Top 20 Law Schools Join Handful of Others Offering Undergraduate Law Degrees

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Top 20 Law Schools Join Handful of Others Offering Undergraduate Law Degrees

Updated: The Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California plans to offer an undergraduate bachelor of science degree in legal studies, the school announced Tuesday.

A handful of law schools offer undergraduate degrees, but USC Gould is rare as it is among the top 20 schools, Reuters reports.

Another top 20 law school, the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, also offers an undergraduate legal studies major, according to its dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, a frequent ABA Journal contributor.

Other law schools that already offer undergraduate degrees are the University of Arizona, which began offering the degree in 2014, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, which began offering the degree in 2019, according to Reuters.

Two other schools — Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law and Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law — also plan to offer undergraduate programs in the fall.

Required core undergraduate courses at USC Gould include: Law and the American Constitution in World History, Law and Society, Introduction to Criminal Law, Fundamentals of the American Legal System, and Business court proceedings in progress.

Students must choose from four streams covering the normative state, public law, private law and general legal studies.

Bob Rasmussen, a law professor at USC Gould, oversees undergraduate efforts.

“It’s not a light law school,” Rasmussen told Reuters. “It’s general knowledge about what you would want an intelligent, educated person to know about the law.”

Undergraduate law degrees could help graduates get JD-beneficial jobs without the cost of a law degree, Kyle McEntee, founder of advocacy group Law School Transparency, said in an interview with Reuters.

Updated June 24, 8:24 a.m. to report that the University of California, Berkeley School of Law also offers an undergraduate degree in legal studies.

Nancy I. Romero