OU College of Law Revamps Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law

OU College of Law has broadened its Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law so non-lawyers and part-time students can complete the program.

Program for non-lawyers now 100% online—only program that includes international aspects.

In 2013, the OU College of Law launched a new program called the Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law. This program was a natural extension for OU Law, as it has long been a leader in the field with the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy and as the publisher of the American Indian Law Review, which was first published in 1973. This commitment to Native American law complements the focus throughout the University of Oklahoma, which boasts one of the largest Native American Studies programs in the country.

Recognizing a broader need for Native American legal education, OU Law built a program specifically for non-lawyers whose careers demand an understanding of the complex rules of federal Indian law. The program was timely as many people operating in Indian country in the United States came forward and identified a strong need for a greater understanding of relevant legal issues. Plus, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and Workplace Report entitled, “Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018,” attaining a graduate degree can equate to increased career earnings of $457,179 versus those holding a bachelor’s degree.

Lindsay Early, a 2014 graduate of the program who is currently employed by the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma said: “The Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law allowed me to gain knowledge about laws and issues that directly affect Indian country. My coursework allowed me to have a better understanding of water rights, Indian Child Welfare, sovereignty, and gaming law, which was very helpful to my daily work. Plus, the convenient scheduling allowed me to continue my work in Indian country and abroad.”

Even with the positive reviews from students and the faculty, the OU College of Law saw that due to the structure of the program certain people were precluded from attending. Originally, there was a requirement that students come to campus for the first week to focus on legal research. While there is a benefit to bringing the class together, losing students from across the country who could add to overall learning led OU Law to make some important changes.

Now the program can be taken 100 percent online. To ensure that students still build relationships with one another, faculty will utilize technology to have “live sessions” throughout the program. These sessions will allow students to log in from anywhere, see their classmates, and interact with their classmates and their professors.

In addition to that change, OU Law will also allow students to attend as a full-time student and complete the program in 12 months. Part-time students can earn their degree in 21 months. This new sequence meets the immediate demand that students have to learn more about Native American law, gaming law, natural resources law, and a host of other issues relevant to their communities.

Internally, the change has been well received by the faculty and administration. “The Master of Legal Studies Program extends OU Law’s rich history and international expertise in the area of Indigenous Peoples Law,” OU Law Dean Joe Harroz said. “This degree gives students a competitive edge in the marketplace by allowing them to concentrate their studies in an area central to Oklahoma, our national economy and the inherent broader policy conversations.”

The new program will be offered for the first time starting this fall. The great news is that there is still time to apply to the program. If you are interested in applying to the Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law either as a part-time or full-time student, please reach out via phone at 405-322-5338 or via email at mls@law.ou.edu. More information can also be found online.