The Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University launched their undergraduate law program in 2022, making it one of six law schools in the United States offering a bachelor’s of arts in law.
Founded in 2006, the Kline School of Law provides students with a thorough understanding of the law through application-based education. Kline administered an undergraduate law minor in 2021 and a year later took this program one step further and implemented the undergraduate law major, allowing students to examine the world through the lens of the American legal system through interactive classes, focused co-ops, and guidance from faculty at the earlier stages in their education.
“The undergraduate law program at Kline aims to provide students with a rigorous, intellectually challenging introduction to the field of law,” said Rose Corrigan, PhD, associate dean for undergraduate education at the Kline School of Law. “We encourage students to take an interdisciplinary approach to studying law and to think about legal careers in addition to being an attorney.”
As part of the program, students must complete either another major or a minor in a secondary field. This is part of building a strong educational foundation, so students do not view law in isolation, according to Corrigan. There is no restriction on this second field of study, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the wide variety of subjects that Drexel has to offer.
The undergraduate law curriculum incorporates nine core courses summing to 32 credits and 28 elective credits, up to 16 of which may be taken outside of the law major. The core courses are designed to be engaging and interactive for students, an example being LAW 102: Law Lab, where students take a series of field trips around Philadelphia to examine law access and implementation in different settings through hands-on activities.
One section of the course curriculum is the “Culture and Society” requirement, consisting of 16 credits. Students are encouraged to gain awareness of their place in the world, whether that be globally or focused within the United States. This requirement is also flexible and can be satisfied through language and other cultural courses.
“I’ve always loved French. I’ve taken it for almost eight years now, and so it is really important to me that I was able to continue it here at Drexel without having to major in it,” said Taniyah Spencer, a fourth-year law student with a minor in French. “My major has to do with what I want to pursue in my work life, and my minor is something that is very important to me in my personal life. I think it’s really enjoyable that Drexel has allowed me to combine those two experiences.”
The intersection between law and the chosen second field of study extends past just fulfilling the degree requirement and can be explored further with co-ops. Kline is actively utilizing their alumni network to create more co-op opportunities for undergraduates to gain experience in a variety of legal careers. Students are encouraged to learn about all of the career opportunities that are available, especially since there are students in the program that aim to attend law school and pursue law-adjacent careers following their undergraduate tenure at Drexel.
“We have a lot more co-ops with law firms opening up, but there are also some people not interested in going to law school,” said Lois Cho, a fifth-year former nursing major who switched into the undergraduate law program after her third year. “Being in nursing gave me a lot of skills that I didn’t have prior to college, like patient interaction and community engagement. I learned about healthcare policy and HIPPA, which made me more interested in the law side of things. This helped a lot during my most recent co-op at a civil rights firm where I was working with interpreting medical records, so I got to use my experience there.”
Kline is continuing to add onto their undergraduate program to better shape the educational lens through which students look at law. According to Corrigan, Kline is piloting an opportunity this upcoming winter quarter where six undergraduates will take a higher-level course alongside postgraduate students. The goal is to gain an understanding of how undergraduates perform at the advanced level and to see if there is an opportunity down the road to create an accelerated degree, something that Drexel is known for implementing.
When introducing a complex topic such as the American legal system to students, it is crucial to understand the proper methods to convey information and to focus on the needs of the group on the receiving end. Creating and fostering a learning community within the program has been extremely important for student success.
“I think the connection that a lot of the UG Law students have with the professors is really important. Our professors are probably our most beneficial resource, whether it be for helping us better understand material, finding co-ops or helping us exhaust options as to what path in a legal career would be most attainable and suitable for each of our needs,” Spencer said.
Faculty, administration and staff at Kline work closely with their students, especially at the undergraduate level. Student accounts and input are valued and encouraged to improve the program and create opportunities that further enhance the undergraduate learning experience and foster a passion for the law.
“One of the things I’ve really focused on is hiring faculty who I think are focused on figuring out how to teach a difficult subject at a level where undergraduates can succeed,” Corrigan said. “[Learning law] can feel like learning a foreign language because it has a specialized vocabulary, and I think one way to get around that is with faculty who are dedicated to teaching at a high level but getting through to undergraduate students. Kline as a law school has always had a student-focused approach and we have been trying to bring that to the undergraduate level as well.”
For more information about the Thomas R. Kline School of Law’s undergraduate degree program, visit https://drexel.edu/law/academics/undergraduate-law-program/ba-in-law/.