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Pre-Law Advising

Pre-Law Advising

If law school is in your plans for the future, we can help.

Whether you have questions about ideal coursework to prepare for law school, the law school application process, LSAT preparation, or help with the application letter and the decision of where to go when you are accepted, we are here to help.  The Department of Political Science offers advising for all MSU Denver students interested in law school after graduation, regardless of your major or minor.  While our Political Science Major/Minor and Legal Studies Minor remain popular options for many, they are not required.  Our mission is to demystify the process for everyone, help you craft the strongest case for your application and provide substantive and technical information that will enrich your education here at MSU Denver and your prospects for the future.


MSU Denver Pre-Law Related Scholarships

While keeping your eye on law school, there are a variety of scholarships that can reduce the costs of your undergraduate degree here at MSU Denver.

Pre-Law Endowed Scholarship is meant to encourage MSU Denver students to continue to maintain high standards and to consider advanced degrees and post-secondary education, particularly law school, after successfully graduating from MSU Denver.

Yarberry-Blumenthal Endowed Scholarship is not specific to pre-law students, but is named after a Law Professor of one of MSU Denver's Alum.  It is opened to Sophomores, and worth applying for.

Christopher Lee Anderson Memorial Endowed Scholarship is for Criminal Justice or Political Science majors.  The scholarship was established by family, friends and members of the legal community to honor Christopher Lee Anderson who graduated from MSU Denver.

There are a lot of other scholarship opportunities to pursue through the Office of Financial Aid, and students are HIGHLY encouraged to fill out both a general application as well as apply to these and other specific scholarships.  You can sign in to the application portal through the MSU Denver Academic Works Website.


Need Help Paying for the LSAT and LSAT Prep?

MSU Denver Can Provide Funds to Partially Cover the Costs of Both the Exam and Prep Courses

The Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion provides all students with the opportunity to apply for funds through the Professional Development and Funding Program.  Financial need is a consideration, but most students have been able to take advantage of this program.  It requires enrollment, so it is worth starting the application process in the Spring Semester when you plan to take the prep course for a summer exam.  Details and the application can be found here:  https://www.msudenver.edu/cmei/studenttravelprofessionaldevelopmentfunding/


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click on the Questions Below for Answers to FAQs Related to Pre-Law and the Law School Admissions Process

After reviewing the FAQs, Click Here to Contact a Pre-Law Advisor to Schedule an Appointment.


Education Topics


Unlike some other types of graduate school (like medical school), there is no specific set of classes that you must take to apply. In particular, you do not need to take any courses involving law to apply to law schools. 

When evaluating your coursework, law schools look for evidence that a student has taken a broad set of courses that develop transferrable skills like critical thinking, logical reasoning, careful writing, and independent research. These types of courses are often part of liberal arts programs, such as Political Science, History, English, or Philosophy, and can be found in other University programs as well. 

When they are evaluating your record, law schools don’t look for a particular major. Instead, they look for evidence that you have taken a well-rounded set of courses that teach you to read dense material, think critically using facts and logic, and write clearly. 

Some of the most common majors of law school admittees include Political Science, Psychology, Criminal Justice, English, History, and Philosophy. (https://www.law.buffalo.edu/blog/10_Best_Prelaw_Majors.html) 

That said, law is relevant to nearly every major. Clearly, majors like Business or Accounting may be relevant to students who want to study corporate law. Likewise, majors like Biology, Chemistry or Engineering can have unique field-specific knowledge that translates to certain types of law, like patent law. 

So, you should choose the undergraduate major that most interests you. You can always pursue the Legal Studies minor or take “a la carte” law-related classes if you want to “test the waters” to see if you like studying the law. 

Like most universities, MSU Denver does not have a “pre-law” major. You should consider any major that emphasizes logical thinking, clear writing, and research skills.  

Whichever major you select, you might consider checking out MSU Denver’s interdisciplinary Legal Studies minor. As part of this minor, you’ll take a broad range of classes across political science, philosophy, sociology, criminal justice, and others. These classes help you explore whether you might like studying the law, and they develop the transferrable skills listed above.  

MSU Denver also offers an informal pre-law program that is housed in the Department of Political Science and is offered in conjunction with their Legal Studies Minor. The Pre-Law program includes a regular email communication about law-related events and opportunities, advising, law school admission workshops, and other opportunities. The Pre-Law program is open to all MSU Denver students interested in exploring law school.  

You can learn about various options on the Department of Political Science's Homepage or contact the Pre-Law Advisor.

MSU Denver’s Pre-Law program is an informal set of opportunities open to all MSU Denver students, no matter what their major is.  

Any good Pre-Law program starts in the classroom. The Legal Studies minor, which pairs well with almost any major, may be of particular interest to pre-law students. Students take a core set of required classes including Law and Society and the American Judicial System, plus a few electives that match their experiences. Click here for more on the Legal Studies minor.  

Beyond the Legal Studies minor, well over a dozen academic departments offer at least one law related course (see the next question for a partial list). The Department of Political Science offers several law related courses, including American Constitutional Law, Law and Society, and International Law. 

MSU Denver also hosts a variety of special events and guest speakers that might be of interest to students interested in the law. In September 2020, the Legal Studies program, Department of Political Science, and the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership co-sponsored a visit with Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez. Other recent events included a faculty panel discussion of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the future of the Supreme Court, a pair of “before and after” panels covering the 2020 presidential elections, and a panel discussion covering the second impeachment of Donald Trump.  

Another key part of the Pre-Law program is academic advising. MSU Denver Political Science faculty including David Weiden and Jeremy Castle and others have years of experience advising students considering law school. They can answer questions on course selection, the law school admissions process, and legal careers. Students are welcome to reach out to these professors for advising appointments. You can also  request information or an appointment by using our general pre-law advising contact form.

MSU Denver has also established a pipeline program with the University of Denver’s Sturm School of Law.  Our pipeline includes direct advising from DU Law’s admissions staff, MSU Denver Days at DU Law which includes classroom experiences, admissions counseling and financial aid counseling.  We also regularly partner with DU Law to bring speakers to campus to discuss law school and the admissions process. 

Again, law schools do not require you to have taken any law-related courses. That said, many students benefit from the curriculum offered in the interdisciplinary Legal Studies Minor housed in the Department of Political Science.  But if your interests lie in other programs, you may want to explore the options from a variety of departments that offer courses exploring legal issues. Below is a partial list: 

AES 3220 – Aviation and Aerospace Law 

BVG 3750 - Alcohol Beverage Law 

CET 4570 - Engineering Law 

CHS 3200 - Chicanos and the Law 

CJC 2100 - Criminal Law 

CJC 3710 / GWS 3310 - Women and the Law 

CJC 4160 - Human Trafficking 

CYB 2001 - Cyber Laws and Regulations 

ENV 3250 - Colorado Water Law and Water Rights Administration 

FIN 3800 - Real Estate Practice and Law   

FER 3330 - Introduction to Homeland Security 

HCPS 2700 - Medical Cannabis Law and Ethics  

JMP 3780 - Communication Law   

MGT 2210 - Legal Environment of Business I   

MGT 3230 - International Business Law   

MGT 3240 - Employment and Human Resource Law   

MGT 3250 - Colorado Water Law and Water Rights Administration   

MUS 4888 - Music Publishing and Copyright Law 

NAS 3110 - Federal Indian Law  

PHI 3430 – Philosophy of Law 

PSC 3120 – American Constitutional Law 

PSC 3150 – Law and Society 

PSC 3320 - International Law  

PSC 3110 – Federal Indian Law 

SOC 3550 – Sociology of the Law 

SWK 3100 - Child Welfare and the Law 

There is no “official” minimum GPA, as law schools evaluate students holistically. You should not rule yourself out from law schools based on your GPA without considering other parts of your background.  

In order to get a sense of what is “typical,” the median GPA of students admitted to the University of Colorado-Boulder was 3.71, and the median of students admitted to the University of Denver was 3.5.

Source: ILRG Rankings for Colorado

The most important factors in the admission process are your GPA, LSAT score, and application materials (especially the personal statement). 

Other factors that may help you in close cases include a record of leadership in extracurricular activities, notable community service, or law-related internships/work experience. That said, while these are nice additions to your profile, they will not help you gain admission if your academic credentials (GPA/LSAT score) are not competitive. 

Questions About the Application Process


There are many ways to go about researching law schools. A few common approaches include: 

The internet: Law schools have extensive webpages, including profiles of their faculty and programs. 

Law school Admission Fairs: At these events, you can interact with admissions staff from many different law schools. This is a great time to collect brochures and begin making connections with admissions teams. For information about these sorts of events, look for announcements from the Department of Political Science’s website at: https://www.msudenver.edu/polisci/ or contact the Pre-Law Advisor to be added to our information distribution list. 

Campus visits: Most law schools will allow prospective students to visit, often including sitting in on a class. Most law schools also offer Admitted Student weekends in the spring, when you can spend extended time on campus and meet potential classmates.

Deciding which law school is right for you can be a complex process. Here are a few of the many factors you might consider: 

Academic reputation: The legal profession puts a greater emphasis on the “pedigree” of your law degree than many other fields, so pay attention to the rankings of the law schools you are considering. 

Special Programs: Many law schools specialize in a particular type of law and have special programs that emphasize that style of law. Many law schools have “clinics” where law students give volunteer legal advice in a particular area (for example, family law). Law schools also run law reviews, which are prestigious boards that publish academic journals in law. Law students are active in deciding which submissions to accept and editing those submissions. Look for law schools with special programs that match your interests. 

Faculty: If you want to study a particular type of law (e.x., corporate law), look for law schools that have recognized experts on corporate law.  

Bar Exam Passage Rate: Each state offers a “bar exam,” an exam that law school graduates must take in order to practice law in the state. The exam is notoriously tough. Sometimes, even prestigious schools have relatively low passage rates. You want to make sure that you attend a law school that provides students lots of support as they prepare for the bar exam. 

Financial Considerations:  Law schools differ in their ability to provide financial aid to new students.  While financial aid offers are not generally made until after acceptance, the degree to which a school can provide financial aid to students in similar situations as yours is an important aspect to consider. If finances are an important consideration to you, you might consider applying to a few additional schools in order to have more financial aid packages to choose from. 

Fit: For many students, the degree to which the law school faculty and student body fit with one’s own sense of place and community, or even the proximity to one’s job or family, can be an important consideration. That said, don’t be afraid to expand your sense of what feels comfortable. 

When you apply to law schools, you will typically submit: 

-The application 

-Your GPA and undergraduate transcript(s) 

-Your LSAT score  

-Your resume 

-Your personal statement 

-Letters of recommendation 

-Any addendums of explanation 

In order to keep all of these items straight, you will use the LSAC’s CAS service (described below). 

The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) is a system used by most law schools to submit applications. (Thus, most law schools will require you to subscribe to the system to apply). 

The benefit of CAS is that you can upload your transcript(s) and letters of recommendation here, and CAS forwards them to each law school you apply to. 

You pay a fee to register ($195 as of January 2021), which grants you 5 years of access.  

You pay an additional fee of $45 for each application to a law school. Fee waivers are available to those with financial need. 

We highly recommend asking CAS about these waivers.

There is no set answer to this question, because it depends on factors including your academic profile and where you’re willing to live. 

Most students apply to between 3 and 10 schools. The key is to balance wanting to apply to more schools (to maximize your chances at admission and financial aid) with the added cost of applying to more schools. 

One common strategy is to apply to 2-3 “dream” schools (even if your credentials might be a stretch), 2-3 realistic schools (where your credentials would give you a decent chance at admission), and 1-2 “safe” schools (where your profile would give you a very good chance at admission).  

For advice based on your own situation, reach out the schedule an appointment with your MSU Denver pre-law advisor in the Political Science Department. 

The personal statement should be a cohesive two-page narrative that explains who you are and why you want to attend law school. Think of the personal statement as a chance to explain the aspects of your profile that law schools couldn’t get from your resume.  

You might consider tailoring a few sentences of your personal statement to each law school you apply to. For example, if your essay is focused on your desire to conduct family law, you might note that you would be interested in studying with a specific professor who teaches family law or serving with the law school’s family law clinic. 

You should not use the personal statement to duplicate information that is available on your resume or explain negative aspects of your application, like poor grades or a less-than-ideal LSAT (you should save that for addenda, a part of the application that’s explained below). 

Personal statements are typically two-pages double-spaced, but keep an eye out for different requirements at each law school you apply to. 

Beyond explaining your interest in studying law, think of this as an opportunity to show law schools that you can write clearly and concisely. 

MSU Denver’s Political Science program offers a personal statement workshop. In addition, your prelaw or Legal Studies advisors encourage you to ask them to look over a draft of your personal statement before you submit it.  You can request a review of a personal statement by setting up an appointment with the faculty pre-law adviser here.

The most natural candidates for letter writers would be professors who you have taken classes withYour letter writers should be able to speak to your ability to think logically, read dense material, conduct academic research, and write clearly. Ideally, your letter writer would also be able to speak to extraordinary academic accomplishments (like doing an independent research project) or your involvement in on-campus extracurricular activities. 

You might also consider letter writers from the professional world, especially if you have an internship or work experience that’s connected to the law. 

You are not required to submit an addendum, but you might consider doing so if you have reason to believe that a negative aspect of your application requires further explanation. The most common scenarios in which you might consider submitting an addendum include if you had a semester of unusually low grades due to extenuating family circumstances (or a similar factor outside your control) or if you have had negative run-ins with law enforcement. 

If you have questions about whether you should include an addendum, or how you should handle negative aspects of your record, feel free to discuss it with your MSU Denver pre-law advisor in the Political Science Department. 

Questions about the LSAT


LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. It is a standardized test required by nearly every law school. 

The LSAT has four scored sections (reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and two logical reasoning), plus a fifth “experimental” section that is not scored, but is used by the LSAT to test new questions. (Side note: You won’t know which section is your “experimental” section, so you should try to do your best on all sections). 

The LSAT also includes a writing component (now called LSAT Writing). You can now take this portion of the exam from home, anytime in the 8 days prior to your test date. Once you begin the exam, you will have 35 minutes to write an argumentative essay on the topic provided. For more information on the writing portion of the exam, see here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/about-lsat-writing 

Finally, through at least spring 2021, the LSAT is offering LSATFlex, which is an at-home, online version of the LSAT. The LSATFlex only includes 3 sections (one of each) and has no experimental section. For more information on LSATFlex, see: https://www.lsac.org/update-coronavirus-and-lsat/lsat-flex 

LSAT tests are available several times a year.

For the most current dates, see https://www.lsac.org/lsat/lsat-dates-deadlines-score-release-dates.

Many people take the LSAT over the summer. This offers a couple advantages: 

-It’s easier to focus on studying because many students are not taking classes during summer. 

-You will have scores early enough to use them to help decide which law schools to apply to. 

-There’s plenty of time to re-take the exam if you don’t like your score. 

Of course, your situation may be different. If you need advice about your specific situations, please reach out to your MSU Denver Pre-Law Advisor for individual advising directly, or use our Pre-Law Advising Contact form.

Preparation is important for several reasons. One of the most important is that the sections on the exam are timed. Being familiar with the format of the exam can help you answer problems more accurately and more quickly. 

Most people find that it takes several months of study to maximize their scores.  

Many LSAT-takers take advantage of official practice tests, like this one available from LSAC. 

Many students prepare independently using the books and online resources that are available from publishers like Kaplan and Princeton Review. 

Kahn Academy has a free series on LSAT Prep which may be useful as well.  Here is the link:  https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prep/khan-academy-official-lsat 

Some students also choose to take LSAT Prep classes offered by various companies.  

MSU Denver hosts law school info sessions once a semester, where we cover LSAT prep and more. 

Many LSAT Prep companies also provide full or partial waivers depending based on financial need.  It would be worth asking about those waivers when you contact the company.

It may also be possible to have some or all of your LSAT prep costs covered by MSU Denver or the Department of Political Science depending on funding. 

Contact the Pre-Law Advisor to be added to the pre-law email listserv for more information about these programs and events. 

It has become common for students to take the test more than once. Most law schools focus on the highest score. 

That said, you should think carefully about whether your score is likely to increase. If you are not happy with your first score, you should consider changing up your study strategy to be sure that you do better on the re-take. 

Most law schools will only consider an LSAT taken within the last 3 years.

Information for DACA and Immigrant Students


Funding law school can be a unique challenge for DACA students.

In general, the best options for DACA students are institutional aid (scholarships and grants) and private employment. However, every student's circumstances are unique, and DACA students are encouraged to work with law school admissions staffs to address their specific needs.

Institutional Aid

Law schools vary widely in both their ability to provide financial aid (generally) as well as their friendliness to providing scholarships and grants to DACA students.

Law school scholarships and grants are typically tied to quantitative measures of undergraduate performance (GPA and LSAT scores), so you should focus on building a strong undergraduate record.

These U.S. News & World Report articles summarize the law schools that provide the most financial aid. While this data is not specific to DACA students, it may give you an idea of generally which law schools you might want to do further research on.

Public: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/finaid-public-rankings

Private Law Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/finaid-private-rankings

Students who are concerned about financial aid should consider applying to a few more law schools than normal in order to increase their choices between financial aid packages. While this might cost more up front, the additional choice in financial aid packages might be well worth it.

Private Scholarships

Some private organizations offer scholarships, too.

Keeping the DREAM Alive is a good source for scholarship info. Hint: Use the "Find on Page" tool in your internet browser to search for "law." https://www.ktda.co/scholarships

MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) offers some law school scholarships. See https://www.maldef.org/resources/scholarship-resources/

Immigrants Rising, an organization based in the San Francisco Bay area, also maintains a list of graduate scholarships. See https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/graduate-scholarships/

Student Loans and Federal Work Study

Under current law, students who are not U.S. Citizens or eligible non-citizens (e.g., permanent residents) are not eligible for any federal aid such as federal educational loans.

Many private loan companies require recipients to be U.S. citizens, but some private loan companies will give loans to DACA students if they have an eligible cosigner.

Employment and Federal Work Study

DACA students are not eligible for Federal Work Study employment, which requires that students be an eligible non-citizen (e.g., permanent resident).

DACA students are eligible for other employment opportunities, both at the law school and in the private workforce. Private employment opportunities expand greatly after your first year of law school.

Final Notes

The world of financial aid is complex, and laws and institutional policies change frequently. While this guide is meant to provide a basic overview, as you get close to applying you are encouraged to reach out to both your MSU Denver Pre-Law advisors as well as the admissions staff members at the law schools you are considering.

Timeline for Undergraduate Students interested in Law School after Graduation

Or, what should I be doing, and when, to best prepare for law school as an undergraduate?


-Focus on making a smooth transition to college 

            -Coursework: Not just grades, but learning and improvement 

            -Extracurricular involvement: Work, student organizations, service to community 

-Choose courses that will develop a wide range of knowledge and transferrable skills 

-Emphasize reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and writing 

-General Studies courses at MSU Denver, particularly within Political Science, Social Sciences,  Humanities and History are good places to start and count toward University requirements. 

-Explore potential majors that will pair well with law school 

            -Traditional majors include Political Science, History, and English 

            -Many majors develop the kinds of thinking required for success in law 

-The Legal Studies Minor is also a great option that can be paired with any Major. 

-Don’t worry if your chosen major doesn’t include courses in law. The #1 thing law schools want is students who can read, write, and analyze. They will teach you the law.  

-Join the MSU Denver Pre-Law listserv.  Contact the Pre-Law Advisor in the Political Science Department. 

-Focus on taking classes that involve reading, writing, and critical thinking, and do well in those courses. 

-Keep developing your library research skills. By this point your papers should be incorporating your own independent research and outside sources. 

-Choose a major that you’re passionate about 

-Consider the Legal Studies Minor as a complement to your major 

-Look for chances to increase your responsibility in extracurricular activities, including leadership positions. 

-Consider an early consultation with your MSU Denver pre-law or Legal Studies advisor so you can start planning 

-Focus on taking classes that involve reading, writing, and critical thinking, and do well in those courses. 

-Keep developing your library research skills. By this point your papers should be incorporating lots of outside sources. 

-Look for chances to increase your responsibility in extracurricular activities, including leadership positions. 

-Schedule a consultation with the pre-law advisor in the Political Science Department

-Make a plan to take the LSAT 

            -You should ABSOLUTELY study for the LSAT 

-Attend MSU Denver’s Law School workshop. Contact the Pre-Law advisor for dates. Join the MSU Denver prelaw listserv if you have not already. 

-Begin thinking about your admissions materials 

            -Who you’ll ask for letters 

            -Your resume 

            -Your personal statement 

-Consider attending law school admissions fairs, etc. 

-Spend some time thinking about what you need to do to finish your undergraduate education strong 

            -Consider a senior thesis, internship, or other capstone experience 

            -Consider leadership roles at work or in student organizations 

-Make a plan to take the LSAT if you have not done so already 

-Prepare drafts of your admissions materials 

            -Resume 

            -Personal statement 

-Spend some time thinking about what you need to do to finish your undergraduate education strong 

            -Consider a senior thesis, internship, or other capstone experience 

            -Consider leadership roles at work or in student organizations 

-Focus on finishing senior year strong 

            -Keep taking classes that emphasize reading, writing, and critical thinking 

            -Stay involved in work, student organizations, and volunteer opportunities 

-Get guidance on applying to law schools 

            -Meet with a pre-law advisor in the Political Science Department.  You can contact them here.

            -Attend personal statement workshops, etc. 

            -Consider whether retaking the LSAT would help your case 

-Subscribe to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which helps you organize and submit your materials to law schools. 

-Begin applying to law schools 

            -Make a list of preferred application deadlines and be sure to meet them 

-Focus on finishing your undergraduate education strong 

            -Law schools will receive your senior grades 

-Attend admitted student weekends 

Contact a Pre-Law Advisor

Whether your have specific questions or would like to make an appointment with an advisor, contact us here.

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