The nation’s finest law schools are well aware of the excellent pre-professional education provided at Allegheny. Year after year, Allegheny graduates distinguish themselves in their law school studies and beyond, accustomed as they are to hard work, intellectual challenge, independent study and doing in-depth research.
The Association of American Law Schools advises students not to pursue specific “pre-law” programs. Instead, it recommends completing precisely the kind of broad-based curriculum featured at Allegheny, so as to develop skills that are absolutely crucial for law school and law careers. The key results are these:
- The ability to handle abstract ideas;
- Strong analytic and reasoning skills;
- Writing and speaking ability;
- Appreciation of the values of civilization.
The following are the key components of an Allegheny academic program, from the standpoint of pre-legal studies:
Highly developed communication skills
Professional schools always seek evidence of writing, reading and discussion skills (they expect at least one year of English). All Allegheny students take a sequence of three First-year/Sophomore seminars emphasizing written and oral communications skills, two in the first year and one in the sophomore year. Further study in English can be pursued in electives, minors and majors. Throughout the Allegheny years-especially the first year-small classes and an active learning dynamic develop discussion skills.
Breadth of Study
Divisional Studies ensure that all students are introduced to the principal divisions of knowledge-the Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The major is chosen from one division, the minor from a second division, and at least two courses from the third division. This develops breadth of understanding that is valued highly by law schools.
Depth of Study: The Major
All 30 Allegheny majors develop skills for in-depth study that are crucial in professional school-that is, for acquiring, synthesizing, applying and communicating information. Alleghenians can also double major or design their own majors.
Most pre-law students (about 70%) major in one of three disciplines: political science, history or economics. Next in popularity are psychology and English, with the other majors distributed evenly among the natural and social sciences and the humanities. Popular double majors are political science/economics and history/english, though any combination is possible.
Courses pertaining to the law and legal history can be found in all of Allegheny’s curricular divisions. Some recent examples:
- First Seminars: Environmental Politics, U.S. Politics and the Constitution, Controversial Legal Issues
- Communication Arts: Public Address, Rhetoric and Society
- Environmental Science: Environmental Regulation and the State, Law and the Environment
- History: The Western Tradition of Justice and the Law, History of Political Crime and Political Justice, Great Trials in History, English Common Law
- Philosophy: Ethics and Community
- Political Science: Law and Society, U.S. Constitution, Civil Rights and Liberties, Women and the Law