If you wish to pursue a law career without sacrificing your current job, you should consider an online law degree. The legal field offers many lucrative career paths; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of over $119,000 for lawyers in 2017. The BLS projects a steady 8% increase in job opportunities for lawyers and 9% for general legal professions through 2026, meaning the need for these professionals will continue to grow as governments, businesses, and individuals rely on legal services.
Earning a degree from one of the best online law schools in the nation can prepare you to become an attorney or pursue legal careers in other industries, such as healthcare, business, or criminal justice. Many online programs exist for both lawyers and non-lawyers. A graduate law degree can help you specialize in a particular legal topic, advance your career, and increase your earnings potential.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $31,668
One of the best online law schools, Villanova offers a 24-credit master of laws (LL.M.) in taxation entirely online. The program examines the intersection of law and accounting, with required courses covering research and writing as well as the taxation of corporations and shareholders. The curriculum includes six required courses and three electives. Students can opt to use their electives to examine a particular taxation subject in order to earn an additional certificate. The school structures its courses using an eight-week format, meaning students take one course at a time. Most students complete the program within 18 months. Applicants must hold a Juris Doctor (JD) from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Washington University in St Louis
College Choice Score: 96.94
Average Net Price: $33,261
Washington University offers a master of legal studies (M.L.S.) for professionals who wish to gain deeper legal knowledge but do not plan to work as attorneys. The 24-credit M.L.S. program uses synchronous, live-streamed courses and typically takes students one year to complete. Required courses build foundational knowledge in legal topics, such as contract writing, international business transactions, and intellectual property. Elective courses allow learners to examine how the legal system interacts with various industries. Students can participate in an optional weekend immersion in St. Louis during which they can meet their professors, network with law firms, attend court hearings, and earn an elective credit. The degree prepares graduates to pursue careers in a variety of fields, including social work, business, and politics.
New York University
College Choice Score: 85.37
Average Net Price: $35,106
NYU has offered a distance executive LL.M program for the past 10 years, earning its spot among the best online law schools. Designed for working professionals, NYU offers the executive LL.M. program in a part-time format only, giving students up to five years to complete the 24 credits, though most students earn the degree within three years. The program offers start dates in the fall and spring. Degree seekers can chose from five concentration areas: international taxation, business taxation, tax policy, estate planning, and general taxation. Applicants must hold a bachelor of laws (LL.B) or JD from an ABA-accredited university.
College Choice Score: 82.74
Average Net Price: $32,732
One of the nation’s oldest tax LL.M. programs, BU’s 24-credit master of law in taxation program offers students the choice of five concentrations or emphasis areas: transfer pricing, international taxation, estate planning, financial services, or general business taxation. One of the best online law schools, BU offers program start dates in the fall, spring, and summer and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Part-time students can take up to four years to complete the program, though full-time students often finish the degree in two sessions. The school offers online students a variety of support services, including employer recruitment opportunities during the final year of the program. Applicants must hold a JD or LL.B. degree from an ABA-accredited institution.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 80.76
Average Net Price: $37,404
GW offers a 30-credit online master of professional studies in law firm management that prepares graduates for leadership positions within legal settings. The program offers start dates each summer and typically takes students 18 months to complete. While GW offers its coursework online, the program does require five on-campus residencies in Alexandria, Virginia. These mandatory residencies include two nine-day residencies and three four-day residences, placed at intervals throughout the program. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with at least a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate administrative work experience in a legal setting.
University of Tulsa
College Choice Score: 78.44
Average Net Price: $25,355
TU offers two online law degrees for non-lawyers: the 24-credit master of jurisprudence in energy law and the 30-credit master of jurisprudence in Indian law. Designed for legal professionals who do not wish to become lawyers, these programs do not prepare graduates to sit for the bar exam. Full-time students can complete either program in a year, while part-time students often need 4-6 terms to finish all of the requirements. Both programs require a final capstone project in which students can choose a topic of interest to study in-depth. TU provides all program coursework and exams entirely online, with occasional required live class sessions.
University of Illinois at Springfield
College Choice Score: 78.34
Average Net Price: $12,308
One of the best online law schools, UIS offers both a hybrid and fully online master of arts in legal studies that takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the American legal system and its role in society. The 40-credit program includes 24 credits of core courses and 16 elective credits, and culminates with either a graduate seminar or a thesis project. Students can choose to use their electives to pursue one of several online concentration options, including regulatory compliance, human rights/social justice, and law and public policy. The school uses the Blackboard platform to deliver a mix of synchronous and asynchronous coursework.
Michigan State University
College Choice Score: 78.27
Average Net Price: $14,601
MSU offers a fully online master’s degree in global food law for both lawyers and non-lawyers alike: a 24-credit LL.M. in food law for lawyers, and a 26-credit master of jurisprudence in food law for non-lawyers. Core courses in both programs cover topics in international food law, food regulation in the U.S., and food safety and labeling. Non-lawyers must also take a foundational course in law and legal research. Elective courses make up the remainder of the degree, with options like biotechnology law and food products; food regulation in Canada; and wine, beer, and spirits laws and regulations.
University of Vermont
College Choice Score: 77.92
Average Net Price: $17,297
Located in Burlington, UVM offers several law degrees entirely online, including a master of energy regulation and law, a master of environmental law and policy, a master of food and agriculture law and policy, and LL.M. degrees in energy law, environmental law, and food and agriculture law. All of these online law programs consist of 30 credits and can take students anywhere from 1-5 years to complete. UVM offers all of these programs for both full- and part-time learners, though most students choose to study part time. The LL.M degrees require applicants to hold a JD or its international equivalent.
The University of Alabama
College Choice Score: 75.26
Average Net Price: $18,814
One of the nation’s best online law schools, UA offers a 24-credit LL.M. with concentrations in taxation and business transactions. The program typically takes one year to complete and offers live classes two nights a week in the evenings to accommodate students with professional obligations. UA offers start dates each August and follows a cohort model, meaning students progress through the same sequence of courses as a group. Students in the taxation concentration take required courses covering tax procedure and personal income tax. Meanwhile, the business transactions concentration includes required courses in advanced securities regulation and mergers and acquisitions.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
College Choice Score: 74.29
Average Net Price: $15,648
UNL offers a blended 24-credit LL.M. in cyber, space, and telecommunications law. Required courses cover space law, international law, and domestic telecommunications law. One of the best online law schools, UNL uses a synchronous format for the majority of its courses, meaning students attend classes as they occur on campus, facilitating interaction between online students and their on-campus peers. The program concludes with a mandatory one-credit thesis project. Students must complete three credits on campus and attend one on-campus conference or seminar over the course of the program. Applicants must hold a JD from an ABA-accredited college or university or its international equivalent.
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 73.07
Average Net Price: $14,693
U of A offers an entirely online LL.M. in agricultural and food law, colloquially referred to as the “LL.M.: practice what you eat.” The program focuses on the link between health and diet, as well as the issues of food security and sustainability. One of the best online law schools, U of A was the first to offer an advanced degree in agricultural and food law. The school offers this 24-credit program with both full- and part-time enrollment options, using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous coursework. The degree can take anywhere from two semesters to four years to complete.
College Choice Score: 72.87
Average Net Price: $30,459
One of the best online law schools, Hofstra offers an entirely online LL.M. in health law and policy. The 25-credit program offers multiple start dates in the fall, spring, and summer and takes most students 18 months to complete. Required courses cover topics in medicare and medicaid law, healthcare compliance, and public health law, policy, and ethics. The program culminates with a five-credit capstone course in which students independently research a topic of their choice. Online students can access around-the-clock tech support. Applicants must hold a LL.B. or JD but do not need to submit GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores.
Saint Leo University
College Choice Score: 71.93
Average Net Price: $21,377
A Catholic college located in central Florida, Saint Leo ranks as one of the best online law schools in the nation. The school offers a master of science in criminal justice with a legal studies specialization designed for correctional officers, first responders, and government officials. The program consists of five core courses, three legal studies courses, and two elective courses, totaling 36 credits overall. Elective options include criminal sexual behaviors, preventing terrorist attacks, and forensic and medicolegal death investigation. The program concludes with a mandatory six-credit capstone project. Students can choose to start the program at one of six start dates throughout the year.
Seton Hall University
College Choice Score: 71.76
Average Net Price: $27,404
A Catholic university founded in 1856, Seton Hall has since grown into one of the nation’s top online law schools, offering an online and hybrid 31-credit master of science in jurisprudence for non-lawyers with five different concentration options, including health and hospital law, privacy law and cyber security, and pharmaceutical and medical device law and compliance. Additional online law degree options include a 24-credit LL.M. with online concentrations in health law and financial services compliance, as well as a hybrid concentration in intellectual property law. All of the LL.M. degrees require applicants to hold a JD from an ABA-accredited institution.
Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
College Choice Score: 71.63
Average Net Price: $13,175
Among the top online law schools in the nation, ASU offers an entirely online master of legal studies degree for non-lawyers. Students can choose between six emphasis areas: criminal law, law & sustainability, intellectual property law, corporate and health care compliance, sports law, and HR & employment law. Regardless of the emphasis area chosen, all students must take a three-credit course in U.S. law and legal analysis. Students can use the remaining credits to fulfill concentration requirements and tailor the degree to their future professions. The 30-credit program takes most students a year to complete, with 10 total classes lasting 7.5 weeks each.
California University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 69.02
Average Net Price: $17,233
Located in Pennsylvania and founded in 1852, Cal U offers over 75 online programs, including a fully online master of legal studies with a concentration in law and public policy. Blending coursework in political science, business, the humanities, and jurisprudence, the interdisciplinary 30-credit program studies the effect of law on civil litigation, criminal conduct, and administrative agencies. Most students complete the degree within two years. Online learners can also add a 15-credit graduate certificate in law and public policy to the degree. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution.
Nova Southeastern University
College Choice Score: 67.42
Average Net Price: $670 per credit
NSU offers an online master of science in law and policy with concentration options in cybersecurity law and sports regulation and management. The program consists of four core courses, four program core courses, and 12-14 credits of electives. All students must complete a four-credit capstone project. Optionally, learners can additionally complete an honors thesis. Most students take two years to complete the program, which offers start dates four times a year. NSU delivers its coursework using the Canvas platform, mixing asynchronous and synchronous formats. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and do not need to submit GRE or LSAT scores.
College Choice Score: 60.94
Average Net Price: $7,210
Purdue Global offers a 92-credit online JD degree that prepares graduates to sit for the California bar exam. The first year of the program covers foundational law topics, beginning with a “first-year intensive” that prepares students to pass the First-Year Law Students’ Exam, administered by the State Bar of California. In addition to the 84 required credits, students can choose electives in areas like education law, contract drafting, or employment discrimination. Online students take synchronous courses along with other students in their assigned section, moving forward through the program as a cohort. The program concludes with a required capstone course and a family law practicum.
Grand Canyon University
College Choice Score: 58.23
Average Net Price: $19,775
A private, Christian school located in Phoenix, Arizona, GCU ranks among the best online law schools in the nation. The school’s extensive online offerings include an online master of science in criminal justice with an emphasis in legal studies. Core coursework covers a variety of relevant topics for law enforcement professionals and those who work in public policy, such as organizational behavior and leadership, criminal behavior analysis, and ethics and decision making. The 38-credit program concludes with a mandatory capstone project that requires students to develop a professional portfolio and write a proposal and a research paper.