Critical Race Studies Specialization

Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students


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 who are 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?

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 and 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 LL.M. student. Can I participate in the program?

The CRS faculty welcomes LL.M. 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 LL.M. 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 and 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 stand 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 and directors of civil rights organizations to 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 careers as scholars focused on race and racism. We also encourage students applying in the joint J.D./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 prerequisite 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.