Pre-Law at St. Mary’s University

The Pre-Law Program at St. Mary’s University provides undergraduate students with numerous resources and tools to help them be successful in law school and law-related careers. The Pre-Law Program is open to undergraduate students from any major.

Pre-Law Advising

Pre-law Advising provides undergraduate students at St. Mary’s University with information and opportunities to enhance their chances for admission to law school and prepare them for successful legal careers.

Pre-law advising includes:

  • Dedicated pre-law advisor who will help with the selection of courses to better prepare students for academic success in law school
  • Online suite of resources that provides vital information
  • Access to regular information sessions on law schools and law-related careers
  • LSAT preparation course at steeply discounted rates
  • Opportunities to participate in moot court and mock trial competitions
  • Guidance on the early admission program to St. Mary’s Law School (the Nelson Wolff Law Early Admissions Program) and the St. Mary’s Law Guaranteed Admissions Program
  • Assistance with the law school application process, including letters of recommendation and personal statements
  • Opportunities to visit law schools and participate in law school forums

Nelson Wolff Law Early Admissions Program

The Nelson Wolff Law Early Admission Program offers motivated, talented undergraduate students who plan to attend law school the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in less time. The program allows qualified St. Mary’s undergraduate students in most degree programs to begin law school after completing 91 undergraduate hours, reducing the time it takes to complete both degrees by one year.

What are the benefits of the Early Admissions Program?

The program allows qualified St. Mary’s undergraduate students in all degree programs (as of Fall 2020), with some exceptions, to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in less time. Students who complete the first year of law school will apply those credit hours to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree and can continue to earn a law degree with two additional years (61 credit hours) of study in the law school.

What are the eligibility requirements for the program?

1) a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or better; 2) earn at least a 154 on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and 3) complete a minimum of 91 or more hours, (including the requirements for the major and the St. Mary’s Core) BEFORE starting law classes (Note: 45 hours must be undergraduate classes at St. Mary’s in order to meet residency requirements).

Where do I sign up if I am interested in the Early Admissions Program?

At the present time, students do not “sign up” for the program. Instead, students must meet with their faculty adviser and/or academic advisor for their major to devise a degree plan, and to determine if completing the requirements for their degree is feasible within three years. All students are also required to notify the Pre-Law Adviser in the semester when they apply to the St. Mary’s law school via e-mail. 

When should I decide to participate in the Early Admissions Program?

It is advisable that students decide as early as possible in their academic career at St. Mary’s, preferably before or by the time a student has completed 30 hours at St. Mary’s. An early decision is important in order for the student to stay on track in completing their requirements for the major and the St. Mary’s Core.

When should I consider applying to the Early Admissions Program?

Eligible St. Mary’s students should apply to St. Mary’s law school in the semester prior to or during when they anticipate completing all major and St. Mary’s Core requirements.

If I plan to apply to the Early Admissions Program, when should I take the LSAT?

It is advisable that the student take the LSAT prior to the last semester when they complete the 91 hours or more to complete their major and St. Mary’s Core requirements.

What if I decide to retake the LSAT?

If an applicant takes the LSAT more than one time, the LSAT score used for the Early Admission purposes shall be an average of all LSAT scores received by the applicant.

If I meet the criteria and make a timely application to the St. Mary’s Law, are there any other admission criteria I should be aware of

Please consult the law school admissions page for more details about the St. Mary’s Law School admission procedures and requirements, including the character and fitness requirements for admission to the bar of the State of Texas. 

How does applying for the Early Admissions Program affect my financial aid?

Students will need to re-apply for financial aid to account for law school tuition costs.

What if I do not qualify for the early admissions program?

Students may continue the regular course of study for their undergraduate degree and can apply to the School of Law. They may be admitted through the regular admissions or eligible for the St. Mary’s Guaranteed Admissions Program.

What if I decide that I am not going to apply to law school through the Early Admissions Program?

Eligible students can apply when they graduate and be admitted through the regular admissions or the St. Mary’s Guaranteed Admissions Program.

What if I decide not to finish the first year at law school of the Early Admissions Program?

In the event that the student does not successfully complete at least one year of law school, any law school credit hours earned will be applied to the remaining hours needed to obtain the bachelor’s degree.


Guaranteed Admissions Program

St. Mary’s undergraduate students who graduate with a specified GPA, earn a minimum of 151 on the LSAT exam and would be eligible for admission to the Bar in the State of Texas, are guaranteed admission to the St. Mary’s School of Law.

The LSAT Preparation Class

The LSAT preparation class (HU3000) is a 10-week intensive virtual course that is offered every fall semester. The course is open to all majors. It is designed to prepare students who plan to take the LSAT (the standardized test required for admissions into law schools) in the same fall semester or in early spring.

While the course is open to students of all levels, it is highly recommended for juniors and seniors planning to apply to law school.

What are the benefits of taking the LSAT course at St. Mary’s?

The main benefit of taking the course is that it meets regularly, typically once or twice a week, and provides students with a more structured approach to preparing for the LSAT. Note: since 2020, the course is only offered virtually.

Is this course like other courses offered at St. Mary’s?

No, this is an intensive course, typically 10-weeks-long, that meets once or twice during weekdays in the evenings for two to three hours. It is offered ONLY in the fall semester. The start and end date for the course is subject to change every fall. It is designed to prepare students who want to take the LSAT in that same fall semester, typically in November or early spring in January or February.

Can students other than St. Mary’s students take the course?

The course is offered only to students attending (or matriculated) at St. Mary’s.

Who teaches the course?

The course is offered and taught by an instructor(s) from Kaplan (a reputable organization on test preparation). Kaplan provides its own platform for the course.

The pre-law adviser is the Instructor on Record, a professor from St. Mary’s. This is not a Canvas course, although the Instructor on Record will create a Canvas platform to post the syllabus and for communication purposes. An orientation is typically provided before the class starts by the Instructor on Record.

Will I receive course credit?

The course is offered as an HU (Humanities course) but students will not receive course credit hours towards their major, the Core or as an elective.

Will I receive a grade for the course?

Students receive a PASS/NO PASS for the course.

Will the course appear on my transcript?

Yes, once students have completed the course, it will appear on their transcript.

What can I expect from the course?

Students will initially take a diagnostic test (a pre-test) to assess strengths and weaknesses. Period tests will be administered to measure students’ improvement. The Kaplan instructor will introduce students to the types of questions one can expect on the LSAT, provide strategies and exercises, and cover various aspects of the LSAT test.

Can I expect to see improvement in my LSAT score if I take the course?

Yes, students indicate an improvement in their LSAT scores.

When should I take the course?

Students should plan to take the course before or in the year they plan to take the LSAT. Typically, students will take the course in the fall semester if they plan to apply to law school for the following year.

What is the fee for the course?

Typically the cost ranges from $800-$1,050 and is subject to change every year. The cost is set by Kaplan.

What does the fee include?

The fee includes the books/manuals and access to online materials by Kaplan.

Can I get a refund on the course?

The student must drop the course before the first day of class to not be charged the course fee. Once the student receives the course materials on the first day of class, the course fee will be non-refundable.

If I don’t complete the course, can I be reimbursed?

No, the course is non-refundable.

Does my financial aid cover the fee?

Students must check with the Financial Office to inquire about financial aid (including aid covered by scholarships, the military, etc). Typically, financial aid does not cover the fee. Students must make arrangements with the Bursar’s Office to pay for the fee when the student registers for the course.

If I want to register for the course, who do I contact?

Students must contact the Pre-Law Adviser (the Instructor or Record), to get instructor approval.

Where do I register for the LSAT? Where do I find more information regarding LSAT, such as test dates?

Students must visit the LSAC website to create an account.


St. Mary’s Mock Trial Undergraduate Student Organization

Pre-law students from all majors prepare and compete in simulated trials with fictional cases. The organization and competition foster the development of skills and knowledge required for careers in the legal profession, including critical thinking and oral communication. Students have the opportunity to present cases in front of attorneys and judges who evaluate students’ performance and provide feedback.

For more information, contact Faculty Adviser Leona Pallansch, Ph.D., at

Internship and Career Opportunities

While many undergraduate students plan to attend law school to become a lawyer, there are many other law-related career options that may or may not require a juris doctorate (J.D.).

Some examples include:

  • Paralegals and legal assistants
  • Mediators
  • Compliance specialist
  • Lobbyist
  • Court reporter
  • Human resource officer
  • Policy analyst
  • Private or public investigator
  • Legal technology support specialist
  • Contract administrator

Pre-law students are encouraged to participate in internships that allow them to explore career options before attending law school.

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