Overview of the Honors Program
The Legal Studies Honors Program offers outstanding seniors the opportunity to research a topic of interest, learn to conduct original scholarly research from theoretical and empirical perspectives, work independently under the supervision of a Legal Studies or Berkeley Law faculty member, write an honors thesis, and ultimately graduate with departmental honors. For students seriously considering the Legal Studies Honors Program, please read the “Legal Studies Honors Program Guide“.
In addition to writing a thesis, many Legal Studies Honors Program participants also present their work at the annual Legal Studies Undergraduate Research Conference at the end of April or early May. More information about the conference can be found here.
Past Legal Studies Honors Highest Honors Theses can be found here.
Course Requirements for the Honors Program
Students must enroll in the Legal Studies H195A Honors Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year prior to writing their thesis. Legal Studies H195A is a rigorous four unit letter-graded seminar designed to refine a student’s knowledge about how to make a scholarly legal studies inquiry, including how to select a research topic and question, design an effective research strategy, and construct the basic elements of a research proposal intended for an honors thesis. Once spring semester grades have officially posted to the transcript, students should send an e-mail to Lauri La Pointe Lauri@berkeley.edu to request enrollment codes. Lauri will check eligibility and then e-mail students back with a CCN and CEC for the fall Honors Seminar.
Petition Process for Enrollment in LS H195A, Honors Seminar
All students with at least a 3.5 UCB GPA and a 3.5 in upper division courses taken for the major by the end of spring term prior to fall enrollment in LS H195A (Honors Seminar) are automatically eligible upon request to Lauri La Pointe Lauri@berkeley.edu via e-mail. Students who’s UCB GPA is 3.3 or higher and who’s GPA for upper division courses taken for the major is 3.4 or higher by the end of the spring term may petition the Faculty Director of Legal Studies for admission to LS H195A. Send an unofficial copy of your UCB transcript and a petition statement no longer than 1 double-spaced page indicating your interest in honors and in the conduct of research directly to Professor Musheno at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 30 of the year before you request admission to the Honors Seminar. Professor Musheno will review your transcript and petition and respond to you directly upon reviewing all petitions.
There is no petition process for enrolling in LS H195B.
During the spring semester following completion of the Legal Studies H195A Honors Seminar, students enroll in four letter-graded units of Legal Studies H195B. Legal Studies H195B is an independent study course (no lecture involved), under the supervision of their thesis faculty supervisor, in which students conduct the majority of the research and complete the writing of their thesis.
In order to enroll in Legal Studies H195B, students must obtain an approved advisor from the Legal Studies Program or Berkeley Law Faculty, meet the GPA and major requirements listed below as demonstrated by fall semester grades posted to a student’s official transcript, and must submit the form signed by the student, the Director of Legal Studies, and the student’s faculty advisor to Lauri La Pointe in order to obtain the Course Entry Code (CEC) and Course Control Number (CCN) necessary to enroll in the course.
Please note that while the Legal Studies H195B form can be turned in prior to the end of the Fall semester, a student will not be able to formally enroll in H195B until his or her Fall semester grades have been posted to his or her transcript. It is not sufficient for grades to have posted only to Bearfacts. There is no petition process for LS H195B.
***Beginning Fa13 the minimum UCB GPA required will be 3.5***
Eligibility for the Honors Program
In order to participate in the Honors Program, Legal Studies students must:
- Currently have at least a 3.5 cumulative UCB GPA;
- Currently have at least a 3.5 GPA in all upper division courses taken for the major; and
- Have completed at least half of the Legal Studies course requirements.
***Beginning Fa13 the minimum UCB GPA required will be 3.5***
Requirements to Graduate with Departmental Honors in Legal Studies
To graduate with departmental honors, students must:
- Enroll in LS H195A Honors Seminar in the fall semester before writing the thesis;
- Enroll in LS H195B in the spring semester following successful completion of the LS H195A Honors Seminar and meet the gpa requirements;
- Meet periodically throughout the semester with the faculty supervisor during the spring;
- Complete an honors thesis, with a minimum of 40 written pages, approved by the student’s approved faculty advisor; and
- Finish their final semester with at least a 3.5 UCB GPA and at least a 3.5 major GPA.
The thesis is read by the faculty supervisor who will assign a letter grade. There are three levels of departmental honors: Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors. The level of honors is based on the final upper division major/Honors GPA and the quality of the thesis as decided by a student’s faculty advisor. The following ranges may be followed in determining the level of honors assigned:
General Guide to Honors GPAs:
Honors 3.50 – 3.65
High Honors 3.66 – 3.79
Highest Honors 3.80 or above
Note: The eight units (H195A and H195B) count towards the 32 upper division units required for the major.
Note: If a student has taken more than 32 upper division units of Legal Studies requirements, the Honors GPA will be calculated using the best 32 upper division units that fulfill the major requirements.
Note: Both the H195A and H195B grades are used in the final upper division major/Honors GPA calculation as well as the UCB GPA.
Note: A safe due date for the final thesis is the last day of class. However, a different due date can be decided upon by the faculty supervisor and student as long as the grade can be submitted by the last day of egrades. The egrades deadline varies each semester.