Legal Studies Program

Legal studies is an undergraduate major in the College of Letters & Science. The program’s mission is to provide a liberal education across traditional disciplines, focusing on the theory and operation of law and legal institutions. The courses in the legal studies major expose students to the many facets of law as a social phenomenon—its evolution, function, motivating ideas and effects. The major is not intended as preparation for law school because the emphasis is on exploring broadly defined questions about law from a variety of perspectives, rather than on training for the profession. The legal studies major is, however, suitable for pre-law students.

The curriculum is designed around the following five themes: Legal Institutions, Processes of Legal Order and Disorder, Law and Social Forces, Law and Culture, and Law and Theory.

What can you do with a Legal Studies Major?

Declaring Legal Studies

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Requirements to Declare the Legal Studies Major:

In order to declare, students must complete all of the following with grades of C or better:

  • Complete one Communication A* course;
  • Complete one Quantitative Reasoning A* course; and
  • Complete one “Gateway Course” chosen from the list below:
    • Legal St./Soc 131: Criminal Justice in America
    • Legal St./Poli Sci 217: Law, Politics and Society

*Students may be exempt from COMM-A by their English Placement Score and from QR-A by their Math Placement Score

Process to Declare the Major

  1. Complete the first step to declaring legal studies form or make an appointment with an advisor via StarFish.
  2. Should you meet declaration requirements, you will receive an email back from cjcp@ssc.wisc.edu within 2 business days confirming you have declared.
  3. If you do not meet declaration requirements, you will receive an email from cjcp@ssc.wisc.edu within 2 business days explaining the requirements you must meet before declaring.
  4. If you meet declaration requirements and you are adding legal studies to a major outside of the College of Letters & Science, you will receive an email from cjcp@ssc.wisc.edu with further steps.

If you have any questions about declaring or the major, please make an appointment with an advisor via StarFish.

Courses that Fulfill Legal Studies Requirements

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Spring 2024 Courses

For the most current information, search the UW-Madison Schedule of Classes here

Major and Certificate overviews

Gateway Courses

Legal St/Soc 131: Criminal Justice in America

Methods Courses (Statistics and Research Design)

Statistics (one course from this listing)

Economics 310: Statistics: Measurement in Economics
Ed Pol 209: Quantitative Methods for Education Policy (dars exception needed)
General Business 306: Business Analytics
Psychology 210: Basic Stats for Psychology
Sociology 360: Statistics for Sociologists
Statistics 301: Introduction to Statistics
Statistics 371: Intro Applied Stats – Life Sciences

Research Design (one course from this listing)

Ed Pol 501: Qualitative Research Methods (dars exception needed)
Political Science 170: Research Methods
Political Science 373: Intro to Survey Research
Public Affairs 240: Evidence-Based Policy Making
Public Affairs 380: Analytical Tools for Public Policy
Psychology 225: Experimental Psychology
Social Work 650: Methods of Social Work Research
Sociology 357: Methods of Sociological Inquiry

Theme Group 1: Legal Institutions

ELPA/Ed Pol 542: Law and Public Education
General Business 301: Business Law
General Business 302: Business and Negotiable Instruments
*Geography 307: International Migration, Health and Human Rights
*Int’l St 602: The EU and the World (dars exception needed)
Legal St/Hist 262: Amer Legal History 1860s to Pres
Legal Studies 444: Law in Action
*Legal Studies 450: Courts, Constitutionalism and Human Rights
*Political Science 340: The European Union
*Political Science 354: International Institutions and World Order
*Political Science 356: Principles of International Law
Political Science 401: Legal Writing (dars exception needed)
Political Science 405: State Government and Public Policy
Political Science 408: The American Presidency
*Political Science 435: Politics of Gender and Women’s Rights in the Middle East
Political Science 601: The Supreme Court

Theme Group 2: Process of Legal Order & Disorder

Legal Studies 694: Field Observation in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies (application and internship required)
Political Science 314: Criminal Law and Justice
Psych 526: The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives
Psych 601: Prisoner Re-Entry
Sociology 421: Processes of Deviant Behavior
Sociology 441: Criminology
Sociology 446: Juvenile Delinquency

Theme Group 3: Law & Social Forces

**AfAm 272: Race and American Politics from the New Deal to the New Right
**AfAm/Hist 625: Gender, Race and the Civil Rights Movement
**Asian Am/Soc 220: Social Movements in the US (ethnic st and Comm B)
Econ 522: Law and Economics
Environmental St 349: Climate Change Governance
Ed Pol 150: Incarceration and Education
Ed Pol 220: Human Rights and Education
**GWS/Intl St 535: Women’s Global Health and Human Rights
**History 143: History of Race and Inequality in Urban America
History 152: The U.S. West since 1850 (dars exception needed)
*History 201: Global History of Unpaid Labor (Comm B) (dars exception needed)
*History 201: Global History of Human Rights (Comm B) (dars exception needed)
**History 393: Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction
History 600: Abolitionist Movements (dars exception needed)
*International Studies 401: Human Rights in Global Context (dars exception needed)
Legal Studies 135: Disability and the Criminal Justice System (dars exception needed)
*Legal Studies 400: Law and Climate Justice
Legal Studies 422: Women and the Law
*Legal Studies/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice
*Legal Studies/Hist/Envir St 430: Law and Environment
**Legal Studies/Soc/ChicLa 443: Immigration, Crime & Enforcement (ethnic studies)
Legal Studies 663: Cyber Law
Psych 401: Psychology, Law and Social Policy
Social Work 636: Indian Child Welfare Act (dars exception needed)
SocWork 375: Pwr Poss, SJ and Social Change (dars exception needed)

Theme Group 4: Law & Culture

Ed Pol 150: Indigenous Education Policy and Practice (dars exception needed)
English 177: Narco-Narratives (dars exception needed)
English 182: Doing Time: Race, Labor, Incarceration (Honors) (dars exception needed)
*English 457: Law and Literature (dars exception needed)
*History 500: Chinese Law and Society (dars exception needed)
*Legal Studies 477: History of Forensic Science
*Legal Studies 510: Legal Pluralism

Theme Group 5: Law & Theory

Legal Studies 407: Jurisprudence and Social Issues
*Legal Studies 459: Rule of Law
MedHist/Philosophy 558: Ethical Issues in Health Care
Philosophy 341: Contemporary Moral Issues (some sections are Comm B)

Core Perspectives

Legal Studies 262: Amer Legal History 1860s to Present
*Legal Studies 400: Law and Climate Justice
Legal Studies 407: Jurisprudence and Social Issues
*Legal Studies/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice
**Legal Studies/Soc/ChicLa 443: Immigration, Crime & Enforcement (ethnic studies)
*Legal Studies 450: Courts, Constitutionalism and Human Rights
*Legal Studies 477: History of Forensic Science
*Legal Studies 459: Rule of Law
*Legal Studies 510: Legal Pluralism

*Meets requirement that at least two courses in the major must have substantial content dealing with countries or cultures outside the United States or with the international legal system. For this requirement, a course can count for a theme and the global requirement. 

**Meets Race/Justice requirement (for students who declared Fall 2023 and later). A course can count for a theme and the race/justice requirement. 

Summer 2024 Courses

For the most current information, search the UW-Madison Schedule of Classes here

Major and Certificate overviews

Gateway Course
Legal St/Soc 131: Criminal Justice in America

Legal St/Poli Sci 217: Law, Politics and Society

Statistics

Economics 310: Statistics: Measurement in Economics

Ed Pol 209: Quantitative Methods for Education Policy

General Business 306: Business Analytics

Psychology 210: Basic Stats for Psychology

Sociology 360: Statistics for Sociologists

Statistics 301: Introduction to Statistics

Statistics 371: Intro Applied Stats – Life Sciences

Research Methods

Political Science 170: Research Methods in Political Science

Psychology 225: Research Methods

Sociology 357: Methods of Sociological Inquiry

Theme Group 1: Legal Institutions

ELPA 542: Civil Rights, Courts and Public Education

General Business 301: Business Law

Legal Studies 400: American Constitutional Law

*Political Science 400: Global Politics of Policing

Political Science 405: State Government and Public Policy

*Political Science 434: Politics of Human Rights

Political Science 470: The First Amendment

Theme Group 2: Process of Legal Order & Disorder

Communication Arts 371: Communication and Conflict Resolution

Legal Studies/Sociology 694: Criminal Justice Field Observation — [Application and concurrent internship required – Schedule appt with advisor if interested]

Sociology 421: Processes of Deviant Behavior

Theme Group 3: Law & Social Forces

Econ 522: Law and Economics

Ed Pol 220: Human Rights and Education

**GWS/Intl St 535: Women’s Global Health and Human Rights

**History 403: Immigration and Assimilation in American History

Legal St/GWS 422: Women and the Law

*Legal St/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice

Theme Group 4: Law & Culture

*History 201: Shanghai Life and Crime

Poli Sci 400: Law and Justice in Film

Theme Group 5: Law & Theory

*Legal St/History 426: History of Punishment

*Legal St/History 450: History of Prison

Philosophy 341: Contemporary Moral Issues

Core Perspectives

Legal St/GWS 422: Women and the Law

*Legal St/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice

*Legal St/History 426: History of Punishment

*Legal St/History 450: History of Prison

Fall 2024 Courses

For the most current information, search the UW-Madison Schedule of Classes here

Major and Certificate overviews

Gateway Courses

Legal Studies/Sociology 131: Criminal Justice in America
Legal Studies/Political Science 217: Law, Politics and Society

Statistics

Economics 310: Statistics: Measurement in Economics
Ed Pol 209: Introduction to Quantitative Methods (dars exception needed)
General Business 306: Business Analytics
LIS 440: Navigating the Data Revolution: Concepts of Data & Information Science (dars exception needed)
Psychology 210: Basic Stats for Psychology
Sociology 360: Statistics for Sociologists
Statistics 301: Introduction to Statistics
Statistics 371: Intro Applied Stats – Life Sciences

Research Design

Ed Pol 308: Intro to Qualitative Research (dars exception needed)
Political Science 373: Introduction to Survey Research
Psychology 225: Experimental Psychology
Public Affairs 240: Evidence-Based Policy Making
Public Affairs 380: Analytical Tools for Public Policy
Sociology 357: Methods of Sociological Inquiry

Theme Group 1: Legal Institutions

General Business 301: Business Law
Legal Studies/Hist 261: American Legal History to 1860
Political Science 401: Crime and Politics (dars exception needed)
*Poli Sci 401: Transitional Justice (dars exception needed)
*Legal Studies 400: Punishment and Society
Legal Studies 444: Law in Action
Legal Studies/ELPA 542: Law and Public Education
Legal Studies 641: Sociology of Law
**Political Science 304: The Political Economy of Race in the US
*Political Science 347: Terrorism
*Political Science 349: Global Access to Justice
*Political Science 354: International Institutions and World Order
Political Science 405: State Government and Public Policy
Political Science 419: Administrative Law

Theme Group 2: Process of Legal Order & Disorder

Legal Studies 694: Field Observation in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies (application and internship required)
Psych 526: The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives
Psychology 601: Prisoner Re-Entry (dars exception needed)
Sociology 441: Criminology

Theme Group 3: Law & Social Forces

**AfAm 272: Race and American Politics from the New Deal to the New Right (ethnic st)
**AfAm 326: Race and Gender in Post-World War II U.S. Society (ethnic st)
**AfAm 671: Origins of Black Movements (ethnic st)
**AfAm 671: Topic: Criminalizing Blackness (ethnic st)
**AmerInd 450: Sovereignty and the Schoolhouse (ethnic st) (dars exception needed)
Ed Pol 220: Human Rights and Education (dars exception needed)
Econ 522: Law and Economics
Envir St 402: Water Governance, Policy and Conflict (dars exception needed)
*Gender and Women’s Studies: 435: Politics of Gender and Women’s Rights in the Middle East
Envir St 439: US Environmental Policy and Regulation
**History 143: History of Race and Inequality in Urban America
*History 201: Global History of Unfree Labor
History 600: Gen, War Crimes, and Human Rights in 20th century (dars exception needed)
*International Studies 401: Revolution and Insurgency
*International St 535: Women’s Global Health and Human Rights (dars exception needed)
*International Studies 601: Refugees in Global Context (dars exception needed)
Legal Studies 135: Disability and the Criminal Justice System
*Legal Studies 203: Jewish Law, Business and Ethics
*Legal Studies 400: Law, Sexuality and Society
**Legal Studies 400/Soc 496: Race, Family and the State
**Legal Studies 400: Criminal Injustice in America
*Legal Studies/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice
**Legal Studies/ChicLa/Sociology 440: Ethnicity, Race and Justice (ethnic st)
Legal Studies 663: CyberLaw
Psych 401: Psychology, Law and Social Policies
**Sociology 220: Ethnic Movements in the U.S (Comm B and ethnic st)

Theme Group 4: Law & Culture

Anthropology 350: Political Anthropology
*Legal Studies/English 160: Truth and Crime (Lit)
Legal Studies 400: Tribal Court of Appeals Project
English 174: Protest Literature (dars exception needed)
*English 177: Narco-Narratives (Lit) (dars exception needed)
English 457: Cultures of AIDs Activism (dars exception needed)
Religious Studies 200: Religion and the First Amendment

Theme Group 5: Law & Theory

Journalism 563: Law of Mass Communication
*Legal Studies/History 426: History of Punishment
Philosophy 341: Contemporary Moral Issues (some sections are Comm B)

Core Perspectives

Legal Studies/History 261: American Legal History to 1860
*Legal Studies 400: Law, Sexuality and Society
**Legal Studies 400: Criminal Injustice in America
*Legal Studies/History 426: History of Punishment
*Legal Studies/Soc/GWS 425: Crime, Gender and Justice
**Legal Studies/ChicLa/Sociology 440: Ethnicity, Race and Justice (ethnic st)

*Meets requirement that at least two courses in the major must have substantial content dealing with countries or cultures outside the United States or with the international legal system. For this requirement, a course can count both for purposes of meeting the Distribution requirement above and the Global Legal Systems requirement.

**Meets Race/Justice requirement (for students who declared Fall 2023 and later). A course can count for a theme and the race/justice requirement. 

Program Requirements

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Program Advising

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