Gould offers a first undergraduate degree
As of June 2022, the USC Gould School of Law now offers its first undergraduate degree – the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies.
The new major, intended to give students a broad knowledge of the American legal system, is a 48-unit major that combines law, society, historical precedent, and legal reasoning in the American judicial system. Required courses for the major cover a wide range of topics, from criminal justice to cybersecurity, and come with a required law internship and capstone project.
An additional component of the legal studies major is the four majors that students must choose for their upper division courses – regulatory state, public law, private law, and general legal studies.
The State Regulation and Public Law majors offer many courses in government law that delve into areas such as the activity of administrative agencies or the historic decisions of the Supreme Court, aimed at giving these students an understanding of how the government regulates society. Private law courses will answer questions about how transactions are regulated between individuals, including how contracts and corporations work. And if students are looking to tackle all three specialties and gain a broader legal perspective, there is a General Legal Studies track just for them.
“We’ve heard that what students really like to do is be able to tailor their degree to themselves, but be guided,” said Professor Bob Rasmussen, professor of law and political science. “[So we] group together three broad categories, plus a catch-all, to give people a sense of if they want to specialize.
The decision to create the bachelor’s degree was a natural next step in the law school’s long involvement in undergraduate education over the past 30 years, according to Rasmussen.
“We partnered with philosophy folks to launch the Philosophy, Politics, and Law major,” Rasmussen said. “Then we partnered with the humanities folks to start the law, history, and culture major… [and started] a lot of minors related to the law in the college. So it’s a kind of organic growth.
Students taking their first steps in their new baccalaureate have shown enthusiasm and optimism about the courses. Clarissa Rosales, a sophomore now majoring in legal studies, plans to major in immigration law and help undocumented immigrants in the Southern California area.
“Even the three courses I took [have] definitely gave me a good foundation and basic knowledge that definitely boosts my confidence for when I go to law school,” Rosales said.
The addition of the new Gould bachelor’s also clarified the academic plans of some students at USC. Second year Madi Ingrassia is now doubly majoring in music industry and legal studies after a long journey to find the desired majors and minors and switch between several combinations in many disciplines to best prepare for a career in entertainment law.
“I’ve been pre-law since I got admitted to USC. But I always wanted to add a little something extra interdisciplinary to enhance my studies and enjoy my time here,” Ingrassia said. “Then I found out about the legal studies major and I immediately said, ‘This is it. That’s what I was looking for.'”
According to Rasmussen, the new Gould degree was designed for students to understand how law and society influence each other and can be a valuable area of study whether or not a student wishes to pursue a law degree.
“Anyone who graduates from USC is going to be a leader in something — whatever it is, the law is going to affect that,” Rasmussen said. “If they have a nuanced appreciation of how the law affects things, they can use [the major] to their advantage to be more successful in their careers and perhaps help guide us towards a more just and equitable society.