Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Specialization in Critical Race Studies
Prospective Students to the UCLA School of Law
I am a prospective student, who is interested in CRS at UCLA Law. Does the CRS Program have a separate admissions track?
No, the CRS Specialization is not a separate admissions track into the law school. (In this way, it differs from the Public Interest Law Program.) You may elect the specialization before your second-year to enter the program. By successfully completing its requirements, you graduate with a certification on your transcript. Of course, your interest in and potential contribution to the Specialization may be one among many factors considered during the admissions process.
On my application, how do I express my interest in the CRS Specialization?
On the application for admission to the Law School, you should indicate "Critical Race Studies," in response to the question regarding your potential to make a distinctive programmatic contribution. We recommend that you submit a detailed statement indicating how your admission would strengthen our program. The CRS faculty are interested in serious students eager to accept the challenge of thinking hard about race, ethnicity, law, and legal institutions. Therefore, make sure to articulate specific past study and experiences that may be relevant to the CRS curriculum. In addition, explain how this specialization fits in with your future goals or plans, for example, as a practitioner or academic. Remember, a passing or casual interest on matters of “race” will not distinguish you from other applicants. Because the application form has limited space, please append additional pages as necessary. Please note that the CRS statement is not the same as a diversity statement.
May I submit a writing sample or additional materials specific to the CRS Program for consideration during the admissions review process?
We will only consider those materials which are part of the official application submitted to the UCLA School of Law Office of Admissions, under the rules established by the Dean of Admissions and the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). However, if a faculty member or admissions officer determines that we need more information, including a writing sample, we will request it from you.
I have pretty eclectic thoughts about race. I’m concerned that my views may not dovetail with the faculty’s or other students. Should I be concerned?
There is no orthodoxy in the CRS program. The participating faculty have widely divergent views and methodologies. Intellectual freedom and curiosity as well as the ability to test controversial ideas are a hallmark of this program. What unites those affiliated with the specialization are (1) a belief that studying race and its interconnections with law is extremely important and difficult, and (2) traditional assumptions and beliefs should be challenged and critiqued. If these principles seem sound to you, then we invite your participation.
I am a prospective LLM student. Can I participate in the program?
The CRS faculty welcomes LLM students into our courses. The courses are not closed to anyone in the law school community, and most have typically not been over-subscribed by students (with some exceptions). Although some CRS events are for declared students only, a majority of these lectures, conferences, and events are open to the larger intellectual community of the law school and the university. The LLM program allows you to create an individualized specialization in a field of your choice, including Critical Race Studies. Please contact the Graduate Director for further instructions.
Does the CRS Program focus on theory, such as scholarly inquiries of race or on applied work, such as practicing law & community-based social justice advocacy?
Like the rest of your education at UCLA School of Law, the CRS Program offers a unique balance of theory and practice, which we find inform each other, rather than standing apart from each other. The leading academic inquiries in critical race theory are associated with the faculty of CRS at UCLA. The most cutting edge innovations in using the legal system to address racial subordination and social inequality are explored in courses within the Applied Doctrine and Applied Practice requirement. In addition, our CRS Initiatives provide a sampling of how CRS students and faculty integrate theory and practice outside of the formal coursework. Some of our students use the flexible structure of our specialization to engage race theory at a graduate level, and others emphasize clinical courses and doctrinal offerings. Most students, however, strike a balance between theory and practice that allows our graduates to take on a wide breadth of roles in the legal profession, ranging from practicing attorneys at law firms, directors of civil rights organizations, and staff at government and advocacy organizations seeking to address racial discrimination and subordination.
I want to become a law professor. Does CRS offer a path for a career in academia?
Yes, the CRS Program has established a Future Law Professors’ Track, which aims to nurture the next generation of legal scholars working in the area of critical race theory. Because there is no other program like it in the United States, and critical race theory as a field now extends well-beyond law, we regularly draw applicants who are serious about a career as scholars focused on race and racism. We also encourage students applying in the joint JD/Masters programs, with an intention to teach in race-related fields outside of law, to participate in the CRS program. In 2008, we established the CRS Law Teaching Fellowship, as an additional resource for future race law scholars.
I am primarily interested in community-based work. On the CRS website, there is a course requirement under the category of “Practice” under which several Clinical Courses are listed. Are these clinics available to all CRS students? Are students typically able to take more than one of these courses?
All of the courses listed to fulfill CRS requirements are official law school courses taught by instructors who determine eligibility for enrollment. Some professors will limit the size of a clinical course to give students a more personalized experience. Other professors require an application for admission to their course or the completion of another law school course as a pre-requisite to enrollment. Our general experience has been that most clinical courses are open to all students and that students can take as many clinical courses as they want in the advanced curriculum, within the unit and graduation requirements established by the Records office.
Current Students at the UCLA School of Law
I am a student at UCLA Law. When do I have to elect the specialization?
Ideally, you should make your election before the first semester of your second year. At the latest, you should make your election by the end of your second year, with exceptions only by petition to the CRS Committee. Beginning with the Class of 2011, those students who indicated their interest in CRS when they applied to the law school will be given first priority in electing the Specialization during the Fall semester of their first year. In addition, we will accept time-stamped election forms from any other first year students during the Spring Semester of the first year. The first applications received will have first priority for enrolling in any impacted core courses during the second year.
Can I join the Specialization after my first year?
Yes, you can join the Specialization after your first year of Law School. However, we cannot guarantee pre-enrollment for the courses. You should tell us which semester you prefer to enroll in the core courses once you submit your election form and CRS essay, and based on availability, we will let you know if you are pre-enrolled or will have to use your own enrollment pass.
To enroll in the program, please follow the instructions provided here
and explore this FAQ page. If your questions are not answered here, do not hesitate to contact us.
What paperwork must I fill out to join the Specialization?
A simple election form must be turned in at the end of the first year of law school. Remember that it is your responsibility to schedule the appropriate courses and complete the writing requirement. To graduate with the certification, you must have at least a B- average in these courses.
Do I have to take the core classes in any sequence and in a specific year?
You are encouraged to take the two core courses Law 266 (Critical Race Theory) and Law 214 (Civil Rights) during the second year of law school, but are not required to do so. Students interested in taking Law 266 with the majority of the 2Ls in the Specialization, typically choose to take it in the Fall semester of their second year, but neither of the two courses have to be taken in a specific order. The Spring Semester section offers flexibility to those students who would like to take another course in the Fall that conflicts with CRT. In addition, the Spring section of CRT features rotating guest lectures by CRS core faculty members.
Who is entitled to priority enrollment for the core courses and how do I exercise this option?
Students officially enrolled in the CRS Specialization are entitled to priority enrollment in the two core courses in whichever semester they choose to take them. You are required to indicate your priority enrollment preferences by responding to a survey that will be sent out before class enrollments begin. If you choose to take either of these courses in your 3rd year, you should also follow the instructions posted here. The Records office will enroll you in the core courses and please note that the they will be counted as part of the 8-unit limit during your first pass.
Which courses satisfy the requirements for the CRS Specialization?
Each year the CRS Faculty updates the list of approved courses in fulfillment of requirements for the CRS Specialization. Please review the current list of courses and procedures for second and third year students. You should read the description of each of the requirements in this section and check the page before the enrollment deadlines, as we are always in the process of reviewing the schedule of classes and course syllabi to add a few courses to each section. In limited instances, the CRS faculty directors will consider a student’s petition to have a course not listed on the requirements page count towards certification. You should send an email to the program director and cc the faculty director, citing the language of the requirement on this page, describing how the course meets the requirement, and attaching course syllabi or relevant materials. We will typically respond to your email petition within 3 working days.
What does the writing requirement comprise?
To satisfy the writing requirement of the specialization, you must produce a 35 page (double-spaced) paper that seeks to be publication worthy. This paper must be written either through supervised independent writing (for 3 academic credits) or through a pre-approved seminar. Even if the approved seminar normally requires a shorter paper, a 35 page paper is necessary to satisfy the specialization.
At year’s end, we hope to have some public presentation of papers with CRS faculty present to listen and to ask questions.
What about papers written in classes that satisfy other requirements in the Specialization?
Generally, there will be no double counting. So if you take a class in the Comparative Subordination requirement that involves writing a paper, that class/paper will count either in satisfaction of the Comparative Subordination requirement or the Writing Requirement, but not both. Individual petitions may be considered in extraordinary circumstances.
What about building on a previously written paper?
The CRS faculty are keen on producing works of scholarship that are publishable in quality. If building on previous work will make this possible, that is perfectly acceptable. Of course, we will make sure that work isn’t being recycled and that there is substantial revision, improvement, and growth in the writing project.
Can a paper that I have already written, before declaring the Specialization, satisfy the writing requirement?
In which semester should I satisfy the writing requirement?
The writing requirement should be seen as the capstone of your studies, a culmination of your learning within the Critical Race Studies Specialization. Accordingly, we encourage the paper to be written in the third year, after more CRS coursework has been completed. Your writing will likely be better informed, better researched, and analytically more sophisticated. The Committee, however, recognizes that many students may choose to write their paper in their second year for publication in student journals.
When was the Specialization created?
The UCLA School of Law faculty approved the specialization in May 2000, for its official start in the 2000-01 academic year. That year, the first two students graduated with the specialization. The second full year of official operation was 2001-02; this was also the first year in which the admissions process allowed curricular contributions to be considered a factor in admissions.
How many students are in the Specialization?
As of September 2011, we have approximately 95 law students (2Ls and 3Ls) officially enrolled in the specialization and 25 1Ls who have expressed interest in joining the CRS specialization. Each year, several dozen law students actively participate in CRS courses and activities without officially declaring the Specialization.
Updated: January 24, 2014
The registrar’s office may have the information you seek. You can also e-mail the CRS Administrative Director, Jasleen Kohli, at firstname.lastname@example.org.