The Bachelor’s Degree

A major in Legal Studies provides students with a fundamental knowledge of law and legal systems, helping them evaluate legal issues and make assessments of the way law operates in society through a balanced, interdisciplinary study of theory and practice. The Legal Studies curriculum offers a flexible course of matriculation that provides the professional and scholarly skills necessary for many law-related careers, law school, or further graduate study. Law-related careers include consultants, court administrators and clerks, data analysts, state and federal law enforcement officers and agents, government relations, hospital administrators, human resource managers, investigators, labor relations directors, legal consultants, legislators and legislative liaisons, lobbyists, policy developers, politicians, public service administrators, reporters, social workers, state and federal agency employees, superintendents, and unions representatives, to name a few.

The department is strong in the study of U.S. and comparative law; constitutional law; legal issues of race, gender, and class; international law and issues of immigration; corporate law; legal history; law and the humanities, law and the social sciences; law and government; issues of criminal and social justice; legal philosophy; and legal practice skills. Faculty are active in the Illinois Innocence Project, Mock Trial, the Pre-Law Center, and the UIS Immigration Task Force.

One distinctive advantage of the program is its location in Springfield, affording students the opportunity to participate directly in many legal institutions including local, state and federal courts, public and private law offices and clinics, and the state legislature.


A professional undergraduate advisor is assigned to each student after the student has been fully admitted to the LES Department. The advisor helps students plan their overall course of undergraduate study. The advisor provides advice and assists the student if any difficulties arise during his or her UIS career. Students should talk to their advisor at least once each semester.

Students are also assigned a faculty advisor. Faculty advisors help students focus their courses within the legal studies curriculum, assess opportunities for experiential learning, and plan for their careers after UIS. If a student wishes to select a specific faculty advisor, a student may file a form for this purpose, available through the department office.

Grading Policy

The Legal Studies program has no grading policy different from that used by the UIS campus.

Honors in Legal Studies

Students may apply for participation in the department’s honors program. To graduate with Honors in Legal Studies, students must successfully complete the Honors section of LES 489 Closing Seminar, and graduate with a 3.5 UIS grade point average. 

Degree Requirements

A Legal Studies Degree allows students the flexibility to focus on the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in their future career plans. 

The degree entails required core and elective courses.  Required courses give students the opportunity to acquire essential legal background and to develop needed skills. Elective courses allow students to focus their program of study in a specific area.

Students should be aware that required courses are not offered every semester. Students are strongly advised to consult with their academic advisor or faculty advisor before registering. To ensure that all course work is properly integrated, students are encouraged to work out plans for their academic careers in conjunction with their LES advisor.

The Legal Studies B.A. degree requires each student to take a minimum of three hours of internship for their ECCE Engagement Experience requirement. Students may take up to six hours of internship towards the ECCE requirement; any hours beyond six will be credited as general elective hours. Double majors may have different internship requirements and should consult with their LES and other major advisor.

When necessary and advisable, students may waive the program’s three-hour internship requirement and substitute another ECCE course in its place. Waivers are given only in exceptional cases.

Students who double-major in Legal Studies and Political Science may count cross-listed courses with a PSC/LES prefix as electives in Legal Studies.

Core courses – required of all undergraduate students
LES/PSC 202 Introduction to the American Legal System 3
LES 303 American Law in Comparative Perspective 3
LES 307 Law and Society 3
LES 352 History of American Law 3
LES 401 Legal Research And Citation 4
LES 414 American Constitution: Government Powers and Institutions 3
LES/PSC 416 The American Constitution and Civil Liberties 3
LES 489 Closing Seminar: Ethics and Current Legal Questions 3
LES Electives 9
Total Hours 34

Communication Requirement

UIS requires that students demonstrate proficiency in writing skills before attaining a degree. Each student’s writing skills are initially assessed by instructors in legal studies courses. Students who are identified as having writing difficulties are required to develop a plan of improvement with their advisor.

Certification of communication skills for LES majors occurs through an assessment of the student in both LES 303 American Law in Comparative Perspective and LES 307 Law and Society. Students must demonstrate competency in standard written English by passing the writing portion of the courses with a grade of C or better (grades of C- or lower will not be accepted) to meet this campus requirement. Students who do not demonstrate adequate written communication skills will be required to take one or more lower division writing courses to address the writing deficiencies before being allowed to graduate.

Closure Requirement

Students must complete a minimum of 48 upper-division hours and fulfill all department and general education requirements to graduate. Each student must submit a completed graduation application by the deadline date designated by the Office of Records and Registration for the applicable semester.

Graduation application instructions are available on the Office of Records and Registration website.