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Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies




Program Description

This program is designed for students interested in the study of law and legal issues or for those interested in a social sciences-oriented degree that emphasizes governance, civil and criminal processes, legal systems, and the theory and philosophy of justice.

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Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and general education level learning objectives, this degree also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates. Graduates in this degree program will be able to:

  • Identify historical events and figures that have contributed to the present-day court system in the United States.
  • Conduct legal research and demonstrate the fundamentals of legal writing and citation.
  • Identify and apply the procedural vehicles used by agencies for making agency policy, including agency investigations and subpoenas, agency rulemaking and agency adjudication.
  • Analyze the processes, ethics, and procedures of the modern legal practice.
  • Explain the various rights provided to United States Citizens by the U.S. Constitution, Amendments, Bill of Rights, and various U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
  • Relate the purpose and scope of criminal law in America to its sources.
  • Examine the various legal issues related to family law.

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The legal studies degree program seeks to expand students’ academic and professional development by providing a solid foundation in legal doctrine and concepts, while expounding on students’ ability to identify and analyze legal issues. It covers major substantive areas of legal study and approaches the law from a wide variety of methodological perspectives. The program encompasses a Certificate in Paralegal Studies, an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, and a Master of Arts in Legal Studies. The program prepares students to pursue career opportunities in law, law-related fields, government, business, and serves as a background for further graduate study.

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Useful Skills within the Legal Studies Field

Decision Making - Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.

- Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.

Managing Time
- Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.

- Bringing people together to discuss and resolve differences.

- Persuading, encouraging, and motivating others to accept your ideas.

Reading Comprehension
- Ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.

- Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

- Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.

Writing and Authoring
- Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.

Problem Solving
- Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution.

Social Perceptiveness
- Being aware of the reactions of others, and understanding why they react the way they do.

Must-Know Information

A logical next step for many legal studies students is law school. While the admission process for every law school is different, all require completion of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is made up of a total of six sections: five sections of multiple-choice questions and one section with a writing sample. For more information on law school and the LSAT, check out the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) website

It is important to note that APUS’s legal studies program does not prepare students for the practice of law. Graduates are not eligible for admission to the Bar of any state based solely on their completion of this program, although some states do not require a Juris Doctor degree for Bar entry.


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the legal studies field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry in our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or speak with a career coach. 

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Compliance Managers
Court Clerks
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
Judicial Law Clerks
Law Teachers, Postsecondary
Legal Secretaries
Legal Support Workers, All Other
Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program. 

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key. 

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in legal studies. The list below provides some examples of those federal agencies. Each position within the federal government is classified under a series of numbers. For example, the “Legal and Kindred Group” is within the 0900 series. You can narrow down the exact series number based on your interests and search for it on across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.

Department of Defense
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Justice
Department of Labor

Department of the Treasury
Federal Trade Commission
Internal Revenue Service
Offices of the U.S. Attorneys

While many of the major job search engines will have positions in several fields to choose from, the list below is specific to the legal studies field.

The Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) Job Directory


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations

Involvement in professional organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on new technology, tools, and best practices in your field. Professional organizations are also a great networking opportunity. Below are a few professional organizations you may be interested in as a legal studies major. 

American Bar Association
International Association of Young Lawyers
International Lawyers Associations
The Law and Society Association (LSA)
Trial Lawyers Associations
United States Lawyers Associations

Conferences and Expositions
Get Connected: Social Media

Legal Studies Program – Facebook
Legal Studies Program – LinkedIn
NALP (The Association for Legal Career Professionals) Group – LinkedIn

Quick Links

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Core Requirements
21 Hours
Introduction to the Courts
3 hours

This course is an introduction to the structure of the American court system. Topics include prosecution, right to counsel, pretrial release, grand jury process, and sentencing concepts. The course will assess the U.S Courts System and how it relates to the criminal justice system in America. Students will become familiar with the chronological events from the arrest process to sentencing and appeals. Students will be able to explain concepts of stop and frisk arrest, searches under warrant, and presentation of the case to the magistrate. Assessments of the criminal trial process and phases of pretrial and trial proceedings will be examined.

Legal Research and Writing
3 hours

This course will assess the methods used to locate necessary legal materials and be able to evaluate the appropriate citations of those materials. The paralegal aspects are reviewed and distinguished from other judicial case briefings. The course will introduce legal analysis methods and the preparation of appropriate techniques for researching legal issues and cases. Critical definitions of legal terminology are analyzed and used in preparation of legal materials such as memoranda, client letters, and other relevant documents. The course presents the student with techniques for effective writing in the legal environment.

Legal Ethics
3 hours

This undergraduate course introduces students to the ethics and professional responsibilities of the legal profession. Emphasis is given to the strict regulation of the practice of law and accompanying reasons, as well as the standard of care expected by those who work in the field. Important ethical issues, such as marketing, client relationships, fees, and communications are explored. Students will analyze the model rules and their practical applications.

Administrative Law and Policy
3 hours

This undergraduate course is the study of the work of administrative agencies in the executive branch of the United States government with some additional material on administrative agencies in state and local governments. Administrative law and policy touches virtually every person in the United States virtually every day of the year. It is the administrative agencies that fill in the "details" of government policy. Indeed, administrative agencies are so important and so powerful that they are frequently referred to as the "fourth branch of government." This course will examine the position that agencies occupy in our constitutional system of government by carefully detailing the respective roles of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The course will be mainly concerned with administrative procedure (i.e., agency rulemaking and adjudication, agency investigations, agency sanctions) but because it is almost impossible to distinguish between substance and procedure, the procedural elements of administrative law will be illustrated and discussed in the context of a specific agency action--e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency's actions on carbon emissions and global warming. The course will analyze the work of the "independent regulatory commissions" as well as those agencies that are completely under the control of the President of the United States. Both the legislative and judicial branches of our government have a large impact on administrative law, so the actions of Congress in creating and watching over the agencies and the actions of the courts in adhering to the rule of law for agency action ("judicial review of agency action") will be vital components of the course.

Constitutional Law
3 hours

This course is an introduction to Constitutional Law, the Supreme Court, and other aspects of the legal system using the case analysis approach. Its concentration is on the study and analysis of United States Constitution. It emphasizes an in-depth study of the Bill of Rights, specifically those rights pertaining to Civil Liberties. Topics include: the historical events that led to the development of the Constitution; principles governing the operation of the Constitution and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Judiciary; characteristics and powers of the three branches of government; development of due process and individual protections to include right to speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, right to vote, and right to counsel.

Criminal Law
3 hours

This course familiarizes the student with the basic law, procedures and rules that govern the criminal justice system in America. It is designed to produce students who can understand, appreciate and discuss the benefits and problems with the criminal justice system in America today. The students will become conversant with the Bill of Rights, basic criminal law terminology and procedures. The course emphasizes the principles of criminal liability and the acts, mental state, and attendant circumstances that are necessary ingredients in crimes against persons or property or in offenses involving theft, fraud, drugs, morality and decency, public peace, or public justice.

Family Law
3 hours

This upper level undergraduate course introduces students to the legal and procedural requirements of family law. Students will explore various legal procedures and extrajudicial methods. Topics such as marital agreements, separation, divorce, alimony, custody, adoptions, domestic violence, cohabitation, and same-sex marriages will be covered. Emphasis is placed on linking theory to practice.

Major Requirements
18 Hours
Law and Ethics in the Business Environment
3 hours

This course develops skills for inquiry into the business environment from a legal and ethical perspective. Students explore the relationships between modern business and the environment, in addition to the ethical issues that arise when diverse interests intersect. Relevant topics will include contracts, commercial law (sales, secured transactions and creditors remedies), forms of business entities (including limited liability companies and corporations), agency, employer-employee relationships, real property concepts, bankruptcy, and negligence and strict liability concepts. Students will examine corporate governance and business ethics, with emphasis on case studies.

Environmental Policy, Regulation, and Law
3 hours

This course is an introduction to environmental policy, regulation, and law in the U.S. Subjects covered will include command and control of regulation, air quality, water quality, control of toxic materials, waste management, energy, and natural resources.

Introduction to Hotel and Restaurant Law
3 hours

A study of the legal rights and liabilities of travel and tourism personnel, hotel and restaurant operators, including innkeeper and guest, landlord and tenant, liquor, sanitation, labor and other laws applicable to hotel and restaurant operations; insurance coverage for the protection of the hotel and restaurant operators from the various liabilities inherent to these types of operations; safety measures necessary to protect guests and employees from legal harm.

Hospitality Law
3 hours

Focus is on fundamental laws, rules, and regulations applicable to the hospitality industry regarding rights and liabilities of innkeepers and restaurant operators. Case studies will be used to provide additional learning opportunities specific to hospitality.

Cyberlaw and Privacy in a Digital Age
3 hours

This course examines how laws have had to change to account for the expanded realm of crimes in the digital age. Despite legislation intended to combat the problem of identity theft, it continues to be one of the most common crimes associated with the Internet. Sexual harassment complaints can now be triggered simply by an employee forwarding questionable email to fellow employees. Some regard intellectual property rights violations to be innocent flattery, while others consider them to be violations that must be stamped out by force of law. Plagiarism by students who pull content from the Internet is a growing problem. Stalkers can log into their victims lives and gain access to highly confidential medical and financial information, and even sabotage their victim's reputations. This course examines current literature on such topics.

Civil Practice and Procedure
3 hours

This course is an overview of civil practice and procedure and will examine the process that courts must follow when hearing cases of a civil nature. During the course of study, students will learn how a lawsuit is commenced, what kind of service of process is required, the types of pleadings, motions, and orders allowed in civil cases, the timing and manner of depositions and discovery, the conduct of trials, the process for judgment, various available remedies, and how the courts and clerks must function. The course focuses on the legal skills involving interviewing and counseling for civil cases, the drafting of legal documents for civil cases, and legal ethics focused specifically on civil cases. Course topics include civil trial practices of pleadings, motions, discovery, pre-trial conferences, jury selection, trial protocols, and appellate strategies.

Sports Law, Risk, and Regulation
3 hours

This course is a broad study and analysis of sports law and regulation. This course is rooted in the conviction that sports law is an intricate blend of contracts, regulatory schemes (including antitrust law, risk and liability concerns), and torts. Additionally, bargaining issues including unions, contract negotiation, and collective bargaining will be covered. This course will also examine risk assumption and liability as they relate to sports law. This class will also discuss relevant sports organizations (NCAA, NFL, etc.); Title X; drug testing of athletes; the role of sports agents; intellectual property issues; broadcasting law; and rules of athlete eligibility and participation. This course exposes the student to legal cases from the individual perspective of the player, coach, fan, owner, agent, and medical staff, in addition to leagues and administrative bodies, dealing with captivating subjects as varied as drug testing, gender discrimination, player violence and criminal conduct, breach of contract, player eligibility, product liability, endorsement contracts, and television broadcasting.

Military Law
3 hours

This course is designed to provide students with a solid knowledge of US Military Law through the study of the evolutionary process, politics, and motivation that has led to the current status of US Military Law. Topics include the history of military law, US Military Law, statutory basis, legal system, and basic application. It will also include an analysis of current events as related through the press, where military law is involved.

International Law
3 hours

This course introduces students to the nature, development, principles, and processes of the law that applies among nations. Students will evaluate the various implications of state sovereignty as viewed through the prism of public international law. Specific topics include the sources of international law such as custom and treaty, the role of international organizations such as the United Nations, the bases of international jurisdiction, and international norms governing recognition, nationality, the global environment, protection of human rights, and the use of force. This course introduces the student to the basic principles and practices of international law and legal regimes and examines traditional and emerging topics in the field: human rights, the Law of the Sea, the Law of Armed Conflict, War Crime Tribunals, and the International Criminal Court.

Pre Reqs: International Relations I(IRLS210)

Maritime Law
3 hours

This course is a study of the primary international and domestic laws governing navigation, naval operations, and maritime law enforcement. Students will study various aspects of the international law of the sea, maritime jurisdiction, and other laws and treaties dealing with such topics as maritime safety and security, drug trafficking, fisheries management, marine environmental protection, and piracy.

Immigration Law and Policy
3 hours

This course is an introduction to immigration law and policy. Its concentration is on the study and analysis of governing immigration laws and the application of those laws to immigration practice. Current immigration policies and procedures will also be analyzed and discussed. Topics covered include: historical developments and sources of immigration law, federal agencies governing immigration law and practice, admission procedures to the U.S. to include immigrant and non-immigrant visas and citizenship, removal (commonly referred to as “deportation”) laws and procedures, and relief from removal to include asylum, cancellation of removal, and other forms of relief.

3 hours

This undergraduate course will focus on the basic legal rules governing kinds of information which can be developed and received at trial, and how evidence may be considered by the trier of fact. Students will study how policies favoring probative evidence must be weighed against policies protecting against hearsay, opinion, prejudice, time consumption, and other harmful matters. Proper examination and impeachment of witnesses will also be explored.

Public Policy
3 hours

Analyzes the formulation and execution of public policy in America. Includes study of decision-making theory, bureaucratic politics and other models that seek to explain how policy is made. Issues explored include social, environmental, economic, homeland security, defense, and foreign policy. Additional issue areas may be covered depending on contemporary significance.

Sociology of the Law
3 hours

This course is a study of law, law-making, law-enforcement, and legal systems in social life. Course content focuses on the American legal system from a sociological perspective--its origins, development, and current format, and examines the sources of the legal tradition, the function of legislation in society, and current trends in the social construction of norms. The course investigates the human need for social order and conflict resolution, and how that takes shape in the social world. (Prerequisite: SOCI111)

Pre Reqs: Introduction to Sociology(SOCI111)

Institutional Requirements
3 Hours
Foundations of Online Learning
3 hours

This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate study in the online environment. Students will be introduced to the tools and resources available in the online classroom and campus. Students will be introduced to online research, formatting, and citation styles. APUS policy and procedure is addressed. There is an emphasis on communication to assist students in the transition to the online environment.

General Education
38 Hours

Final Program Requirement
3 Hours
Senior Seminar should be taken as your last course in the program.
Senior Seminar in Legal Studies
3 hours

The Capstone course is a senior level course designed to allow the student to review, analyze and integrate the work the student has completed toward a degree in Legal Studies. The student will complete an approved academic project or paper that demonstrates mastery of their program of study in a meaningful culmination of their learning and to assess their level of mastery of the stated outcomes of their degree requirements. NOTE: All required, core, and major courses must be completed prior to enrollment in this course. Student must have SENIOR standing to register.

General Electives
39 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


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