In the United States, law is undertaken as a graduate degree course. Candidates should first obtain a bachelor's degree to qualify for consideration for admission into law school. Although law schools place various levels of emphasis on admission requirements, they generally attach significant weight to an applicant’s undergraduate GPA average and LSAT scores. As a result, a law school admissions committee may take little or no account of a master’s degree when making its decision.
In considering applications, law schools take into account applicants’ undergraduate GPA average because all applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. For purposes of easy comparison, do not substitute it with that of any other degree program, even that obtained from a master’s program. A law school applicant ought to have a GPA average of 3.5 or higher to get into a top law school; if he achieved lower scores, then he may not gain admission even if he did better in his advanced studies, according to Shawn O’Connor, founder of a New York City-based test preparation and admissions firm.
Law schools expect candidates to have passed the LSAT examination before applying because, unlike other requirements, it's the only uniform standard that can be applied to all candidates. A master’s degree in law allows a candidate to specialize in a specific area of law, but it's not an effective indicator of an applicant’s legal skills such as verbal reasoning, which is what the LSAT tests. The quality, scope and even GPA formulation of the master’s degree may also differ from one university to the next. Therefore, obtaining a master’s degree does not necessarily help a candidate get into law school, particularly if he has low LSAT scores.
In as much as a master’s degree alone does not help get into law school, an applicant who possesses the qualification might be in a better position to write a distinguishing personal statement that enhances his chances of gaining admission. A good number of top law schools require applicants to submit a personal statement in the application. The personal statement ought to highlight the applicant’s unique characteristics and significant life accomplishments that set him apart from other applicants. A master’s degree is an accomplishment that might go towards showing an applicant’s dedication to the legal field and convince the law school admissions committee to select him.
Law school admission committees also require candidates to submit at least two recommendations from people who are familiar with the personal and professional attributes of the applicant. A master’s degree holder is in a good position to receive excellent recommendations. Pursuing a master’s degree does not only expose a candidate to a greater scope of knowledge, but it also places students in a position to meet industry leaders, practitioners, professors and other distinguished professionals through their school activities, internships, conferences and other practical learning experiences. Therefore, a law school may be persuaded to select an applicant who has strong recommendations from distinguished personalities who know the applicant personally.
Maria OCadiz has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in Education. She is a former university professor, curriculum facilitator and teacher.