Adjunct Major & Major

The Legal Studies program currently offers an adjunct major (which may only be taken in conjunction with a departmental major) and, beginning in Fall 2016, a standalone major. Students should check the charts below to see the requirements for each, and to determine which major option they are eligible for. The major and adjunct major are situated in WCAS, but are open to undergraduates in all schools.

Both the adjunct major and the standalone major require completion of the two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar (398-1,2), in which students design and execute an original socio-legal research project. Because demand for the required Advanced Research Seminar often exceeds the enrollment limits, admission to the major and adjunct major are by application only.

To apply for the major or adjunct major, students are required to have taken LEGAL ST 206, "Law in Society", and at least one additional "law-related" course, as found on the Electives page. One of these classes may be "in progress" at the time of application. Learn more about the Major application process here.

The adjunct major requires three core courses (206 and 398-1,2), then 8 other approved electives, including 1 one from each of the 5 categories of electives: Theory/Philosophy, Global/Comparative Perspectives, Institutions/ Organizations/Economics, Law and Inequality, and Legal  Argument/Communications (found on the Electives page). The adjunct major allows for up to 2 courses to double-count. The adjunct major option is available to students who entered the University prior to Fall 2016.

The standalone major requires four core courses taken in sequence (206, 207 "Research Methods in Legal Studies", and 398-1,2), then 8 other approved electives (found on the Electives page). The standalone major does not allow for double-counting. The standalone major is the ONLY option for students entering the University as of Fall 2016. Students who entered the University prior to Fall 2016 may be eligible for the standalone major if they can complete the requirements prior to graduating.

Students can easily track their progress by completing the appropriate Adjunct Major Worksheet or Standalone Major Worksheet .


If you have questions about which major option will work for you, please see the FAQs below, or contact the Legal Studies Program Assistant, Ann Kelchner: legalstudies@northwestern.edu

See the chart below to see the shift in requirements from the Adjunct Major to the Standalone Major.


Adjunct Major / Major Requirements

College guidelines stipulate that students can follow any set of requirements in effect during their undergraduate years. For example, if you entered Northwestern in Fall 2013 and the requirements for your major changed the next year, you can choose to follow the requirements in the 2013-14 Undergraduate Catalog or to follow the revised version in the 2014-15 Undergraduate Catalog—but you can’t pick and choose the requirements you like best from each. (If you are completing two majors, you may choose to follow different Undergraduate Catalogs for the different majors.)

Catalog Requirements:
Academic year 2013-14

Catalog Requirements: 
Academic year 2014-15
Academic year 2015-16

Catalog Requirements:
Academic year 2016-17

Adjunct Major Option - requires another standalone Major to graduate

Adjunct Major Option - requires another standalone Major to graduate

Legal Studies Standalone Major

11 courses required for the major (398-1,2 and nine other courses)

206 not required, but recommended.

11 courses required for the major (206, 398-1,2, and eight other courses)

12 courses required for the major (206, 207, 398-1,2, and eight other courses)

Students are required to take 207 after 206, and before 398-1,2.

Students may double-count two courses toward the adjunct major.*

Students may double-count two courses toward the adjunct major.*

Students may not double-count courses toward the major.*

Majors must take at least one course from each area category. 

  1. Theory/Philosophy
  2. Global/Comparative Perspectives
  3. Institutions/ Organizations/Economics
  4. Law and Inequality
  5. Legal  Argument/ Communications

Majors must take at least one course from each area category. 

  1. Theory/Philosophy
  2. Global/Comparative Perspectives
  3. Institutions/ Organizations/Economics
  4. Law and Inequality
  5. Legal  Argument/ Communications

No area category requirements.

*Courses listed as “Related courses” may be double‐counted towards the adjunct major or major without limit. Double counting rules can be complicated; review these FAQs on the Weinberg website.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a major and an adjunct major?
Besides the different requirements (elaborated in the chart above), an adjunct major requires another standalone major.
How do I know which set of requirements apply to me?
WCAS guidelines stipulate that students can follow any set of requirements in effect during their undergraduate years. For example, if you entered Northwestern in 2013, you can choose to follow the requirements from the 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 Undergraduate Catalog—but you can’t pick and choose the requirements you like best from each. Students entering the University in 2016 MUST follow the standalone major requirements.
I started in Fall 2012 or Fall 2013 – which major requirements apply?
You are eligible to pursue the adjunct major. (The addition of a new required course – LEGAL ST 207 – which must be taken before 398-1,2 and which will be offered for the first time in Spring 2017 means that students graduating in 2017 will be ineligible for the standalone major.)
I started in Fall 2014 or Fall 2015 – which major requirements apply?
You may choose either the adjunct major or the standalone major.
I am starting in Fall 2016 – which major requirements apply?
You are eligible to pursue the standalone major.
What if I enrolled at Northwestern in 2013 but did not declare the Legal Studies major until 2015?
Your eligibility depends on the year you enrolled at Northwestern, not the year you declared the major.
How do I tell you which set of requirements I plan to complete?
You can indicate this on your initial application, but you make your final decision on your petition to graduate. We are happy to discuss the options with you and help you work out a plan.
How do I Petition to Graduate with an Adjunct Major or Standalone Major in Legal Studies?

We suggest you first complete the appropriate Adjunct Major Worksheet or Standalone Major Worksheet then make an appointment with Ann Kelchner, the undergraduate program assistant, to review and get all your forms signed. For more information about Petitioning to Graduate please visit the Registrar’s website.

How do I drop the adjunct major/major or switch from the adjunct major/major to a minor?

To drop the adjunct major or major, or to switch from the adjunct major/major to a minor, make an appointment with Ann Kelchner, the undergraduate program assistant, to fill out and get a Declaration form signed – you’ll then take the form to the WCAS Office of Undergraduate Advising at 1922 Sheridan Ave so they can update your record.

There is no need to re-declare if you switch between the adjunct major and the standalone major - you just have to indicate on your Petition to Graduate which rules you're following.

Note that the double-counting rules for courses change a lot when you switch between the adjunct major, standalone major, and the minor. Review those rules on the Weinberg website.

Is a thesis required for the adjunct major and the major?
Yes. All adjunct majors and standalone majors are required to take the two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar (Legal St 398-1,2), offered in Fall/Winter each year, in which students design and execute a thesis based on original research. Students may take this in their junior or senior year. Read more about the Legal Studies thesis here.