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Graduation Requirements for M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture

Academic Requirements

The University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Center for Law, Justice & Culture define the academic requirements for the program of study.


(34 credit hours)

This degree requires a minimum of 34 credit hours, consisting of 10 hours of core coursework, 20 hours of elective coursework, and 4 hours of research.

All students must complete a research requirement by producing an M.A. thesis or a master’s research essay. There is no option for comprehensive exams.

The M.A. is conferred when students have fulfilled the requirements of 10 hours of core coursework, 20 hours of elective coursework, and a minimum of 4 hours of research leading to either the Master’s Research Essay or the Master’s Thesis option. The M.A. research essay option is more appropriate for students entering or continuing professional careers following the M.A. degree, while the M.A. thesis option is more appropriate for students who plan to enter doctoral programs.

No grade below a “C” (2.0) can be used to satisfy any degree requirement, but the grade will be counted toward the grade point average (GPA). Courses may be retaken to achieve a better grade, but all grades received are calculated into the graduate GPA. Conferral of the M.A. degree requires at least a “B” (3.0) grade-point average (GPA). The GPA in formal coursework is computed separately from the average in research, thesis, and dissertation credits to determine eligibility for graduation. A GPA of at least a “B” (3.0) is required in each category.

Upon acceptance into the program, students will be assigned to the Graduate Program Director as their faculty adviser. The Graduate Program Director will work with each student to determine the student’s preliminary program of study and research essay or thesis option. Students should maintain close contact with the Graduate Program Adviser in order to develop a viable program of study and avoid graduation delays.

Core Coursework—Required Courses

(10 credit hours)

Master’s degree students must take the following three core courses at the 6000 level for a total of 10 credit hours.

These courses provide an in-depth understanding of the epistemological foundations of the discipline. Students are introduced to the theory and practice of law & society studies at a level of synthesis that will prepare them for future doctoral study should they wish to pursue it. These courses also establish the foundations of understanding that will prepare students for nonacademic careers that employ sociolegal perspectives, knowledge, and skills.

  • LJC 6000: LJC Proseminar: This proseminar exposes students to law and society studies from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students learn the theoretical traditions of law and society scholarship through readings from different disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. (4 credits)
  • LJC 6500: LJC Methods: This course addresses the methodological techniques employed for law and society research and considers how these methodological approaches relate to various theoretical frameworks. It focuses on empirical research and includes practical training on methods such as interviewing, participant observation, sampling, and ethics. (4 credits)
  • LJC 6965: Legal Practice Workshop: This course introduces the research, writing, and analytical skills that legal professionals need in their legal practice, including the basics of legal research and legal reference for a variety of print and electronic media. (2 credits)

Elective Coursework

(20 credit hours)

Students must take five elective courses from affiliated departments for a total of 20 credit hours. Students may take  5000-level dual-listed courses and 6000-level graduate seminar courses, with at least two electives at the 6000 level.

A minimum of 12 additional credit hours must be selected from the list below in conjunction with the faculty advisor and/or the advisory committee members and approved by the program graduate coordinator. Additional electives may be selected as they become available.

The elective courses – from African American studies, anthropology, criminology, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology -- employ interdisciplinary frameworks to examine law and legal institutions, their impact on society, and society’s impact on them. The elective courses are all designed and taught by faculty with the Ph.D. or JD degree.

Approved Electives
  • ANTH 5530: Anthropology of Violence and Peace
  • ANTH 6590: Legal Anthropology
  • ANTH 5620: Human Rights, Law & Justice
  • ANTH 5620: Human Rights, Law & Justice in Northern Ireland
  • HIST 5520: Roman Law & Society
  • HIST 5270: Slavery in the Americas
  • LJC 6940: LJC Independent Research
  • PHIL 5420: Philosophy of Law
  • POLS 5010: American Constitutional Law
  • POLS 5040: Civil Liberties
  • POLS 5190: LGBTQ Politics
  • POLS 5210: Politics of Law & Sexuality
  • POLS 5550: International Law
  • POLS 5555: Transitional Justice
  • POLS 5565: International Human Rights
  • POLS 5705: Politics of Rights
  • POLS 5740: Sexuality and Queer Theories
  • POLS 5751: Critical Race Theory
  • POLS 5753: American Whiteness
  • POLS 5757: Race, Violence and Human Security
  • POLS 5770: Legal Theory and Social Problems
  • POLS 5902: Special Topics in Law and Politics
  • POLS 6600: Seminar in Law and Politics
  • SOC 5620: Sociology of the Courts
  • SOC 5640: Law in Societies
  • SOC 5670: Violence against Women
  • SOC 5680: Crimes Against Humanity
  • SOC 5710: Gender and Justice
  • SOC 6030: Seminar in Crime & Deviance
  • SOC 6090: Graduate Seminar in Law

Independent Study

Under special circumstances, students may enroll in a graduate-level LJC 6930: Independent Reading in Law, Justice & Culture or LJC 6940: Independent Research in Law, Justice & Culture to fulfill their elective course requirements. Enrollment in these courses requires written approval from the student’s academic adviser, who is also the Graduate Program Director, as well as the Instructor of Record for the course. No more than 8 hours of graduate-level courses in Independent Reading or Independent Research (beyond the 4 hours of LJC 6940 associated with the Master’s Research Essay option) may be included in a student’s program of study. The Independent Study permission form is included in this graduate handbook.

Culminating Experience

(4 credit hours)

After completing both LJC 6000 and LJC 6500, students must complete graduate-level research under faculty supervision through one research course for 4 credit hours. The research course options require students to demonstrate the integration of theory and methods throughout all phases of law and society empirical research including project design, data collection, data analysis, and research presentation.

Note: Online students will in most cases take the LJC 6800: Capstone in Law, Justice & Culture.

The research options include:

  • LJC 6800: Capstone in Law, Justice & Culture—This is a faculty-led course that systematically guides students through the process of independent empirical research. LJC 6800 culminates in a master’s research essay to be evaluated by the faculty instructor in accordance with the program’s established evaluation rubric for major papers.
  • LJC 6940: Independent Research in Law, Justice & Culture—This course provides the opportunity for students to pursue independent research under close supervision of a faculty member. This may involve research on one aspect of the faculty supervisor’s broader research project. LJC 6940 culminates in a master’s research essay to be evaluated by the faculty supervisor in accordance with the program’s established evaluation rubric for major papers.
  • LJC 6950: Thesis in Law, Justice & Culture—This course provides the opportunity for students to pursue independent thesis research under close supervision of a faculty committee, including one primary faculty adviser. LJC 6950 culminates in a master’s thesis to be evaluated by the faculty committee in accordance with the program’s established thesis criteria.

All of the graduate research options culminate in a final written scholarly analysis: either a master’s research essay or a master’s thesis. The master’s research essay is a work of publishable quality and length, written as an extension of work done across the coursework, but researched and reshaped to meet professional standards of scholarly publication. The thesis is a carefully argued work of scholarship that represents a novel contribution to law and society studies in the arts and sciences.

Research Options – 4 credit hours

Students may choose to write a master’s research essay or master’s thesis as part of their degree.

The M.A. research essay presents a substantial paper with strong analysis and discussion of secondary sources and some analysis of primary sources and original research, carried out over one semester, while the M.A. thesis presents original and innovative contribution to scholarly knowledge based on original research, carried out over a minimum of two semesters. The thesis is usually longer (75-100 pages) than the research essay (25-40 pages), although this may vary depending on approach and methodology. In addition, the thesis is usually more ambitious in constructing or testing theory. Additional details on the distinctions between a thesis and a major research paper are available in this graduate handbook.

Students whose work involves research with human subjects (questionnaires, interviews, or participant observation, for example) must gain the approval of the Ohio University Office of Research Compliance before they begin their research. Please communicate in advance of your planned research with the Program Director/Academic Adviser for more information about the IRB process.

Master’s Research Essay Option – 4 credit hours

The M.A. research essay option requires a substantial research paper produced under faculty supervision in accordance with program guidelines. Students are strongly encouraged to present their research findings to a wider audience at a CLJC or departmental research workshop or symposium or academic conference.

Students electing to write the M.A. research essay must enroll in one 4-credit course, either Research Capstone or Independent Research, in the final semester of graduate study. Research Capstone provides the opportunity for students to pursue independent research on a topic of their own choosing under the supervision of the capstone instructor. Independent Research provides the opportunity for students to pursue research on topics identified by an individual faculty member under the supervision of that faculty member. Independent Research opportunities will be circulated in fall semester, and matches will be made by spring registration period in Week 10 in fall semester. Students will determine whether to pursue Research Capstone or Independent Research in consultation with the Program Director/Academic Adviser.

The M.A. research essay will be reviewed and either approved or returned for revision and resubmission by the CLJC Graduate Committee, in accordance with the process outlined in this graduate handbook.

Thesis Option – 4 credit hours

The M.A. thesis option requires a thesis and an oral defense. Students are strongly encouraged to present their research findings to a wider audience at a CLJC or departmental research workshop or symposium or academic conference.

Students electing to write a thesis must select a thesis committee consisting of a thesis adviser and two additional committee members. The thesis adviser and at least one committee member must be CLJC faculty affiliates. Qualified individuals from outside CLJC and/or Ohio University may be eligible to serve as the third member of the thesis committee, through consultation with the thesis adviser and graduate program director.

Students considering the M.A. thesis option must consult with the Graduate Program Director very early in their graduate study. Students pursuing the thesis option must enroll in two 4-credit courses of CLJC Thesis, including 4 credits in the final semester of graduate study. In consultation with the Graduate Program Director, the thesis adviser must be established early in fall semester, prior to enrolling in thesis hours in that semester. As soon as the thesis adviser has been identified, the student must inform the Graduate Administrator so that the faculty member’s name can be entered into the CLJC records.

When a topic has been selected, the student, in conjunction with the thesis adviser, establishes the committee and develops the thesis proposal in accordance with program guidelines, outlined in this graduate handbook. Copies of the proposal will be routed to members of the thesis committee and a proposal hearing will be scheduled prior to the end of the semester prior to the final semester of graduate study. All students must pass a proposal hearing as well as a final oral defense of the thesis.

The completion of the thesis must be followed by an oral defense before the Thesis Committee. A successful format review, oral defense, and electronic submission of the thesis to the College of Graduate Studies for review completes the program requirements. Students are required to follow all procedures and timetables specified by the College of Graduate Studies.

Students who elect to write a thesis should become familiar with the university’s requirements and deadlines for organizing and submitting the thesis: all forms and guidelines from Thesis and Dissertation (TAD) Services.

The thesis option is highly recommended for students interested in graduate work beyond the Master of Arts degree.

Timeline for Completion

All forms for applicants and current students are available on the Graduate College website.

The Academic Calendar listing all important date is available at the Office of the Registrar website.

Full-Time and Part-Time Students

To be considered a full-time student, students must register for a minimum of 9 semester hours. Students with graduate research, teaching, or graduate assistantship appointments must register for a minimum of 12 graduate semester hours. Students scheduling more than 18 semester hours must have permission and will be charged an additional fee for each hour taken above 18 semester hours.

Semester Advising Consultations

All students must meet with the Graduate Program Director, who is also the Academic Adviser, prior to registration for the next semester. Students should schedule this meeting in advance for Week 8 or Week 9. Students should come to this meeting prepared to discuss their planned course of study the following semester. Registration will not be permitted until this consultation has occurred.

Program Mission

The M.A. degree in Law, Justice & Culture trains students in critical analysis of law as it operates in relation to society, culture, politics, and power in the United States as well as international contexts. Housed in the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, the M.A. program prepares students for professional positions in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector, or for further training in J.D. or Ph.D. programs.

Program Learning Objectives

Graduates of this program will demonstrate:

  1. Understanding of a law and society perspective built upon a critical approach to law in relation to society, culture, politics and power (Core Knowledge)
  2. Basic knowledge of social science data collection methods and the analytic techniques that scholars use to evaluate their data (Research Methods and Analysis)
  3. Ability to carry out graduate level academic research in law and society studies through project design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and representation (Independent Research)
  4. Professional skills necessary for ethical and engaged scholarship and practice (Professionalism)

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