Facebook Pixel Professional Legal Studies | Western Kentucky University

Professional Legal Studies

The mission of the Professional Legal Studies Program is to engage students in the scholarly pursuit of the law and its practice. The program is committed to providing students with knowledge of procedural and substantive law and a professional skill set that will prepare them for employment in a changing and competitive legal environment.


A degree in Professional Legal Studies prepares students to become part of a vital and growing profession working within their communities to pursue justice, provide social and legal services, and protect basic human rights. Graduates are employed in private law practice, court services, corporate legal departments, mortgage and title companies, legal education, government and political offices, non-profit organizations, law enforcement/corrections, real estate sales, property management, and human resources. The degree also provides unique preparation for students interested in graduate or law school. The curriculum is student-centered and employment-focused. It combines instruction in hard and soft skills, legal theory and service learning.


Declare a Professional Legal Studies Major

Julie Shadoan and students


The major in Professional Legal Studies will require a minimum of 42 semester hours and is designed to be completed in eight semesters/four years of full-time enrollment. Professional Legal Studies majors are required to have a minor or second major in another academic discipline. For additional information on the requirements for the Professional Legal Studies major, please visit the WKU Undergradute Catalog.
Courses are offered in multiple delivery modalities including face to face classroom, synchronous and asynchronous online, and interactive video. Students are required to complete a minimum of nine hours of legal specialty credits in synchronous format.
PLS 225 Introduction to Law 3
PLS 200 Legal Ethics 3
PLS 250 Legal Research and Writing I 3
PLS 283 Property Law 3
PLS 291 Criminal Law and Procedure 3
PLS 296 Family Law 3
PS 326 Constitutional Law 3
or PLS 324 Women and the Law
or PLS 375 Comparative Legal Systems
PLS 393 Civil Procedure 3
PLS 450 Legal Research and Writing II 3
PLS 499 Internship in Paralegal Studies 3
Select 12 hours from the following: 12
Contract Law  
Tort Law  
Administrative Practice and Procedures  
Women and the Law  
Debtor Creditor Relations  
Comparative Legal Systems  
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods and Practices  
Corporate Law  
Estate Planning and Administration  
Juvenile Delinquency  
Sociology of Criminal Law  
Judicial Process  
State Government  
Public Policy  
The Legislative Process  
Constitutional Law  
International Organization and Law  
Kentucky Government and Politics  
American Legal History to 1865  
American Legal History Since 1865  
Or an advisor approved course

Julie Shadoan, J.D.
Professor / Professional Legal Studies Advisor

270-745-2539  |  julie.shadoan@wku.edu  |  Cherry Hall 319A

  • To create, implement and maintain a strong, flexible program directed to the quality education of occupationally-competent paralegals;

  • To provide a paralegal education program that leads to employment of its graduates by a wide range of employers;

  • To provide paralegals with a well-rounded, balanced education founded on a beneficial mix of general education, theory, and practical courses stressing understanding and reasoning rather than rote learning of facts;

  • To support federal, Kentucky and local Rules of Procedure and general principles of ethical legal practice, professional responsibility, the prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers, and the use and supervision of paralegals by lawyers;

  • To provide an educational program that is responsive to the varied needs of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the region and contributes to the overall advancement of the legal profession and access to justice;

  • To provide a program which instills respect for the legal profession and its foundation, institutions, and quest for justice; and

  • To maintain equality of opportunity in the educational program without discrimination or segregation of the grounds of race, color, religion, natural origin, gender, age, disability or economic need.

In addition to general restrictions on transfer credits imposed by WKU, the Paralegal Studies maintains the following policies relating to transfer credits:

  • Credits from other accredited institutions of higher education may be transferred and applied toward a Paralegal Studies degree. An official transcript from each college or university attended is required as a part of the admission process.
  • General law and legal-specialty course transfer credits will be accepted only from paralegal programs approved by the American Bar Association ("ABA") or programs in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines as determined by the Program Advisor.  

For students with a catalog year prior to Fall 2020, the major in Professional Legal Studies requires a minimum of 60 semester hours and does not require a minor or second major in another discipline. For additional requirements for the Professional Legal Studies major prior to Fall 2020, please visit the 2019-20 Undergraduate Catalog.



The PreLaw Student Association provides an environment where aspiring lawyers and paralegals can come together to explore the legal profession, engage in meaningful discussions, participate in networking opportunities, and gain valuable insights into the world of law.
Leaders in Law

WKU Professional Legal Studies hosts the summer program, Leaders in Law. This summer program gives high school students an opportunity to explore the legal field and the Professional Legal Studies major. High school students enjoyed many activities and spoke with local legal professionals, politicians, and judges that gave them invaluable advice. Click here to see more.


Learn More







ABA Logo


Time to degree as outlined herein for each Program may be affected by enrollment in courses each semester.


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 3/8/24