The thesis track takes place over one standard academic year, August through May. For thesis track students, 8 of the 21 units required to graduate are devoted to independent study units and represent the work they complete on their thesis. Students complete mandatory courses in Fundamentals of U.S. Law and Legal Research and Writing. With the remaining 8 elective units, thesis students can choose courses that complement their research interests from the full range of law school offerings. With careful planning, students may focus their studies to earn a Certificate of Specialization and/or to meet the requirements to become eligible to sit for the California Bar Exam. Due to the limited elective units in thesis track, students are unlikely to meet the requirements to become eligible to register for the New York Bar Examination.

Core Curriculum

1. Fundamentals of U.S. Law*

Students study the sources of U.S. law and the structure of the U.S. court system. Students also learn the fundamentals of the case method of legal education and statutory construction, and study how cases progress through the American court system. The course will also explore topics of judicial review, federalism, separation of powers, and the practical and political limitations of these concepts. Students will then use case analysis skills to examine landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases.

2. Legal Research & Writing

In this class, each student researches and writes a 15- to 20-page research memorandum addressing a compelling issue in contemporary law. Through this writing exercise students learn predictive legal reasoning.  Students also complete other, shorter assignments throughout the term, including an introduction to Bluebook citation. Research instruction is integrated into the writing assignments, and includes mainly on-line but also a few traditional book-based resources. Students receive extensive written comments and attend one-on-one conferences on their papers. 

*Required for international students in the traditional track. Domestic students are exempt from this course.

Elective Curriculum

Visit Berkeley Law’s Schedule of Classes for a full and current listing of courses.



Notice – Latest updates on COVID-19 policies and resources for the UC Berkeley campus community. — View Details