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Philosophy and Religion

Pre-Law + Law, Liberty and Justice Emphasis

Why choose Philosophy for Pre-Law?

1. Philosophy is fun and challenging. 

Students of philosophy think about fundamental questions, such as: Do we have free will? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is a person? Is our universe real? How should we live? What do we owe others? According to the Association of American Law Schools, a pre-law student ought "to acquire a college education that will last a lifetime.” That is exactly what philosophy offers.

2. Philosophy fosters fine-tuned reasoning, analytical, and writing skills.

Philosophy stimulates deep thought. In studying philosophy, one develops a skill set that is crucial crucial for doing well in law school and succeeding as a lawyer or judge. These skills include: the capacity to reason carefully, independently, and critically, the capacity to think for oneself, the ability to express one’s thoughts with clarity and force in oral and written form. Philosophy also helps to develop insight into the institutions and values with which law deals, as well as about the cultural heritage of Western societies, including their moral, philosophical, and legal foundations. 

3. Philosophy majors outperform all other humanities majors on the LSAT.

Philosophy majors also outperform all other majors on the GRE. On the LSAT, they are tied with economics majors and only second after physics/math majors.

LLJ Emphasis Area Requirements

The Law, Liberty, and Justice emphasis area is designed for students interested in going to law school and students interested in social/political philosophy and social justice issues (though the regular philosophy majors is also a very good choice for pre-law students). The LLJ major combines specific Philosophy courses with selected social science courses.

For catalog years 2022-2023 and following

Philosophy majors (including those on the LLJ track) must meet the requirements of the School of Humanities, South Carolina REACH Act requirements, complete HIST 1720 and HIST 1730, and take 12 hours of 3000-4000-level coursework in one of the following areas: humanities (other than philosophy), math, science, or social science. In addition, the LLJ emphasis area requirements are as follows: 

  • PHIL 1000 - Introduction to the Philosophy Major 
  • PHIL 1040 - Introduction to Law, Liberty, and Justice 
  • PHIL 3150 - Ancient Philosophy or PHIL 3160 - Modern Philosophy 
  • PHIL 3430 - Philosophy of Law 
  • PHIL 4500 - Senior Seminar 
  • One course selected from CHIN 3120, CHIN 3130, CHIN 4140, PHIL 3050, PHIL 3120, PHIL 3130, PHIL 3150, PHIL 3160, PHIL 3170, PHIL 3180, or PHIL 4140.
  • One course selected from PHIL 3040, PHIL 3200, PHIL 3260, PHIL 3400, PHIL 3440, PHIL 3450, PHIL 3460, PHIL 3470, or PHIL 3480.
  • One course selected from PHIL 3200, PHIL 3210, PHIL 3700, or PHIL 4220. An alternative course in social or political theory may be substituted with approval of the Philosophy advisor. A course substitution form must be submitted if an alternative course is approved to satisfy this requirement.
  • Twelve additional credits from PHIL courses, six of which may be at the 1000 level.

Students with this emphasis area are also strongly encouraged to take POSC 4370 and/or 4380 as an elective, minor, or advanced area requirement. 

For catalog year 2021-2022

Philosophy majors (including those on the LLJ track) must meet the requirements of the Schoo of Humanities, complete HIST 1720 and HIST 1730, and take 12 hours of 3000-4000-level coursework in one of the following areas: humanities (other than philosophy), math, science, or science. In addition, the LLJ emphasis area requirements are as follows:

  • PHIL 1020 - Introduction to Logic 
  • PHIL 3150 - Ancient Philosophy 
  • PHIL 3160 - Modern Philosophy 
  • PHIL 3040 - Moral Philosophy  or PHIL 3200 - Social and Political Philosophy or PHIL 3210 - Crime and Punishment 
  • PHIL 3430 - Philosophy of Law 
  • PHIL 4010 - Studies in the History of Philosophy or PHIL 4020 - Topics in Philosophy  
  • HIST 3280 - United States Legal History to 1890 (or appropriate substitute)
  • HIST 3290 - United States Legal History Since 1890 (or appropriate substitute)
  • Nine additional credits from PHIL courses, CHIN 3120, CHIN 3130, or WS 3490, three of which may be at the 1000 level. 

Students with this emphasis area are also strongly encouraged to take POSC 4370 and/or 4380 as an elective, minor, or advanced area requirement. 

For more information on School of Humanities, REACH Act, or general education requirements, students should consult the Clemson University Catalog for their catalog year.

Alumni Profile: Sylvia Wu ('21)


Sylvia entered Clemson as a Philosophy major and a National Scholar and later added a major in Math and a minor in Psychology. While she was at Clemson, she was a member of the Ethics Bowl team which took third place in the national championships in 2019. Sylvia entered Harvard Law School in 2023, after working at a think tank in Oakland, CA. 

Sylvia says: "I always had a vague idea of eventually going to law school, but my choice ultimately came about after I had been working for a year. Working in a legal-adjacent industry expanded my understanding of the law as well as my interest in it. Through philosophy, I had an appreciation for complex logical arguments. However, having to marry those arguments with other types of arguments and a complicated fact pattern is what really intrigued me."

Pre-Law Internships

The Law, Liberty, and Justice Program offers service learning internships, to provide students with an opportunity to integrate academic studies, meaningful community service, and career experience. These internships are offered only to students in the Philosophy Major. There are three summer internships: for each, the Department will select one student, on a competitive basis. In addition, LLJ has agreements with three other state agencies--South Carolina Legal Services, the Guardian ad Litem Program, and the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice--which you may contact at any point during the year to inquire into their need for student-interns. Cary Berkeley Kaye is the Pre-Law Liaison and Internship Advisor.

Internship Portfolio (PHIL 4900)

Students can earn credit for their internship by registering for PHIL 4900. They can learn up to 3 credit hours per internship, and a maximum total of 6 credits. For a 3 credit internship, students work 120 hours or more. They work 80 hours for 2 credits and 40 hours for 1 credit.  Exact hours will be arranged with the internship sponsor. 

Interns are responsible for sending a weekly log of hours and activities (1 page per log week) to the Internship Advisor, Cary Berkeley Kaye.

In addition, interns are to complete an Internship Portfolio, which consists of the following:

  1. A cover sheet with the student name, title and dates of the internship, and picture of the student in "intern mode" (e.g., in front of the Court or with a judge)
  2. A page describing the agency and the internship
  3. A personal statement of interest for graduate school applications which includes a reflection on how the internship shaped the student’s career goals (2 double-spaced pages)
  4. A week by week breakdown (1 page)
  5. Photos
  6. Copies of the weekly logs
  7. A philosophical paper on a topic raised during the internship (to be selected with the Internship Advisor).  The paper should be around: 1,000 words for 1 credit, 2,000 words for 2, and 3,000 words for 3 credits.
  8. Optional: Appendix with additional documents.

Summer Pre-Law Internship Opportunities

The South Carolina Supreme Court (Columbia, SC)

  • Full-time, 8 week summer internship at the Supreme Court of South Carolina in Columbia.
  • Stipend
  • The successful applicant must be willing to live in Columbia, SC, over the summer. The Department will do its utmost to help the successful applicant finding housing, but this is ultimately the student’s responsibility.
  • The intern must have an adequate means of transportation.
  • The intern will work with a wide variety of offices collected under the umbrella of the Supreme Court. 

Last year’s intern got to sit in on court proceedings at the state and federal level, work with pro bono and pro se legal cases, see the legislature in session, work with the SC Bar Association and more. Together with Betsy Goodale (managing lawyer for the SC Supreme Court) we will design an exciting internship experience tailored to your interests.

Congress (Washington, DC)

  • Full-time, 7 week summer internship working on Capitol Hill with the staff of Congressman Trey Gowdy, who represents the 4th District of South Carolina.
  • Stipend
  • The successful applicant must be willing to live in Washington, DC, over the summer. The Department will do its utmost to help the successful applicant finding housing, but this is ultimately the student’s responsibility.
  • The intern will take part in a variety of in-office and out-of-office assignments, working on a summer long research project related to one of the Congressman’s Committees, keeping a photo journal of his or her discovery of the nation's capital’s rich history, interviewing lobbyists, ambassadors, and journalists. 

The 13th Judicial Circuit (Greenville, SC)

  • Full-time summer internship at the Office of the Solicitor W. Walter Wilkins, 13th Judicial Circuit, which includes Greenville and Pickens counties.
  • Flexible length: 4-8 weeks, to be determined with the internship sponsor, Marcia Barker.
  • Unpaid internship.
  • The intern will work at the 13th Judicial Circuit, under Solicitor Walter Wilkins, and discover how the administration of justice actually operates. 

Last year’s intern observed many different areas of court, including criminal trials, plea court, bond hearings, family court, as well as civil trials. Working with Marcia Barker, spokeswoman for the Solicitor’s Office, this internship allows an in-depth look into the entire process of prosecuting criminals in South Carolina.

The Sixth Circuit Public Defender's Office (Lancaster, Chester, Fairfield counties)
  • Full-time summer internship at the Sixth Circuit Public Defender's Office
  • Flexible length: 4 to 8 weeks to be determined by needs of student and coordination with Circuit Public Defender Michael H. Lifsey.
  • Unpaid internship.

The Sixth Circuit Public Defender's Office is responsible for the representation of indigent adults and juveniles charged with violations of the law in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Offices are maintained in the county courthouses of Lancaster, Chester, and Fairfield counties. Interns would be assigned primarily to one of those county offices and will assist and observe the attorneys in their duties. This would include attendance at court hearings, interviews with clients and witnesses, preparation of case files, and investigation of cases. Goals will be to become familiar with the operations of a public defender office in a small, underfunded, rural county in the south and to gain an awareness of the issues people in poverty experience as they interact with the criminal justice system. For more information on this internship, contact Michael H. Lifsey (

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Philosophy major (any track)
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA at the time of application.
  • Students must be willing and able to pass a background check if the internship sponsor requires it.
  • Junior status (60 credit hours successfully completed) at the time of internship placement or consent of the Director of the Law, Liberty, and Justice Program.

These internships are full-time, which means that the selected student may not take summer courses or engage in other paid or unpaid work during the tenure of the internship.

Other Internship Opportunities

Students are encouraged to find other internships on their own, whether in South Carolina or elsewhere in the country. The Internship Advisor will do everything she can to help your in this endeavor. 

The Law, Liberty, and Justice Program already has agreements with the following agencies--check them out!

The South Carolina Legal Services 

The Law, Liberty, and Justice Program has strong ties with the South Carolina Legal Services, which provides free legal services in a wide variety of civil (non-criminal) legal matters to eligible low income residents of South Carolina.  

SCLS has a number of offices across the state, including one at Clemson University.  Contact Susan Ingles (at <>) for information about current or upcoming internships.

The Guardian ad Litem Program

If you are over 21 years old, you should consider volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem. GAL volunteers help the voices of abused and neglected children be heard. They get to know the child and everyone involved in the child’s life, including family, teachers, doctors, social workers and others, so as to gather information about the child and what the child needs.  They then make recommendations to the court to help the judge make an informed decision about the child’s future.  

Volunteering as a GAL is a great way to make a difference in someone's life while building a strong application dossier for your future career.

Check the link above on how to become a volunteer.

The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice

DJJ is the state agency responsible for providing rehabilitation and custodial care for the state’s juveniles who are on probation, incarcerated, or on parole for a criminal or status offense. The mission of the agency is to protect the public and reclaim juveniles through prevention, community programs, education and rehabilitative services in the least restrictive environment.  

Prospective interns can learn about all the SCDJJ volunteer opportunities here (scroll down for information about college students' internships).  If you are interested in serving as an intern or volunteering in any other capacity, download and fill out the application form and DDS consent form at the bottom of the page. Applicants will need to send their forms to Ms. Kirsten Abderhalden, Oconee County Director, and schedule an interview which may be conducted over the phone or in person.  It takes about 4 weeks for the application to be processed and approved from that point.  Interns will receive a badge that they must wear at all times while in the office or out in the field.  For more information, you may contact Ms. Abderhalden (

Other Resources

Browse the internet to look for non-profit organizations and other institutes that might use the help of an intern and be right for you!  Wherever you are, there are municipal courts or public defenders' offices that might take in interns.  

In South Carolina, check out:

The South Carolina Appleseed Justice Center

The Center for Heirs Property Preservation

Moot Court Team

The department has established a moot court team to compete in events held by the American Moot Court Association. Moot court is a mock appellate argument of the type held before the Supreme Court of the United States and the federal and state courts of appeals. For more information, contact Cary Berkeley Kaye, Lecturer in Philosophy.

Department of Philosophy and Religion
Department of Philosophy and Religion | 126D Hardin Hall, Clemson, SC 29634