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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Legal Studies

Majors Overview March 2, 2015

Get information about a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Legal Studies and its coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Programs in Legal Studies

Schools sometimes offer this relatively new major as a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program, whereby students are imparted a well-rounded general education, in addition to specific training in case preparation, procedure, research, and legal writing for a wide variety of types of law practice.

Students enrolled in the program learn the systems and principles of the legal system; coursework in many programs is devised to impart professional experience through participation in internships.

Admission criteria in a legal studies program typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma; in some instances, a minimum GPA is also expected.

Students enrolled in bachelor’s programs in legal studies are provided with the technical skills expected of paralegals and legal assistants, but they also help prepare students for law school or entry-level careers within corporations, law offices, and government. Current legal professionals seeking a bachelor’s degree may also find the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Legal Studies program suitable to their needs.

Coursework

Coursework is devised to introduce students to various types of analyses, legal research, and law. Mock trials are available in some programs. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Environmental law
•Law office technology
•Torts and contracts
•Principles of legal research
•The basics of American law
•Legal analysis and writing
•Family law

Career Choices

Graduates of a baccalaureate program in legal studies may seek career options such as:

•Lobbyist
•Mediator
•Paralegal
•Corporate investigator
•Judicial assistant

Job and Wage Outlook

A faster-than-average job growth rate of 17% has been predicted for paralegals or legal assistants over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Increased hiring of paralegals by law firms and organizations, in addition to the development of specific areas of law, including environmental law and intellectual property, drives this growth. In May 2012, paralegals brought home an average annual wage of $46,990 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

While it is not mandatory for paralegals to obtain certification, a professional credential will give them an edge in the job market. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. are among the many certifying organizations that offer credentials to paralegals. To obtain certification, a candidate needs a combination of educational training and professional experience, in addition to the passage of an exam.

Those that complete bachelor’s programs in legal studies can seek continuing education by enrolling in law schools and earning a Master of Laws (LL.M.), Doctor of Science of the Law, or Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Armed with a background in legal studies, students can continue on to earn graduate degrees in public policy, public administration, or business.

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