History


Pre-Law in History

WIU's Pre-Law History degree, the only one of its kind offered by a public university or college in Illinois, provides ideal preparation for law school and a successful career as an attorney. The skills you hone as a Pre-law major in History will serve you well when you take the LSAT , while you are in law school , and during your career in the field of law. As a Pre-law History major you develop the ability to conduct thorough and meticulous research, to argue persuasively using verified and corroborated evidence to support your arguments, and to write cogently and convincingly. These are precisely the skills demanded of attorneys. In addition, you will gain a solid and valuable understanding of the origins and evolution of Anglo-American legal traditions.

WIU's Pre-Law History major consists of:

  • 5-course History Core:
    • Hist 105 and 106 (U.S. History)
    • Hist 125 and 126 (Western Civilization)
    • Hist 201 (Sophomore Writing Seminar on Historical Methods)
  • CAS General Education curriculum,including:
    • Poli Sci 122, American Government & Politics
    • Philos 205, Philosophy, Law, and Society
  • 4 specific upper-division History coursesdealing with various aspects of legal and constitutional history:
    • Hist 303, American Legal History
    • Hist 333, Britain to 1688
    • Hist 413, American Revolution & New Nation
    • Hist 426, The Enlightenment
  • 3 additional History courses:
    • Hist 491, Senior Research Seminar
    • at least one additioanl upper-division History course
    • at least one course in Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latin American history
  • 2 Directed Electives in other disciplines,chosen from:
    • Poli Sci 226, Law and Society
    • Poli Sci 319, Judiciary
    • Poli Sci 410 or 411, Constitutional Law
    • Poli Sci, Supreme Court
    • Philos 420, Philosophy of Law
    • Sociology 355, Criminology
    • English 383, Public and Persuasive Writing
  • Any approved minor,chosen in consultation with History's Undergraduate Advisor. Possibilities include:
    • Honors Pre-Law minor
    • Interdisciplinary minor in Law and Society
    • Public Administration minor
    • Legal Studies minor
  • A major GPA of at least 3.0 is required for graduation with this degree. Those whose major GPA falls below 3.0 at the time of graduation will not have the "Pre-Law" option designated on their transcript and will graduate with the general History B.A.

Our Department's Undergraduate Advisor , Ralph Heissinger , is eager to answer any questions you may have about crafting a Pre-Law History major that will prepare you to succeed on the LSAT and in law school.

Why do Pre-Law in History?

  • According to Law School Admissions Council data on law school admissions made available by Chicago State University, 79 percent of History majors applying to law schools were admitted, compared to 73 percent of Political Science majors, 67 percent of Sociology majors, and 56 percent of Criminal Justice majors.
  • Another recent study, published in the Journal of Economic Education (Spring 2006), found that History majors scored an average of 155 of the LSAT (compared to an overall average for all majors of 152), whereas criminology majors scored only 147, and Political Science majors scored 152.

The web site of the Law School Admission Council , which administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), has helpful information on "Preparing for Law School" for prospective law school students.

Non-History majors planning careers in the law will be interested in the transcripted Legal History Minor offered by the History Department.

Western's Malpass Library contains more than one million catalogued volumes, more than 3,000 current journal subscriptions, and access to thousands of on-line databases, including WestLaw, LexisNexis, and the Congressional Serial Set.  WestLaw Campus Research contains all federal and state Court Reporters, American Law Reports, The Decennial Digest, American Jurisprudence, and more than 700 law review journals.  LexisNexis Academic contains all of the federal and state Court Reporters, Shepard's Citations, and more than 600 law review journals. The U.S. Congressional Serial Set includes all congressional reports and other publications from 1817 to 1980. 

The Library also provides a wealth of legal references in print, including the Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, U.S. Code Annotated, Illinois Digest, Northeast Reporter, Illinois Legal Forms, all of the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Information treatises, and many other treatises on a variety of legal topics.  For more information, see the Library's Guide to Legal Resources at WIU

In addition, the Library provides computer access to legal and historical resources worldwide, including 800 other Illinois libraries with more than 22 million volumes.  Moreover, the Library’s Interlibrary Loan Program brings materials from across the state and nation to WIU students within a day or two.