Major: Legal Studies

What colleges offer a Major in Legal Studies?

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush signed the Patriot Act. This law made it easier for the government to guard against terrorist activity by allowing such tactics as search without notice. But many believe that the law endangers the civil rights of Americans and immigrants.

Do you think it makes sense to trade in some civil rights for greater protection against terrorism? Do you believe that the government's greater access to our private lives will make us safer? If you major in legal studies, you'll get a chance to examine all perspectives on important matters like these.

This major focuses on law and legal issues from the perspectives of the social sciences and humanities.

Did You Know?

Legal studies is a good prelaw major, though it doesn't increase your chances of getting into top law schools.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Consider studying abroad
  • Join your school's legal studies association
  • Write a lot of papers and possibly a senior thesis
  • Analyze actual court cases
  • Engage in intense discussion of thorny legal problems
  • Shape your own curriculum by choosing many electives from a wide range of courses

It Helps To Be...

Fascinated by the relationship between law and society. You'll enjoy this major if you love learning about social, political, philosophical, and historical issues. Finally, you'll do well if you love to read and write.

College Checklist

  • Does the school have a legal studies department or does the major consist of courses taught in other departments such as political science?
  • Does the school offer prelaw advising for students considering law school?
  • Will you have the chance to complete a senior thesis?
  • What are recent grads doing now?

Did You Know?

During the colonial period in parts of North America, prison was meant to be a penitentiary, a place where prisoners spent time alone with the Bible, doing penance.

Course Spotlight

In a course on legal research and writing, you'll learn how to read and understand court rulings and how to use legal resources such as digests (summaries of cases) and computer databases. In addition to a research paper, you might draft letters, memoranda, and legal briefs. You might even compose an op-ed piece to send to your local newspaper.

The skills and know-how you pick up will serve you whether you go on to graduate school or enter the work force upon graduation.