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.
Top 5 Online Law Schools
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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.
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.
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.
Purdue University Global-Davenport
Purdue has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s “Public Ivies” for the strength of its programs. The university’s global campus has become a top destination for working professionals seeking law schools online thanks to its rigorous and affordable online JD program.
This 92-credit online law school program typically takes full-time students four years to complete and expects a weekly time commitment of around 25-35 hours. Graduates leave the intensive program prepared to take the California Bar Exam, which then enables them to pursue licensure in Wisconsin and North Carolina. The program’s diverse elective options include immigration law, employment discrimination, and virtual law practice.
Purdue Global is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California University of Pennsylvania
Established in 1852 as a normal school, Cal U eventually attained full university status. The university now features 45 majors, including online programs such as a bachelor of arts and master of science in legal studies.
Both programs in Cal U’s online law school primarily serve transfer students. The bachelor’s in legal studies prefers applicants with an associate in legal studies. The master’s in legal studies offers concentrations in law and public policy, criminal justice, and homeland security and maintains an articulation partnership with the FBI National Academy Associates and Law Enforcement Executive Development Association.
Cal U is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Hodges serves approximately 1,600 students. The university extends through distance learning programs, including online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in legal studies.
The university’s online law school does not prepare graduates for licensure as attorneys. The online master’s in legal studies primarily serves working paralegals looking to advance their careers. The online bachelor’s in legal studies features required coursework in eLitigation law and eDiscovery software applications used in law. Both programs feature discounted tuition rates for active-duty military and veterans.
Hodges is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Virginia Beach, FL
A private Christian university founded in 1977, Regent stands out for its affordable tuition rates and numerous scholarship opportunities for active-duty military and veterans. The university’s online law school offers an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies and an online master’s in American legal studies.
Regent’s 120-credit online bachelor of science in paralegal studies prepares graduates for careers as legal assistants, litigation support analysts, and judiciary clerks. Regent’s 30-credit online master’s in American legal studies typically takes one year to complete and primarily serves established professionals who already hold a JD.
Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Founded in 1867, WVU now serves around 30,000 students. The university offers 32 degrees and 13 certificates through a fully online format, including an online master’s in legal studies and an online JD/MBA dual degree.
WVU’s 30-credit master of legal studies degree offers concentrations in healthcare, justice systems, and homeland security. The university’s online JD and MBA dual degree typically takes three years to complete and prepares graduates for careers in banking, management, or government. The curriculum includes integrative courses and prepares learners to work as lawyers and leaders.
WVU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.