The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Exploring or Declaring a Legal Studies Major

There are no minimum required pre-requisites or cumulative GPA for the Legal Studies major, and we'll be glad to assist you in declaring or gathering information on our major.

Students majoring in Legal Studies are exposed to a wide array of courses that focus on the interrelationship between law, politics, and society in American, foreign, and international contexts. Our faculty are some of the best teachers and researchers in the nation and are experts on areas like human trafficking, judicial decision making, immigration, legal policymaking, alternative dispute resolution, the right to privacy, transitional justice, and many others. Because the Legal Studies major hones students’ critical thinking, conflict resolution, and oral and written communication skills, Legal Studies majors are well-trained for a wide array of careers. While some of our students attend law school, Legal Studies alumni also go into careers in mediation, court administration, law enforcement, government, public interest, business, and, education, and many students attend graduate school in a variety of social science and humanities fields.

To declare a Legal Studies major come to our peer drop-in hours during Spring 2022:

  • Mondays 10 am – 12 pm & 2 – 3 pm
  • Tuesdays 10 – 11 am & 12 – 2 pm
  • Wednesdays 12 – 2 pm & 3 – 4 pm
  • Thursdays 11 am – 1 pm & 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Major Requirements UMass Entry Fall 2018 or Later

Admissions to the major is open to all. A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 is required for graduation as a Legal Studies major and overall. Legal Studies requires its majors to complete a minimum of 37 credits. No courses used for the major may be taken on a pass/fail basis.

Legal Studies is part of the New England Regional Student Program (NERSP), which means students from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine with Legal Studies as their primary major may be eligible for a tuition reduction. Starting academic year 2012-2013, only sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible for this tuition break. For more information, contact the Registrar's Office.


  1. Legal Studies 250, Introduction to Legal Studies (4 credits): This is a prerequisite for most Legal Studies courses.
  2. Seven Legal Studies courses (200-400 level), including one IE class: Note that 250, 296, 298, 396, 398, 450, 496, and 498-499 may not be used toward your upper-level requirement.  Practicum and Independent Study courses may not be used toward major requirements, nor can courses be used that are taken pass-fail. 
  3. Legal Studies 450, Legal Research and Writing (Junior Year Writing; 3 credits)
  4. Law-Related Liberal Arts courses - 3 courses taken outside of the department (9 to 12 credits). These classes are on a list prepared by the department (see Course Lists). Only one of the three courses may be at the 100 level. Note that business law, HRTA law, Sports Law and applied legal training are specifically excluded from this list because they are not liberal arts courses.​
  5. Global Law & Society requirement (3 courses or 9 - 12 credits) choosing one of the paths listed below. Coursework in this area can overlap with work completed above. The Global Law & Society List is available on our departmental website (see Course Lists).
    1. Option One: Three courses from the Global Law & Society list (two must be Legal courses, only one can be at the 100-level).
    2. Option Two: Two courses study abroad and one class from the Global Law & Society list.
    3. Option Three: Two foreign language courses and one class from the Global Law & Society list.