Featured Courses in Prelaw

An interest in prelaw can build the foundation for a career in law, government, business, higher education, communications, sports, or entertainment. Courses focus on the theory and philosophy of law, Constitutional law, and the intersection of legal issues with economics, literature, and human rights.


This listing represents a sample of courses offered by several departments. See the Human Rights Summer Courses and Prelaw Summer Courses pages for complete lists.

HRTS S4220Q. International Human Rights Law. 3 pts.

This course introduces the fundamental concepts and problems of public international law. What are the origins of international law? Is international law really law? Who is governed by it? How are treaties interpreted? What is the relationship between international law and domestic law? We examine the interplay between law and international politics, in particular with reference to international human rights, humanitarian law, the use of force, and international criminal prosecutions. No prior knowledge of international law is required. While the topics are necessarily law-related, the course will assume no prior exposure to legal studies.
see department listings

LAW S3150D. Comparative Jurisprudence. 3 pts.

Jurisprudence, at its core, is the study of legal theory. Fundamentally, however, what is "law?" By studying alternative constitutional systems, what can we learn about the legal foundations of various governments and societies? What influence has legal theory had on the development of very different government structures, and how do different governments grapple with constitutional controversy? This course is designed to explore the basic foundational principles that make up the study of legal theory. It begins by studying the core schools of thought, including natural law, legal positivism, and legal realism. The course then uses these basic concepts to explore and understand the greater development of fundamental, constitutional law and theory within different legal systems in different countries. By comparing various constitution and government structures, using basic legal philosophy as a guide, students will gain a valuable base understanding of the development and execution of legal thought within different societies.
see department listings

LAW S3200Q. Constitutional Crises on Campus: Constitutional Law through the Lens of Higher Education. 3 pts.

The intricacies of the most controversial aspects of the American Constitution play out daily on college campuses across the country. Who gets admitted to elite institutions, and what factors should they consider? Faculties have tenure to protect their right to challenge conventional wisdom, but what exactly does Academic Freedom protect? Students have the right to free speech, or do they? Can a college censor a student newspaper? If a student is disciplined on campus, do they have a right to an attorney? Do students have a property interest in their education that can cost over $100,000? How does the law treat private and public institutions differently? This course is designed to explore the most controversial of constitutional topics including the First Amendment right to free speech, the Fifth Amendment's takings clause, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, procedural due process and substantive due process in regards to life, liberty, and property.
see department listings

The New York
City Experience

Your Day in Court
Tour the New York State Supreme Courthouse, whose trials decide the fate of Manhattan felony prosecutions. Visits include a viewing of an actual court proceeding – as well as an ascent up the steps made famous by TV’s Law & Order.

On the Books
For research on laws and rulings in the city or state of New York, visit the Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL). This branch of the New York Public Library offers resources such as the rulings of New York state’s Court of Appeals since 1990.

Island of Hope
Visit the site where America’s various immigration and naturalization acts were enforced. Ellis Island welcomed about 12 million immigrants to the country’s shores between 1892 and 1954. Hop a ferry to this historic locale.