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Pre-Law History

Pope Paul VI once said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” The quest for justice lies at the very heart of Loyola’s History Pre-Law program. Law is the cornerstone of peaceful societies and perpetually one of the central issues in the study of humanity. In Loyola’s History Pre-Law concentration you’ll earn a bachelor’s degree from one of the strongest programs in the country. Our outstanding professors will challenge you to learn about the history of law from its inception through the modern era. Upon graduation you will have been challenged in ways that prepare you not just to make important decisions about law school but also to seek justice in our rapidly evolving world.

Overview of Courses

In addition to a core set of courses exploring global history, U.S. history, and historical research methods, you’ll select legal history electives and global issues coursework to round out your program. Here’s a sample of what you can expect to learn and do:

  • Medieval Crime and Community
    This course explores the interaction between the development of criminal law and social change in the late medieval period. Classes are organized thematically and focus on a broad range of subjects, from trial by ordeal to sanctuary. Emphasis is placed on the creative ways litigants and jurors manipulated the law courts to their best advantage.
  • Law in Early America
    This survey course examines the major developments in American legal history from the colonial period to the Civil War.
  • American Trials
    This course focuses on famous American trials and uses them to examine the broader historical context in which they took place. Particular attention is given to why these trials captured the public’s attention and why they still have a hold on the popular imagination today.
  • Seminar in Global Issues
    This course is open to all students by invitation who want the challenge of engaging macro questions of the human experience within the context of different moral and political values. The seminar is intended to prepare Loyola’s most able students for success in scholarship and fellowship competitions.

Download Major Sheet 



I. History (19 hours)

HIST T124 Global History II
HIST A200 U.S. History I
HIST A201 U.S. History II
HIST A202 Historical Methods Lab
European History Elective (3 credits)
Non-U.S. or European History Elective (3 credits)
Non-U.S. or European History Elective (3 credits)
HIST A400 Historiography

II. Legal History (9 hours)

One of the following American Legal History Courses:

  • A230 Law in Early America
  • A231 Law in Modern America
  • A232 American Trials

Two Legal History Electives. Choose from the Following Courses:

  • A230 Law in Early America
  • A231 Law in Modern America
  • A232 American Trials
  • A305 Medieval Crime and Community
  • A332 Revolutionary America
  • U396 Law: Ancient World
  • A394 The Origins of Law
  • A394 Punishment in Modern Japan

III. Global Issues (3 hours)

Students are required to take HIST A235 Global Issues twice.

Please note:

  • One of the above courses (excluding HIST T122) must be a pre-modern course.
  • Legal history courses must be from at least two (2) geographical regions.

How does this program prepare me for law school?

The American Bar Association offers students seeking admittance to law school the following clear advice. Students need to apply to the program prepared in the following areas: analytical / problem solving skills, critical reading, writing skills, oral communication / listening abilities, general research skills, task organization, public service, and the promotion of justice. In developing the pre-law concentration, the History Department has taken these criteria to heart to produce a program that fulfills those goals.

With the multitude of history courses focused entirely on the evolution of the law, students will not only develop the necessary skills required for law school, but they will have a first-hand opportunity to apply their newfound problem-solving skills to historical legal issues. HIST A232 “American Trials,” for example, steps students through famous historical trials, such as Marbury v. Madison, the Scopes Trial, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade. This course not only helps students gain clear insight into the litigation process, but also the social, political, legal, and historical implications of the losses or victories in those famed cases.

Historical analysis plays a huge role in contemporary trends in American jurisprudence. The most pressing debate in contemporary constitutional law has been over the doctrine of “originalism.” Its supporters maintain that the Constitution should be interpreted by the original meanings grasped by people of late eighteenth-century America, in opposition to advocates who consider the Constitution to be a “living, breathing” document that must be interpreted in light of changing social realities. Both of these approaches demand that lawyers and judges develop a sophisticated understanding of historical analysis.

Problem-solving in history, as in law, relies heavily on a strong foundation in research skills. To offer an example: a lawyer hired to initiate a lawsuit in gender discrimination in the workplace must study the changes in the legal status of women, women’s property rights, statistical research on women in the work place, and wage differentiations over the last 100 years. This is exactly the kind of research our students utlize in their historical work, making the discipline of history a natural major for any student hoping to go on to law school.

Lawyers and judges must be able to construct a logical, persuasive argument on their feet. All our students complete 3 credit hours in “Global Issues,” a class dedicated to formal debates on current events in order to prepare them for the courtroom experience. “Global Issues” also focuses attention on globalization. Law needs to be understood in a comparative perspective since it is a field that spans different legal traditions and jurisdictions. In this way, students will be exposed to the world of law and be better prepared for the next step in the pursuit of a degree in law.


History Course Information

Find out more about the history major: