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Explore the Nature of Law

UNC’s Legal Studies minor provides broad training in the law’s processes, history and theoretical foundations. Some students go on to law school, while others use it to round out their liberal arts education. The program is not intended to be an undergraduate version of law school. It does, however, complement law school programs by providing a theoretical and historical examination of law.

In many pre-modern societies, rule-making was often arbitrary, the product of the moods and interests of political leaders. This can be dangerous because, as James Madison noted in “The Federalist,” we cannot count on always having enlightened leaders. Modern democracies thus eschew rule by fiat and favor of the rule of law, which, by elevating law above personality, more effectively contains the whims of individual leaders. Thus, by studying law, students learn about a fundamental tenet of modern society.

Minor Option

Legal Studies Minor

The minor in Legal Studies critically explores the nature of law. Why does it exist? How does it function? Does it lead to justice? The minor is comprised of 21 credits, with five Core courses, and two courses in Theoretical Foundations. Core courses expose students to the law from various perspectives, including: law in the domestic realm, the world, society, and business. In Theoretical Foundations, students learn the intellectual perspectives that inform law. Students are strongly encouraged to elect an internship as part of their plan of study.

View the UNC Catalog Information

Related Programs

Your Future in Legal Studies

The Legal Studies minor complements a number of majors, and is particularly helpful to students who wish to become attorneys. Some students wonder why UNC doesn’t offer a Legal Studies major. The answer is that students considering law school should take courses that encourage independent and critical thinking. The American Bar Association, in fact, does not recommend any particular major for students intending to go to law school. The most popular majors are for students who attend law school are Political Science, Economics, Business Administration, History, and English.

Consider UNC’s Legal Studies Minor if you:

Students minoring in Legal Studies hone critical thinking skills that may be helpful for any program that asks students to assess ideas. Those with a background in law may be better prepared to assess best practices in business, or understand the limits of roles in the medical field. Students may also examine historical texts, analyze works of literature, or determine if various governmental policies have been successful.

You’ll learn:

  • Independent and critical thinking skills
  • Theoretical and historical aspects of the law
  • About the legislative process

Sample courses:

  • Ethics in Theory and Practice
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • American Constitutional History
  • Comparative Justice Systems
  • International Law and Organizations
  • Psychology and the Law

Beyond the Classroom

Students minoring in Legal Studies often elect to take PSCI 392, which allows them to receive internship credit. Internships vary across all aspects of law, from the legislative process, to a prosecutor’s or a defense attorney’s office, to human rights organizations.

Where can your minor take you?

In addition to helping you prepare for law school, the skills you develop in the Legal Studies minor also come in handy in other occupations. Some professionals draw on their Legal Studies training indirectly, employed as teachers, doctors and entrepreneurs. And many others draw on the knowledge directly, working as public servants, lobbyists or legislators.

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