and courses taken through USC Freshman Forgiveness: Since not all schools internationally allow students to re-take course through Freshman Forgiveness, LSAC calculates an average between the first and second time you took the course through Freshman Forgiveness and that averaged grade is what goes onto your LSAC GPA.
Please learn more about how grades are calculate for your LSAC GPA HERE (add link).
Gould’s 3+3 Accelerated Bachelor/JD program is designed for current undergraduate students to complete your undergraduate and law school studies in six years instead of the usual seven. The accelerated degree pathway is open to all majors. You are required to attend the Gould School of Law.
>The program has very specific admissions requirements (per the the American Bar Association) and is EXTREMELY competitive- there are less than 20 students currently enrolled in the 3+3 program in entirety.
Below is the general process to determine if you qualify for the program. Note: The pre-law advisors are not involved with this process- only academic advisors are able to advise on the program.
- First step to determine your eligibility for the 3+3 BA program is to confirm with your academic advisor that you have a 3.8 GPA and that you are on track to graduate in the Spring semester of your third year. If you need to take classes the summer after your Junior year you are NOT eligible for the 3+3 program. You also need to be able to share evidence of scoring in the 85% or higher in the critical reading portion of the SAT or ACT. If you have not taken the SAT or ACT you are not eligible for the 3+3 program.
- Once you confirm these initial qualifications with your current academic advisor, they will refer you to a designated undergraduate student academic advisor in Gould who will set up an opportunity with you to connect, discuss the program, review your transcript, etc.
- After you meet with the Gould advisor and they are able to confirm that you are eligible to apply for the 3+3 program, they will send you the info you need to get started on the application process. The application process includes setting up an LSAC CAS account, submitting a personal statement, letters of recommendation, a resume, a Zoom interview, etc.
Learn more about Gould’s 3+3 Program
FAQ sheet for all students interested in learning more (developed by the Gould Undergraduate Programs team). 3+3 FAQ Sheet