The Bachelor of Art degree and the Bachelor of Science Degree are equivalent to each other. One is not better than the other. Employers and Professional Schools (Law School or Graduate Schools) do not make a distinction between the two degrees.
For UCF and Department of Legal Studies purposes, the BA requires demonstration of 1 year of foreign language proficiency at the college level (8 hrs or CLEP exam) and the BS requires 2 years of the same foreign language proficiency at the high school level.
Both programs are virtually the same. The similarities between the two include all courses being taught by Legal Studies instructors who hold a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, the same content of courses, equal course requirements, and an identical Bachelor degree awarded in Legal Studies upon graduation.
The only obvious difference is that the UCF Online program is solely administered online. The campus-based/in-person program will have the option of online, face to face, mix-mode, one-day a week Orlando campus evening courses, and courses offered at the Lake Mary/Sanford Campus once a week starting at 6pm.
The Bachelor of Science degree requires students to complete a minimum of 57 credit hours (21 hrs of PLA core courses, 21 hrs of PLA electives, and 15 hrs of PLA supporting courses).
The Bachelor of Arts degrees requires students to complete a minimum of 51 credit hours (21 hrs of PLA core courses, 21 hrs of PLA electives, and 9 hrs of PLA supporting courses). In addition to the 51 hrs, students need to complete 8 hrs of foreign language at the college level or CLEP out of the foreign language requirement.
Specializations are offered to Legal Studies majors only and it is not required that students declare an area of specialization.The Legal Studies Specializations are eight broadly defined areas of law that typically fall into categories of student interests.
The areas of Specialization the department currently offers are Commercial and Transactional Law, Comparative Law and International Law, Criminal Law and Individual Liberties, Estates and Property Law, Law and Society, Litigation and Advocacy, Public Law, and Sports and Entertainment Law.
In a nutshell, the Specializations serve as a tool for Legal Studies majors to help narrow their focus when it comes to choosing their PLA Electives and Supporting Courses. The Legal Studies department has created a list for each Specialization of PLA courses, along with supporting courses from other disciplines, in an effort to give students a foundation in that particular area of the law.
Students can complete up to two areas of Specialization. All PLA courses taken within the areas of Specialization can count towards the 21 credit hour requirement for PLA electives and all non-PLA courses can count towards the supporting coursework requirement of the Legal Studies degree.
The 3+3 Law School Program is a unique opportunity that UCF has created with two different law schools (FSU Law- in Tallahassee, FL and Touro Law in upstate NY) that allows a student the opportunity to complete 3 years of their undergraduate degree followed directly by 3 years of the traditional law school degree. In essence, UCF and the participating law schools have agreed to allow students who partake in this program to complete their undergraduate degree in three, instead of four, in favor of using that extra year to start their first year of law school. After a student earns up to 30 credit hours in their first year of law school, UCF will then allow for those credit hours to count towards the 120 credit hours needed to complete the Legal Studies Bachelor’s degree.
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The Legal Studies Minor provides students with an opportunity to take law courses that will enhance their foundation of knowledge in the field of Law. The course options range from more practical skill set courses, such as Legal Research, Legal Writing, Civil Practice and Procedure, to more topic area focused courses such as the Law of Torts, the Law of Contracts, and Aviation Law.
The Legal Studies Minor requires only 21 credit hours. Required courses include PLA 3014- Law and the Legal System, 15 credit hours of any PLA course, and 3 credit hours of law-related courses.
The Legal Studies Program provides students with a solid legal foundation as well as transferable skill sets that will prepare all graduates for law school, paralegal/law related fields, offices of human resources, real estate practices, the insurance industry, compliance offices, business ventures, or nearly any other next step they wish to take.
Much like most bachelor degrees, students can easily market themselves to be more employable after graduation by mastering transferable skill sets and participating in meaningful experiences that employers find attractive in prospective employees. With a Legal Studies degree, students will graduate with strong communication skills, reading and writing comprehension, critical thinking skills, creativity, integrity, and a strong work ethic.
No, you do not have to major in Legal Studies to apply and attend law school. Law schools do not have a preference for any particular academic discipline for the purpose of admission. The bulk of the law school admission decisions are based on LSAT scores, overall recalculated GPA, personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume, etc.
However, the Legal Studies Program at UCF is a phenomenal program that will enrich a student’s academic experience in the practical and foundation knowledge areas within the field of law. All PLA courses are law-oriented courses taught by expert legal instructors that have earned their Juris Doctor (JD) degree and have passed the Florida Bar Exam. The Legal Studies Program has a very robust curriculum that offers over 35 topic area electives as well as critical legal foundation courses such as Legal Research, Legal Writing, Civil Practice and Procedure, Property and Real Estate, Law of Torts, Criminal Law, the Law of Contracts, etc.
Yes, law-related opportunities that are open to all UCF students include Moot Court, Mock Trial, Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Phi Delta Phi Pre-Law Honor Society, the National Black Law Student Association, and many more!
Please see Student Organizations for more information about some of these opportunities.
The Legal Studies Program at UCF is not an ABA recognized paralegal program. However, it is an undergraduate academic discipline that offers an extensive amount of foundation and topic-specific law courses that are proven to be beneficial to all students across academic disciplines.
Through the completion of a bachelor degree in Legal Studies, students should be able to sit for any of the certified paralegal exams. Students are typically referred to the National Association of Legal Assistant/Paralegal (NALA) for more details regarding how they can best prepare for the certified paralegal exam.