Legal Studies Certificate Program

Legal Studies is an interdisciplinary program that explores the vital concepts of law and justice. Legal Studies courses analyze legal philosophies, legal institutions, legal processes, how the law is made, and other law-related concepts. As part of a liberal arts education, Legal Studies investigates the many ways in which law is connected to other disciplines, and it examines the law from political, social, cultural, philosophical, historical, and other disciplinary viewpoints.

The mission of the Legal Studies Certificate Program is to inspire students to think critically about the law and its place in society. Overall, Legal Studies faculty and students grapple with profound policy questions within the framework of legal philosophies and theories of justice.

At its core, Legal Studies explores questions about law from many perspectives. Thus, it is not meant to be professional training in the way that law school is. However, Legal Studies is an appropriate certificate program for pre-law students and for students interested in criminal justice, as it encourages students to study the evolution, function, and effects of the law. Legal Studies should be attractive to anyone who will need legal knowledge to be more effective in his or her career.

The Legal Studies certificate will give students a focus on issues concerning the law within multiple academic disciplines. It can give cohesion to a student’s electives within the AAS degree, lead students to a specialization in the area of legal studies, or prepare them for a legal studies or pre-law major or minor at other UW institutions.


The Legal Studies Certificate requires a minimum of 15 credits. In each course that is applied toward the certificate, a student must earn a grade of C or better. Up to three credits may be transferred from institutions outside of the UW Colleges.


Credits for the Certificate must include the following:

    • Core courses (6 credits)
      • POL 104 American Government and Politics
      • POL 120 Politics of Crime and Punishment
    • Elective courses (9 credits; at least 3 credits must be from a discipline other than Political Science)
      • BUS 244 International Business
      • ECO 203 Economics-Macro
      • ECO 204 Economics-Micro
      • ECO 250 Government and Business
      • HIS 270 American Business History
      • PHI 211 Elementary Logic
      • PHI 241 Ethics
      • POL 175 International Politics
      • POL 201 Introduction to Political Theory
      • POL 219 Public Policy: Power, Conflict, Choice
      • POL 231 Sex, Power and Public Policy
      • POL 250 Government and Business
      • POL 280 Terrorism
      • POL 310 Civil Liberties
      • PSY 309 Abnormal Psychology
      • SOC 231 Crime and Criminal Justice
      • SOC 246 Juvenile Delinquency
      • WOM 231 Sex, Power and Public Policy

Additional elective credits may be taken from the following courses if approved by the Chair of the Political Science Department as courses with Legal Studies content:

    • POL 298 Special Topics
    • POL 299 Independent Reading