Courses at K

Desks in a classroom auditorium.

The Pre-Law Orientation at Kalamazoo College is an advising program that guides and supports students in organizing their self-constructed undergraduate education to optimize placement and success within law school. The pillars of the Liberal Arts Pre-Law Orientation are as follows:

  1. Major: Student chooses any field of study within the liberal arts curriculum.
  2. Study of Law Interdisciplinary Cluster: Students matriculate in six courses selected from the interdisciplinary Study of Law Cluster of Courses
  3. Membership in the Pre-Law Society Student Organization: Student becomes an active member of the the student-sponsored Pre-Law Society.

Basic Skill Set

Kalamazoo College offers a wide variety of courses to help students understand, prepare for, and succeed within the legal profession. K also hosts various invited speakers, CCPD events, Pre-Law Society activities, and reading groups to support students in their preparation for law school. Law schools do not require – and some actively discourage – any established pre-law curriculum specialized in preparing students for applying to law schools. Instead, law schools look to the type of flexible and intensive instruction characteristic of the liberal arts as an ideal way of gaining the various skills, forms of knowledge, personal maturity, and interactive competencies necessary for excelling in a JD (Juris Doctorate) program and, afterwards, practicing in the legal field. In K’s pre-law orientation, we consequently do not require you take any specified set of courses. Instead, we advise you take courses that truly interest you, investigate potential majors and minors, explore courses from K’s wide range of disciplines, and, in this fashion, build a self-motivated, well-rounded, and intense liberal arts experience. Law schools focus less upon specific undergraduate majors than upon excellence in any one of them. What is crucial for law school admissions officers are the following basic skills sets:

  • Critical reading and analysis
  • Argumentative thinking and writing
  • Logically structured Persuasive discourse and debate
  • Confident self-presentation and respectful interaction
  • Information technology research capabilities

Moreover, law schools look not only for (1) maturity of person, (2) integrity of character, (3) definitiveness of purpose, but also (4) the worldly experiences and ethical commitments of prospective students – all for the purpose of identifying individuals with the intellect, character, talent, and training to succeed in the demanding field of law.

The Study of Law Courses

In addition to promoting the general skills and worldly experiences listed above, K also offers specific courses specialized, in one fashion or another, in the subject matter of the law: see The Study of Law Courses below. These courses analyze the legal system in the larger social, cultural, and political contexts of which law plays such an important role. Courses in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics offer students the opportunity to understand what a legal system is, how it functions, what purposes it serves, how it evolves, and why it is so important to assess its failures and successes. Such courses focus quite specifically upon the various historical periods, institutional settings, social functions, linguistic codes, political powers, conventional patterns, and types of reasoning characteristic of modern legal systems. By completing such courses, pre-law students gain specific and detailed knowledge about what law is in general – from a philosophical perspective – and how it functions in specific polities – from political science and economic perspectives. Finally, K’s pre-law program is committed to the idea that engaging in legal studies and thereafter practicing as a legal professional – in all the various ways in which this is possible – demand one understand the legal system in a socially and politically responsible way.

Study of Law Courses at Kalamazoo College

Choose at least 6 courses from this list:

  • POLS 225: Constitutional Law
  • POLS 227: Law, Politics, & Society
  • POLS 305: International Law and Organizations
  • POLS 325: Race and Politics
  • POLS 370: Civil Liberties & Civil Rights
  • PHIL 211: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 210: The Just Society
  • PHIL 215: Human Rights and International Law
  • PHIL 291: Theorizing Citizenship and Immigration
  • PHIL 310: Critical Social Theory
  • ANSO 235: Prisons and Public Policy
  • ANSO 236: Race and Racism
  • ECON 280: Law & Economics

Strongly Recommended Courses

We recommend the following courses to pre-law students, not because their subject matter is law, but because they develop the general skills of critical reading, persuasive writing, convincing debate, confident self-presentation, public interaction, and information research skills:

Specific Courses

  • PHIL 107: Logic and Reasoning
  • PHIL 306: Philosophy of Language

General Courses

  • Writing intensive courses in any discipline (e.g. Journalism, English, Romance Languages, & Classics)
  • Theater courses in acting and public address:
    • THEA 115: Community Dialogue Techniques
    • THEA 120: Fundamentals of Acting
    • THEA 305: Voice and Diction
  • Textual analysis courses (Philosophy, English, Romance Languages, & Classics)
  • Critical Theory courses