Skip To Content Skip To Menu Skip To Footer

Law & Policy Curriculum


12 courses, plus the transcript notation internship

The following six courses are required of all majors:
POSC 120: American Government
ECON 111: Microeconomics
ECON 228: Economic Analysis of Policy
LAWP/POSC 248: The Judiciary
POSC 220: Constitutional Law I, OR, POSC 221: Constitutional Law II
LAWP 400: Senior Seminar

In addition, the major has the following requirements: 
1 empirical social analysis elective
1 ethics elective
2 law-related electives
2 policy-related electives

Must focus on policy and law


Suggested curricular flow through the major

Students are advised to take POSC 120 Intro to American Government, and ECON 111 Introduction to Microeconomics, in their first year at the college.Both courses are prerequisites for upper-level requirements.

In a student’s subsequent years, they should work carefully to complete the remaining required courses and electives.Individual students will progress differently through the major, depending on when courses are offered, when they declare their major, and what other academic goals they might be pursuing.Students are encouraged to work closely with their advisors on course planning since some required courses, like LAWP/POSC 248 The Judiciary, may only be offered once a year.

In order to pick empirical social analysis, ethics, law, and policy elective courses, students may use Banner and search by attribute to find what options are available any given semester.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete their internship requirement by the Fall of their senior year.It is not advisable to wait until the final semester to begin planning an internship.

Finally, prior to their senior year, students should discuss how they plan to take the senior seminar, LAWP 400.There may only be one seminar offered in a given year, and therefore students must build their senior year schedule around it.

Additional questions about major requirements should be directed to the program’s coordinator.


To graduate with honors as a Law & Policy major you will need to conduct some original research and produce a thesis that meets the standards set by the department faculty.  LAWP projects must be a defense or a critique of a policy outcome that is legally related.  You must have an overall Grade Point Average of 3.4 or better to proceed with an honors proposal.

Students wishing to pursue honors should discuss their plans with the department chair early in the fall semester of their senior year.  Students writing a thesis should enroll in POSC 490 Senior Thesis during the spring semester of their senior year.  Permission of the instructor is required for enrollment in this course.  The application for class admission will be a 2-3 page proposal and will be due at the end of November of the Fall semester.

Gaining admittance to the thesis-writing class does not guarantee honors, but, instead, honors will be awarded to the students whose completed theses exhibit extraordinary merit at the end of the spring semester.


Law & Policy is one of eight academic programs that currently requires a registered internship/experiential component.  This requirement is fulfilled through Dickinson’s Internship Notation Program (INP), or by means of participation in a semester based program like Dickinson in DC.

Created by the faculty in 2007, the Internship Notation Program (INP) is the college’s official program to recognize an internship experience on the academic transcript.  The INP curriculum and policies are grounded in the principles of good practice established by the Society for Experiential Education (SEE), internship program standards from the Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), and prior Middle States guidance for the assessment of student learning.

Internships that will meet the Law & Policy major requirement must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Students must register their internship before they start.  Students should submit the INP registration form in the Forms section of their Gateway account.  Note that the INP curriculum and assessment runs alongside the experience, and cannot be completed retroactively.
  • Internships may run in the Fall, Spring, or summer.
  • Internships should be a minimum of 80-hours & 8-weeks within one academic term (whether Fall, Spring, or summer).
  • Internships can be remote, in-person, or hybrid.  Guidelines will be provided for remote or hybrid experiences.
  • Internships can be paid or unpaid.

Between 2012-2023, 65% of all Law & Policy students completed their internship in the summer.  However, excellent quality internships are also available in the local area.  Carlisle is the county seat and the state capital, Harrisburg, is only 17 miles away.  Dickinson alums willing to serve as mentors and internship site supervisors are well placed in both locations.

Students participating in the Dickinson in DC program will not need to register their internship with the INP; they will work with Amity Fox and CGSE to apply for the program.

The INP team can help guide students through the process of finding and registering an internship.Email for more details.

For examples of recent internships Law & Policy students have completed, see the following:

LAWP Internships


Opportunities for off-campus study

Law & Policy students are encouraged to study off-campus for at least part of their junior year. Students may be able to study off-campus for the entire academic year with careful planning and close consultation with their advisor.   

Students may particularly wish to consider the Dickinson in D.C. program.  The Law & Policy internship major requirement can be fulfilled through participation in this program.  The Dickinson in D.C. program utilizes Dickinson’s partnership with the Lutheran College Washington Semester (LCWS) Consortium to offer credit-bearing internships.  Students participating in this program intern for four full days a week, while also enrolling in a two-credit independent study with a Dickinson faculty member to incorporate their internship learning into their academic major, as well as two one-credit LCWS courses in a variety of subject areas.

To learn more about this program, visit the Dickinson in D.C. website.

Other programs that are particularly well-suited to Law & Policy students include Dickinson in Bologna, Dickinson in England, as well as the college’s partner program in Copenhagen.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Many Law & Policy majors participate in Dickinson's very successful Mock Trial program.  For more information, contact


210 Legal Ethics
This course examines the moral responsibilities and ethical duties of a lawyer. While the focus is on the rules governing professional conduct, the course will examine all areas of the law governing the conduct of lawyers.
Prerequisites: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor.

220 Foundations in Law & Policy
This course serves as the gateway to the Law & Policy major. LAWP 220 introduces students to major concepts and significant themes in the contemporary study of law and policy. It grounds itself in interdisciplinary methodology and, in doing so, it emphasizes the complex and multifaceted nature of the law’s relationship not only to how it governs but to whom it governs.
Prerequisite: POSC 120 and ECON 111, may be taken concurrently.
Attributes: Writing in the Discipline

230 Negotiation and Advocacy
This course will focus on the role of the advocate in the law and policy-making process. It will consider various types of advocacy (public debate, litigation, public relations, etc.) and various methods of negotiation as well as compare and contrast the advocate's role in different forums (legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, the press, etc.).
Prerequisites: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor.
Attributes: LAWP Law Elective, PMGT Domestic Public Policy

234 Gender and Justice
This course analyzes how legal theorists have drawn upon notions of gender, sex, and sexuality in order to understand and critique the American legal system and its norms. It considers questions like: How might a feminist perspective on the law illuminate instances of systematized inequality or legalized discrimination? Can queer theorists engage with the law in order to alter it, or does the very act of engagement hinder the possibility of future socio-legal change? How can the law better represent women of color, working women, queer women, stay-at-home mothers, transgender or non-binary individuals, women seeking surrogate or abortion services, and more, without reinforcing traditional understandings of what it means to be a “woman”? These questions – and more – will be taken up as we move through a rich combination of political philosophy, legal cases, and works of socio-legal analysis.
Prerequisites: One POSC, LAWP or WGSS course or permission of instructor. This course is cross-listed as POSC 234 and WGSS 302.
Attributes: LAWP Law Elective, Political Science Elective, Social Sciences, US Diversity, WGSS Intersect/Instit/Power, WGSS Sexual & Gendered Plural

240 Criminal Procedure
This course will examine the constitutional rights that suspects and defendants have in the criminal justice system. Special attention will be given to the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right against self- incrimination, and the right to an attorney.
Prerequisites: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor.
Attributes: LAWP Law Elective

248 The Judiciary
This course explores the law’s interpretation in and influence on contemporary American society. It considers the nature of the law, the structure of courts, legal terminology, sources of law, and approaches to legal reasoning through an engagement with both watershed cases and contemporary issues in civil and criminal law. Some of the questions we will address include: how do everyday individuals interact with the law? What is the relationship between judicial process – that is, the engagement with and navigation of the legal system – and justice? How do we understand the redress of harms or the application of punishment as part of the achievement of justice and fairness? What political, legal, social, or rhetorical barriers exist to full inclusion of individuals within the processes of law, and is full inclusion even desirable?
Prerequisites: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as POSC 248.

250 Juvenile Justice
This course will examine the nature and character of the American juvenile justice system, including its history, changing emphasis, and current trends. The system will be viewed from the point of entry into the system until final disposition. Various treatment alternatives, including rehabilitation, will also be examined.
Prerequisites: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor.
Attributes: LAWP Law Elective

255 Philosophy of Law
This course considers fundamental issues in the study of legal philosophy. These include the meanings and purposes of law, the limits of legal authority, and topics such as: theories of punishment; justifications for civil disobedience; the regulation of sex, gender, and sexuality; economic critiques of judicial process; and the construction of race and ethnicity within the law.
Prerequisite: one prior course in Philosophy, or POSC 180, 202, 206, 208, or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as PHIL 255.
Attributes: Humanities, LAWP Ethics Elective

259 Law, Politics, and Society in Asia
This course examines the interaction between law, legal institutions and citizens in China, Japan, and India. Covering history and the contemporary scene, course focuses on how law works in practice and is understood and used by ordinary people in Asia. It covers areas such as marriage and divorce, the legal profession, lost property, civil rights, the environment, sexuality, mediation, land development and property, among others. Comparisons between the United States and Asia, as well as between Asian countries, will be emphasized. This course is cross-listed as POSC 259 and LAWP 259.
This course is cross-listed as EASN 259 and POSC 259.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Comparative Poli Sci Course, East Asian Social Sci Elective, Global Diversity, LAWP Law Elective, PMGT International Policy, Social Sciences

260 Problem-Solving Courts
Through a hands-on, experiential examination of traditional courts, treatment courts, and addiction issues, this course will introduce the students to the use of problem-solving courts to address drug, DUI, and mental health concerns. A major course component will involve community-based learning. Students will be required to interact with court participants and members of the various problem-solving court teams (e.g., judges, attorneys, probation officers, treatment providers as well as other support specialists, depending on the court’s focus). As the students become familiar with one component of the “war on drugs,” they will be challenged to examine and debate the “war” as a whole.
Attributes: Health Studies Elective, LAWP Law Elective

290 Selected Topics
Courses in the area of Policy Studies. The content of the course will reflect the interests and expertise of faculty and the needs of students.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.
Attributes: Social Sciences

301 Policy and Leadership
This course will focus both on traditional (top-down)and other less traditional models of leadership (bottom-up, e.g., grass roots advocacy, consensus building, and other less hierarchical models of shared leadership). Leadership in a variety of organizational contexts (e.g., public, private, and non-profit sectors) will be covered, and ethics will be an important theme woven throughout the course.
Prerequisite: LAWP 220.

400 Law and Policy Seminar
This course will serve as a capstone experience for Law and Policy majors. It will echo the key principles covered in the Foundations class, including an appreciation for (1) fluid interdisciplinarity, (2) the contingent nature of knowledge, (3) connections to the wider world beyond the college, (4) principle-based models of leadership, (5) the meaningful application of ethics, and (6) the role of stakeholder values in problem analysis and decision making processes. Emphasis will be placed on helping students refine their interdisciplinary approach to the topics of law and policy in a liberal arts framework. The seminar will give students one last comprehensive look at a series of policies to see how a legal regime limits policy choices and how the policy process informs and limits laws.