Critical Race Studies Specialization

Overview of the Program

The cornerstone of the Critical Race Studies (CRS) Program is a rigorous academic course of study, the CRS Specialization. Because it is unique in American legal education, it consistently attracts the top students committed to testing and advancing new ideas for racial and social justice. CRS research and courses deepen our understanding of race and provide tools and strategies to help dismantle racism across the globe. In particular, the CRS Specialization trains students to analyze how the law and legal institutions erect racial hierarchies. Students are simultaneously trained how to use law and legal institutions to dismantle those same hierarchies, to further basic civil and human rights.

This Specialization in CRS is appropriate for law students who seek advanced study and/or practice in race and the law, critical race theory, civil rights, public policy and other legal practice areas that are likely to involve working with racial minority clients and communities or working to combat racial inequality. 

The course of study (as well as extracurricular symposia, lectures and activities) emphasizes students’ mastery of five areas:

  • HISTORY (centering on the Constitution but also focusing on a variety of other legal  documents and experiences);
  • THEORY (critical race theory, jurisprudence and drawing on theoretical advances outside the legal academy);
  • COMPARATIVE SUBORDINATION (an understanding of the multiracial nature of American race relations as well as how racial inequality is affected by discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and disability);
  • DOCTRINE (case law and statutory law, and their interpretation); and
  • PRACTICE (including legal practice, community service and lawyers’ use of social science inquiries and methods).

Beyond the course requirements, students have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of related extracurricular activities.  Program faculty encourage participating students to serve as editors on student law reviews.  Program  faculty  and students sponsor opportunities for discussion of important policy issues in the race and law arena, as well as provide students the chance to meet alumni and scholars from other disciplines and law schools working in this growing area, through informal lunch speakers and more formal symposia.