Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States
Welcome Legal Studies Transfer Students!
We greatly appreciate the experience and wisdom transfer students bring to our Legal Studies program, and our undergraduate advising program is ready to help you hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.
Our Academic Advisors and Peer Advisors are available whenever you have a question or concern or need help planning your next new experience. We work as a team to make sure someone is available whenever you are in need, but you are also welcome to connect with one advisor and work with them throughout your career. You may want to hear from many of us, or you might find you’re more comfortable connecting with one of us. Either option is fine. What matters most is that you are comfortable coming to advising when you have a question. We hope we can play an active role in your success at UMass.
We offer individual advising sessions by appointment or you can drop into the third floor of Thompson Hall for questions. We can suggest classes to help you complete your degree. We might help you set up experiences where you can take your learning outside of the classroom, like study abroad or domestic exchange, internships, or research. We also can help you connect with post-graduation, graduate school or career-search supports. We are always available to help!
We Encourage Our Legal Studies Transfer Students to Get Real World Experience!
We know that experiences like internships, research assistantships, and studying abroad or domestic exchange can help broaden your horizons and build your resume – but how do you find time to incorporate these into your busy life?
Legal Studies students have done internships at local agencies which are part of the state criminal justice system. These include the Department of Youth Services, the District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Program, the Hampshire County Jail, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Mayor’s Office on Consumer Protection, the YWCA, SafePlan, Safe Passages, and the Eastern Hampshire County District Court.
The Legal Studies major also sponsors the following internship: Judicial Internship Program. This is an opportunity to spend time observing and discussing court proceedings with Judge Judd Carhart and other Superior Court judges who hear cases in Springfield, Northampton, and Greenfield. The prerequisite is Judge Carhart’s course, Due Process in Criminal Trial (Legal 391U). After you have completed this course, you need to apply for the internship. Judge Carhart makes the final selection of students; preference is given to Legal Studies majors. Find application instructions here.
We also encourage our transfer students to study abroad or engage in domestic exchange, and we can help work with you to fit that into your academic path! Our majors have no trouble finding courses at other institutions we can approve to apply to their UMass degree.
If you’re interested in research, our Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) is a well-designed program that is waiting and ready for you. Many of our faculty work with undergraduate students as research assistants; this can be a wonderful learning experience, and you can earn college credit toward graduation in the process.
What Do Legal Studies Majors at UMass Study?
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. The diversity of the faculty means that the Department is able to offer a broad range of courses every semester.
The Legal Studies Program at UMass is the oldest undergraduate law and society major in the country and the only one offered at a public university in New England. 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.
What Skills Will I Develop with a Legal Studies Degree?
Legal Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law and society where students develop skills in critical thinking, conflict resolution and oral and written communication. The major is housed in the Department of Political Science within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The purpose of this multifaceted program is to develop the study of law within a liberal arts framework and to explore the myriad ways in which law is connected with other disciplines pertinent to an understanding of society.
Legal Studies is an education about law as a social and political product, whereas law school is education in rules and procedures. The critical, social scientific approach of the program encourages students to investigate and develop their attitudes toward law, politics, and society within the context of a growing literature of Legal Studies and related disciplines.
Legal Studies also examines law and society from the perspective of other cultures. The department encourages study abroad to expand cross-cultural understanding in an increasingly global legal community.
What Careers Are Available to Me with a Legal Studies Degree?
The focus of Legal Studies is to help students become informed, active, well-rounded, critical thinkers about law and society. Modern society is increasingly dominated by law and legal consciousness, and legal literacy is important for many careers.
Legal Studies graduates have found employment in the justice system as human rights advocates, law enforcement officials, mediators, and teachers, as well as in other public agencies. Many legal studies graduates go on to law school. A clear understanding of the role of law in modern society is increasingly important to any career concerning public issues. Legal Studies is useful preparation for graduate work in such fields as political science, psychology, history, anthropology, natural sciences, journalism, economics, or sociology.
You can explore some of our recent graduates’ career outcomes here.
As a Legal Studies major, you’ll also have access to the SBS Career and Professional Development advising team, as well as to your Political Science advisors, to help plan for your life after UMass.