Students in the pre-law program may choose their own major field of study.
There is no single major that will prepare you for law school. Valpo pre-law students major in everything from history and English to art, education, and computer science. However, good pre-law training includes a fundamental understanding of political thought and awareness of the modern American political system. For that reason, many students major in political science. In fact, two-thirds of political science majors do attend law school. No matter which major is decided upon, being a pre-law student at Valpo involves rigorous academic training, which will prepare students for the challenges of law school and fulfilling careers serving in the area of justice.
Valparaiso University Law School
Valparaiso University’s pre-law program is distinct because of students’ accessibility to Valpo’s Law School. Students share the benefits of the law community in an enriched environment with the available resources of a highly esteemed law school. The Valpo Law School was one of the first in the U.S. to require pro-bono work. Through the pro-bono program, both pre-law and law students gain hands-on experience and develop relationships within the community. Pre-law students also have accessibility to the Law School’s highly-regarded visiting speakers, such as former Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Pre-Law students have access to Valparaiso Law School’s law library. Valparaiso’s Law School library is a United States Government Depository containing 283,000 volumes, both on hard copy and on microforms. There are also 1,200 periodicals available, as well as numerous electronic resources. The law library is readily accessible, as it is open 111 hours during the week.
Pre-law advisors at Valpo serve as academic advisors for each pre-law student. Students select the courses in their major or interest areas. In the average class size of twenty, students receive personal attention from their professors to help prepare them for the law school curriculum.
Valparaiso University Honor Code
Valpo students get a head start on learning ethical responsibilities, similar to ethics in law, through the Valparaiso University Honor Code, which develops integrity and personal growth in an academic environment.
Pre-law students are able to take part in Valpo’s Study Abroad programs in countries such as England, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Mexico, China, and Japan, as well as semester programs in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and New York. Pre-law students may be particularly interested in studying in Washington, D.C., or in New York, where the program focuses on the United Nations.
Internships will vary depending on the choice of major, but students are welcome to pursue internships in their given major if so desired. Valpo’s Washington, D.C. semester provides popular internship opportunities.
Among the more than 100 clubs and organizations at Valpo is Earthtones, which promotes a variety of environmental activities, including recycling and composting on campus and service to the Northwest Indiana community. Also, the Biology Club is active in stream habitat restoration.
Suggested General Education Courses
Though the American Bar Association does not recommend any specific classes for pre-law students, choosing courses that are challenging is a great way to prepare for law school. Courses that stress analytic and problem solving skills, critical reading skills, writing skills, oral communication and listening, general research skills, and organizational/management skills will be among the most valuable in preparing students for law school. Pre-law students should also consider taking a wide range of courses that can further their knowledge in areas such as history (especially American history), political theory and systems, ethical theory, basic knowledge of economics, basic math and financial skills, some knowledge of human behavior and social interaction, and an understanding of cultural diversity and international issues.
Selecting a Major
Choose a major that will be challenging, enjoyable, and will allow you to achieve competitive grades. There is no specific major that law schools prefer according to the American Bar Association, so it is important to consider a course of study that is interesting to you. Choosing a major that you will enjoy studying often leads to better grades and a higher grade point average, which are both important for law school admission.
Larry Baas, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
College of Arts & Sciences, Rm. 321
“Numerous political and legal speeches are sponsored by the political science department and the law school, offering students contact with actual political and legal issues. Having a law school on campus better prepares pre-law students for the reality of law school and provides resources like visits from Supreme Court judges.”