The best prospective law students read Homer

UPDATE: This post chronicles stats for law school applicants; the data for matriculants has been posted here.

Several years ago, Professor Michael Nieswiadomy (North Texas) released a paper (available on SSRN) on the LSAT scores of economics majors. I thought I'd make some inquiries with LSAC for some data on this subject to follow up.

I asked for all data of 2013 applicants and matriculants to law school. Applicants self-identified one of 142 majors; they could select more than one if they so desired. I obtained the median LSAT scores, and the median GPA scores, for these groups.

Below is a chart identifying the median LSAT scores and GPA scores based on self-identified major, for majors with at least 150 students taking the exam, among all law school applicants. A few majors are labeled on the chart.

Perhaps 150 is too low a figure for categorization (other studies typically require 400 to 450 students), but I thought a slightly more inclusive sample might be of interest.

As you can see, the best prospective law students were the Classics majors. Even though there were just 190 of them, they achieved a 159.8 LSAT and a UGPA of 3.477--the highest in both categories.

Among the rest, there is a pretty good correlation between LSAT and UGPA. As expected, some of the majors with disproportionately low UGPAs but high LSATs were in the sciences (I labeled Biology, specialization; Biology, general; Electrical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Mathematics on the chart.) Among majors with disproportionately low LSATs but high UGPAs were Accounting, Law, Social Work, and Spanish.

Professor Brian Leiter has noted that other studies, which often link Philosophy and Religion into a single category, may distort the quality of Philosophy majors. The chart reflects a significant difference between the two. Philosophy majors (n=1773) achieved a 156.8 LSAT, good for sixth-highest in this set, but suffered from a slightly lower UGPA than would be expected, 3.308. Religion and Religious Studies majors (n=230) were a far smaller group with a lower LSAT score (154.6) but a much higher UGPA (3.434).

The chart below includes the comprehensive list of all majors with at least 150 applicants, sorted by LSAT score. Some very small majors (e.g., Art History, Music, and Policy Studies) scored quite well.

Among those majors with at least 1000 takers, the top major was Philosophy, followed by Economics, History, English, and Political Science.

Granted, one cannot identify causation based upon these scores. Students self-identify majors, sometimes more than one, or sometimes none at all; others self-select into taking the LSAT altogether (opting for medical school, business school, or a lucrative career instead of law school).

Major n>150 LSAT UGPA
CLASSICS 190 159.8 3.477
POLICY STUDIES 209 158.8 3.435
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 850 157.3 3.382
ART HISTORY 155 157.1 3.453
MATHEMATICS 203 157.0 3.332
PHILOSOPHY 1773 156.8 3.308
INTERNATIONAL STUDIES 507 156.6 3.421
GOVERNMENT/SERVICE 408 156.3 3.352
ECONOMICS 2185 156.2 3.307
BIOLOGY, SPECIALIZATION 328 155.8 3.217
MUSIC 256 155.6 3.432
HISTORY 2943 155.4 3.339
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING 186 155.0 3.192
ANTHROPOLOGY 358 154.7 3.365
RELIGION/RELIGIOUS STUDIES 230 154.6 3.434
FOREIGN LANGUAGES 154 154.4 3.379
LITERATURE 226 153.6 3.284
ENGLISH 3287 153.2 3.307
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES 297 152.7 3.255
POLITICAL SCIENCE 11441 152.3 3.274
CHEMISTRY, GENERAL 194 152.1 3.267
INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES 510 151.9 3.235
SPANISH 297 151.9 3.394
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING 191 151.8 3.196
ARTS & HUMANITIES - OTHER 1734 151.7 3.275
FINANCE 1497 151.7 3.297
JOURNALISM 653 151.5 3.315
BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT - OTHER 239 151.1 3.171
PSYCHOLOGY 3056 150.6 3.226
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS 330 150.5 3.266
BIOLOGY, GENERAL 647 149.7 3.096
COMMUNICATIONS 1551 149.3 3.213
SOCIAL SCIENCES - OTHER 465 148.4 3.168
ACCOUNTING 1024 148.3 3.283
CRIMINOLOGY 652 148.2 3.206
LIBERAL ARTS 1193 148.1 3.113
SOCIOLOGY 1404 148.0 3.165
MARKETING 880 147.9 3.140
LAW 333 147.6 3.256
PRE-LAW 728 147.1 3.172
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT 1204 146.7 3.142
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 1443 146.6 3.098
BUSINESS MGMT./ADMIN. 395 145.8 3.052
ANY AREA NOT LISTED - OTHER 3595 145.0 3.122
SOCIAL WORK 208 143.4 3.257
CRIMINAL JUSTICE 3102 143.1 3.144