October 17, 2023

UCI Law and School of Humanities Offer New Pathways from Humanities into Law

Amidst the changing landscape of higher education, UCI sets a new standard with its partnership between law and the humanities. The University of California, Irvine School of Humanities and the University of California, Irvine School of Law have established a groundbreaking collaboration to offer humanities students access to an accelerated Bachelor’s/Juris Doctor degree programs at UCI Law, and scholarship funds. Under the collaborative initiative, the schools will cooperate on two innovative programs: the School of Humanities Scholarship Program and the 3+3 Articulated Program.

Designed to help UCI Humanities students jump-start their legal careers, the historic collaboration makes UCI the first campus within the University of California system to establish a formal partnership between its humanities and law schools.

“A humanities degree equips future lawyers with analytical and empathetic skills that are critical to the practice of law,” said UCI Law Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law Austen L. Parrish. “The partnership between UCI Law and the UCI School of Humanities underscores what we know from our successful alums: a UCI B.A. and a UCI J.D. are a powerful combination.”

“Our partnership with the School of Law signifies a transformative step toward higher education's future,” said Dean of Humanities Tyrus Miller. “It's about expanding horizons for humanities students and enabling them to make a difference in the world through the legal profession. The Humanities-Law initiative exemplifies UCI’s dedication to equipping future leaders with critical skills and perspectives needed to address the legal and societal challenges of tomorrow.”

The collaboration “resonated with the efforts we have been making in recent years to broaden the career development horizons for humanities students,” said Yong Chen, associate dean for curriculum and student services for the humanities and a key contributor to the program.

“The partnership also demonstrates our shared commitment to diversity and making educational and professional attainment accessible to all students,” added Chen, noting the strong presence of first-generation students. More than 45 percent of UCI’s undergraduate humanities students are first-generation, as are 27 percent of UCI Law’s newest class.

School of Humanities Scholarship Program: Removing financial barriers

The newly created School of Humanities Scholarship Program seeks to provide talented humanities students interested in the study of law the ability to obtain an affordable legal education at one of the nation’s top public law schools. The program guarantees a minimum scholarship for students who have graduated from the UCI School of Humanities and are later admitted into UCI Law’s Juris Doctor program. Successful applicants admitted to the law school, who are part of the scholarship program, will receive a $30,000 tuition scholarship per year, available for both residents and nonresidents, to help offset the costs of attending UCI Law.

To be eligible for the guaranteed scholarship, applicants must meet or exceed the minimum UGPA and LSAT score, at least equal to the median for the UCI Law entering J.D. class of the prior year.

3+3 Articulated Program: Accelerating the path to a J.D.

In addition to the scholarship program, the UCI Law and School of Humanities collaboration also offers the 3+3 Articulated Program, an accelerated pathway for high-achieving humanities students to earn B.A. and J.D. degrees in six years, as opposed to the traditional seven. To qualify, students must be on track to fulfill all their undergraduate and humanities degree requirements by the end of their third year at UCI. Successful applicants admitted to UCI Law through this program will benefit from scholarship assistance, including a $30,000 scholarship every year to help cover tuition and fees at UCI Law. Additionally, participants will receive mentorship through a structured mentor program, fostering a sense of community and shared experiences.

Student and alumni experiences: Life as a double Anteater

The journey from a B.A. to a J.D. is a well-traveled path for many UCI Humanities alumni. Since the university’s inception in 1965, UCI Humanities graduates have pursued a wide variety of careers in law, practicing as attorneys, judges, government officials, paralegals, legal advocates, law clerks and law professors.

The UCI School of Humanities offers an array of law-adjacent academic pursuits, such as its humanities and law minor, law and society specialization and hands-on internship opportunities for aspiring legal professionals. The joint endeavor further advances each school’s slate of innovative interdisciplinary offerings, from the School of Humanities’ environmental, medical and digital humanities initiatives, to UCI Law’s recently announced partnerships with the UCI Samueli School of Engineering and the UCI Campuswide Honors Collegium, with numerous others to follow.

More than 25 percent of UCI Law’s J.D. graduates hold a B.A. in humanities, including the following three graduates from UCI’s School of Humanities.

Nancy Sotomayor | UCI Law, J.D. ’16 | UCI, B.A. women’s studies, and psychology and social behavior ’11

Nancy Sotomayor may currently work as a litigator at Akerman LLP in Los Angeles, but her passion for law was ignited as an undergraduate at UCI. Her double-major humanities background equipped her with critical thinking and analytical skills crucial for excelling in law school and eventually helped her secure a competitive associate position at an AmLaw 100 firm.

To this day, Sotomayor draws upon her humanities background in her legal practice. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the intersections of law with critical race theory, a concept she encountered during her women’s studies courses. “Knowing how to think critically and take into account the intersections of race, gender and socioeconomic status is particularly valuable in the field of law,” said Sotomayor.

After Sotomayor was accepted to UCI Law, she toured the school and sat in on a class. The experience brought her full circle to when she first toured UCI as an undergraduate. “I immediately felt a sense of community, home and belonging,” she recalled. “After that, I knew I was sucked back in and would be a forever Anteater.”

Isra Shah | UCI Law, J.D. ’12 | UCI, B.A. English, minor in educational studies ’06

Isra Shah, a member of UCI Law's inaugural class, traces her interest in law to her undergraduate studies as an English major in the School of Humanities.

“I draw upon skills I learned as a humanities student every day,” said Shah, who credits her humanities background for her ability to view issues from multiple perspectives, write persuasively and perform critical analysis.

UCI’s interdisciplinary Humanities Core made a lasting impact on Shah. “To this day, I believe it to be the most rewarding and challenging academic work I've done,” she noted. The course’s theme for the year was “Laws and Orders” and included case law, literature, film, art, philosophy and political theory. Through a series of lectures and seminars, Shah explored law’s relationship with language, social order, oppression and resistance. Shah also believes that the collaborative nature of seminar classes mirrors the teamwork involved in legal practice.

Now a municipal attorney, Shah advises local government agencies across Southern California. She was grateful for the opportunity to continue her higher education journey within UCI. “It was an opportunity to get legal training from some of the best professors in the world through a program that had an almost unfathomable level of support from the university, the faculty and the Orange County legal community,” she said. “That I could do all of this in a familiar setting was a benefit that I appreciated then but really recognize now.”

Joseph Cheung | UCI Law first year | UCI, B.A. English and Chinese studies ’22

Joseph Cheung embarked on his humanities journey with a keen interest in law. Like Shah, his participation in Humanities Core was pivotal, culminating in a research paper on Hong Kong’s cultural identity, which earned him a Humanities Core Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program Research Paper Award and marked the convergence of his humanistic and legal interests.

Cheung’s advice to aspiring law students is to connect with alumni and attend events that bridge humanities with law. Doing so helped him connect the dots between his English and Chinese studies and a future in law. “I attended events like the UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public’s ‘Global China in an Anxious Age’ exhibit, where the School of Humanities collaborated with UCI Law. Events like that, along with other interdisciplinary panels, made me feel like the issues I cared about during my studies of humanities could and would transition to the questions I would pursue in law school,” said Cheung.

Mentorship, too, plays a pivotal role in guiding aspiring law students on their educational journey, according to Cheung. He gained valuable insights and a sense of camaraderie from connecting with members of the UCI English Majors Association who shared a similar undergraduate experience and pursued careers in law. It was then that Cheung realized, “If they could do it, and they were in my shoes not too long ago, then I could possibly do it, too!”

UCI is a Platinum Leaders Circle Partner of the Greater Irvine Chamber.


About the University of California, Irvine School of Law: The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to equity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 150,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009. Nearly half of all UCI Law’s J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni, and enthusiastic supporters. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, X, Facebook, and sign up for our monthly newsletter for the latest news and events at UCI Law.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Humanities: The UCI School of Humanities was one of the five original founding divisions on campus and is currently the largest school, home to 22 majors, 37 minors and the largest number of faculty on campus. Including intellectual foci that span from global cultural and historical studies to languages, literature and media to philosophy and critical theory, the School of Humanities’ graduate programs in literary criticism & theory, English and history are among the top-ranked public programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

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