Legal Studies Courses

Over the last several years, the Political Science discipline at UT -Martin has enjoyed the presence of a Legal Studies Minor within the curriculum. These courses have been used as a training ground for the student seeking to enter the legal field as a legal assistant or as a certified paralegal through one of the national accrediting and certification entities. Through UT Online, the Department of Accounting, Finance, Economics and Political Science will now offer this Paralegal Studies curriculum online. While not mandatory, those completing the paralegal studies coursework may be eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) examination. Students completing undergraduate degrees with the paralegal coursework will also be well-equipped to enter a formal legal studies environment in pursuit of a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) or to enter into the legal field in a research or administrative capacity.

Course Outline

POSC 210-220 : American Government and Politics

210 American Government and Politics (3) A survey of the origins, structure and functions of the political system in the United States on the national, state and local levels. Development of American constitutionalism, federalism and intergovernmental relations, parties, interest groups, elections, civil rights and civil liberties.


220 American Political Institutions and Policy (3) A survey of the origin and structure of political decision making in the various institutions of American government, including the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The course also places an emphasis on the public policy process as it relates to issues of domestic and foreign policy.


POSC 390: Introduction to Paralegal Studies

An introduction to the history and philosophy of law. Particular emphasis on the development of American law from its European antecedents. Examines major categories of contemporary legal practice (3 credit hours) .


POSC 391: Legal Writing and Terminology

An introduction to the legal language and the style of legal writing commonly used legal terms, writing of law office and trial memoranda, trial court briefs, appellate briefs and the abstracting of depositions (3 credit hours).


POSC 392: Legal Research

An introductory overview of the legal research process, both civil and criminal. Introduces students to major legal research sources and seeks to develop their proficiency in utilization of various legal indexing systems (3 credit hours) .


POSC 393: Paralegal Studies Internship

Purpose is to familiarize the student with various day-to-day aspects of the legal system or a law office by placing the paralegal in a law office or legally-related agency for one semester on a part-time basis (3 credit hours) .


POSC 451: Judicial Process

A study of the federal and state court structures and their environments with emphasis on the role that each level of court plays in the American legal system. The staffing of courts and judicial decision-making (3 credit hours) .

Special Considerations

  1. While they must be admitted to the university, participants in the Paralegal Studies Program are not required to major or minor in any specific UT Martin academic program(s).
  2. POSC 390 (Introduction to Paralegal Studies) and POSC 451 (Judicial Process) may be taken in partial fulfillment of the undergraduate major or minor in Political Science. Political Science 391 , 392, and 393 cannot be used for the major or minor requirement.
  3. Students majoring in Political Science cannot receive a separate minor in Paralegal Studies. However, they may choose to apply for national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants ( To view the criteria to sit for the exam, please click here.
  4. Courses in the Paralegal Studies Certification process will require active online course participation by students, with the classes utilizing audio lectures, class discussion boards, written assignments, written examinations and simulated research and writing exercises.
  5. The Internship Component for POSC 393 (Paralegal Studies Internship) will focus on internships provided by law firms , local, state and federal courts and agencies, corporations, and other entities.

For additional information, contact UT Online at 731-881-7764 or 866-587-7589 or email


"The Online Studies program at UT Martin differs from any other university. It allows the non-typical student to flourish in their education on their own schedule while continuing to keep the core discipline behind the schedule and assistance of a classroom environment. As a working mother of two children, I have been able achieve my dream of finishing my degree and I owe it all to the UT Martin Online Studies program and the wonderful professors offering their courses online."


Angela Polk
Senior Interdisciplinary Studies major
Paralegal, Memphis, TN



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