Law is a professional degree program and is not offered as an undergraduate major, but students applying to Iowa may declare a pre-law designation on their application to receive specialized advising and preparatory course work as undergraduates. This designation means you eventually intend to apply to a law school.

Why Study at Iowa

The University of Iowa College of Law has a reputation for excellence. U.S.News & World Report consistently ranks the college in the top 10 public law schools.

The college was the first public law school established west of the Mississippi River when founded in 1865. It also was a founding member of the Association of American Law Schools. Graduates and faculty include:

  • Many distinguished members of the federal, state, and tribal judiciaries
  • One of the first women to graduate from law school
  • One of the first African Americans to graduate from law school
  • The first U.S. attorney of Native American ancestry

The college offers a broad and diverse curriculum with particular strengths in public law, international and comparative law, antitrust and economic regulation, intellectual property, and corporate law. Iowa's emphasis on legal writing throughout all three years of study is recognized nationally. 

Students gain a solid foundation for a lifetime of professional growth, including a thorough familiarity with legal principles and the operation of legal institutions, fundamental lawyers’ skills (particularly writing), and an appreciation of the roles of law and lawyers in society.

The college cultivates student participation in the learning process and creates regular opportunities for individuals and small groups to engage challenging teachers genuinely interested in each student’s professional development.

Course Work

The College of Law considers applicants with any undergraduate major. If you declare a pre-law designation as an undergraduate student, you will work with a pre-law adviser at the Academic Advising Center.

Iowa strongly endorses three educational objectives that are recommended by a committee of the Association of American Law Schools:

  • Comprehension and expression in words
  • A critical understanding of the human institutions and values with which the law deals
  • Greater power in thinking

While planning your undergraduate study, keep these objectives in mind. Don’t sacrifice a broad perspective in order to pursue detailed specialization right now.

Once admitted to the JD program, first-year students take a defined curriculum in the fundamental workings of the law and legal principles. In years two and three, students are exposed to a broad array of substantive areas of the law, along with a heavy dose of professional skills training in fact gathering, interviewing, counseling, drafting, transaction planning, negotiation, and litigation. They also concentrate course work on writing and research opportunities in their particular areas of interest. Students also have many opportunities to develop and practice leadership skills.

Review College of Law in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the JD and LLM degrees and for detailed information about admission to the College of Law.

Admission Requirements

Before beginning law school, you must complete all of the requirements for your undergraduate degree. Review our Areas of Study to see the admission requirements associated with your undergraduate degree program.

Admission to the College of Law is competitive, and fulfilling the basic admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance. Multiple admission criteria are used to determine which applicants’ admission will best advance the College of Law’s mission. Your undergraduate academic record and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) performance are two important criteria.

In the College of Law's most recent entering class, the median Grade-Point Average (GPA) was 3.64 and the median LSAT score was 162. The college recognizes that GPA and test scores may not provide a complete assessment of an applicant’s ability to succeed at studying law, so the admission committee also considers factors such as special academic or professional abilities, extracurricular activities, law-related employment experience, public service commitment, and leadership roles.

New Combined Degree Program

A new initiative from the UI College of Law, the 3+3 Program, will allow undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to earn their bachelor's and law degrees in six years, saving a year of tuition and other costs.

Students apply to the UI law school at the start of their junior year and, if they are accepted, begin attending law school during what would have been their senior year. The credits earned during the first year of law school also will apply to their undergraduate degree.

For more information about the 3+3 Program, contact the College of Law Admissions Office (319/335-9095) or visit

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

First-year students interested in pre-law may want to consider the LEX: Legal Exploration Living-Learning Community in the UI residence halls.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The college is housed in the Boyd Law Building, high above the western bank of the Iowa River. Small seminar rooms, a newly renovated clinic suite, and special-purpose learning areas are situated throughout the building, allowing students and faculty members to work together in close professional interaction. The largest classroom seats only 100 people. The student lounge, faculty lounge, and faculty offices are located on the same floor, encouraging interaction between students and faculty members.

The University of Iowa Law Library offers an exceptional legal research collection of print and electronic resources relating to U.S. domestic, international, foreign, and comparative law. One of the most comprehensive collections of legal materials in the country, it contains more than 1.3 million bound volumes and microform equivalents and over 1 million separately cataloged titles as of July 2012.

Particular strengths of the library's collection include U.S. legal materials and government documents, Iowa government documents, legal materials of Great Britain and the present and former British Commonwealth nations, and the laws of Germany, France, and Mexico.


College of Law graduates build meaningful and significant lives by integrating rigorous legal training with rich professional and civic engagement. Overall, about half of the college’s living alumni work in private practice, while others use their law degrees to work in the judiciary or in health care, public policy and government, business, and education.

The college works with each student who is seeking employment. Individual and small-group counseling is available from the career services staff as well as from alumni. Each year about 92 percent of law graduates are employed nine months after graduation, and bar exam passage rates typically exceed 90 percent.

Employers view College of Law students and alumni as high-quality, hard-working, and engaged employees. Each year, nearly 150 employers recruit students through on-campus and consortium-based interview programs. In addition, students create successful paths in judicial clerkships, government, public service, business, and education by networking with alumni and pursuing meaningful work during their first and second summers in law school.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

The college to which you should apply for your undergraduate degree will vary depending on your major. Review the Areas of Study to determine the application process associated with that major. Indicate your "Pre-Law" interest on your application to receive specialized advising.


Preprofessional Program(s)
Preparatory Course Work for JD or LLM Applicants
Competitive Admission
to the JD or LLM program