With law school acceptance rates declining, prospective law students want to know how to maximize their chances of getting into a top program. One common question is whether psychology is a good major for law school.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Psychology can be an excellent pre-law major because it develops critical thinking and research skills that prepare students for the demands of law school. However, it’s important to have a high GPA and LSAT score regardless of major.

In this detailed guide, we will cover the pros and cons of majoring in psychology for law school and provide tips on how psychology majors can strengthen their law school applications.

Key Skills Psychology Majors Develop for Law School

Psychology is a field that can provide a strong foundation for students interested in pursuing a career in law. The skills developed during a psychology major can be highly beneficial in law school and future legal practice.

Here are some key skills that psychology majors develop that can be advantageous for students considering a career in law:

Critical thinking abilities

Psychology majors are trained to think critically and analytically. They learn to evaluate evidence, consider multiple perspectives, and make sound judgments based on the available information. These critical thinking abilities are essential in the legal profession, where lawyers are constantly analyzing complex legal issues, identifying relevant facts, and developing persuasive arguments.

Psychology majors are equipped with the skills to assess different viewpoints and make well-reasoned decisions, which can greatly contribute to success in law school and legal practice.

Research and analysis skills

Psychology majors gain extensive experience in conducting research, analyzing data, and interpreting findings. They learn how to design and implement studies, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions based on empirical evidence.

These research and analysis skills are highly transferable to the field of law, where lawyers often need to gather and evaluate information to build strong cases. Psychology majors are adept at finding and assessing relevant sources, identifying patterns and trends, and drawing logical conclusions, all of which are crucial skills in legal research and analysis.

Understanding human behavior

One of the fundamental aspects of psychology is the study of human behavior. Psychology majors develop a deep understanding of how individuals think, feel, and behave. They study factors that influence behavior, such as cognitive processes, emotions, and social interactions.

This knowledge can be invaluable in the legal field, as lawyers often need to understand the motivations, intentions, and actions of individuals involved in legal cases. Psychology majors can apply their understanding of human behavior to assess witness credibility, analyze jury behavior, and develop persuasive arguments that resonate with judges and juries.

Communication abilities

Effective communication is a vital skill for lawyers, and psychology majors are well-equipped in this area. Psychology majors develop strong written and oral communication skills through coursework, research projects, and presentations.

They learn how to articulate complex concepts, convey information clearly and concisely, and engage with diverse audiences. These communication abilities are essential for lawyers who need to effectively communicate their arguments, negotiate with opposing counsel, and advocate for their clients.

Psychology majors can leverage their communication skills to present compelling arguments, persuade others, and navigate complex legal discussions.

Challenges Psychology Majors May Face in Law School Applications

Lower average GPAs

One challenge that psychology majors may face when applying to law school is having lower average GPAs compared to applicants from other majors. While this may not be true for every psychology major, statistics show that psychology majors tend to have slightly lower GPAs compared to majors such as political science or economics.

This could be due to the nature of psychology coursework, which often involves a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical application.

However, it is important to note that law schools also consider other factors such as the difficulty of the undergraduate program and the overall strength of the applicant’s academic record. So, while a lower GPA may present a challenge, it does not necessarily mean that psychology majors are at a significant disadvantage in the law school application process.

Limited exposure to subjects tested on the LSAT

Another challenge for psychology majors applying to law school is the limited exposure they may have to subjects that are tested on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a standardized test that assesses critical thinking, reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning skills, all of which are important for success in law school.

Psychology majors, while they may have developed strong analytical and critical thinking skills through their coursework, may not have had as much exposure to the specific types of questions and reasoning required on the LSAT.

This means that psychology majors may need to invest additional time and effort in preparing for the LSAT to ensure they are adequately prepared for the exam.

Less direct relevance to legal education

One more challenge that psychology majors may face when applying to law school is the perception that their undergraduate major is less directly relevant to legal education compared to majors such as political science or pre-law.

While psychology does offer valuable insights into human behavior and mental processes, it may not be seen as directly applicable to the study of law.

However, it is important to note that law schools value diversity in their student body, and having a background in psychology can offer unique perspectives and skills that can be beneficial in the legal profession.

It is up to the applicant to effectively communicate the transferable skills and knowledge gained from their psychology major in their application materials.

How to Stand Out as a Psychology Major Applying to Law School

Earn a high GPA in a rigorous course load

One of the first steps to standing out as a psychology major applying to law school is to earn a high GPA in a rigorous course load. Admissions committees value academic excellence, so it’s important to challenge yourself with difficult courses and perform well in them.

Take advantage of psychology courses that involve critical thinking, research, and writing, as these skills are highly valued in the legal field.

Score well on the LSAT

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a crucial component of the law school application process. As a psychology major, you have a strong foundation in analyzing and interpreting data, which can be advantageous when preparing for the LSAT.

Dedicate time to studying for the exam, familiarize yourself with the test format, and consider taking a prep course or working with a tutor to improve your score.

Take relevant electives

While psychology is a valuable major for law school, it’s also beneficial to take relevant electives that align with the legal field. Consider courses in criminal justice, constitutional law, or legal psychology.

These electives can demonstrate your interest in the law and provide you with a deeper understanding of legal concepts.

Gain legal internship experience

Internships in the legal field can provide invaluable experience and help you stand out as a psychology major applying to law school. Seek out internships with law firms, public defender’s offices, or legal aid organizations.

These opportunities will not only give you practical experience but also allow you to build relationships with professionals in the field.

Highlight research and writing skills in essays

Psychology majors often have strong research and writing skills, which are highly valued in law school. When writing your personal statement and other application essays, highlight your ability to conduct research, analyze data, and present your findings effectively.

Emphasize any research projects or publications you have been involved in during your undergraduate studies.

Taking these steps as a psychology major can help you stand out in the competitive law school admissions process. It’s important to showcase your strengths, demonstrate your passion for the law, and set yourself apart from other applicants.

Ultimately, combining your background in psychology with a strong application can make you a compelling candidate for law school.

Successful Lawyers with Psychology Backgrounds

Sonja Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice

Sonja Sotomayor, a Supreme Court Justice appointed by President Barack Obama, is one example of a successful lawyer with a background in psychology. Sotomayor earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University before attending Yale Law School.

Her understanding of human behavior and the complexities of the human mind has undoubtedly played a role in her legal career. By combining her knowledge of psychology with her expertise in law, Sotomayor has been able to approach cases with a unique perspective, ensuring a fair and just legal system.

Ben Crump, Civil rights attorney

Ben Crump, a renowned civil rights attorney, is another example of how a background in psychology can contribute to success in the legal field. Crump obtained his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida State University before attending law school.

His understanding of human behavior and the impact of discrimination on individuals has allowed him to effectively advocate for his clients. Crump’s ability to empathize with his clients and understand the psychological toll of civil rights violations has made him a powerful force in the fight for justice.

Alan Dershowitz, Criminal defense lawyer

Alan Dershowitz, a prominent criminal defense lawyer, is known for his expertise in both law and psychology. Dershowitz earned his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brooklyn College before attending Yale Law School.

Throughout his career, Dershowitz has utilized his understanding of human behavior to build strong defense strategies for his clients. By considering the psychological factors that may impact a person’s actions, Dershowitz has been able to provide effective representation and ensure a fair trial process.

These successful lawyers serve as examples of how a background in psychology can be beneficial for those pursuing a career in law. Understanding human behavior, motivations, and the impact of psychological factors can greatly enhance one’s ability to navigate legal complexities and effectively advocate for clients.

While psychology may not be a traditional path to law school, it provides a unique perspective that can contribute to success in the legal field.


In conclusion, psychology can be an excellent path to law school when students maximize key opportunities. With strong grades, LSAT scores, relevant experience, and compelling applications, psychology majors can highlight the useful skills their major has developed.

Psychology teaches the critical thinking, analysis, research, and communication abilities that allow students to thrive in legal education and careers.

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