1 I. DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES The Legal Studies Master s Degree Program at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) presents the graduate student with a course of study in public law, emphasizing law as a social phenomenon as well as a technical body of rules. It is a rigorous course of study, designed to develop the candidate's critical understanding of the legal system. Law is examined from an interdisciplinary liberal arts perspective emphasizing analytical and conceptual thinking, legal research and writing, substantive areas of the law, ethical and public interest concerns, public advocacy skills, and the role of law in society. Knowledge of the law and legal systems is important for people in many walks of life: social workers, librarians, insurance executives, public administrators, union representatives, legislative liaisons, lobbyists, law enforcement officials, court administrators, historians, political scientists, auditors, hospital administrators, association executives, personnel administrators, human resource consultants, operations researchers, and Ph.D. candidates, to name a few. Comprehensive legal research, writing and related advancement in law related careers including legal assistant positions, particularly in public law areas, are incorporated into the Master of Arts in Legal Studies degree program of study. In addition, it offers a solid foundation for understanding law as social science in the humanistic tradition. The Legal Studies Master s Degree Program provides the professional and scholarly skills necessary for success in law related careers or further graduate level study. II. ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS A. Admission Process Students must apply for admission to both UIS and the Legal Studies Master s Degree Program. Each has its own application process. Information about the application process for UIS can be found at For the UIS Application Process students will need to complete the Graduate Admission Application and submit official copies of their transcripts from all previous schools they attended. Students must also submit a Personal Statement to the Legal Studies Department. The form which students use to submit their Personal Statement can be found at: The application deadline for priority fall admission is March 1 st. B. Full Admission In order to be considered for full admission into the Legal Studies Master s Degree Program students must meet all of the following requirements: 1. Earned a bachelor s degree from a regionally accredited university or college. No
2 particular undergraduate major is required, as Legal Studies Master s Degree students come from a variety of educational experiences and backgrounds. 2. Achieved an undergraduate cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the on-campus program or at least a 3.25 on a 4.0 scale for the online program. (Exemptions to the minimum grade point average are made in only exceptional circumstances.) 3. An official TOEFL score (see policy in the UIS Catalog) sent directly by the testing agency. The institutional code number for the UIS is Online Master's program applicants must have scores of at least 600 (PBT), 250 (CBT), or 100 (IBT). The minimum score requirement for on campus program applicants is 570 (PBT), 230 (CBT), or 88 (IBT). 4. Complete the required prerequisite course LES 202: The American Legal System (3 credit hours) or its equivalent prior to their first semester. No credit will be given toward the graduate degree for this course. Complete the required preparatory courses, LES 401: Legal Research and Citation and either LES 402: Legal Writing and Analysis or LES 472: Legal Studies Research Methods or their equivalents, within one year of admission into the Program. No credit will be given toward the graduate degree for these courses. (LES 401 is offered during the fall term and is a prerequisite for LES 402, which is offered during the spring term.) A grade of "B" or better must have been earned in these courses to be considered sufficient to meet the prerequisite and preparatory requirements. If a student wishes to receive credit for an equivalent course a petition must be filed with the Legal Studies Department. Determination of whether a course taken elsewhere is equivalent to a Legal Studies course is made on a case by case basis. Requests for waiver should be submitted on the student petition form available from the UIS Records and Registration Forms website. Students can find the petition form at: C. Conditional Admission The Legal Studies Department reserves the right to accept students provisionally. Full admission to the program can be conditioned on achieving a grade of B or better in certain designated courses or participating in English language training. After the student has completed the agreed courses and/or training, the LES Graduate Admissions Committee reviews the student s file. File reviews are conducted on an ongoing basis throughout the school year. When complete, the admission decision will be promptly communicated to the student and to the UIS Admissions Office. D. Financial Assistance, Internships and Graduate Assistantships For information about the cost of tuition or financial assistance, students should contact the UIS Office of Financial Assistance at (217)
3 Students may find information about UIS Scholarships at: In terms of internships, UIS offers several great internship programs for graduate students, including: The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program, the Graduate Public Service Intern Program, Graduate Assistantships, and the Whitney M. Young Graduate Fellowship Program. For more information on the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program, please contact Barbara VanDyke-Brown at (217) or or visit: For more information on the Graduate Public Service Intern Program, please contact Shawn Shures at (217) or or visit: For more information on Graduate Assistantships, please contact Leslie DeFrates at (217) or or visit: For more information on the Whitney M. Young Graduate Fellowship Program, please contact Leslie DeFrates at (217) or or visit: Material on financial aid, internships, and graduate assistantships must be submitted early in the calendar year, please contact the UIS Office of Financial Assistance and each internship program for additional information. III. COURSE REQUIREMENTS The courses in the Legal Studies Master s Degree curriculum fall into four categories: Required preparatory and preliminary courses, if courses not previously taken (0 10 hours). Complete the required prerequisite course LES 202: The American Legal System (3 credit hours) or its equivalent prior to their first semester. No credit will be given toward the graduate degree for this course. Complete the required preparatory courses, LES 401: Legal Research and Citation (4 credit hours) and either LES 402: Legal Writing and Analysis or LES 472: Legal Studies Research Methods (3 credit hours) or their equivalents, within one year of admission into the Program. Program core courses (20 credit hours) Legal Studies electives (8 credit hours). These courses must be LES prefixed courses, or approved in lieu thereof, at the 400 level or higher. All electives must be approved by a student s faculty advisor.
4 General electives are courses at the 400 level or higher, chosen by the student in consultation with the adviser (8 credit hours). These courses do not have to be taken in the Legal Studies program. All electives must be approved by a student s faculty advisor. Many Legal Studies courses must be taken in sequence. LES 501 must be taken the first fall semester of the student s enrollment. LES 401 and LES 501 must be successfully completed prior to taking LES 587. LES 401, LES 501, and LES 587 must be successfully completed prior to taking LES 504. Not every course is offered every semester. The department recommends that courses be taken the year and semester indicated in the recommended order. Almost all Legal Studies graduate level courses are taught only online or in the evening. A 4 credit hour evening course generally meets once a week from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. IV. CLINICAL EDUCATION Clinical Education offers a self-directed learning and work experience in a legal setting, enabling students to develop skills necessary for success in a legal environment. A. Credits It is possible to earn up to 8 hours of Clinical Education credits. Each credit hour is the equivalent of 50 working hours; a 4 credit hour course requires 200 hours in the placement. The course is graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only. B. Location Placement options include courts, administrative agencies, state and federal attorneys offices, legal aid offices, private law firms, and other public interest groups. Some are paid some are not. Employment in a law related area, public service and legislative internships (e.g., Graduate Public Service Internships, or GPSI), as well as relevant graduate assistantships may be used for clinical education if your placement meets the requirements. C. Timing Clinical placements should be discussed with the appropriate faculty at least one semester before the student is planning to take the course. A Clinical Education Course Form (available in the department office) must be approved by both the department's chair and the student's faculty adviser before registration in the course will be allowed.
5 V. CLOSURE REQUIREMENTS The university requires each graduate student to complete a closure exercise to enable the department to assess the student's level of learning and readiness to be a master s level candidate. Legal Studies has determined this requirement may be fulfilled either by completing a thesis or passing LES 504: Graduate Seminar, a "Capstone Course". A. Option A: Graduate Seminar (LES 504) As described by the University, "a capstone course is an integrative course utilizing theoretical and applied aspects of the relevant discipline and shall include a major writing component such as a case study, project, or examination." In Legal Studies, the capstone course is LES 504, which provides students an opportunity to build upon and further develop research, writing, and analytical thinking skills and to apply these skills to the resolution of current substantive legal problems or issues in such a way that the relationship of law to society and to social change is heightened. The course is normally offered every spring semester. Seminar topic and design vary with the instructor, but always includes a major writing component. In addition, the department at the end of the course sponsors a presentation of student seminar projects developed in the course. These may include individual research presentations, panels presenting a variety of positions on the thesis topic, or other format depending on the seminar design. Presentations are announced and are open to LES faculty and students and other interested individuals. B. Option B: Thesis (LES 590) A master's thesis represents a sustained research essay, original in either its research material or mode of integration, written individually by a student, on an approved topic germane to the field." Students can register for up to eight credit hours of thesis. Grading is on a Credit/No Credit basis. To prepare a thesis, a student must choose a thesis adviser consistent with the student's interest and the proposed topic. The thesis adviser is a faculty member, not necessarily from the LES faculty, who is willing to supervise the student work on the proposal project. The thesis adviser may be (but is often not) the same person as the academic adviser. A completed thesis is presented, orally and in writing, to a thesis committee for review and approval. A thesis committee consists of at least three persons, including your thesis adviser and two or more additional faculty members. At least one of the faculty members must be from Legal Studies. Another, from outside the department, is appointed by the dean after consultation with the thesis adviser. When all elements of the thesis exercise have been satisfactorily completed, each member of the committee signs the Closure Approval Form,
6 which is attached to the written thesis and submitted to the dean. NOTE: If the student does not complete the thesis after completing 4 credits, the student must register for 1 credit hour each semester until finishing or until 8 thesis hours are accumulated. If the thesis is still not completed, the student must register to audit thesis for one credit each semester until completing the thesis unless a petition for leave of absence is granted. The following thesis proposal format is required from all LES graduate students intending to take the Thesis option for the closing exercise. Students should submit the proposal to their thesis committee chair, who will then distribute it to the thesis committee. The thesis proposal must be approved by all members of the committee. The proposal should include: 1. Title page, including the student s name, thesis title and names of the committee members. 2. Statement of research problem in question. 3. Research objectives. 4. Theoretical foundation/preliminary Literature Review. 5. Research approach, design, and methodology. 6. Expected results/findings and potential significance. 7. Initial list of references. Approval of the proposal by the committee is required prior to the student being given permission to register for LES 590. It is expected that the proposal will be written, defended, and approved by the committee prior to the semester the student enrolls in LES 590. VI. FACULTY ADVISERS Each student is assigned a faculty adviser upon being admitted to the Legal Studies Department. The faculty adviser is available to assist the student to plan the overall course of graduate study. The adviser also may provide advice, explain course options, and help if any academic difficulties or concerns arise while at UIS. Advisers are required to sign a variety of forms, including applications for clinical or thesis studies. Most advisers require, at a minimum, that the student meet with them before they will approve a project. Students may change advisers at any time by filing a university form used for this purpose available from the department secretary. It is the student's responsibility to make sure the new adviser has all pertinent academic records including the academic plan developed with the prior adviser. Students are asked to talk with their faculty adviser at least once a semester and prior to registering for courses.
7 VII. WAIVERS Students must fulfill all program course requirements unless they receive a waiver of a requirement. Waivers are often requested when: It is impossible for a student to take a required class. A student has already taken one of the required classes as an undergraduate (or an equivalent) and wants to take an alternative class instead. Waivers apply only to the requirement, not to the number of credit hours. The required credit hours to obtain the degree are not changed by obtaining a waiver. Waivers of Legal Studies requirements are unrelated to university admissions actions concerning transfer credits for courses taken elsewhere. To request a waiver, a completed University Student Petition Form stating the requested waiver action, reasons it should be granted, and how it will affect the student's academic plan, and signed by the student's faculty adviser, must be submitted to the Legal Studies Waiver Committee. The Committee will notify the adviser when action has been taken. If approved, the signed petition is sent to the registrar for notation when checking final graduation comments. If the request relates to a course requirement or prerequisite already met, the petition should include statements of: The work experience and course(s) already taken, including a detailed description of the course content and the text(s) used (attach syllabus if course is taken at another school); A statement of how that course or work experience meets the requirement for which the waiver is being requested; A copy of the transcript showing that the course was completed and the grade earned in it; and The course being proposed in lieu of the required course. If the request relates to a required course the student was unable to take, the petition should include a statement of: How many times the course requested to be waived was offered and why it was not taken at one of those times; and What other courses will be taken if the waiver is granted. The Legal Studies Waiver Committee has the sole authority to grant waiver requests. Decisions are made by majority vote of the committee. Decisions may be appealed to the entire Legal Studies Department Committee.
8 VIII. INCOMPLETE POLICY Incompletes will be given only in extreme circumstances. Failure to complete assignments is not an extreme circumstance. Legal Studies Department policy requires that incompletes be given only if at least 50% of the course work has been completed and the student has a passing grade (at graduate minimums) at the time of the request. All approvals for an incomplete are at the discretion of the instructor. A student granted an incomplete will be given a provisional grade and must have a written plan for completion approved by the instructor and department chair. The Legal Studies Department policy requires the provisional grade to be an F. So regardless of the plan, the course grade will become an F at the end of the following semester unless the course is completed before then. IX. TIME LIMITATIONS & CONTINUING ENROLLMENT All graduate credit earned at the UIS to be applied toward the completion of a master s degree must be taken within six consecutive years of the first graduate course taken at UIS in pursuit of that degree. This does not include transfer credit earned before the first term of graduate enrollment, credit granted for prior learning, and prerequisites; however, it does include closure requirements. Exceptions may be granted by degree programs on a case-bycase basis, and programs may also grant leaves of absence. X. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY Students in the Legal Studies Master s Degree Program agree to abide by the UIS Academic Integrity Policy by establishing authentic and ethical behavior in their academic work. Plagiarism, cheating, misrepresentation, academic interference, unauthorized access, and facilitation are all considered academic violations. Violations of the Academic Integrity Policy may result in sanctions including failing the assignment, failing the course, transcript notation, and/or referral for Academic Hearing. The UIS Academic Integrity Policy can be found at XI. REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE LEARNING A. Minimum Computer Requirements Windows XP or higher / Mac OS X 1.5Ghz processor or higher 1GB of RAM Broadband internet connection (cable/dsl) Sound card Headset with microphone Video card with minimum resolution of 1024x768 pixels
9 B. Recommended Software Applications Java Web Browsers: Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer or Safari Screen Reading Software: Natural Reader 6.5 Audio and Media Players: Apple itunes, Real Player, Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Shockwave File Compression: Winzip File Readers: Adobe Acrobat Reader Microsoft Office Viewers: Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint C. Blackboard Blackboard is the learning management system at UIS that allows students are able to access class materials and interact with their professors and fellow students. Blackboard has an easy to navigate interface for students and offers students 24/7 access to their course. Students may find additional information about Blackboard at: Students may view a brief video, showing different aspects of Blackboard at: _Web_(1024x768)_-_ _ AM.html. D. Additional Resources Additional information on online learning requirements may be found at: XII. Graduation REQUIREMENTS A. Catalog Requirements Degree requirements are set forth in the UIS Catalog that is in effect when a student takes his or her first graduate level course. The student should keep a copy of that initial catalog for reference purposes. All students have the option of following the degree requirements set forth in the catalog in effect at the time of graduation. The option must be made prior to submitting the graduation contract.. B. Program Requirements In order to be a candidate for a Master of Arts Degree in Legal Studies, students must complete all of the following requirements:
10 Full admission to the Legal Studies Master s Degree Program. Full admission to UIS. Completion of a minimum of 36 hours of course work, including all program course requirements set forth in the catalog. Satisfaction of all university graduation requirements specified in the catalog Maintenance of a "B" grade point average or higher. A "B" grade point average means a minimum score of 3.0 on a 4.0 grade point system for all of the courses taken together. A maximum of 4 credit hours of "C" are allowed in Legal Studies elective course(s). An additional four credit hours of a C grade are allowed in non Legal Studies Courses as long as a "B" GPA is maintained. All clinical education courses and tutorials are graded on a Credit/No Credit basis. Other courses may be taken on a Credit/No Credit basis at the student's option. Graduate students must earn a minimum of "B" to receive credit in a class for which they have chosen the Credit/No Credit option. Prerequisite and preparatory courses taken at UIS to meet admissions requirements are not factored into the graduate student's overall GPA. C. Graduation Application Requirements Prior to graduation, all students must submit an online graduation application and submit an approved Graduation Application Signature Form. Students must complete this process by the posted deadline. A mandatory graduation application fee will be charged to each student upon submission of the graduation application. Forms and instructions for both the graduation contract and graduation application can be found on the Records and Registration Forms website. Students with questions concerning any of the information above or regarding graduation eligibility should contact Graduation at (217) or X. SUGGESTED READINGS Below is a list of suggested readings for students read before enrolling in their first Legal Studies course. The following books address issues frequently discussed in our courses or are otherwise interesting. Amar, A. R. (2005). America s Constitution: A Biography. New York, NY: Random House. Carter, Lief, & Burke, T. (2004). Reason in Law. New York, NY: Longman Publishing Group. Calvi, J.V. & Coleman, S. (2008). American Law and Legal Systems. (6 th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Kairys, D. (1998). The Politics of Law: A Progressive Critique. New York, NY: Basic Books. Lewis, A. (1989). Gideon's Trumpet. New York, NY: Vintage.
11 Madison, J, Hamilton, A, Jay, J, & Kramnick, I. (1987). The Federalist Papers. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books. Stern, G. (2008). The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the Survivors of One of the Worst Disasters in Coal-Mining History Brought Suit Against the Coal Company-- and Won. New York, NY: Vintage. Toobin, Jeffrey. (2007). The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. New York, NY: Doubleday. Turow, S. (2010). One L: The Turbulent True story of a First Year at Harvard Law School. New York, NY: Penguin Books. Wendell, O. (1991). The Common Law. St. Mineola, NY: Dover Publishers.
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