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Philosophy for Pre-Law and Pre-Med

A philosophy major is an excellent choice for students interested in going to law school and medical school. Philosophy is a rigorous and well-respected major that hones a student’s critical thinking and analytical skills. Here is some more information for pre-law and pre-med students, respectively.

Pre-Law Students


Students interested in going to law school should consider philosophy as a primary major. Though law schools do not favor a particular major in their admissions (see the American Bar Association website for more info), according to the American Philosophical Association, "philosophy majors consistently perform best or near best on graduate school admission exams, year after year and across various sections compared to other majors." "[T]he success of philosophy graduates on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is persistent, and despite changes in the content and scoring, students of philosophy regularly outperform their peers." (See the American Philosophical Association report here.)

This is no surprise, as a major in philosophy provides students with extensive training in critical analysis of texts, analytical thinking skills, verbal communication, and rigorous, persuasive writing. Each of these skill sets is crucial to success in law school. Beyond this, the UC Davis Philosophy Department has a variety of course offerings on topics relevant to someone interested in practicing law. These include: critical reasoning, logic, ethics, and philosophy of law. Recent UC Davis philosophy majors have attended law school at UC Davis, UCSD, UCLA, and the University of Chicago, among others.

The following courses should be of interest to a pre-law student. Students should consider planning their major studies around these courses and are encouraged to discuss with the undergraduate adviser.

PHI 5. Critical Reasoning (4)
PHI 12. Introduction to Symbolic Logic (4)
PHI 14. Ethical and Social Problems in Contemporary Society (4)
PHI 15. Bioethics (4)
PHI 16. Philosophical Foundations of American Democracy (4)
PHI 24. Introduction to Ethics (4)
PHI 102. Theory of Knowledge (4)
PHI 112. Intermediate Symbolic Logic (4)
PHI 114. History of Ethics (4)
PHI 115. Problems in Normative Ethics (4)
PHI 116. Ethical Theories (4)
PHI 118. Political Philosophy (4)
PHI 119. Philosophy of Law (4)
PHI 120. Environmental Ethics (4)
PHI 125. Theory of Action (4)
PHI 128. Rationality (4) 

Pre-Med Students

Philosophy is an excellent primary or secondary major for students interested in going to medical school. Despite the common belief that a major in the biological sciences is required for admission to medical school, only half of students admitted to med schools followed this track. A philosophy major may help the pre-med applicant stand-out among the crowd. In fact, admitted humanities majors have slightly higher MCAT scores than those from the sciences. See this article from US News: "Choose the Right Undergraduate Major for Med School."

According to the American Medical Student Association, Philosophy majors have the highest medical school acceptance rate of all majors at over 50 percent.  (Source: AMSA website. See “Major Anxiety: If You Think Biochemistry is Your Ticket to Medical School, Think Again" Sept. 2000).

Majoring in philosophy for pre-med provides students with critical thinking and analytical abilities valued by medical schools for admission. These intellectual skill sets are a crucial foundation for a successful career in medicine.

The philosophy major at UC Davis is flexible to accommodate a pre-med student’s enrollment in prerequisite science courses for admission to medical school. Indeed, the course offerings in the philosophy department provide an excellent complement to those in the sciences. Such courses include bioethics, appraising scientific reasoning, and philosophy of biology.

The following courses should be of interest to the pre-med student. Students should consider planning their major studies around these courses and are encouraged to discuss with the undergraduate adviser. 

Pre-Med; Medicine and Science:
PHI 12. Introduction to Symbolic Logic (4)
PHI 14. Ethical and Social Problems in Contemporary Society (4)
PHI 15. Bioethics (4)
PHI 30. Introduction to Philosophy of Science (4)
PHI 31. Appraising Scientific Reasoning (4)
PHI 38. Introduction to Philosophy of Biology (4)
PHI 104. The Evolution of Mind (4)
PHI 107. Philosophy of the Physical Sciences (4)
PHI 108. Philosophy of the Biological Sciences (4)
PHI 112. Intermediate Symbolic Logic (4)
PHI 120. Environmental Ethics (4)

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