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History Pre-Law Major B.A.

  • Opportunities for undergraduate research with renowned faculty
  • Courses in American, European, African, Asian, Latin American, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern history
  • Preparation for law school and legal careers

Faculty Contacts: Dr. Jaclyn Maxwell, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Kevin Uhalde, History Pre-Law Adviser

History Pre-law Advising

OHIO Pre-law Advising

Admissions Information

Degree Requirements

Sample 4-Year Program

Program Overview

History's emphasis on reading and interpreting evidence, appreciating context, and writing makes it an ideal major for students preparing for law school.

The specific intra- and extra-departmental requirements of the Ohio University history program have been tailored to provide the knowledge base, intellectual rigor, and academic skills necessary to prepare students for law school and a legal career. History pre-law majors benefit from requirements that ensure chronological and geographical breadth and depth of knowledge while allowing for the opportunity to focus on courses especially useful for law school preparation.

Majors must take three introductory courses covering three geographical areas. They will take one course in World History (select from HIST 1320, 1330, 2270, 2460, 2905); one course in European History (select from HIST 1210, 1220, 2300, 2530); and one course in U.S. History (select from HIST 2000 or 2010). Majors also are strongly encouraged to take HIST 2950: Freshman/Sophomore Seminar in the spring semester of the first or second year of study.

At the advanced level, students take a research and writing course (HIST 3111J) and 21 additional semester hours in upper division courses (at or above HIST 3000). They will need to take one course in two of the three geographical areas (U.S., Europe and World) and one course in two of the three chronological areas (pre-modern, early modern, and modern). They also will need to complete two history courses identified within the pre-law track and two extra-departmental requirements, the vast majority of which also meet College of Arts & Science distribution requirements.

Graduation with a B.A. in history pre-law requires the successful completion of College of Arts & Science requirements, 30 semester hours in history (+ the HIST 3111J course which also meets the University J requirement), and a 2.0 overall minimum G.P.A in the major.

Careers and Graduate School

Students who study History - Prelaw at Ohio University have been admitted to top law programs nationwide and within Ohio. For those interested in pursuing a career upon graduation, history majors have gone on to successful careers in business, government service, publishing, teaching, consulting, medicine, law, and museum work. Several recent generous donations given to the department by former students further testify to the fact that pursuing a degree in history at Ohio University can lead to future success.

Browse through dozens of internship opportunities and full-time job postings for Ohio University students and alumni on Handshake, OHIO’s key resource for researching jobs, employers, workshops, and professional development events.

Prelaw Advising

Preparing for law school requires careful thought and long-range planning. One of the most important decisions that students must make involves what to major in during the undergraduate years.

Students can major in any academic subject and gain admission to law school as long as their coursework indicates that they have acquired the skills and knowledge needed to undergo the rigors of legal study.

However, it is not a coincidence that most law school entering classes contain significant numbers of history majors. Law school admissions committees know that the study of history, if pursued properly, enables students to master the three crucial skills needed to succeed in law school: the ability to write clearly, the ability to interpret complex subjects, and the ability to read efficiently and effectively. In addition, a well-grounded familiarity with history is considered by many law professors to be vital in mastering the complexities of the American legal system and international law. A student's chances of gaining admission to law school and the ability to make the transition between undergraduate work and legal study will be greatly assisted by concentrating upon the discipline of history.

The History Pre-law program at Ohio University centers on expert, timely advising from the freshman year through senior year. In your freshman and sophomore years, the departmental adviser helps students select the best set of courses to assist them in preparing for law school. In the junior year, the History Pre-law Adviser helps students plan out a course of action to insure that they are prepared for the LSAT and the law school admission process. In the senior year, the History Pre-law Adviser helps students with the application process and the difficult decisions involving where to apply and ultimately where to attend. The quality of Pre-law Advising in the History Department is well-known at the university, and has prompted pre-law students from a variety of other colleges and programs to become informal advisees. Nevertheless, it is the History Pre-law students who receive advising priority and benefit from four years of assistance.

History Pre-law students in the recent past have been admitted to the following Law Schools:

  • Cornell University
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University
  • University of Michigan
  • Ohio State University
  • Case Western Reserve
  • Duquesne University
  • William and Mary
  • Boston University
  • Tulane University
  • New York University
  • George Washington University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Capital University
  • University of Akron

Admissions Information

Freshman/First-Year Admission: No requirements beyond University admission requirements.

Change of Program Policy: No selective or limited admission requirements.

Degree Requirements

University-wide Graduation Requirements

To complete this program, students must meet all University-wide graduation requirements.

College-Level Requirements for the College of Arts & Sciences

View the College-Level Requirements for the College of Arts & Sciences.

History Pre-law Hours Requirement

Complete a total of 33 semester credit hours of HIST coursework, including all of the requirements below.

Note: The requirements below are from the 2019-20 catalog. Students should consult their academic advisers or pre-law adviser about previous catalogs.

Introductory History

Introductory History Courses

Complete ONE course from each of the following three geographical areas:

Component A: European History

Complete ONE of the following courses from European history:

Component B: World History

Complete ONE of the following courses in World history:

Component C: United States History

Complete ONE of the following courses in United States history:

Historical Research and Writing

Complete the following course at the beginning of the junior year:

History Major Part II

Section I: Elective Courses

Complete a total of 21 hours of history courses at 3000 and above. Courses taken at and above 3000 to meet the Chronological and Geographical requirements will also count toward the elective requirement. Some courses may meet both a Chronological and Geographical requirement.

Section 2: Chronological History Course Requirement

Courses taken at or above 3000 to meet the Chronological History Course requirements will also count toward the elective requirements.

Complete one course from two of the three following components.

Component A: Pre-Modern History

Complete one of the following courses in World or European history:


Or Europe

Component B: Early Modern History

Complete one of the following courses in World, European, or North American History:


Or Europe

Or North American

Component C: Modern History

Complete one of the following courses in World, European, or North American history:


Or Europe

Or North American

Section 3: Geographical History Course Requirement

Courses taken at or above 3000 to meet the Geographical History Course requirements will also count toward the elective requirement.

Complete one course from each of the three components.

Component A: World History

Complete one of the following courses in Pre-Modern, Early Modern, or Modern History:


Early Modern

OR Modern

OR General

Component B: European History


OR Early Modern


Or General

Component C: North American History

Early Modern

OR Modern

OR General

Prelaw History Major Intra-departmental Requirements

Complete two of the following courses. They may also satisfy the Chronological and Geographical requirements for your major.

Prelaw History Major Extra-departmental Requirements

Complete two of the following courses. Most of them will also fulfill your Arts and Sciences breadth requirements.

Preparation for Law

If you plan to enter law school after earning an undergraduate degree, it is prudent to choose a major that reflects your true academic interest. Law schools draw students from a variety of majors, and history has proven to be one of the most successful in launching students toward successful careers in law. This is because our courses provide an understanding of the context within which the western legal tradition emerged.  They explain the impact that laws and courts have had on shaping society and, conversely, how societal change has reshaped legal practice. As critically the habits of a historian teach students to read and contextualize evidence, to consider multiple perspectives, and to frame and express arguments, skills that numerous lawyers and administrators of law schools suggest are the closest approximation of legal practice that can be simulated in an undergraduate curriculum.   

In addition to our diverse array of history courses, you are advised to use your general electives to take other courses helpful in enhancing your analytical abilities. Those may include courses from English composition and literature, American literature, political science, economics, sociology, philosophy (include ethics and logic), accounting, psychology, and a foreign language. Courses in speech, and training in expression, as well as activities that develop the capacity for independent thought and action, are recommended.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that to enter law school you must be able to show possession of an undergraduate degree from an approved college if you wish to take the Ohio Bar Examination. Law schools in the State of Ohio require the degree of all entering students, regardless of the state in which they plan to take the bar examination. More general information regarding prelaw can be found on the college pre-law pages