The Department of Philosophy offers an Emphasis in Pre-Law to provide interested undergraduates with a course of study which emphasizes the development of skills in logical reasoning and argumentation, in linguistic and ethical analysis, and in clear and precise communication.
All Philosophy courses emphasize oral discussion and well-reasoned writing, both of which are absolutely essential and non-negotiable for careers in law. However, the Department also offers several courses of special interest to Pre-Law students. These include:
PHIL351: Political Philosophy (3): Analysis of fundamental political concepts such as the legitimacy of government, the relation of justice to coercive power, the morality of war, political obligation, and sovereignty; and/or a study of political ideologies such as socialism, classical liberalism, and conservatism.
PHIL352I: Philosophy of Law (3): Study of the historical development of the philosophy of law and examination of the problems in the field ranging from general theories to analysis of fundamental legal concepts and normative issues. (Majors receive General Education credit for an Interdisciplinary IC/capstone course, as well as credit toward the major. Non-majors receive General Education credit for an Interdisciplinary course and for an upper-division C2b “Philosophy” course.)
PHIL451. Liberty and Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in American Law (3): Philosophical and legal analysis of how liberty and justice for different races, ethnic groups, and genders have been treated in American law. (Majors receive General Education credit for a Human Diversity course and an Interdisciplinary IC/Capstone course, as well as credit toward the major. Non-majors receive General Education credit for a Human Diversity course and an Interdisciplinary course and an upper-division C2b “Philosophy” course.) Prerequisites: upper-division standing (junior standing required; senior standing recommended); six units of philosophy or consent of instructor.
PHIL489: Philosophy Internship/Pre-Law (3-6): Internship with private organizations and governmental agencies with law-related focus. Recent internships have been completed at the California Coastal Commission, the Orange County Public Defenders’ Office, the Orange County Bar Foundation, and various private firms. Work is done under the joint supervision of the program sponsor and CSULB Philosophy Pre-Law Advisor. A mid-term and final report and internship conferences are required. Grading: Credit/No-Credit. Prerequisites: completion of a minimum of 15 upper-division units required for the Philosophy major.
Students are encouraged to take the following course from the College of Liberal Arts:
CLA 394 A/B/C: Law School Readiness (can be taken for 1-3 units): (A) “Preparing for Law School and a Legal Career,” (B) “Becoming a Successful Law School Applicant,” (C) “Law School Admissions and Financial Aid”)
Philosophy majors interested in the law are also encouraged to enroll in the Legal Studies Certificate program. Note that some of the requirements for the Legal Studies Certificate will double-count toward the Philosophy major.
Choice of Major
Law schools do not recommend any particular major for admission. In particular, the American Bar Association (in Law as a Career) states:
An undergraduate should be aware that there is no particular course of study that is required or preferred by law schools. Accordingly, students from a wide variety of majors (e.g., Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Engineering, and Business) are admitted to law schools each year. There is no true pre-law curriculum. Generally, a broad-based education that is rigorous and that stresses analytical and verbal communication skills will be useful.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
Philosophy majors consistently outperform nearly all other majors on the LSAT, both nationally and internationally.
However, because admission to law school is highly competitive, there is no easy path to success. Good students who develop skills in the comprehension and analysis of complex material through the study of Philosophy and a strong GE program can position themselves to compete with the best.
For more information about pursuing the Pre-Law emphasis, please contact
Prof. Nellie Wieland
Department Chairperson & Pre-Law Advisor
Department of Philosophy (MHB-917)
California State University Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach CA, 90840-2408 USA
Our Philosophy majors and minors have been accepted at many outstanding law schools. The table below gives a sample of these placements. For additional placements, see Faculty Emerita Julie van Camp’s page on prelaw placements.
|2013–2014||Rob Garsson (BA)||JD, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law||Sidley Austin LLP|
|2012–2013||Neil Richmond (MA)||JD, Loyola Law School||Ernst & Young|
|2011–2012||Tessa Nevarez (BA)||JD, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law||Van Dermyden Maddux|
|2010–2011||Kristopher Gay (MA)||JD, University of Southern California|
|2009–2010||Samuel Bullock (BA)||JD, University of California Davis|
|Matthew Gomory (BA)||JD, University of California Davis|
|2007–2008||Amanda Trefethen (MA)||JD, University of San Diego||PT Lecturer, CSULB|
|Errol C. Dauis (BA)||JD, University of California Davis School of Law||Boutin Jones law firm|
|Taylor Jerri (BA)||Boston University School of Law|
|2005–2006||Christopher Buechler (BA)||JD, University of Southern California Law School|
|Tim Klubnikin (BA)||JD, Southwestern Law School||Tinnelly Law Group|
|2004–2005||Chhunny Chhean (BA)||JD, University of California Berkeley School of Law||Chief of Community Prosecution, Dallas City Attorney’s Office|
|Geneva Englebrecht (BA)||JD, Whittier Law School||Thompson & Horton, LLP|
|Carlos Delgado Ibarcena (BA)||JD, New York Law School|
|Caroline Elrod (BA)||JD, Northeastern University School of Law|
|Kelly Laumbach Mieske (BA)||JD, Loyola Law School|
|2003–2004||Nathan Brodnax (BA)||JD, Pepperdine School of Law||Zieve, Brodnax & Steele, LLP|
|Rebeca Canales (BA)||JD, University of California Davis School of Law|
|Franklin Sims (BA)||JD, University of California Berkeley School of Law|
|2001–2002||William Senior (BA)||JD from Loyola Law School||Benjamin L. England & Associates|
|Michael Zar (BA)||JD, University of San Diego||Kushner Carlson|
|Franica Tawn (BA)||JD, University of California Hastings Law School|
|2000–2001||Laura Clark (BA)||JD, University of California Berkeley School of Law|
|Kathryn Gainey (BA)||JD, Harvard Law School|