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Humanities and the Future of Law

June 26, 2008

In the paper “LSAT Scores of Economic Majors” in the Journal of Economic Education, Michael Nieswiadomy lists the average LSAT scores of the top 29 academic majors. While there’s no cut-and-dry rule for what majors are or are not Humanities disciplines there’s fairly wide acceptance on three: Philosophy, English, and History. And how did those three rank?

  • Philosophy/Religion came in at #2 (below only Physics/Math);
  • History came in at #8 and
  • English just below that in 9th place.

Social sciences (large aspects of which are Humanities-related) were all over the board

  • International Relations, #4;
  • Government/Service #6;
  • Anthropology/Geography, #7,
  • Other Social Science, #11;
  • Psychology, #16,
  • Sociology, #23, and
  • Criminology, #29.

Foreign Languages was #13.

It is most intersting, and telling, that Prelaw and Criminology were #28 and #29 respectively of those ranked and both were well below the sample mean.

Not that I want to encourage Hoosier humanists to pursue careers in law, but I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging those about to pursue a career in law to get an educational foundation in the Humanities.

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3 comments

  1. While I have not read the article (as an economist it would be interesting to see where econ. majors ranked) but the results are really not that surprising. If you look at the majors listed higher up the scale, their curriculum is based on critical thinking and being able to observe (or read) a piece and comment intelligently on it. Those majors that tend to rank near the bottom are very specific with classes that teach specific techniques.

    What is more upsetting is the number of majors these lower ranked departments are seeing. At our university the majors Communications and Psychology are the top two programs (receiving the most money as a result) are also programs with very few prospects for their graduates outside of graduate school. Compare this to the flexablity enjoyed by those with English and History majors (or even Econ for that matter). While they may not be “working in their fields” the fact that they can obtain employment outside of their fields (and the reported LSAT scores) I think speak volumes.

    It makes one wonder if we should not restructure the college system in the U.S. to where everyone must pursue a more “liberal arts” (i.e. English, History, Philosophy, Econ) major and then “specialize” in graduate school.


  2. Woo hoo! About time philosophy got a little recognition!


  3. I’m a little late responding to these here: In regard to providing a Liberal Arts undergraduate for everybody with specialization held off until grad school (or a vocational school or instituting more “apprenticeship” positions) I’m divided–but I’m not an educational specialist–so what do I know?

    This might be worth a blog post in the future. My own liberal arts background makes me want to support such a move, but a lot recent reports that education doesn’t alter fundamental cognitive skills makes me doubt if postponing specialization is a smart move.

    And yes, Philosophy is long overdue from mad props like this.



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