What can you do with a Major in Legal Studies? The simplest answer is, anything you want. At base, Legal Studies is one of many liberal arts disciplines that provides you with the critical thinking, analytical reasoning and writing skills necessary to succeed in a wide variety of career paths. But many students who have chosen to focus their undergraduate careers on the study of politics, law and international relations naturally seek to pursue careers in law, politics, domestic and international non-governmental agencies, and academia not to mention law school. The UMass Undergraduate Advising office maintains a career resources website organized by major to assist students with thinking about the different career possibilities available to them, complete with links to a number of different organizations and job exploration sites.
The focus of Legal Studies is to help students become informed, active, well-rounded, critical thinkers about law and society. Modern society is increasingly dominated by law and legal conciousness and legal literacy is important for many careers.
Legal Studies graduates have found employment in the justice system; as mental health advocates; legislative aides; and teachers; and in other public agencies. Over 20 percent of legal studies graduates go on to law schools. A clear understanding of the rule of law in modern society is increasingly important to any career concerning public issues. Legal Studies is useful preparation for graduate work in such fields as psychology, history, anthropology, natural sciences, journalism, economics or sociology.
One of the most effective routes to any career is to pursue one or more internships in the fields that interest you. Internships can give you firsthand experience in a particular field or type of organization, which can help you make a more informed decision about whether to enter that field on a more permanent basis. Internships can also provide contacts with potential future employers. Visit our internship page to get more information.
Career Services Office
The best source for career advice at UMass – the nuts and bolts tips on resume and cover letter preparation, interviewing skills, job searches and job fairs, is the Career Services Office, located in 511 Goodell. The career advisors there have walk-in hours several days a week, and are also available by appointment. The Career Services website is full of online assistance as well, from career exploration to sample resumes. Don’t wait until you’re a senior to peruse their website and sit down with a Career Counselor – it’s time well spent, earlier in your college career.
Graduate and Professional School
For those students contemplating graduate or law school, the Department offers a number of advising resources. Faculty members should be your primary source of information and advice regarding graduate programs in Political Science and Public Policy. Our faculty have personal experience – through their own graduate school experience, or as professors – with the graduate Political Science programs at dozens of universities across the country. Check out the faculty directoryto determine which professors might be the most helpful to you in your search for a program that’s a good match, and in the application process.
If you’re contemplating a career in law, you should check out the wealth of information available on the Pre-Law Advising website, and meet with the Pre-Law Advisor (a former lawyer who is also a faculty member in the Political Science Department).
Regardless of which career paths you are contemplating, UMass Political Science alumni are often one of your best resources. Alums can share with you the paths they took from UMass to the careers they are currently in. Political Science alumni frequently visit campus to speak with current students and faculty – check out the Calendar of Events for upcoming visits. You can also peruse our growing list of alumni profiles, and look for our alumni directory coming soon.