Edmund Husserl
Edmund Husserl

Pre-Law and Pre-Med

Pre-Law and Philosophy

The Pre-Law Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular undergraduate major but does maintain that there are important skills and values that students can acquire prior to law school that will provide a sound foundation for a legal education. The ABA lists the following among those skills:

  • Analytic / Problem Solving Skills Critical Reading
  • Writing Skills
  • Oral Communication / Listening Abilities
  • General Research Skills
  • Task Organization / Management Skills
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice

Source: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.html

Philosophy Majors and LSAT Scores

Philosophy majors excel at standardized tests, including the Law School Admissions Test, better known as the LSAT. Philosophy majors have continually ranked second, immediately behind mathematics/physics.

Rank - Major Average Score
1. Physics/Math   160.0
2. Philosophy/Theology   157.4
3. Economics   157.4
4. International Relations   156.5
5. Engineering   156.2

Source: Nieswiadomy, Michael, "LSAT Scores of Economics Majors," Journal of Economic Education, 41(3) 331-333 (2010).

Philosophy and a Second Major

The philosophy major provides a great deal of latitude with respect to when courses are taken, which allows many students, if they wish, to double major. Double majoring not only cultivates the skills to thrive in law school but also provides an in-depth knowledge of a second area that might represent the specific area of law that a student intends to focus on after law school.

Thematic Sequence in Reasoning

Students at Miami must complete a Thematic Sequence outside of the department of their major. The philosophy department offers a sequence in reasoning that consists of the following three courses: Informal Logic (PHL 263), Formal Logic (PHL 273), and Symbolic Logic (PHL 373).

The Philosophy Major and Core Skills

The discipline of philosophy cultivates precisely the skills and learning outcomes required to excel in law school. A major in philosophy not only provides students with the theoretical and historical foundations of law and justice, but also teaches them how to provide reasons for a point of view and how to grapple with objections and diverse perspectives.

Analytic / Problem Solving Skills: Every philosophy course at Miami challenges students to evaluate arguments for and against positions, develop arguments for their own positions, engage in thinking critically about important issues, and tolerate and manage uncertainty in arguments.

Critical Reading: Every philosophy course at Miami requires a close and careful examination of complex materials, which includes, but is not limited to, comprehending nuanced distinctions, comprehending the meaning of concepts through analyzing the usages within the text, and uncovering what the text entails but never states explicitly.

Writing Skills: Every philosophy course at Miami is writing-intensive. Each assignment is crafted with the aim to cultivate problem solving skills and critical reading. Moreover, philosophy professors give substantial feedback on written work.

Oral Communication / Listening Abilities: Every philosophy course at Miami cultivates the capacity to listen effectively and speak clearly about complex ideas and topics. This is especially true in upper-level philosophy seminars that have ten to twenty students.

General Research Skills: Every upper-level philosophy course at Miami requires students to engage in research to frame, substantiate, and challenge their arguments.

Task Organization / Management Skills: The ABA makes it clear that by task organization they do not mean managing several smaller tasks, like taking five courses, but rather clearly and efficiently organizing and retaining large amounts of complex information. Philosophy papers and exams require organizing and synthesizing numerous complex concepts and readings.

Public Service and Promotion of Justice: Philosophy courses engage with the theoretical questions regarding the nature of justice and the degree to which one is in fact obligated to promote justice. In this way, philosophy provides students with a reflective awareness of the foundations of law and of their decision and desire to pursue a career that actively promotes justice as its aim.

Pre-Law Advising and Philosophy

There is a pre-law advisor within the department of philosophy who will meet with students individually to discuss their schedule, develop a plan to get into the best law school possible, and answer other questions they might have about the major or their path to law school.

Pre-Med and Philosophy

Are you pre-med, or otherwise headed for a career in health care, and interested in Philosophy? Medical schools and health care professions want applicants with a broad base of knowledge and strong backgrounds in critical thinking, analytical reading and writing skills, and social and ethical concerns.

What are you going to do when you graduate? From medical school, that is? Someday, you will be practicing in your chosen field. At that time, how will you handle all of the questions that don’t have easy answers? What will you do when there’s no clear diagnosis, no test to run? How will you handle interactions with patients? What will your approach be to end of life issues? What if a colleague does something unethical, or incompetent? What kind of leader will you be in your field, in your practice, in your hospital, in your community? Our educational mission in the Philosophy Department is to equip our students with the tools of our discipline, empowering them to live as engaged philosophers, so that they will be better able to confront the many questions and challenges that arise in the practice of healthcare.

Philosophy and the MCAT...

Guess what! Humanities majors do better than Biological Sciences majors on the MCAT!

MCAT 2012 data Biological Sciences Humanities
Verbal reasoning mean scores: 8.8 9.8
Physical sciences mean scores: 9.3 9.6
Biological sciences mean scores: 10.0 10.0
Total MCAT mean scores: 28.1 29.5
MCAT2015 and Philosophy
Effective in 2015, the MCAT has been redesigned to emphasize a broader knowledge base and a deeper skill set. Philosophy classes will be especially helpful to students who want to do well with critical analysis and reasoning skills.


Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
The study of Philosophy trains students in the fundamental methods of critical thinking, analysis, logic and reasoning, lucid argumentation, and clear writing. (It’s no accident that Philosophy majors score highest on the LSAT!)  Many of our core courses are pertinent to the expanded sections of the MCAT2015, and to the distinctive challenges of a career in health care. Every philosophy course will develop your analytic, reasoning, and critical thinking skills.

The department of philosophy offers a Major, an Ethics Minor, and Thematic Sequences in Ethics and Reasoning.  We also offer a course in Medical Ethics.
Where should I start?
The truth is, any philosophy course will work your analytical, reasoning, and critical thinking skills. So feel free to choose according to the topics that interest you most. Here’s some basic information to get you started.

Medical Ethics (PHL 375):

This course is an advanced introduction to some of the major moral issues in health care. No pre-requisites. CAS-B.

Confronting Death (PHL 360A):

This course is semester-long confrontation with death and dying. The course begins with current medical or scientific definitions of death and then turns to consider the metaphysics of death, various conceptions of death and dying held in different religious traditions, the activities surrounding death and the treatment of the dead, and some of the psychological aspects of death and dying. No prerequisites. CAS-B. Offered annually.

Ethics, Social, and Political Philosophy Courses (CAS-B):

Problems of Moral and Social Values (PHL 131): An introduction to ethical theory and its application to moral issues relating to human conduct, social institutions and political systems.  Fulfills MPF Humanities (IIB) requirement (3 credit hours). Offered every semester.

Society and the Individual (PHL 103): A study of the relationship between human beings and the societies in which they live, and of the implications different perspectives on this relationship have for a view of social justice. Fulfills MPF Humanities (IIB) requirement (3 credit hours).

Theories of Human Nature (PHL 105): What does it mean to be human, and how do changing conceptions of human nature change our views of how we ought to live, of what values we ought to hold, and what we can know? The course considers various conceptions of the person in light of these questions. Fulfills MPF Humanities (IIB) requirement (3 credit hours). Offered every semester.

Science and Culture (PHL 205): A historical introduction to the influence of modern science on Euro-American culture.

With the exception of PHL 205, all of the above courses count towards the Ethics Minor. PHL 131, PHL 360A, and PHL 375 also count towards the Ethics Thematic Sequence.

Logic and Reasoning Courses (CAS-E):

Formal Logic (PHL 273): Survey of elementary logical systems: Aristotelian, Boolean, sentential, quantified. Also fulfills MPF Humanities (IIB) requirement (4 credit hours).

Symbolic Logic (PHL 373): Study of standard notation, principles of inference, formal systems, methods of proof. Chief attention given to first-order predicate logic. Some focus placed on the philosophy of logic.

PHL 263, PHL 273, and PHL 373 count towards the Reasoning Thematic Sequence.