Legal studies program earning national recognition for value and real-world experience


It’s one of the most impressive academic programs at Morehead State University, with the numbers to back it up.    

The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies is ranked eighth nationally by for Best Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Degrees, citing tuition, acceptance and graduation rates, along with placement and career services. MSU’s affordability is highlighted by, which ranks the institution #10 by highlighting small class sizes, access to the latest technology, and the opportunity to work with real clients.    

It’s a two-fold program that prepares students to work as paralegals or attend law school. The program is among the 25% in the nation that is recognized by the American Bar Association.   

“Students have been so successful over the years in law school that it has opened up avenues for our graduates to be more frequently accepted to law school,” said Dr. Dianna Murphy, associate dean and professor of legal studies. “Our acceptance rate is well in excess of the national average. When law schools see how successful students from certain universities are, they’re much more open to admitting more students and looking at them very favorably.”  

MSU currently has four students from the legal studies program attending top-25 law schools on either a full or partial scholarship. Since 2010, 100% of those who’ve applied to one-or-more law schools have been accepted.    

As undergraduates, students receive instruction from licensed attorneys, who are easily accessible both in and outside the classroom. Students also participate in mock trials, work with law offices, judges, public defenders, county attorneys, and nonprofit legal services offices throughout Kentucky in the program’s internship component.    

“This is the most applied subject I can think of. Students will take courses and they work in our pro se clinic under the supervision of our faculty to provide services to the public. You cannot get much more applied and see the impact of what you’re learning and can contribute than in that kind of environment,” Murphy said.  

The program is rigorous in developing the legal knowledge and skills that the profession demands. Upon graduation, students are prepared to begin their career as a paralegal, working under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney.    

“We have graduates who hire our graduates, so we are able to provide students with multiple opportunities to go from graduation into the workforce.”  

MSU graduates work in a variety of legal offices, including that of county attorneys, the commonwealth attorney, and the state’s attorney general, along with many private law firms and legal services.    

“I run into my graduates because they’re my colleagues and it is so rewarding to see them be successful,” Murphy added. “Professors are a bridge to get students where they want to go. And when I see them in the courthouse, in the deed room, and in professional meetings, that bridge worked well and they are successful.”  

For more information on the Legal Studies program, visit