"Getting ready for law school can be a confusing and nerve-wracking endeavor. However, under the guidance of Duquesne's Pre-Law Program and its amazing professors, I was able to understand the process and receive crucial feedback that prepared me for law school in countless ways."

Zachary Valkovci '19, B.A. in Political Science and Government and L3, Duquesne Kline School of Law

Be Prepared for Anything

We know that acceptance into law school is not dependent on a particular undergraduate major. But we also know that the cutting-edge skills you'll develop in our 15-credit Pre-Law Certificate Program will successfully prepare you for law school, graduate public policy and foreign affairs programs, political careers and public service opportunities.

A Horizon-Expanding Education

At Duquesne, learning happens everywhere.

In our Pre-Law Program, you’ll have access to over 50 courses from multiple disciplines across the University, including business, English, philosophy and political science, that count toward your Pre-Law Certificate.

You’ll engage in experiences that will develop your research, analytical and advocacy skills and build foundational knowledge for legal, governmental and public service. And you’ll learn to think critically, analyze deeply, communicate clearly and argue persuasively about important civil, legal and scholarly issues.

Our Pre-Law Center is housed in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University and is offered in cooperation with the multiple undergraduate schools and departments within the University. The program supports undergraduates in all disciplines who are exploring cutting-edge subjects that will prepare them for law school, graduate public policy and foreign affairs programs, political careers and public service opportunities inside and outside of government.

We're Behind You, 100%

You'll have access to many resources that will help you succeed during your time on campus and beyond.

We take the responsibility of educating you seriously, and we do everything we can to help you succeed. You'll engage in experiences that will develop your research, analytical and advocacy skills and build foundational knowledge for legal, governmental and public service. And you'll learn to think critically, analyze deeply, communicate clearly and argue persuasively about important civil, legal and scholarly issues.

Open to undergraduates in all majors at Duquesne, our Pre-Law Certificate Program offers many benefits including:

  • Earn a 15-credit certificate that shows on your official transcript, a desirable qualification for employment, law school admission and/or continued professional education.
  • Gain access to the 3+3 Early Admissions Program if you are an exceptional student, scoring in the 60th percentile on your LSATs, and seeking to complete your undergraduate studies in three years to begin Duquesne Kline School of Law in your fourth year. Requirements also include a 3.5 or higher GPA and an admission interview.
  • Experience expedited consideration for admission into Duquesne Kline School of Law (a four-week turnaround from the date the completed application is submitted) if you successfully complete the certificate program with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • Receive a $5,000 scholarship (in addition to other scholarships) upon enrollment into Duquesne Kline School of Law if you complete the certificate program with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Academic Internship Opportunities

Our location in the heart of Pittsburgh will put you in the center of a city full of opportunities for gaining career experience. Students in our Pre-Law Program have found a wide range of internships throughout the region, including with:

  • The Allegheny County Courthouse
  • The Borgen Project
  • Court of Common Pleas
  • The Education Partnership
  • U.S. and State Senators
  • Members of Congress
  • State Representatives

Our Graduates Get the Job Done

Whether you go to law school or jump right into the workforce, you'll have a bright future ahead of you.

Our Pre-Law Certificate graduates have gone on to work for leading companies, law firms, non-profits and public institutions, or have enrolled at law schools throughout the country, including:

  • Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
  • Columbia Law School
  • Duquesne Kline School of Law
  • Emory University School of Law
  • Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
  • Emory University School of Law
  • Gonzaga University School of Law
  • Northeastern University School of Law
  • Penn State Law
Megan Toomer headshot

The key benefits of the Pre-Law Program were the small class sizes, which allowed me to meaningfully connect with my classmates and professors, and the opportunity to work closely with professors to edit my resume and personal statement in preparation for law school applications. The Pre-Law Program's professors also worked with me to ensure Emory's program best suited my interests and academic endeavors.

Megan Toomer '19 B.A. in Political Science, Duquesne University, 3L, Emory University School of Law
Ryan Thomas headshot

I chose the Pre-Law Program because it offered me a chance to take a diversified list of selected classes to help prepare me for the law school experience. The classes in Duquesne's Pre-Law Program give you a great foundation to launch your law school career.

Ryan Thomas '20 B.S. in Business, Duquesne University, 3L, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Claire Neiberg

The most stand-out attribute of the Pre-Law Program is the 3/3 Early Admissions Program and the program's partnership with Duquesne School of Law. Not all colleges and universities have a 3/3 option, and going through undergrad and law school so quickly has helped shape me into a more dedicated student.

Claire Neiberg '21 B.A. in English and Political Science, Duquesne University, 2L, Duquesne Kline School of Law
Jessica Schmitz headshot

I knew when I came to Duquesne, I wanted to continue on to law school. The Pre-Law Program not only helped me plan my courses to prepare for a legal education, but also connected me to a variety of legal professionals to help me start thinking about my own path forward in law. It’s a great way to meet other students with like-minded goals. I’m incredibly thankful for the program.

Jessica Schmitz '23 McAnulty College of Liberal Arts and President of the Student Government Association

Learning Together

We’ll help you discover what you’re good at and why that’s good for the world.

Our faculty are enthusiastic about your future, walking alongside you to help realize your boldest goals.

In our Pre-Law Center, you can:

  • Learn more about law schools and legal careers.
  • Meet with our Pre-Law Program Director to discuss your career goals, courses of study, LSAT registration and preparation, law school options and much more.
  • Get involved with Duquesne’s Undergraduate Mock Trial Team and Pre-Law Society.

Helpful Resources

Law School Prep

Use this timeline and checklist as you prepare for law school.


Most law schools require the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The test is administered online multiple times a year. Students are encouraged to take the test in June after their junior year or the fall of their senior year. Information about the LSAT and other aspects of law school admission can be found online at the Law School Admissions Council. The Pre-Law Director maintains a collection of books about the LSAT, law school and law careers.

Scholarships for Law School

Pre-Law Certificate Scholarship

Duquesne undergraduates who successfully complete the requirements of the Pre-Law Certificate with a 3.0 GPA or higher are eligible to receive a $5,000 scholarship for their first year at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University. This scholarship is in addition to, and does not preclude consideration for, any other scholarship for which the student may qualify.

Merit Scholarships

Law schools offer merit scholarships to attract top students. These may pay for some or all of law school tuition. Before accepting any scholarship, make sure to check with other schools to see whether they might meet or better the first offer. Check too on conditions of the scholarship, e.g., whether it is conditional on maintaining a "B" grade or higher after the first year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Only you can answer that question, but there are several ways to increase your chances of making a good decision. Don't just watch "The Good Wife," "Law and Order" or "How to Get Away With Murder." TV dramas dramatize and romanticize the professions they portray, including the lives of lawyers. Instead of watching television, take action and do so early in your college years, preferably in your freshman, sophomore or junior years.

Work, intern or volunteer at law offices. Even if you only do menial tasks and are not paid, it will be worth your while to spend time at law firms, government law offices, courtrooms, or  other legal settings to see how lawyers actually work. If you go into law practice, it is likely that you will be doing something similar in a few years.  Would you enjoy doing what the lawyers in your office do on a daily basis? Can you yourself as a lawyer doing these things for many years?  

Observe court hearings and trials.  Duquesne is located only minutes away from federal and state courthouses that are open to the public and you! Take a few days to visit a courtroom and see litigators in action. Although some lawyers never enter a courtroom, many do. Can you see yourself litigating or judging? Would you enjoy it?

Talk to lawyers. Ask your parents and friends if they know a lawyer. Call this person and quiz them about their professional lives — what they like and dislike. Most people enjoy talking with college students about their jobs. Try to obtain several perspectives, particularly from lawyers who practice in different areas of law.

Observe law school classes. The law school experience differs significantly from law practice, but "attending" law school for a day can be a useful experience. In addition, ask law students you know about their experiences.

Read reliable books about the lives of lawyers. Check the ratings of lawyer satisfaction in the books. Sadly, lawyers as a whole are one of the least satisfied groups of professionals in the country, and many switch to new careers after several years of practice. But others love the law!

Most people practice law with a Juris Doctor (J.D.), but law practice is extremely diverse in its subject matter, everything from aviation law to workers' compensation. In a general sense, however, most lawyers do similar things: they analyze practical problems faced by individuals and organizations, and they use their writing and oral skills to solve those problems. This takes place in many settings from the law library and law office to the courtroom.

Lawyers work in the private sector, in government offices, and in nonprofit organizations. While lawyers are "service" professionals, those they serve are extremely diverse — the rich and the poor, guilty and innocent, corporations and individuals, etc. Your own personal philosophy should guide you in deciding who you want to serve as a lawyer.  

Many people also use a law degree to land jobs outside law, in business, academia, or other endeavors. But most people do practice law with their J.D. and you generally should not attend law school unless you plan to practice law, at least initially.

Here are a few of the many law or law-related jobs that Duquesne graduates now do.

Most lawyers live comfortably — and work hard to do so. A few become very rich, but most are middle class. Note as well that at times it may be difficult to land a law job after law school, depending on the job market. The market since 2008 has been tight, and many newly minted J.D.s are having difficulty gaining jobs as lawyers. Do not assume that a law degree is a ticket to Easy Street. In fact, most lawyers work very long hours to make their money.

Throughout your career at Duquesne, you should be taking challenging courses that require analytic thinking, high level reading, and extensive writing. This is the best preparation for law school.

Work hard at your classes and earn good grades. Do not take your freshman year (or any other year) for granted. When you apply for law school, your freshman year will be 1/3 of the grades that law schools will review. It is important to do well throughout your college career.

Use the Pre-Law Timeline and Checklist to guide yourself. Talk to the Pre-Law Program Director.

No. Most law schools, as well as the American Bar Association, discourage students from majoring in pre-law, and Duquesne's Pre-Law Program is only for advising students. 

Anything that interests you, from chemistry to political science to philosophy, as long as the major has rigorous courses, with significant amounts of reading, analysis, and writing. Law schools prefer that you broaden and challenge yourself as an undergraduate. There is time enough for you to specialize in law school (or other grad schools). College is a time to explore new and interesting areas of study--and law schools encourage that, rather than narrow pre-professional training.

Certain courses in your major may help in your preparation for law school. In addition, the Political Science Department offers a Minor in Law & Politics open to students in any major.

Political science majors may also take a Concentration in Law & Politics. Majors in the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business at Duquesne may also pursue the Legal Studies minor. 

First, never take the LSAT without preparation. This is a difficult test that demands significant practice and thorough preparation. Every score you receive on it will be reported to law schools, and many schools will average two or more scores in deciding on admissions.

Second, study hard for the LSAT. Many students take LSAT preparation courses. The Pre-Law Program takes no position on the merit of these courses.  If you are a self-motivated student who is serious about studying a test prep book, you may not need a prep class. If you do not believe you have the discipline to study on your own for several months, take a class. Whether or not you take an LSAT course, be sure to take several practice tests under real test conditions, most importantly strict timing. This is critical so that you go into the LSAT knowing the format of questions and the speed with which you will need to answer them.

For students who are sure they want to apply to law school, the best time to take the LSAT is in June after the end of junior year. This date gives you time to focus solely on the exam after classes end, and to find out your scores well before classes begin again in the fall.

Most law schools will take your highest score on multiple tests. In this case, it may sometimes make sense to retake the LSAT, to improve your chances of admission and of obtaining financial aid. Check with individual schools to determine their policy on re-takes. If you have already submitted an application but are planning on retaking the LSAT, you can always send an email to the Admissions Office at the schools you have applied to, letting them know of your upcoming exam.

Some law schools average scores from multiple LSAT testings. For these schools, your chances of dramatically improving on your first score are small, unless you really did blow the first exam. How would you know if that is the case? If in the timed practice tests that you took before the LSAT, you consistently scored much higher than the score you received on the real test, there is a good chance that you may be able to improve on a retake. In this circumstance, it may make sense to retake.

First time test-takers can also take advantage of the LSAT Score Preview option. First-time test takers who sign up for score preview will receive their scores at the same time other test takers receive theirs (assuming they have completed their LSAT Writing and have no holds on their accounts), and will have six (6) calendar days to decide if they want to cancel or keep their score. If no action is taken, their scores will be added to their LSAC account and released to law schools to which they have applied at the end of the six-day period. Score preview costs $45 for candidates who sign up prior to the first day of testing for a given test administration, or $75 for those who sign up during a specified period after their test administration.

Various organizations, including most prominently U.S. News & World Report magazine, rank law schools using a variety of criteria, from professorial scholarship to alumni giving to entering students' LSAT scores. How useful these rankings are for the most important issue — the law school's ability to teach you law — is questionable.

For better or for worse, however, the rankings have considerable importance. If you go to a high ranked law school, your fellow students are, on average, likely to have much higher LSAT scores than if you attend a low ranked school. As a result, your in-class experience is likely to be richer and more challenging. The rankings also have a major impact on your job opportunities immediately after law school. If you graduate from a top ranked school, major law firms and other employers may seek you out for high-paying jobs and you may have opportunities to practice law in a variety of settings. If you attend a lower ranked school, you will have to work harder to find employment as a lawyer and your opportunities and salary will be smaller.

All that said, it is also true that if you do well in a law school of any rank you will have a good chance of eventually finding a job in law. Particularly if you make the school's law review and clerk for a judge, you will likely have a wide variety job opportunities.

Finally, bear in mind that your law school is most important in landing only your first job. Thereafter, your skills and reputation as a lawyer will determine how far you can go with your law degree.

Top-ranked law schools are more than happy to take your application fees, but you should make sensible choices about which law schools are most likely to admit you. For better or worse, law schools rely primarily on GPAs and especially LSAT scores in making their admissions decisions. Knowing the median GPA and LSAT scores of the schools that you are interested in will give you a good idea about your likelihood of admission, based on this information. 
Only you can decide that, but key factors that you should consider include: the law school's ranking; its financial aid package; and its placement record for new J.D.s.
Every law school is unique, but all of them offer the same curriculum for the first year of law school and many of the same courses for succeeding years. Some schools have reputations for specialties in certain practice areas, such as environmental, human rights, international, corporate, or criminal law. But you can gain basic training in most of these areas at most law schools. Your real training in any of these areas, however, will come on the job.


Dr. Kristen Coopie

Director of Pre-Law, Teaching Assistant Professor of Political Science

Dr. Kristen Coopie headshot