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Legal Studies

Graduates of the USM Legal Studies program, the only ABA-approved program in south Mississippi, are job ready for a rewarding career in legal services or prepared to seek admission to law school.

If You Love the Law, Legal Studies is the Place for You!

Students will learn the thinking, writing and research skills to thrive in a legal environment. The advantage of an undergraduate education in legal studies is that our students learn practical skills that will prepare them for success, such as drafting pleadings, interrogatories, contracts, wills, trusts, corporate documents, deeds, leases and more.

From what it takes to create a law firm from scratch to the ins and outs of online billing, document creation and file organization, our graduates leave with first-hand knowledge of the operations of a law firm.

Opportunities abound for students to expand their horizons. They receive support in applying for law school and meet personally with admissions representatives from law schools throughout the Southeast. The program also provides opportunities for students to travel regionally and internationally for course credit as they learn the operations of courts worldwide.


Students can look forward to an introductory class (PLS 381) early in their educational experience. Shortly thereafter (or simultaneously) students will learn essential legal research and writing skills in PLS 383 and PLS 384. From there, the program offers a series of specialized classes in civil litigation, family law, criminal law, real estate law and more.

Students in the pre-law track take classes taught by lawyers that prepare them with thinking and writing skills with a specific eye toward success in law school. Soon-to-be graduates will finish their educational experience with a capstone class that reviews important aspects of legal research and ethics. Along the way, students create legal documents, form a law firm and learn case management software firsthand.

Degree Options

There are two Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees available with this major. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.


Legal Studies graduates are career-ready to join a law firm as a paralegal or to work for companies and governmental agencies in need of basic legal services. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

Graduates of the Legal Studies Prelaw track are prepared for entry into law school. Many students appreciate the opportunity to take law school subjects on the undergraduate level.

Since most classes in the prelaw track are taught by attorneys, students receive "insider" information on being successful in law school. This process relieves some of the stress students typically go through when adjusting to the law school environment.

Recent legal studies graduates have accepted jobs in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio and California.

Courses You Might Take

PLS 499: Study Abroad

As the world becomes smaller, even small law firms are finding themselves working with clients and parties overseas. Our students have visited and attended hearings in international courts and have discussed international legal topics with those working in the field. PLS 499 is typically offered in France during odd-numbered years and Italy during even-numbered years.

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Be aware of our deadlines, $40 application fee and other items on our checklist. Admission requirements vary for freshmen, transfers, prospective Honors College students and others.

Southern Miss undergraduate degrees are available online, at the Hattiesburg campus, at the Gulf Park campus, and/or through a hybrid delivery that includes both online and on-campus courses.