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Academic Majors


Pre-Law Program

North Dakota State University offers students a special program of pre-law advisement. Emphasis is placed on the development of scholarly skills and insights, rather than the mastery of a prescribed subject. Thus, the pre-law student may elect the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, selecting a major or minor of special personal interest. A pre-law emphasis is offered for the political science major.

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Pre-Political Science Preparation

Students intent on pursuing an undergraduate degree in political science are enrolled as pre-professional students and must first meet grade point average and course work requirements in order to be admitted to the political science program. Once students satisfy all requirements, they complete and submit the political science application form, available on the department website. This form needs to be turned in to the department’s academic assistant. After verification that the student meets the requirements for acceptance, he or she is accepted into the professional program and can continue to pursue a degree in political science.

The Program

No particular course of study serves as a prerequisite for admission to law school. Present-day law students have undergraduate degrees in political science, English, business, natural science, history, linguistics and a host of other disciplines. However, some broad general recommendations about college preparation for law school may be useful.

The main guide to undergraduate study should be your own interests and talents. Successful study and practice of law can be based on any of a large number of college backgrounds; therefore, the pre-law student should feel free to study in depth what interests him or her most and to enjoy the stimulation of undergraduate education. Political science is one of the fields of concentration most frequently chosen by those who plan to enter law school, and the department offers a pre-law emphasis for those who major in the discipline.

Goals of the Pre-Law Program

As undergraduate courses are chosen, certain goals should be kept in mind. First, a lawyer must be able to communicate effectively in oral and written expression. In a real sense, words are the tools of the lawyer's trade. Training for communication skills obviously must include mastery of the English language. But, above all, a lawyer must be able to write well. Any course in a discipline in which a student knows that he or she will be required to commit ideas or research to writing, submit the writing to rigorous criticism by a faculty member, and then rewrite to meet the criticism, is a course that will help prepare the student for law school.

Second, the prospective law student needs a fair range of critical understanding of human institutions and values. Here, political science, economics, philosophy, sociology and history are useful. It also should be noted that undergraduate law courses should not be taken for the purpose of learning the law, and certainly are not essential for law school admission. Such courses may be helpful, however, in providing an understanding of the place of law in society and in providing a better basis by which to estimate one’s interest in law school.

Third, the prospective law student must develop creative critical thinking. A lawyer must be able to reason closely from given premises and propositions to tenable conclusions. The analysis of a legal problem almost always involves more than a persuasive policy-oriented essay. The ability to do this type of close reasoning may be sought in courses in mathematics, physical sciences, logic and advanced political and economic theory, among others.

Political science graduates have attended many different law schools, including University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, University of Nebraska, Duke, Northwestern, Baylor, Cornell and George Washington University.

Pre-Law Club

The Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science works closely with the Pre-Law Club, a student organization. The Pre-Law Club is designed to provide students with information about law schools, entrance examinations and career opportunities in the field of law.

The Faculty

Thomas Ambrosio, Associate Professor, Ph.D.,
     2000, University of Virginia
Nicholas Bauroth, Associate Professor, Ph.D.,
     2003, Loyola University
Kjersten Nelson, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
     2009, University of Minnesota
Daniel Pemstein, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
     2010, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


No particular course of study serves as a prerequisite for admission to law school and many different majors provide a good background. A traditional major for some pre-law students has been political science. At NDSU the Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science offers a pre-law emphasis for its majors.

Sample Curriculum

General Education RequirementsCredits
First Year Experience
  UNIV 189 - Skills for Academic Success1
  COMM 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
  ENGL 110, 120 - College Composition I, II 3, 3
ENGL 320 - Business and Professional Writing3
Quantitative Reasoning
   STAT 330 - Introductory Statistics3
Science & Technology10
Humanities & Fine Arts6
  Social and Behavioral Sciences
  POLS 110 - Introduction to Political Science or
   POLS 115 - American Government

Social and Behavioral Sciences Elective3
Cultural Diversity-
Global Perspective-
College/Department Requirements Credits
Humanities Elective(s) 3
Social Science Elective 3
Fine Arts Elective(s)
Total 9
Pre-Political Science Requirements Credits
POLS - 100 or 200 level course 3
POLS 110 - Introduction to Political Science or
    POLS 115 - American Government

POLS 220 - International Politics or
    POLS 225 - Comparative Politics

POLS 240 - Political Ideologies 3
Pre-Law Emphasis Credits
POLS 230 - Judicial Process 3
POLS 325 - Applied Research Methods 4
POLS 430 - Constitutional Law-Civil Liberties 3
POLS 431 - Constitutional Law-Criminal Justice 3
POLS 444 - International Law or
   POLS 446 - Current Topics in International Law
POLS 489 - Senior Seminar 3
400 Level Political Science Electives 9
Communication and English Electives 9
Law Related Electives 11-12
Electives/Minor 11-12

Students must have a qualifying minor or meet the foreign language requirement.

Suggested Electives for pre-law emphasis:

BUSN 431, 432 - Business Law I, II
COMM 214 - Persuasive Speaking or
  COMM 308 - Business and Professional Speaking
ENGL 320 - Business and Professional Writing
ENGL 358 - Intermediate Composition

For more details on the pre-law emphasis for political science majors, contact an advisor in the department.

This sample curriculum is not intended to serve as a curriculum guide for current students, but rather an example of course offerings for prospective students. For the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of entrance into a program, consult with an academic adviser or with the Office of Registration and Records.

Criminal Justice & Public Policy Bldg
Room 110

Criminal Justice & Public Policy Bldg is located at 1616 12th Ave N across from lot TA (Campus Map)

Contact Information

Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science
North Dakota State University
Criminal Justice and Public Policy Building 110
Dept #2315, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-6174 / Fax: (701) 231-5877

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Ceres 114
Dept #5230, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802



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Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802
Campus address: Ceres Hall 114
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5230 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: NDSU Webmaster

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2016 1:57:41 PM