Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Badge

The cost of college doesn’t have to hold you back from a career in law. Our Most Affordable Legal Studies Degrees ranking is here to help.

No two ways about it - the sticker price of college is intimidating. But don’t let that scare you off. Your bachelor’s degree could be more affordable than you think.

A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for many roles within the legal field. Once you land that job as a paralegal, court reporter, or corrections officer, your degree - and master's degree - will pay dividends.


What kind of legal studies degree should you get?

When choosing a college, your first consideration should be finding a program that matches your career goals. Look for a degree that focuses on law school preparation, paralegal certification, or law enforcement training, depending on what you want to do after you graduate.

If you’re not sure what your career will look like, don’t fret - plenty of programs offer generalized tracks. Choose one of these broadly focused programs so that you can get a feel for a number of different aspects of the legal profession.

For other highly cost-effective options in undergraduate education, don’t miss our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Colleges.

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How much money do people make with a legal studies degree?

The biggest factor in how much you’ll earn is whether you continue your education beyond your legal studies degree. Students who go from an undergraduate program into law school will spend several additional years in school, but they’ll earn much more at the end of it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for paralegals and legal assistants is $50,410 per year. For lawyers, the median pay is $119,250 per year. A certified attorney can earn more than twice as much as a paralegal.

What can you do with a degree in legal studies?

The most common career path for legal studies graduates is to find work as a paralegal, or legal assistant. Many paralegals are employed in law firms, while others work in the legal departments of private businesses or in local, state, or federal agencies.

A degree in legal studies may also prepare you to work as a corrections officer, law enforcement officer, court clerk, and community services manager. Again, the specialization you choose within your legal studies program will be key in determining your potential career paths.


What are the requirements for a degree in legal studies?

Because this ranking focuses on distance learning programs, the most important requirement is consistent internet access on a reliable computer or laptop. You’ll be completing most or all of your assignments digitally, so it’s important that you’re comfortable engaging with technology on a regular basis.

Outside of basic computer skills, the admissions requirements for these degrees vary widely. Some programs will want to see a certain high school GPA, or a minimum SAT or ACT score. Others don’t have any specific cut-off scores and will review your application in a holistic way.

What are the most affordable online legal studies degrees?

To create this ranking, we focused strictly on net tuition costs. Data is sourced from individual college websites as well as U.S. News & World Report and the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Although affordability is the key here, academic quality is still an important factor. All of the colleges featured on our rankings are regionally accredited, so your degree will carry real weight with employers and graduate schools.

We wish you all the best of luck in your school search!


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Bellevue University

    Bellevue, NE




    Bellevue University was established in 1966 and has grown into a comprehensive institution with a worldwide alumni network of 50,000. In 2017, Bellevue was recognized by a committee of peer institutions as a leading example of innovative and effective practices in awarding scholarships. This distinction highlights Bellevue’s commitment to ensuring that all students can access and succeed in higher education. The Legal Studies program at Bellevue is designed to integrate classroom theory with hands-on, applied learning.

    Program Features

    Students may choose to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies through an online track or through a traditional track on the Bellevue, NE campus. Both tracks are cohort-based, so students will be part of a community of peers with similar professional goals. Required coursework for the Legal Studies degree includes:

    • The American Criminal and Civil Legal Systems
    • Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Law
    • The U.S. Legal System and the Judicial Process
    • Constitutional Law, Liberty, and Emerging Policy


    Online students will have access to guest lectures from renowned experts and leaders in the field. Guest lecturers might include Federal Judges, Congressmen, legislators, lobbyists, and corporate executives. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the tuition rate for this degree program is $415 per credit-hour. Tuition discounts are available for eligible military members.

  2. Peirce College

    Philadelphia, PA




    As a private, non-profit institution, Peirce College is a nationwide leader in offering career-relevant degrees to adult and nontraditional learners. In 2000, Peirce became one of the very first colleges to offer degree programs fully online. Today, Peirce’s distance education programs include degrees in Organizational Leadership, Criminal Justice Studies, Paralegal Studies, and more.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies from Peirce requires students to complete four foundational classes on campus. The remaining courses can be completed entirely online, entirely on campus, or through a combination of both formats. Graduates of this program have gone on to work in private law firms, government and administrative agencies, corporations, hospitals, and other institutions. Paralegal Studies majors will complete coursework such as:

    • Professional Legal Responsibility
    • Real Estate Law
    • Advanced Legal Research
    • Advanced Legal Technology


    Established in 1997, the Paralegal Studies program at Peirce is the only bachelor’s degree program of its kind in Philadelphia to be approved by the American Bar Association. Students at Peirce may also pursue an online Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. A large number of scholarships are available to Paralegal Studies students, such as the Chester County Paralegal Association Scholarship and the Edwin B. Miller Scholarship Fund.

  3. Mississippi University for Women

    Columbus, MS




    At the Mississippi University for Women, students can pursue more than 50 undergraduate degrees and 11 graduate degrees. These highly regarded academic programs are open to both men and women. Washington Monthly consistently recognizes the W as one of the best public universities in the Southeast. While on-campus students can earn a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, online students can earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Legal Administration.

    Program Features

    To qualify for the online Legal Administration program, students must already hold an Associate of Applied Science in a related discipline, such as Criminal Justice or Law Office Management. An AAS in General Studies is also acceptable. Through the Legal Administration program, students will earn the last 62 credit-hours toward their degree. Coursework will include:

    • Legal Bibliography and Research
    • Statistical Analysis for Business
    • Legal Environment of Business
    • Practical Legal Lab


    The Business Administration degree offers additional concentrations in Health Care Management, Human Resources Management, and Management Information Systems. The program is also available through a General Business track. The 2018 tuition rate for part-time students is $285 per credit-hour. This rate applies to students taking up to 11 credit-hours. Full-time students will pay $3,420 per term.

  4. American Public University

    Charles Town, WV




    Offering over 200 academic options, American Public University has conferred more than 81,500 degrees since 1995. In U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings, the online bachelor’s programs at APU were cited among the best in the nation for the sixth consecutive year. These top-ranked programs cover an array of disciplines, including Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and many more.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from APU is designed to allow working adults to pursue pre-law education. While the program is focused on preparing students for law school, it is also ideal for students who plan to work as paralegals, investigators, legal researchers, and in other roles that require a broad understanding of law. This degree features required courses such as:

    • Introduction to the Courts
    • Civil Practice and Procedure
    • Administrative Law and Policy
    • Constitutional Law


    All online courses at APU run for either eight or 16 weeks. Classes start monthly, providing maximum flexibility for busy professionals. Among current APU students, 87 percent are working adults. The average class size for undergraduate programs is just 18 students. APU does not charge an application fee. Including tuition, books, and fees, the 2018 cost per credit-hour is $270.

  5. SUNY College of Technology Canton

    Canton, NY




    Chartered in 1906, SUNY Canton was the first postsecondary, two-year college in New York. Part of the extensive network of schools that make up the State University of New York, this institution offers five professional certificate programs, 22 associate’s degrees, and 25 bachelor’s degrees. Between 2008 and 2014, the university’s Legal Studies program grew from 38 students to 97 students, and it continues to grow today.

    Program Features

    SUNY Canton is the only institution in the 64-campus SUNY system to offer a four-year Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. Students in this online program will have the opportunity to take classes in numerous complementary fields, such as Accounting, Business, Criminal Justice, and Law Enforcement Leadership. Available electives for the degree include:

    • Negligence and Intentional Torts
    • Immigration Law and Border Control
    • Trial Courts and Rules of Evidence
    • Legal Issues in Emergency and Disaster Management


    Students in the Legal Studies major will have the opportunity to complete a semester-long internship as their capstone experience. This internship will be worth between 3 and 15 credit-hours, depending on the number of hours worked. Other options for the capstone experience include a senior project and up to five upper-level legal studies electives. The current tuition rate for online students is $333 per credit-hour.

  6. University of Maryland University College

    Adelphi, MD




    University of Maryland University College has over 20 campus locations throughout Maryland, DC, and Virginia. As a public institution and a member of the University System of Maryland, UMUC offers flexible, streamlined degree and certificate programs in more than 90 fields of study. UMUC’s Legal Studies program prepares students to perform analysis, write and draft documents, and conduct research in the legal environment.

    Program Features

    The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies requires 46 credit-hours of elective coursework, which students may use to earn a minor in a field that intersects with law. All of the coursework for the Legal Studies program is offered online. For students who prefer a face-to-face component in their classes, some coursework may also be offered in a hybrid format. Classes for the Legal Studies major will include:

    • Techniques of Legal Research
    • Advanced Legal Writing
    • Criminal Law and Procedures
    • Contract Law


    UMUC offers an interest-free monthly payment plan, which allows students to spread their tuition payments over an entire semester rather than paying the full sum upfront. Over 100 scholarships are available to UMUC students. For example, all eligible Maryland community college graduates can receive the Completion Scholarship, which allows the recipients to finish their bachelor’s degree program for $12,000 or less.

  7. Baker College

    Flint, MI




    With 11 campus locations and more than 25,000 students, the Baker College system is Michigan’s largest independent institution of higher learning. For over 100 years, Baker has delivered career-relevant education in a comprehensive array of academic disciplines. Distance learning opportunities at Baker include undergraduate programs in business, psychology, and law.

    Program Features

    Students at Baker can earn a fully online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This degree offers two concentrations: Criminal Justice Studies and Law Enforcement (Police Academy). Students who choose the Law Enforcement concentration will graduate as certified police officers, while students in the Criminal Justice Studies concentration will gain a broader understanding of crime, the justice system, and related social issues. Both concentrations require the following coursework:

    • Legal Issues in Corrections
    • Cybercrime Investigations
    • Organized Crime and Youth Gangs
    • Terrorism and Homeland Security


    The Law Enforcement concentration and the Criminal Justice Studies concentration are both available through traditional on-campus programs. An Associate of Business: Paralegal and a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies are offered exclusively through on-campus tracks. Baker is one of the lowest-priced private colleges in Michigan, and students will automatically be considered for many scholarships when they apply to their degree program. The college offers free financial aid counseling to all students.

  8. Arizona State University-Skysong

    Scottsdale, AZ




    Arizona State University has garnered international recognition as a leading knowledge enterprise. The online bachelor’s degree programs at ASU have been ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. ASU’s Justice Studies program emphasizes five core areas: citizenship, migration, and human rights; globalization, sustainability, and economic justice; law, policy, and social change; media, technology, and culture; and social identities and communities.

    Program Features

    The fully online Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies degree requires a total of 40 courses and 120 credit-hours. Students will be required to take 12 upper-division credit-hours in a specific area of their choosing. Graduates will be prepared to work in advocacy, law enforcement, and other public service fields. Elective coursework for this program may include:

    • Comparative Development of the Welfare State
    • Women, Work, and Justice
    • Prisons, Power, and the Punishments of the Past
    • Political Deviance and the Law


    The classes in this program are offered on a 7.5-week schedule. The faculty of the Justice Studies program includes 64 tenure-track and research professors (including four National Academy of Sciences members and seven Fulbright American Scholars). For full-time students taking 12 credit-hours per semester, the estimated cost for one academic year, including tuition and fees, is $12,438.

  9. Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE




    As a private, non-sectarian university, Wilmington University is home to a diverse community of 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Wilmington offers more than 150 academic programs, over 100 of which can be earned online. Available distance learning options include bachelor’s degrees in Behavioral Science, Organizational Dynamics, and Legal Studies.

    Program Features

    Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program can immediately enter the field as a paralegal or legal assistant. The program also provides a foundation for law school or other graduate-level study. In addition to specialized legal courses, students will take coursework in analytical thinking, reading comprehension, and interpersonal communication. The curriculum for the Legal Studies degree features courses such as:

    • Legal Research
    • Civil Procedure
    • Interviewing and Investigating
    • Advanced Litigation Skills


    Students who meet certain qualifications, including a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above, will receive guaranteed admission to Widener University Delaware Law School. Although this program is primarily available online, students will be required to earn a minimum of 10 credits in legal specialty classes through traditional on-campus coursework. (Hybrid classes will fulfill this requirement.) The 2018 cost per credit-hour for online coursework is $372. This cost is the same for all students, regardless of in-state residency.

  10. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL




    Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks the University of Florida in the top ten nationwide among the Best Values in Public Colleges. Online students can take full advantage of the university’s low tuition rates through extensive distance learning options. The unique Criminology program at UF emphasizes the complex relationships among the legal, social, political, historical, and psychological influences on crime and justice.

    Program Features

    Presented by the Department of Sociology and Criminology within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the program at UF Online leads to a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. This degree path will feature at least one law-driven course (such as Criminal Procedure or Law and Legal Process) and six criminology and law elective courses. Four core courses are required for all Criminology majors. These four courses are:

    • Law and Society
    • Criminological Theory
    • Research Methods in Criminology
    • Advanced Principles of Criminal Justice


    Criminology graduates may serve as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, probation officer, court clerk, criminal investigator, and in many other roles within the legal system. For Florida residents, the tuition rate for distance learning courses is $129 per credit-hour. Non-resident students will pay $552 per credit-hour. Among recent UF graduates, 56 percent started at the university and graduated with no student loan debt.

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