Legal Studies

When many students begin college they are often unaware of different majors and study options their schools may offer. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that there is always room for exploring different majors or minors. For example, you may enter and enroll into a potential class designated to a specific major. While at the same time taking another subject and realize that what you had initially planned out may not be that route you’d like to take.

Choosing a Major?

Although some students tend to know what they want to study when they begin college, some may not know and some end up switching majors. A good idea is to take classes that seem interesting to you. After taking a several different classes, decide what majors catch your attention the most. Ultimately, you will know which major is correct for you, when you find yourself enjoying the readings, classes, and overall material.

Example of Major: Legal Studies

What is Legal Studies?

The Legal Studies major focuses on law and legal issues throughout history and present time. This department is under the field of social science and humanities. Though some universities and colleges offer prelaw as a major, some do not. For example UC Santa Cruz does not. In this case, legal studies would be a good similar to prelaw. Legal Studies tends to focus more on the aspects of law, legal cases and court rulings. Rather than the politics major that is focused on studying the power in global society. Within this major you will find yourself reading and writing on a daily basis and learn to read and analyze arguments critically.

The coursed tend to deal with various topics such as “International law”, “Law of Democracy”, “Congress, Courts, and President in the Americas”, “Constitutional Law” etc. These coursed are intended to provide the students a better understanding of how the law works along with policies and structures of the way law is applied. The major is based on understanding law, but it is important to note that it is not designed to prepare students for law school. However students interested in law school do tend to choose Legal Studies as a major.

Legal Studies in different Campuses

Another note to keep in mind is that not all colleges will offer this major. Each school has a different curriculum and requirements, so it is important to do your research. Schools that offer legal studies majors are:

UC Berkeley:

Within this university it required for students to have a 2.0 overall UC GPA as well as in the prerequisites. Students must take their major courses (upper division) and prerequisites for a letter grade. In order to declare the major at UC Berkeley students must complete two of four prerequisites that include: Statistics, Philosophy, History, and Social/Behavior Sciences. Along with completing the prerequisites, students must also submit a major application throughout the year, except the first and last 2 weeks of Fall and Spring semester. The application process also requires an informal essay that describes yourself and your interest in Legal Studies.

UC Santa Cruz:

For this university, in order to declare the major, students must complete the introductory course with a grade of C or better and attend a declaration workshop. Upon completing the two-step process, students are required to take two lower divisions (prerequisites), six core courses , and one Comprehensive course.


            UC Santa Cruz offers students the opportunity to take a quarter in Washington D.C., this program allows students to do both school and internships in the nation’s capital. The program however is only open to juniors and seniors. It requires an application process that is based on academic record, a written statement, letters of recommendation and perhaps an interview.

Upon getting accepted, students give their top 3-4 choices of internships and are then kept in contact with a staff representative in Washington that will assist on the placement decision. Students get the opportunity to intern in a Washington organization with an emphasis of the students interest of study. Some of the internship locations include: The White House, Department of Justice, or United Nations. Along with the internship, students are required to take two courses: and internship seminar and elective of the student’s choice.

Why Legal Studies:

            As previously mentioned Legal Studies is not a preparation of law school but it does offers concentration on the aspects of law. This major is for students who are interested the ways that the law works within global society. This major prepares students for different fields of work such as public policy, governmental jobs, social work, and law.


The income of someone with a Legal Studies degree does vary depending on what job one decides to seek after. However an average income with this degree as a paralegal is around $37,000 a year. Someone who continues on to graduate school or law school may earn up to $79, 860. Most of the income will vary depending on the type of degree earned, different attorney positions, or paralegal status.

Fields within Legal Studies.          

            Legal Studies not only offers students the understanding of law but it also prepares them for public speaking, debating, and working with different types of people. Many of the students tend to go into law school, however there are different routes that people can take with this major. Some students also like to continue onto grad school with a different emphasizes but still have it connect with Legal Studies. Other careers that students may choose, but are not limited to, are: governmental jobs, judges, paralegals, social worker, criminal justice, public administration. Overall Legal Studies prepare students not just to learn law, but how to apply it in different scenarios or jobs. It opens the door for many possibilities and opportunities that do not necessarily require law school.

Average Tuition/Grad School

The cost of college tuition for Legal Studies major will also vary depending on the school of attendance. For UC Santa Cruz the estimated cost is $13,3980 per year and for UC Berkeley the estimated cost is $11, 220 per year.

If you wish to continue onto grad school or law school that also may vary. UC Berkeley does offer the opportunity of attend their School of Law program, the average tuition is also $11, 220 per year. Other law schools include: UCLA Law School, Stanford Law School, UC Hastings Law School and Loyola Law School.

If you wish to continue your studies with a graduate program you must first decide what exact program interest you. Having a Legal Studies major allows you to branch out to any other humanities or social sciences studies. For example, you could branch out and go into grad school for social work, education, and even psychology. The cost for this route again depends on what program you wish to persue or what school you wish to attend.


Overall having a Legal Studies major allows you to have an understanding of the ways laws are applied and used within a political system. It allows teaches students how to put some of these laws into practice, however it does not prepare you for law school. Having a B.A. as a Legal Studies major give you the opportunity to work in governmental jobs or other community related jobs such as law enforcement, social work, and education. Legal Studies does not just teach students the ways laws were created, but the major also teach students how to apply critical and analytical thinking in real life situations.