Skip to main content


The Legal Studies program offers a major situated in Weinberg College, but open to Northwestern undergraduates in all schools.

Advanced Research Seminar

All Legal Studies majors must complete the two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar (398-1,2), in which students design and execute an original socio-legal research project and produce a thesis. Learn more about the advanced research seminar sequence here.

By Application Only

Because demand for the major often exceeds the enrollment limits of our required Advanced Research Seminars, admission to the major is by application only. The application period only happens once a year, typically early in winter quarter.

Before applying for the major, students must have taken LEGAL ST 206, "Law in Society", and at least one additional "law-related" course, as found on the Electives page. One of these classes may be "in progress" at the time of application. Learn more about the major application process here.



To declare: Students must complete the application process and be approved to join the program. Applications are typically open in early winter quarter. LEGAL ST 206 (also taught as SOCIOL 206) and 1 other elective is required to apply.

12 Courses Total

The standalone major does not allow for double-counting.*

*Courses listed as “Related courses” in another Weinberg major or adjunct major may be double‐counted towards the Legal Studies major without limit. Double counting rules can be complicated; review these FAQs on the Weinberg website. Non-Weinberg students should consult this chart.

These major requirements have been in effect since Fall 2016.

Students can easily track their progress by completing the Major Worksheet.


If you have questions about the major, please see the FAQs below, or contact the Legal Studies Program Assistant:


Expand all

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to apply to be a major in Legal Studies?

All Legal Studies majors complete a thesis during a two-quarter research seminar (Legal_St 398-1 and 398-2) during which they receive a lot of individualized attention from the instructor and teaching assistants. To make this possible, we need to limit each year’s seminar to approximately 25 students, and cap the number of majors accordingly.

Students apply to the major during Winter Quarter. Learn more about the application process here.

How is admission to the major determined?

We ask applicants to complete an application form (2019's is available here*) and to submit a current (unofficial) transcript and an essay that serves as a writing sample.

Since each student in the research seminar must complete a thesis based on independent research, we are looking for students who display strong writing skills.

There is no minimum GPA requirement for entry into the major. We do pay particular attention to grades received in Legal Studies courses and electives, and those in related disciplines.

* Note that the application form is subject to change.

What are my chances of being accepted into the major?

Your chances depend on the number of students applying and the number of seats we have available in the research seminar sequence for upcoming academic terms. In the past few years, the major has become quite competitive, and we have had to turn away many strong applicants. 

What if I apply and don't get in?

If you apply as a first-year or sophomore and you don't get in, you are encouraged to apply again. You might consider taking a writing course, making use of The Writing Place, or taking additional Legal Studies courses or electives before applying again. You may apply to the major as a junior, but we recommend that you have an alternative major in mind should you not get accepted.

How do I Petition to Graduate with a Major in Legal Studies?

We suggest you first complete the Major Worksheet then make an appointment with the Legal Studies Program Assistant, the undergraduate program assistant, to review and get all your forms signed. For more information about Petitioning to Graduate please visit the Registrar’s website.

How do I drop the major or switch from the major to a minor?

To switch from the major to the minor, make an appointment with the Legal Studies Program Assistant, the undergraduate program assistant, to fill out and get a Declaration form signed – you’ll then take the form to the Weinberg Advising Office at 1922 Sheridan Avenue so they can update your record.

Note that the double-counting rules may change if you switch from the major to the minor. Review those rules on the Weinberg website.

If you make the decision to drop the major, please contact the Legal Studies Program Assistant, the undergraduate program assistant, or another faculty member in Legal Studies to let us know of your updated plans. Because the major is so competitive, there's a lot of planning and organizing for the Advanced Research Seminar sequence - if your departure creates an opening, we might be able to give your spot to another student.