Can You Attend Law School Without a Bachelor's Degree?

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A few law schools do not require a bachelor's degrees.
A few law schools do not require a bachelor's degrees. (Image: young lawyer image by Alexey Stiop from Fotolia.com)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job market for lawyers to increase by 13 percent from 2008 to 2018. You might be able to enter law school and become a lawyer without completing an undergrad degree. In some states, you may not even need law school at all to work as a lawyer.

Identification

The vast majority of law schools require a four-year degree as an admissions requirement. A couple of law schools in the U.S. are willing to make an exception for students that show an aptitude for the legal profession and have extremely high marks on their existing academic record. Tulane University is one such school, but even it requires at least three-fourths of a completed bachelor's degree.

Become a Lawyer Without College

If you have no college education of any kind, you can still practice law. Some states, such as California, let people sit for the bar exam as long as they have legal training from a licensed lawyer. You could take an apprenticeship in these states in lieu of law school. Some states also allow a student who completes two-thirds of a law school program to take the bar. "Reading for the law" was actually the only way to become a lawyer in the early history of America. Abraham Lincoln, for example, never attended law school.

Combined Degrees

Colleges with an undergraduate program and law school often offer combined degrees, called BA/JD program or 3/3. In this program, the student applies to law school during his junior year of college. If accepted, the student starts law school in what would be his senior year and receives his baccalaureate degree after the first year of law studies. The student then receives his law degree when he finishes the next two years of law school, for a total of six years of college.

Tip

If you hope to enter into a law program that combines the undergrad and J.D. degree, you will probably need a grade point average of at least 3.5. You can defray some of the costs of an undergrad education by replacing some classes with acceptable CLEP scores. CLEP tests give college credit for displaying mastery of a subject, usually lower level classes.

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