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Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political/Legal Studies

Celebrate our history. Influence our future.

In the heart of every Political/Legal Studies degree major at William Woods University is a special kind of passion — one for seeking justice and the truth, for pursuing equality, becoming an advocate, making a difference. This major will prepare you for work in any field that is impacted by law or politics, which includes all private sector, non-profit, NGO and government employers. It will prepare you for graduate study in political science, public administration, leadership, legal studies and related programs. In addition, our graduates have a 100 percent law school acceptance rate.

The Bachelors in Political/Legal Studies degree program combines coursework in political science, concepts and theory with legal studies — an interdisciplinary approach to the meanings and values of legality. It focuses on the liberal arts of law and political thought and includes practical skills such as legal research and writing; oral and written advocacy; and the opportunity for internships and field experience. You will develop skills to conduct negotiations and mediations, construct and defend reasoned arguments, engage in effective advocacy, analyze political and legal issues, polish your writing skills and confidently navigate the American legal and political systems.

Special opportunities

There are many ways to learn the legal world, get involved and gain experience.

  • Participate in competitive mock trial through the William Woods University American Mock Trial Team. We also have our own Model Court Room
  • Join our prelaw chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, International, the largest legal fraternity in the world
  • Obtain a specialized certificate in prelaw or political studies
  • Engage in internships for academic credit in the legal or political fields in a variety of settings such as government agencies, law firms, or the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state or federal government
  • Attend conferences related to your interests
  • Conduct scholarly research in law or political science
  • Take part in political and advocacy activities through public service and other events

Our Political/Legal Studies degree at work

Our alumni have found successful careers in leading agencies, companies and firms:

  • Noble Biocare International
  • Bell & Watson, PLLC, Memphis, TN
  • Cox Health Systems
  • Missouri Secretary of State
  • High Caliber Stables, North Carolina
  • North Star Resource Group
  • Columbia Police Department
  • United States Marine Corp
  • General Motors
  • Province of Ontario
  • Pate's Law Group, Orlando FL
  • William Woods University
  • Boomerang Strategies, McKinney, TX
  • State of Missouri
  • Spectrum Brands, Inc.
  • McAdams, LTD
  • DeVry Education Group, Government Relations Department
  • Midwest Litigation Services
  • Chelsea Meadows Equestrian Center
  • Veteran's United Home Loans
  • Missouri Division of Youth Services
  • New Bloomfield Schools
  • United States Senate, Office of the Press Secretary for the Environment and Public Works Committee
  • Legislative Lobbyist firm for the KC Chiefs and others
  • Central Trust & Investment Company
  • Boone County Circuit Clerk
  • Florida GAL Foundation
  • Dinsmoer & Shohl, Commercial Litigation, Kentucky
  • Prosecuting Attorney office, Lincoln County and others
  • Kathy J. Weinman Children's Advocacy Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Scholastic

Some graduate and law schools attended by political/legal studies and criminal justice grads:

  • University of Missouri Law School
  • University of Missouri Master's and Doctorate program in Political Science
  • University of Missouri Master's in Education
  • Oklahoma City Law School
  • St. Louis University Law School
  • American University Law School, Washington, DC
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Master's program in Political Science
  • Barry University Law School - Florida
  • William Mitchell College of Law
  • Master's of Liberal Arts in Journalism, Harvard
  • University of Denver Law School

Alumni Perspectives

I am always proud of this program when I learn students have been accepted to law or graduate school; have been selected for awards through their professional work after leaving WWU; or send me an email telling me how much our program has helped them in their personal and professional lives.

— Cynthia Kramer, Professor of Legal Studies

I have attended three higher education institutions and I can honestly say that I think a young person looking to go to college would be hard pressed to find a better school academically than William Woods. WWU has the small community feeling, where members of the administration and faculty care about your overall success.

— Adam Patchett, political/legal studies graduate and Oklahoma City University School of Law graduate, now an attorney at Powell, Bush & Patchett, L.L.C. in Columbia, Mo.


The Bachelor of Arts in Political/Legal Studies degree at William Woods University consists of 122 distinct credit hours for graduation—including 18 core major credits, 18 required elective credits, a minor, and a year of a foreign language.

Courses you may take

PLS 105 - Politics and Government -S - 3.00

An introduction to the field of political science, including a review of political institutions, political action, theory and practice. The American system of Government will be emphasized.

PLS 110 - American Legal System -S - 3.00

An introduction to the American legal system including sources of law, the court systems and fundamental legal principles in several substantive areas of law.

PLS 210 - Law, Ethics and Morality -E - 3.00

This course takes a critical look at codes of ethics that guide the legal profession and contemporary moral and ethical problems that comprise much of the debate over current legal issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. These topics are examined thought the lens of various ethical theories including utilitarianism, categorical imperative, divine command theory and cultural relativism.

PLS 213 - Critical Thinking About Politics -T - 3.00

This course will introduce you to the use of critical thinking skills to understand and evaluate political speech and action. The course will be structured around the political principles contained in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. We will use the tools of critical thinking to engage in analysis and discussion of concepts contained in these documents including the meaning of justice, liberty, equality and freedom. We will then critically evaluate the use of these terms by current political figures and organizations by looking at political speech, proposals, platforms and actions that utilize these terms.

PLS 303 - American Jurisprudence - 3.00

An introduction to the American legal system through the study of philosophy and theories of law and justice. Prerequisite: PLS110

PLS 304 - American Political Theory - 3.00

An examination of the political philosophies expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Considers the viability of these philosophies in the context of contemporary American society and politics.

PLS 312 - International Law and Politics - 3.00

This course will explore international political and legal issues. Discussion will include international courts and legal standards, such as the Hague Convention, International Criminal court and various treaties on human rights as well as the political structure of countries by comparison with the US system.

PLS 325 - Advocacy - 3.00

The substance of law and politics is persuasive communication. This course will explore how this type of communication is utilized in both judicial and political settings. The course will include the theory of argument as well as hands-on application. Law-related advocacy will focus on opening and closing statements; direct and cross examinations; jury instructions; courtroom demeanor; and appellate argument. Political communication will focus on structured debate and formal argument.

PLS 329 - Conflict & Dispute Resolution - 3.00

In-depth examination of theory and application of judicial and non-judicial forms of dispute resolution, including litigation, medication, and arbitration. Analysis of impact on individuals and society, including economic, social and moral costs.

PLS 415 - Senior Seminar - 3.00

A capstone course which promotes integration and connections between general education and the major; fosters integration and synthesis within the major; and promotes integration and connections between the major and the field. To give students the opportunity to review, connect and integrate the knowledge, skills and values developed from the Juvenile Justice, paralegal or political/legal studies major programs; to apply disciplinary theory and methods in independent learning, creativity, and collaborative problem solving; and to link general education learning and major program learning to career development and/or graduate or professional study options. Allow students to demonstrate the practical application of the liberal arts approach to the study of law utilizing the techniques of legal research, analysis and composition to prepare an in-depth research paper.

PLS 417 - Writing and Research in Public Policy - 3.00

Students will conduct statistical research and utilize appropriate legal or political research methodology for the purpose of proposing, supporting, and advocating for a legal or political policy. May include a service-learning component. Prerequisite: PLS105 and PLS110 (A statistics course is recommended)

PLS 445 - Constitutional Law - 3.00

A case study approach to the allocation of power within the branches of the federal government and between state and federal governments, due process, equal protection, rights of the criminal defendant and the freedoms of speech, religion and privacy. Prerequisite: PLS105 and PLS110


Admissions Information

Learn more about undergraduate admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.

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