Can You Go to Law School Without a Degree: What You Need to Know


Aspiring lawyers often ponder, “Can you go to law school without a degree?” Yes, a few law schools across the country provide specialized programs that accept students who have not completed a bachelor’s degree. These accelerated programs facilitate ambitious students who wish to pursue law school without a bachelor’s degree.

Weighing this path merits evaluating both advantages and things to consider. Saving time and money form clear advantages while losing a fourth year of academic and social growth requires conscience. This article will cover a list of law schools that allow students without a bachelor’s degree, the benefits of attending law school without a college degree, and how to prepare for admission.

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Can You Go to Law School Without a Degree?

Before attending law school, you must complete an undergraduate degree program. However, some states allow exceptions to this standard admissions prerequisite.

The Traditional Law School Admission Criteria

You need a bachelor’s degree and do well on the Law School Admission Test to get into an accredited law school. If you meet the other law school requirements, including a law school addendum, a resume, and a good GPA, this will help increase your chances of admission. The goal of this traditional road is to get students ready for the challenges of high-level legal coursework.

The Road Less Traveled: Exceptions to the Rule

A college degree takes four years, which not everyone can afford. Because of this, the state of California lets people with an AA or AS degree or at least 60 bachelor’s degree-applicable units from a regionally accredited college meet the standards for pre-legal education and apply to study law.

The state also has a unique “reading the law” program where mentoring with a practicing lawyer or judge substitutes for formal legal education. These exceptions make the road to law school less linear and more accessible for those unable to attain a bachelor’s degree. 

However, it’s wise to double-check if state bar associations in your target location require a full bachelor’s degree. Admissions offices scrutinize applications without degrees more closely too. You’ll need to highlight an outstanding college GPA and LSAT score to get approved.

List of Law Schools Without Bachelors Degree Requirements

Here is the list of schools you can choose from that offer alternative pathways to law school.

Cornell Law School

Some universities offer accelerated law degree options that shorten the usual 7-year bachelor’s plus J.D. timeline. Cornell University has a 3+3 program allowing high-achieving students to complete both degrees in just 6 years.

To qualify, undergrads must attend Cornell University or one of two partner schools – Hobart and William Smith Colleges or St. Lawrence University. After successfully finishing 1 year of Cornell Law coursework, students retroactively earn their bachelor’s diploma. They then complete the remaining 2 years of law school.

Glendale University College of Law

Can you get into law school without a degree? Similar programs exist beyond Ivy League institutions. Glendale Law accepts applicants who have fulfilled alternative education prerequisites. Students who hold an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degree in particular may be eligible. Another possible qualification is to complete 60 semester units or 90 quarter units of bachelor’s degree-level courses at an authorized college.

Admitted students may later need to supply transcripts for review by the State Bar of California. This formal Evaluation of Pre-Legal Education verifies that necessary standards have been achieved before law school admission. You should note that this mandatory appraisal process lasts between 4 to 6 weeks typically.

Empire College School of Law

Another law school without college degree requirements is Empire College School of Law. The school admits candidates based on California educational guidelines. Applicants who hold an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or 60 undergraduate credits from an accredited program may apply without possessing a full 4-year degree.

While no pre-law curriculum is mandatory, the best majors for law schools like English, history, and political science will prepare students in reading/writing-intensive disciplines. Completing rigorous, analytical coursework builds a strong foundation for succeeding in legal studies. 

Another question is can I take the LSAT without a degree? Yes, prospective Empire College law students must also take the LSAT exam within four months of enrollment, except those entering the Master of Legal Studies program.

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Similarly, the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law has a 3+3 accelerated curriculum. This unique option permits college juniors who satisfy certain criteria to enter law school straight, integrating the final year of a bachelor’s degree with the first year of legal studies. Such arrangements allow driven students to pursue a juris doctor degree without necessarily completing a discrete 4-year program beforehand.

The University of Oregon Clark Honors College

For ambitious undergraduate students, some may ask can you go to law school without a degree? Universities have established accelerated law programs permitting the completion of both degrees in an expedited 3+3 year format.

The University of Oregon extends this option exclusively to high-achieving students already admitted to Clark Honors College (CHC). Providing one maintains a 3.5 GPA in their bachelor’s coursework, this pathway allows enrollment directly into the University of Oregon Law School after year 3 for the remaining JD degree requirements. Upon satisfactory first-year law school performance, the BA diploma is retroactively granted.

You can use Law School Predictor to estimate your chance of admission. You estimate your chances of being accepted into various law schools around the US by entering your GPA and LSAT scores. 

University of Massachusetts School of Law 

The University of Massachusetts School of Law offers students a chance to transition straight to law studies after just 3 years of undergraduate credit. This program rewards exceptional academic performance and diligence with the opportunity to expedite one’s legal education. 

Programs such as these cater to ambitious students desirous of an accelerated route toward their career goals. The time and cost savings associated with the condensed 3+3 program additionally incentivize students to sustain academic excellence as they work towards two degrees.

Rochester Institute of Technology

The school provides a streamlined bachelor’s-to-JD pipeline in coordination with Syracuse University College of Law. This structured 3+3 program enables the completion of both degrees in just 6 years.

Eligibility necessitates dual admission to RIT and Syracuse Law, alongside a demonstrated record of high academic achievement. Once accepted, participants spend years 1-to-3 completing rigorous undergraduate coursework at RIT.

In year 4, students transition seamlessly into Syracuse Law’s Juris Doctor program, substituting traditional first-year studies for final progress toward their bachelor’s credential from RIT. After proving themselves capable during this pivotal transitional year, students acquire their bachelor’s diplomas and finish law school at Syracuse.

Weighing Pros and Cons: Can You Go to Law School Without an Undergraduate Degree

Pursuing a law school degree typically requires 4 years of undergraduate studies first. However, a small subset of aspiring lawyers opted for an accelerated route skipping the bachelor’s credential. Does this non-traditional pathway make sense? Consider these main advantages and challenges.

The Pros of Attending Law School with No Bachelors Degree

  • Time Saved

Can I go to law school without a bachelors degree? Removing up to 2-4 years of college coursework means you can focus entirely on legal education and real-world experience much faster. Depending on any credits you’ve already earned, this quicker pace amplifies practical skills development before graduation. If you are set on being a lawyer, time saved can mean entering the workforce years early.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Law school on its own is a major investment. With lower total tuition expenses from omitting an extra undergraduate degree’s worth of credits, you reduce your overall student debt burden. If focused squarely on entering the legal field, paring down extra learning for more affordability can be strategically wise.

The Cons of Attending Law School with No Bachelors Degree

  • Career Prospect Limitations

The vast majority of legal and attorney jobs expect prospective candidates to hold a bachelor’s credential, at minimum. Without this key resume item, you may struggle considerably to qualify and compete for job openings straight out of law school. Even with a JD, bypassing undergraduate work can severely limit viable career options.

  • Limited Eligibility for Bar Exams

Sitting for the bar exam itself has eligibility requirements tied to prerequisite education in most states. While a Juris Doctor satisfies the law school requirement, applications are evaluated for completion of core undergraduate credits/degrees as well. Without meeting full qualifications, you cannot practice law even after graduating from law school and passing the bar.

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Preparing for Law School Without a Bachelor’s Degree

Pursuing a JD without a four-year degree presents distinct challenges. Bolstering key application components can demonstrate your readiness for law school’s demands.

Acing the LSAT

Can you go to law school without a degree? The Law School Admission Test carries tremendous weight, signaling your potential to handle legal studies. For applicants without bachelor’s credentials, exceptional LSAT scores are essential for admission and law school scholarship eligibility. Here’s how to excel:

  1. Start Studying Early: Begin prepping 6+ months out from your target test date. This allows thorough content review and practice.

  2. Use High-Quality Materials: Reputable prep books, online resources, and practice tests are key to familiarity with the exam’s structure.

  3. Practice Strategically: Regular, focused practice can lead to substantial score improvements. Identify weak areas and target them for extra study.

  4. Seek Professional Guidance: A tutor or a prep course can offer personalized strategies and insights to elevate your score. 

Leveraging Work Experience

For applicants without an extensive undergraduate record, leveraging professional experience takes on amplified importance. Whether directly law-related or not, your work history spotlights skills preparation plus responsibility aptitude.

  1. Engage in Law-Related Programs: Participation in law programs for high school students or community members can highlight your long-standing interest in law. These experiences provide insight into the legal system and underscore your commitment to pursuing a legal career.

  2. Demonstrate Skills Transfer and Commitment: Connect your professional and volunteer experiences to essential legal skills such as analytical thinking, ethical judgment, and effective communication.

  3. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation: Ask managers who are familiar with your work ethic and competencies to write a law school letter of recommendation to validate your potential as a lawyer-in-training. Their third-party credentials carry much weight. 

Start your Law School Journey With Tailored LSAT and Admission Guidance

Odyssey Test Prep helps ambitious non-traditional applicants master the LSAT exam, craft competitive applications showcasing skills, and develop legal analysis aptitude essential for thriving in JD programs without an undergraduate degree.

LSAT Prep Course

Elevate your LSAT scores and pave the way to law school, even if you’re considering unconventional paths – your journey to legal excellence starts with the right preparation. Our comprehensive LSAT prep courses provide instructor-led training, practice tests, and materials to immerse students in exam fundamentals. Our Expert instructors actively reinforce strategies and offer feedback on practice test performance, providing the guidance necessary to help students achieve impressive score improvements.

LSAT Tutoring

Unlock your full potential with personalized LSAT tutoring, tailored to your unique law school journey. For personalized support, we offer one-on-one LSAT tutoring services with study plans to address each student’s strengths and weaknesses on practice exams, leveraging targeted drills and techniques to polish skills in logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. Seasoned LSAT tutors with proven score improvement records provide feedback on blind review, adjusting approaches in real time to push students to their maximum potential.

Law School Admission Consulting

Navigate the complexities of law school admissions, especially if you’re exploring non-traditional routes – our expert consultants are here to guide you toward success, even without a conventional degree. Our law school admission experts help prospective students craft a strategic application plan targeting the right schools and chances for admission success based on profile components like work experience, LSAT performance, and more.

Final Thoughts: Can You Go to Law School Without a Degree

Pursuing law school without a bachelor’s degree is possible for the right-motivated student. While most law schools expect applicants to have an undergraduate degree, certain accredited programs offer exceptions through bachelor’s degree waivers or 3+3 concurrent enrollment options. These specialized pathways recognize promising students who demonstrate high academic achievement and convey authentic passion for law in their applications.

If you’re an ambitious non-traditional candidate, our LSAT Free Class can help assess your current abilities. The 10.5-hour prep class spans 3 weeks of expert instruction to immerse students in core exam content and skills.

By experiencing our teaching excellence first-hand, you will gain confidence conveying your potential to access specialized fast-track law programs without an undergraduate degree!