Online law schools offer a flexible route to a legal career with an above-average salary. Lawyers earn a median annual salary of nearly $123,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A law degree also leads to opportunities as a judge, compliance officer, contracts administrator, or law instructor.
Distance learners can enroll in an online law school with American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation. However, the ABA sets some restrictions on distance learning: programs must require some in-person courses. Consequently, no ABA-accredited online law school currently offers a fully online law degree. Still, today’s online law programs provide hybrid enrollment options with more flexibility than a fully in-person option.
Our list ranks the best online law programs for 2021. Prospective applicants can find the right fit for their schedule and career goals. This article also introduces requirements to earn a degree in law and scholarships for law students.
Why Get a Law Degree?
Earning an online law degree offers several personal and professional benefits. In addition to the flexibility of an online program, the degree advances peoples’ careers and increases their earning potential.
- Career Advancement
- Many legal careers besides lawyer require a law degree. An online law program can help professionals interested in legal positions advance their careers and reach their professional goals.
- At an online law school, students benefit from a flexible schedule. Instead of spending all day on campus, learners balance their in-person work with online courses, making it easier to schedule law school around other obligations.
- An online learning format makes it easier to complete a law degree, particularly for working professionals and busy adults. While degree-seekers complete some requirements in person, online courses prioritize convenience.
- Increased Earning Potential
- Lawyers enjoy above average earnings, with a median annual salary of $122,960. For many professionals, attending law school increases their earning potential
- Law students specialize their training with courses in areas like criminal law, immigration law, employment law, and family law. After earning a law degree and passing the bar exam, attorneys practice in these specializations.
How many years does it take for law school?
Earning a law degree typically takes three years for full-time students. Many law schools offer part-time enrollment options, which may take 4-6 years.
What GPA do you need to get into law school?
The minimum GPA for law school varies by program, but most require at least a 3.0 GPA.
Can you go to law school online?
Yes, law students can enroll in an online law degree. However, ABA-accredited programs require at least some in-person classes. These programs operate more like a hybrid degree.
Are there any accredited law schools online?
Yes, ABA-accredited law schools offer online enrollment options. However, online learners must complete in-person coursework as well. Currently, no ABA-accredited schools offer a fully online law degree.
What Are the Goals of a Law Degree?
A law degree trains graduates for careers as attorneys and judges. Law students strengthen their legal writing and research skills through courses on civil procedure, contracts, and criminal law. The degree also strengthens analytical and problem-solving skills.
During law school, students often choose electives to focus their study. Those interested in business law study corporate structures and legal liability. Students planning to work in intellectual property law take courses in patent and copyright law. Law schools may also offer concentrations in immigration law, litigation law, or public interest advocacy. A specialization prepares graduates for legal careers in their focus area.
What Are the Requirements for a Law Degree?
Prospective law students must meet admission requirements before enrolling in law school. Most law schools require an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA. Top applicants boast strong research, writing, and analytical thinking skills. Schools typically require LSAT scores, a resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose detailing the students’ law school preparation and their post-graduation goals.
Law students complete three years of coursework, including core courses and electives. Many programs encourage students to pursue summer internships to strengthen their professional skills and expand their network.
What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?
Professional Organizations for Law Students
Professional organizations prepare law students for careers as attorneys. Many offer discounts for student members. Law students can join specialized professional organizations like the Defense Research Institute and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
American Bar Association
The ABA advocates for legal professionals and accredits law schools. The association provides resources on different specialties, career and practice guidance, and industry-specific information. Members benefit from legal tech resources, networking opportunities, and the ABA career center. The center offers interviewing tips, career webinars, and a job board. Law students enjoy free membership.
Federal Bar Association
The FBA dates back to 1920 and focuses on attorneys involved in federal law. Their members include attorneys working for federal agencies, lawyers in firms dealing with federal law, and members of the judiciary. The association offers networking opportunities through nearly 100 chapters and continuing legal education programs. Law students qualify for a discounted membership.
National Bar Association
Founded in 1925, the NBA primarily represents Black lawyers and judges. The NBA runs regional and affiliate chapters, offers a discount program for members, and provides continuing legal education programs. Members can access the NBA career center or participate in networking events. Students receive a free membership.
Scholarships for Law Students
Law students qualify for many scholarship opportunities. Professional organizations, private foundations, and other organizations award law student scholarships. Applicants can find scholarships strongased on their school or career goals.
Who Can Apply: BARBRI Law Preview offers a scholarship for future change agents in law school. Law students entering their first year qualify to apply. The scholarship requires a 500-word essay and awards multiple scholarships each year. Recipients receive the scholarship funds through their law school’s financial aid office.
Who Can Apply: The American Bar Association awards a scholarship for first-year law students from an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and enroll at an ABA-accredited law school. The ABA grants up to 20 scholarships annually. Recipients receive $5,000 per year during law school, for a total of $15,000.
Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarship Committee awards this scholarship to a law student enrolled at an accredited law school. Applicants need a minimum 3.25 GPA to qualify. The committee accepts scholarship applications online.
Best Online Law Schools 2021
See our rankings methodology page.
University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley Law offers a master of laws executive track completely online. Students choose between a one-year program option or a part-time summer track and earn the requirements to sit for the California bar exam.
Executive courses happen in 1-3-week intensive terms. Students take core courses such as fundamentals of law, legal research and writing, and a capstone project. From there, students can continue with a general track or concentrate in either business law or law and technology. Elective courses coincide with the concentration choice but include civil procedure, corporate finance, and blockchain for lawyers, respectively.
Students must submit applications through the Law School Admission Council to begin. Applicants must hold a professional degree from a law school, including a JD or a bachelor of laws degree.
Berkeley is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools Senior Colleges and University Commission. The law school is accredited by the American Bar Association.
A public research university in Tallahassee, FSU offers non-lawyers the chance to earn a juris master completely online. The 30-credit program offers full-time or part-time study options, with coursework offered in an asynchronous delivery format.
Students may choose from several concentrations, including financial regulation, legal risk management, and healthcare regulation. Students take general courses such as an introduction to legal studies and research, legislation and regulation, regulatory compliance, and torts. Electives follow a student's chosen concentration. Notable electives include workplace privacy and cybersecurity, business organizations, economic sanctions and compliance, and risk management for financial compliance.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to qualify for admission. The school does not specify a minimum GPA requirement and does not require standardized test scores to apply.
FSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Central Florida
Located in Orlando, UCF offers an online bachelor of legal studies. Students can earn either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts without residency requirements.
The 120-credit program includes general core and elective requirements before students begin their upper-division coursework. Students take four required courses: law and the legal system, legal research, legal writing, and professionalism and civility. From there, students must choose two courses from at least four of the concentration areas, including law and policy, advocacy, family matters, and international law. Notable electives include community mediation and conflict resolution, urban development law, world legal systems, and immigration law and policy.
Applicants must submit academic transcripts and SAT or ACT scores to begin the admissions process. The school does not specify any minimum GPA or test score requirements for eligibility. UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Located in Washington, D.C., Georgetown offers an online master of laws (LL.M.) fully online in two different concentrations and a master of studies in law choice for non-lawyers. Students may also earn online certificates.
Students with law degrees may choose an LL.M. in securities and financial regulation or taxation. Non-lawyers may pursue a master of studies in law (MSL) in taxation. The school also offers two certificate programs online: international taxation and state and local taxation. LL.M. students complete 40 credits in courses such as basic accounting and beyond the IPO, while MSL students complete 24 credits in courses such as individual taxation and corporate income tax law. Each certificate choice requires 10 credits.
LL.M. applicants must hold a JD or LLB to qualify for admission. MSL applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. The school does not require but strongly prefers students to possess prior work experience. Georgetown is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
An Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell offers an online master of science in legal studies. The 30-credit curriculum occurs online, with two one-week residencies required to complete the degree.
Students take courses such as introduction to the legal system, human rights obligations of organizations, business immigration law, and navigating the intellectual property landscape. During the first residency, students take two intensive courses: effective communication skills and conducting legal research. They also complete a capstone research project remotely during the second residency.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to qualify for admission. Students must also possess a minimum of five years of demonstrated professional work experience to apply. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.
Cornell is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.