The U.S. Constitution and Our Legal System
Knowledge of the U.S. Constitution is essential for anyone who seeks a future in law. This course gives high school students who aspire to this field something unique — an inside look at how today’s lawyers and judges rely on the constitution to support their cases. Examine the judiciary’s role, how they interpret constitutional rights and why there are vastly different opinions on how this document is — or should be — interpreted. Hear from renowned constitutional scholars and law professors at one of the nation’s preeminent universities. If you are considering a future in law or government, this is the place to start.
Multi-length courses available throughout the year
For students ages 13 and up
U.S. Constitution: the Ongoing Debate
How the Constitution was Argued and Approved
Learn how the Constitution was born, and the groups that set the debate. Analyze the constitution’s structure, and review case studies on balance between government bodies.
Define the Varied Interpretations of the Constitution
Explore schools-of-thought on how the Constitution is interpreted. Understand how they represent legitimate, yet opposing, viewpoints. Review relevant case studies to understand these methods of interpretation.
Consider The Judiciary’s Role in Our Constitutional Structure
Study the U.S. court system and how players interact. Review Maybury vs. Madison, a breakthrough court case that tackled the judiciary’s role in law interpretation.
Understand the Conflicts Between States and the Federal Government
Define federalism’s importance to the Constitution. Understand the inherent issues and conflicts between state and federal government. Learn how the Constitution limits federal authority through amendments.
Learn the Importance of the Bill of Rights
Understand how the Bill of Rights supports constitutional law to protect individual liberties from government interference. Review how the 14th Amendment determines the level of government restriction.
Explore College Majors and Future Careers
Topics covered in this course offer a solid foundation for those thinking of pursuing a career in law, politics, the judiciary, think tanks, governmental institutions or politics.
How You Will Benefit
- Know the value of Constitutional interpretation.
- Define the viewpoints and differing values of those who believed in a strong federal government versus those who supported states’ rights.
- Assess the judiciary’s role in defining what the Constitution means.
- Explain why there are continuing debates in constitutional understanding.
- Complete a Final Project to demonstrate what you’re learned.
- Earn a Certificate of Completion from William & Mary.
Three Learning Advantages Designed for You
This online course culminates in a Final Project that allows you to demonstrate what you’ve learned throughout the course, which you can add to your portfolio.
For this project, you will:
- Analyze a Supreme Court case that addresses religious liberties and differing interpretations of a constitutional clause or clauses.
- Examine precedent cases that inform your opinion of the case.
- Play the role of a supreme court justice and choose a constitutional interpretation to explain the outcome.
You’ll receive guidance from a mentor who can support you and deepen your learning experience. You can expect:
- Encouragement and direction on all assignments.
- Inspiration, motivation and confidence to help you excel in your studies.
- Brainstorming and ideation to help you prepare for your Final Project.
- 100% online learning that works with your schedule.
- Flexible format: you’ll learn through video lectures. Tune in anytime that works for you.
- 20-30 hours of total instruction and course work, including engaging multimedia, simulations and curated assignments for which you will receive guidance and support from mentors.
Apply Now for the Next Available Course
All course options have the same educational content, learning materials and number of assignments. We are offering a condensed version of the course in order to accommodate students’ individual schedules.
Hear from William & Mary
Course Designed by William & Mary Faculty
Christine Nemacheck, Ph.D., associate professor of Government
Professor Christine Nemacheck is Class of 2024 associate professor of Government. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from The George Washington University. Her research focuses on the American court system, federal judicial selection, judicial federalism, and the role of the courts in a separation-of-powers system. Her work appears in her book, Strategic Selection: Presidential Selection of Supreme Court Justices from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush, as well as a number of political science and law review journals. She is also a co-author, along with David Magleby and Paul Light, of Government by the People, an introductory American politics textbook.
Nemacheck has received a number of awards for her teaching and research and she is currently a WMSURE Faculty Fellow. She is a former Fellow with the Center for the Liberal Arts, for which she was also the director from 2018-2021. She also co-directs the Dunn Civil Liberties Project and supervises students' independent civil liberties research associated with the Project.
How to Apply
It’s easy. No transcripts or letters of recommendation are needed. Our application requires basic contact information for you and your parent or guardian. Then, tell us why you wish to take this course. Include your personal story through writing, video, photos — or any medium you prefer.
Note: Please submit all application materials in English.
Begin the guided process. It should take only a few minutes of your time to answer the questions.
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Our application process is easy. You can expect a prompt decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will you be graded? What are assignments like? How much time do you have to turn around a project? When do you find out if you’re admitted? Find answers to your questions here.
We offer need-based scholarships in each cohort to students exhibiting high potential and an inability to pay full tuition. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship but you:
- Haven’t applied to the program, complete your application now. The scholarship application is included.
- Applied to the program and didn’t fill out a scholarship request, resume your application and click “Apply for Scholarship”.
- Are unsure about whether or not you applied for a scholarship, reach out to us at email@example.com for assistance.