Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Alex McNeil. Alex is the founder of McNeil Admissions, a private college consulting firm. He is an essay expert and the moderator of r/ApplyingToCollege–the largest forum for undergraduate admissions discussion in the world. He holds an MA in Political Science and has helped more than 3,000 students gain admissions to the college of their choice.
How did we build this list of highest-ROI pre-law programs? In 2015, Brookings published a report researching the value-added by thousands of 2- and 4-year colleges and universities across the nation. Brookings provides value-added scores on a scale from 0-100. These universities are the most likely to set you up for the best pre-law jobs following graduation.
Using this data, we ranked the top 10 pre-law schools by their earning potential after graduation. Here’s what we found:
- Harvard College (97)
It should come as no surprise that Harvard is at the top of this list. With the highest value-added score for earnings, Harvard graduates from the pre-law program get access to prestigious organizations and their vast alumni network in top schools and law firms.
- Yale University (93)
Yale is ranked as the top law school in the country, and its undergrad program ranks highly in earning potential. Pre-law students will get a return on their investment at Yale that extends beyond earning potential–with pre-law counseling and events as well as a flexible and customizable curriculum.
- University of Texas at Austin (91)
In addition to having a high value-added score for earnings, the University of Texas at Austin has a robust career services department that works to place graduates in law school by offering panels, workshops, and law school application coaching.
- Georgetown University (80)
With a value-added score for earnings in the top 20%, Georgetown University offers many resources for students seeking entry into law school. The Cawley Career Education Center hosts pre-law workshops, arranges law school visits, and more. The GULC is also one of the best programs in the country for international law, so if that’s your area of interest, take heed.
- George Washington University (69)
Although the earning potential at GW is a bit lower than its competitors, they have other methods of providing value. In addition to providing personalized, one-on-one advising to help students reach their goals, GW helps undergrads tailor their education to reach their top choice schools.
- Nova Southeastern University (66)
Unlike most of the schools on this list, Nova Southeastern has a unique value-add in addition to being in the top 40% for earnings potential. Instead of a pre-law advising program, they have a vigorous pre-law major that offers an undergraduate law degree.
- Michigan State University (64)
With a vast alumni network in various industries, including positions in the U.S. Congress, Michigan State offers both high earning potential and support to students seeking entry into law school or preparing for careers in intelligence or law enforcement.
- University of Maryland (59)
With a score in the top 50% for earnings potential and its proximity to Washington, D.C., the University of Maryland’s pre-law program offers unique value to its students. In addition to pre-law advising, UMD also includes a three-year law degree program where students can apply to law school in their third year of undergraduate studies.
- New York University (58)
If you’re looking to live the city life and ensure high earning potential after graduation, consider New York University. With a rigorous curriculum and a unique Lawyer Alumni Mentoring Program (LAMP), NYU offers additional value-added for pre-law students.
- Florida State University (45)
While FSU ranks in the lower 50% in earnings potential on this list, they have one of the country’s top criminal justice programs in addition to an advising center dedicated to pre-law students. They also host a unique summer program for undergraduates in law.
The right program can help land a great pre-law job after graduation
Pre-law isn’t known for being a degree track that positions applicants for high salaries after graduation. Typically students apply to pre-law programs in order to better position their law school candidacy.
But there are pre-law jobs that pay well and can act as an excellent bridge between undergrad and law school. The position of a paralegal is one of the most well-paying pre-law jobs that helps build a resume for law school. Gaining real experience in a firm will help you crystalize the reason you want to go to law school, and it’s not uncommon for some firms to pay for your law school education in exchange for returning to them after you graduate to work as an attorney. This is a great way to fight the student loan monster and stay on-track financially.
You might also want to investigate the position of a mediator. Mediation is a pre-law job track that involves acting as a neutral third party to help resolve disputes before they escalate to litigation. Mediation experience can be well-paying and provide on-the-ground experience in negotiation and conflict resolution, two skills essential to any aspiring lawyer.
If you’re planning to seek out a pre-law job after you graduate, the institutions ranked above will help you find one that puts you on track for minimizing your debt burden in law school and retiring from big law early.
While earning potential is an extremely important factor in deciding on an institution with a pre-law program, it shouldn’t be the only factor considered. It’s also important to consider academic offerings, social value, and financial fit.
Getting into law school is a challenging journey, but the staff and faculty at each of these schools is dedicated to helping you reach your goals. These top-tier pre-law programs will help you take the right step toward law school while locking in a high-ROI undergraduate degree along the way.