Orange Alert

Philosophy for Pre-Law Students

A degree in Philosophy provides excellent preparation for a career in law. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it:­

  • First, there is a lot of overlap in content. Philosophers study many of the fundamental concepts that the law relies on, including the nature of right and wrong, justice, responsibility, knowledge, testimony, evidence, and textual meaning.
  • Second, philosophers and lawyers need many of the same skills. The job of a lawyer is to analyze, formulate, or rebut arguments that arise in a court of law. These are exactly the skills you learn in a philosophy class: whether you're taking a class in ethics or epistemology or metaphysics, you will be confronted with the best arguments people have come up with for and against the central claims in these areas, and you will learn to hone your own critical abilities to spot flaws in these arguments, consider potential repairs, and formulate arguments for your own preferred answers.
  • Third, philosophy has the study of logic as one of its core sub-disciplines. Needless to say, a mastery of logic is key to the practice of law. It's no accident that two of the four sections on the LSAT (the law school entrance exam) are called "logical reasoning." Philosophy is the only department at the university that offers courses specifically on formal logic and the analysis of argument structure, which teach you the tools you need to succeed both in the philosophy classroom and on the LSAT.

It's no surprise then that philosophy majors outperform students from many other fields on the LSAT, including History, Engineering, Political Science, and Criminal Justice 1 :

Major Average Score Number of Students
Economics 158.9 2,757
Philosophy 157.2 2,238
Engineering 156.2 974
History 156.3 3,138
English 154.8 3,151
Finance 154.9 1,471
Political Science 153.6 11,947
Psychology 152.5 3,736
Communications 150.8 1,183
Criminal Justice 145.9 3,629

Philosophy majors also achieve correspondingly high admissions rates at law schools 1 :

Major# of ApplicantsAverage LSAT scoreRate of Law School Admission
Political Science11,947153.680.5%
Criminal Justice3,629145.961.2%

At Syracuse, we offer three Major programs in Philosophy:

All three of our Major programs include content and teach skills that make them ideal for students headed to law school. The Philosophy B.A. also includes a required course in Logic.


1 From the American Philosophical Association, “Philosophy Student Performance on the LSAT” (2017-18 admissions cycle):