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USD to Offer South Dakota's Only Legal Studies Major

A beautiful, classic picture of Old Main on USD USD offers a new interdisciplinary major and minor in legal studies

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota College of Arts & Sciences has announced a new interdisciplinary major and minor in legal studies that will allow students to explore the history and impact of the law, its underlying theoretical and philosophical framework, and the political, economic, and cultural forces that affect its development.

At its May meeting, the South Dakota Board of Regents approved new Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies. Graduates with an undergraduate degree in legal studies are prepared to pursue graduate or professional study in law, the humanities or other disciplines, and to begin careers in fields such as business, human resources, journalism, public policy and social work.

“We have intentionally structured the program so that students will leave USD with a well-rounded liberal arts education that prepares them for any career they choose, even if they decide that law is not for them,” said Sandy McKeown, J.D., Blair & Linda Tremere Professor of Arts & Sciences and director of USD’s Criminal Justice Studies Program. “Their core courses will help them develop their reasoning, communication and advocacy skills.”

The Board of Regents also approved a legal studies minor that complements numerous major courses of study available at USD. When combined with a program in the natural sciences, for example, graduates will be well-positioned for careers in research compliance or regulatory affairs. Graduates will also be eligible for entry level jobs in human resources, equal employment opportunity compliance or similar administrative fields.

Courses required for the major will be found in numerous departments, including political science, criminal justice studies, history and philosophy. The USD College of Arts & Sciences anticipates enrolling approximately 35 students in the legal studies program over the next four years.

“USD offers the first legal studies major at any regental institution in South Dakota. As the location of the state’s only law school and an established and comprehensive program in criminal justice studies, USD is well suited to step into that breach and provide students with an interdisciplinary view of the law,” McKeown said.

In addition to the coursework, students will be offered a full pre-law experience through the major, pre-law advising and extracurricular opportunities such as Pre-Law Society and Mock Trial.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News