Going to Graduate School or Law School?

Comprehensive studies* of college students' scores on the LSAT, GRE, and GMAT (used for admission to graduate and professional schools) shows that students majoring in philosophy received substantially higher than average scores on each test.

  • LSAT  Philosophy majors received higher scores on the LSAT than students in all other subjects in the humanities, higher scores than all social and natural science majors except engineering and physics/mathematics, and higher scores than all applied majors. Philosophy majors also scored better than political science and prelaw majors on the LSAT.
  • GMAT  Philosophy majors outperformed business majors on the GMAT and ranked among the highest with mathematics, physics, and engineering majors.
  • GRE  Philosophy majors scored substantially higher on the GRE than all other humanities majors and were the only humanities majors to score above the overall average. Additionally, philosophy majors' scores on the verbal portion of the GRE were higher than in any other major, even English.

Benefits of Philosophy for Law School:

Many philosophers and students of philosophy go to law school, and there are now many successful philosopher-lawyers. On the basis of information from law school faculty, from philosophers who have kept track of students who have gone into law, and from independent studies, it is clear that philosophical training tends to be of great value both in law school and in legal practice. A philosopher at a distinguished university noted that even the average philosophy graduate student who transferred to law school usually did outstanding work as a law student. There have been comparable results at many institutions around the country.

The law is not only a career that interests many philosophers and philosophy students, it is also a field for which philosophical training is generally excellent preparation. Furthermore, while the standard path into a legal career is through law school, philosophers have entered the profession of law in other ways without needing to obtain a law degree; for example, in legal research. Philosophers are also employed in prison administration, in police service, and in paralegal work as rights advocates. Moreover, some insurance and trust companies have expressed interest in philosophical research capacities in relation to their legal work. Given the large number of recent law school graduates, it may be especially appropriate for philosophers interested in legal work in general to consider some of these other areas of the legal domain.

The many skills that students learn to develop while studying philosophy are crucial skills in the study of law. These skills include, but are not limited to, the ability to develop and analyze arguments, to uncover assumptions and presuppositions, to identify fallacies in reasoning, to organize one's reasoning, and to structure complex ideas. Both formal and informal logic are of important use in the study and practice of law.