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JD Concentration



The law and religion concentration contains two possible tracks: (1) a practice track and (2) an academic track. The practice track emphasizes the skills and knowledge relevant to practicing law with a specialization in law and religion. The practice track prepares students to litigate cases that involve religious freedom questions, to represent and advise religious organizations, to practice religious arbitration or within religious legal systems, and to work in legal advocacy with or on behalf of religious communities. The academic track emphasizes the skills of academic research and writing.  The academic track prepares students for teaching and scholarship in the legal academy and for PhD or SJD study in the areas of law, religion, theology, or associated fields. 

Eligibility for the Concentration

To earn the Law and Religion Concentration, students must (1) be accepted into the Law and Religion Concentration and (2) complete 11 to 15 credits in law and religion, including the two required courses, one religious legal systems course, one law and religion elective, and a capstone experience. A thesis option, in addition to the capstone, is also available and encouraged for students pursuing the academic track. No one course may satisfy more than one requirement, and students cannot satisfy any requirement with a course taken pass/fail.

Applying for the Concentration

JD students apply for the concentration during the spring semester of their first year or fall of their second year. The application process includes submitting a statement of interest, a resume or CV, and an unofficial transcript to the concentration advisor, CSLR Executive Director Whittney Barth, at Selection to the program will be based on demonstrated interest, experience, and proficiency in the area of law and religion.


Required Courses (6 credits)

  • Law and Religion: Theories, Methods & Approaches
  • First Amendment: Religious Freedom

Religious Legal Systems (2–3 credits)

  • Canon Law
  • Christianity and Law
  • Indigenous Legal Systems
  • Islamic Law
  • Jewish Law

Law and Religion Electives (2–3 credits)

  • Law and Religion in Practice
  • Canon Law
  • Federal Indian Law
  • History of Church-State Relations
  • Indigenous Law
  • Islamic Finance
  • Islamic Law
  • Jewish Law
  • Religion, Culture, and Law in Comparative Perspective
  • Religious Organizations Law
  • A seminar in law and religion
  • A course from another division approved by the concentration advisor

Capstone (1–3 credits) [choose one]

  • The student completes a law and religion seminar, which will be offered each spring.
  • The student completes a relevant externship experience, either from a list of pre-approved externships to be created in consultation with the externship office or an externship experience approved by the concentration advisor.
  • The student completes a relevant internship (without receiving credit) approved by the faculty advisor and the student completes a one credit, ungraded directed study with a faculty member in which the student writes 10-15 pages of substantive analysis on an issue they encountered during the internship. The analysis may take the form of a legal memo, research paper, or other form as determined by the supervising faculty member.

Thesis (optional)

  • Students pursuing the academic track are encouraged to write an original thesis on a subject of their interest under the supervision of a faculty member for 3 hours of graded directed research credit. The thesis should be written in the final year of coursework.

Recommended Courses

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Arbitration
  • Asylum Law
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Federal Indian Law
  • Human Rights Advocacy
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Nonprofit Law
  • Roman Law