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June 4, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Legal studies

If you’re considering going into law or are thinking about attending law school in the future, it’s important to choose and undergraduate major that will best prepare you for your masters or even doctorate work. One such major is legal studies and it focuses on teaching students legal issues from a humanities perspective.

Education

According to the College Board, a major in legal studies differs from pre-law studies. Pre-law studies is not a major; it is instead a guided curriculum which helps students prepare for law school and requires a different, separate major that students also have to declare. Legal studies on the other hand, is a major that can earn students a degree and features typical courses such as law and economics, constitutional law, legal research and writing, and philosophy of law. Students who wish to become pre-law may find legal studies a good major to declare as part of their undergraduate work.

What to know before you apply

Students should be aware if the major is within its own department or is a part of a separate area of study. In addition, students should be aware of what kind of pre-law advising is available at the schools they are looking into as well as how many students actually get into the law school of their choice. The amount of clubs and ability to get involved with relevant activities is also important for students to consider so that they can gain experience with policies involving the law. Students should interested in the relationship of law and society and be willing to write and read extensively about historical and philosophical issues.

Salary

Many students who pursue legal studies and pre-law often do so with the intention of becoming a private-practice lawyer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this kind of career earned an average of $120,020 as of 2009. Though perhaps less popular, students can also become historians, who averaged $56,350 yearly salary as of 2009, or government executives who averaged $37, 530 a year as of 2009.

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