University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance



Legal Studies 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.

Legal Studies is part of the New England Regional Student Program (NERSP). Through this program, undergraduate students from the six New England states who are enrolled in Legal Studies as their primary major may be eligible for a tuition reduction.

Major Requirements

These requirements are for students entering UMass Fall 2018 or later. For information prior to Fall 2018, please contact an advisor.

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.

Introductory Requirement
Legal Studies 250 - Introduction to Legal Studies (4 credits) is a prerequisite for most Legal Studies courses.

Upper-Level Requirement
Complete seven Legal Studies courses (200-400 level), including one Integrative Experience (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. 

Junior Year Writing (JYW) Requirement
Legal Studies 450 - Legal Research and Writing (3 credits)

Law Related Liberal Arts (LRLA) Requirement
Complete three law-related liberal arts courses (9-12 credits) outside of the department from a pre-approved course list. No more than one of these can be at the 100-level.These classes may be taken at any time during the student’s academic career, including their first year. 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.​

If taken Fall 23 or later, a combination of three credits from Legal Studies Internship/Practicum and Research courses (LEGAL 298, 298C, or 398R) can be used in place of one LRLA course.

Global Law & Society (GLS) Requirement
Complete three courses (9 - 12 credits) for the Global Law & Society requirement area, choosing one of the following options. Coursework in this area can overlap with work completed above. Global Law & Society list can be found on the departmental website (see Course Lists)

  • Option One:  Global Course - three courses from the GLS list (two must be Legal, only one cane be at the 100-level)
  • Option Two:  Study Abroad - two study abroad courses & one course from the GLS list 
  • Option Three:  Foreign Language - two foreign language courses (in sequence) & one course from the GLS list

How to Declare the Major

Legal Studies is an unrestricted major which means a student can declare/change at any time after having an informational meeting with an academic advisor. There are no required prerequisite classes or cumulative GPA required to move into the Legal Studies major. To schedule an informational meeting with an academic advisor, please use Navigate and the following information:

  • Type of Appointment: Advising
  • Available Office/Dept: Z.Explore How to Declare or Change Major


The Legal Studies Advising Team is always ready to help. Our peer advisors are available by appointment or come in for drop-in hours (no appointment necessary) . To meet with an academic advisor, make an appointment in Navigate.