School of Criminal Justice


Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Studies





What's the difference between a two-year degree and a four-year degree, anyway?

There are both educational and professional benefits present in four-year programs that are not present in two-year programs.  In a four-year baccalaureate degree program, curriculum requirements "include general education, electives, and legal specialty courses." (American Bar Association, 2008)   The additional coursework taken in a baccalaureate degree program allows students to develop their writing and critical thinking skills, both of which are highly valued in the legal field.  “ In general, a four-year program provides students with a "sound liberal arts education and legal specialty training in several areas thereby enabling them to choose from  wide number of employment opportunities in various legal settings, as well as private law firms." (American Bar Association, 2008).  For more information about paralegal education and career opportunities, see the web site of the American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Paralegals. 

Is this the major to take if I want to go to law school?

Grand Valley offers a major and minor in Legal Studies.  While neither of these options are “pre law” programs in a traditional sense, they offer students the opportunity for in-depth study of  law, the legal system, and the legal field at the undergraduate level.  While some students with an interest in law school choose the Legal Studies major or minor, there is no single major that prepares students for law school or enhances their chances for admission to law school. Successful law school applicants and lawyers come from a wide variety of majors, including legal studies.  For more information about law school and pre-law resources at Grand Valley, see:

How did the Legal Studies program develop at GVSU?

In the 1970's -- when Grand Valley State University was known as Grand Valley State College -- the Legal Studies major was already in existence as part of the College of Arts & Sciences.  The Legal Studies degree was then known as a "Legal Administration" degree. By 1987, the Legal Administration program was officially renamed "Legal Studies" and became part of the School of Criminal Justice.


Is the Legal Studies Program approved by the American Bar Association?

Yes. Grand Valley's baccalaureate degree in Legal Studies was approved by the ABA in 2010.







Page last modified May 28, 2014