Last Updated: July 30, 2022
Studying Legal Studies in the US
Legal Study is a course that is based on liberal arts and at the same time deals with subjects like law and legality. Students who take up the subject will have to deal with how the law is shaped over time and how it is dependent on economical, sociological, and political factors. At the same time, they will have to understand the cultural influences that created the laws of different times including the present.
Instead of dealing with the maintenance of the present law structure, Legal Studies students deal with the ideological frameworks concerning concepts like individual liberty, autonomy, political equality, social equality, etc. which impact the theories of justice in the legal framework. The perspectives they approach the course from are mostly that of humanist and empirical interests.
Students who take up Legal Studies can often stop at a Bachelor’s degree and not pursue their education further while still receiving good job opportunities. The number of students that took up Legal Studies in the year 2019 was estimated to be 3,185 which shows a 10 percent increase in the number of applicants for the same. The average fee for in-state public tuition for the course is around $8,867 whereas the average out-of-state private tuition fee for the same is around $35,454 according to Data USA.
Benefits of Taking Legal Studies
The benefits of taking a course in Legal Studies lie in the fact that the student will develop skills related to critical thinking along with the art of argumentation and persuasion. Through the course, they will know the use of applying logic and evidence to create persuasive arguments that will aid them both in their personal and public life no matter what profession they choose. Students of Legal Studies will also have to improve their written and verbal communication skills to render these very arguments artfully and justify their point of view. Critical Reading is another skill they will be able to learn which will make them comprehend primary and secondary texts dealing with legal analysis or theories that can help them in their cause.
When compared to studying Law, a Bachelor’s program in Legal Studies will be cost-effective and less time-consuming. Students will also not be dragged into the race for LSAT and procedures for procuring Law school seats that have a relatively low admission rate. Specializing in any field by taking an MA in Legal Studies can provide these candidates with a salary that is almost at par with lawyers in the public sector making these jobs more covetable.
Undergraduate Programs in Legal Studies
Students who enroll in an undergraduate program for Legal Studies will be introduced to the relationship between politics and public law by focusing on topics like how the Constitution structures the relationship between the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the government. They will also be learning about the parts the Constitution and the courts in the country play in maintaining a civil society. But at the core of their study, they will be looking at the internal workings of the legal system and engaging in theoretical reasoning of how there are political interactions between all three structures of the government.
The prerequisites for a BA program in Legal Studies generally involve having knowledge in fields like Philosophy, Statistics, History, and Behavioral Science. Though prior knowledge in Philosophy is not exactly necessary to gain admission in the field, it is beneficial for students to know the basics of concepts like Morality, Social Justice, Limits of Knowledge, Logic, Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Political Theory, etc. The average fee for completing BA in Legal Studies is estimated to be $19,006 for out-of-state students.
Core Courses for BA in Legal Studies
The core courses provided for an undergraduate program in Legal Studies are as follows-
- Theories of Justice
- Theories of Law and Society
- Punishment, Culture, and Society
- Sociology of Law
- Anthropology of Law
- Law, Politics and Society
- American Constitutional Law
- Conflict Resolution
- Criminal Justice
Graduate Programs in Legal Studies
Taking a Master’s degree in Legal Studies often advances the student’s knowledge about the law through a combined method using theory and practice. They will have to learn about legal research along with an understanding of technical writing. During their Master’s, they will be able to concentrate on any field of interest like Criminal Law or Human Rights and work based on this chosen field of interest.
Apart from focusing on their field of interest, they will have to learn general tasks like auditing and report writing along with the art of putting property and contract-related legal procedures under scrutiny. Depending upon the concentration they have specialized in, students will be able to work as paralegals or take up detective jobs.
Core Courses for MA in Legal Studies
The core courses that most universities offer for a graduate program in Legal Studies are-
- Criminal Procedure
- US Law and Legal System
- Intellectual Property Law
- Criminal Law
Concentrations Offered for MA in Legal Studies
Students who have taken up Legal Studies at an undergraduate level often do not pursue a graduate program in the course. But when they do, they will have the option of choosing a particular concentration in the subject based on which they can choose their career after completing the course.
The concentrations that are generally offered are-
- Compliance and Legal Risk Management
- Criminal Law and Policy
- Health Law and Policy
- Environment Law and Policy
- Family and Juvenile Law
- Public Policy
- Intellectual Property
- Indigenous Peoples Law
- Human Rights
- Tax Law and Policy
- Mining Law and Policy
Doctorate Programs in Legal Studies
Candidates who wish to take up teaching jobs under Legal Studies or Law will be able to take a Ph.D. in the subject. This involves taking up coursework and research as part of their studies. The general pattern of the course will be inclusive of 2-3 years of coursework and another year of working on a dissertation that has to be written, presented, and defended to receive their degree. They will be able to narrow down their concentration to a particular field and work intensively on it through their work.
The common concentrations people choose are-
- Ethics and Legal Studies
- Criminology, Law, and Society
- Science of Law
- Anthropology of Law
- Sociological Aspects of Law
Top Universities for Legal Studies
The top universities for studying Legal Studies are-
- Arizona State University-Tempe
Fee- $26,000 (Non-Residents)
- University of California-Berkeley
Fee- $24,003 (Non-Residents)
- St. John’s University-New York
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
Fee- $37,785 (Non-Residents)
- Northwestern University
Career Options after Legal Studies
Candidates who have completed their education in Legal Studies have plenty of opportunities in the job market due to the diverse nature of their education. Students with a Master’s degree in the subject, on the other hand, will be able to take up professions based on their specialization. From being a Legal Assistant to teaching Law in a university, candidates will be able to procure jobs in the fields they prefer as long as they are willing to do certification courses in the field of their choice. The most popular job choices are-
- Lawyer- Most lucrative career option in this field, lawyers need to earn Juris Doctor (JD) degree to be able to practice in this field. They can go on to become magistrates or occupy other higher posts.
Median Salary: $130,000 per year
- Paralegal- Their job description includes assisting lawyers in their different cases by investigating the facts of the case and conducting research on the laws and regulations that have to be applied to the case. They will also need to both draft and summarize reports associated with different cases and help lawyers prepare for trial. In short, their career will range from drafting correspondence to filing legal documents for one case after the other.
Median Salary: $53,000 per year
- Court Reporter- They have to be present at trials, depositions, and other proceedings to transcribe the event. Their workspace will mostly be only courtrooms or legislatures and will require an additional certification course in court reporting.
Median Salary: $61,000 per year
- Law Enforcement Officer- To procure this job candidates will have to move further on from academics and complete on-the-job training which involves physical and personal development through rigorous exercise. The job is full-time, highly demanding and dangerous.
Median Salary: $67,000 per year
- Probation Officer- Their duties involve assessing the progress of parolees and probationers by interviewing them and their relatives. They also have to use their conclusions into determining the best form of rehabilitation for each of them and providing them with job training. Apart from these tasks, the work involves a lot of paperwork in general.
Median Salary: $56,000 per year
- Legal Assistant- They are in charge of conducting legal research and assisting lawyers in the projects they are dealing with. This will also include drafting emails, documents, and other important tasks that can aid lawyers in being more efficient.
Median Salary: $56,000 per year
- Administrative Law Judges- They will be in charge of recommending or making decisions relating to government-related or government-involved matters. They will be able to make the final decisions regarding liabilities, claims, settlements, etc. Some states will require candidates to have a separate law degree apart from the legal studies degree for this career.
Median Salary: $102,500 per year
- Hearing Officer- Their job description includes overseeing legal procedures in courts and applying the law whenever necessary for taking necessary decisions. Most often, candidates will also require a degree in law for this profession.
Median Salary: $129,000 per year
- Legal Administrator/Secretary- They will be in charge of providing administrative assistance to both paralegals and lawyers within a law firm. They will generally deal with paper works and correspondence-related tasks as part of this job.
Median Salary: $48,000 per year