A career in law requires years of dedicated study. Don’t wait – get started today with our ranking of the best online legal studies degrees.

A legal studies degree can lead directly to a job as a paralegal, criminal investigator, or law enforcement officer. It can also be the first step to a career as a lawyer.

No matter where you plan to go in the legal profession, you need an outstanding bachelor’s program to help you get there. The schools on our list combine the flexibility and convenience of online learning with uncompromising academic excellence.

Top 10 Best Online Legal Studies Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 American Public University Charles Town, WV
3 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
4 Dominican University River Forest, IL
5 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
6 Tulane University New Orleans, LA
7 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
8 Purdue University Global Indianapolis, IN
9 Peirce College Philadelphia, PA
10 Arizona State University Phoenix, AZ

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What kind of legal studies degree should you get?

When many people think of college, they still think of living in dorms and sitting in lecture halls. For generations, that’s been the model of higher education.

A traditional on-campus program is a terrific way to earn a bachelor’s degree – if you’ve recently graduated from high school. If you’re a returning student with some previous college credit, a mid-career professional looking to transition into a new field, or an adult with a family of your own, an online program may be a better fit.

Visit our ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities for more top-tier options in distance education.

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

After graduation, you may choose to get a job right away. As a paralegal, you can expect a median pay of $50,410 per year, or approximately $24.24 per hour. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides more details on working as a paralegal.)

On the other hand, you may use a bachelor’s degree in legal studies as a springboard into law school. If you choose to continue onto a professional law degree and become a licensed attorney, your earning potential is much higher. The median pay for lawyers is $119,250 per year.

What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies?

A baccalaureate degree in legal studies will open up a number of possible career paths.

While you’ll need years of additional schooling to become a practicing lawyer, you’ll be qualified for many roles in law-related fields as soon as you graduate with your bachelor’s degree. Here are some of the most common job titles for alumni of legal studies programs:

  • Paralegal in a law firm, corporation, or governmental agency
  • Court clerk
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Youth correctional officer
  • Criminal investigator

What are the requirements for a degree in legal studies?

To be successful in a law-related career, you’ll need strong skills in communication, logic and reasoning, and analytical thinking. Students who show an aptitude in these areas will likely be the most successful in a legal studies program.

Be sure to look closely at the admissions requirements for the schools where you plan to apply. Many programs have a minimum GPA requirement, which could range from 2.0 all the way up to 3.25 and above for the most competitive programs. Some universities also require a minimum score on the ACT or the SAT.

What are the best online legal studies degrees?

Best Online Legal Studies Degrees Badge

To create our rankings, our data analysts look at factors such as student return on investment (as determined by tuition costs and early career salaries), institutional reputation, and student satisfaction.

Data is pulled from top-quality sources such as U.S. News & World Report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and individual college websites. We also perform a metadata analysis using student review sites like Cappex and RateMyProfessor.

For this particular ranking, we examined Legal Studies programs as well as programs in closely related fields, such as criminal justice and paralegal studies.

Here are the results of our investigation. We hope this list of the best online legal studies degrees helps you take the next step in your academic career.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Liberty University is a private, Christian university founded in 1971. The total student body numbers more than 110,000, including over 30,000 military students and almost 1,000 international students. While the main campus of Liberty is located in Lynchburg, VA, the university also offers an extensive array of fully online programs. These flexible online programs include bachelors degrees in Paralegal Studies, Criminal Justice, Pre-Law, and many other academic disciplines.

    Program Features

    Through the Helms School of Government, students at Liberty can earn a fully online Bachelor of Science in Law and Policy: Pre-Law. This program will provide a foundation in public policy and law practice, presented through a biblical worldview. Graduates of the program will be prepared to sit for the Law School Admission Test. Core coursework will provide training in the following key areas:

    American Constitutional History and Law Criminal Law Legal Research and Writing Advanced Logic and Legal Reasoning

    Notables

    The courses for this degree are offered in an accelerated 8-week format. Eight start dates are available throughout the year. Liberty University offers a number of benefits to service members, veterans, military spouses, and Department of Defense employees, including tuition discounts and potential college credit for military training.

  2. American Public University
    Location

    Charles Town, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    U.S. News World Report has ranked the bachelors degree programs at American Public University among the best nationwide for six consecutive years. A fully online university, APU provides unmatched flexibility: Classes start every month and are entirely asynchronous, meaning that students can log into class whenever their schedule allows. The Legal Studies program at APU prepares students to understand and analyze the processes and procedures of 21st-century legal practice.

    Program Features

    This Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program is designed for students who are preparing to attend law school. However, the degree is also suitable for students who plan to pursue careers as paralegals, law enforcement officers, investigators, or another role within the legal system. Students in this program will be required to take courses such as:

    Introduction to the Courts Civil Practice and Procedure Administrative Law and Policy Family Law

    Notables

    Students enrolled in this program will have the opportunity to customize their degree path with 24 credit-hours in legal studies elective courses. Available electives include Environmental Policy, Regulation, and Law; Cyberlaw and Privacy in a Digital Age; and Immigration Law and Policy. As of the 2018 academic year, the cost per credit-hour for this program is $270 (or $250 with a military grant).

  3. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    As an emerging preeminent research university, the University of Central Florida has been ranked by both Kiplingers Personal Finance and Forbes as a best-value school. At UCF, students can pursue more than 215 degree programs through 13 colleges. The College of Health and Public Affairs is home to 193 full-time faculty members and over 8,200 undergraduate students.

    Program Features

    Presented by the College of Health and Public Affairs, the online Legal Studies program is available as either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. To earn the BA degree, students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. Candidates for both the BS degree and the BA degree will be expected to take the following courses:

    Law and the Legal System Civil Practice and Procedure Property and Real Estate Law Professional Ethics and Liability

    Notables

    This program provides an array of specialization options, including Sports and Entertainment Law, Estates and Property Law, Comparative and International Law, and many more. The degree is also available through a general track for students who dont wish to choose a specialization. High-achieving students may be eligible for the Honors program. Honors students will conduct research in an area of interest, then prepare and defend a written thesis.

  4. Dominican University
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Dominican University was named by U.S. News World Report to nineteenth place among all masters-level universities in the Midwest. Dominican was founded in 1901 in Sinsinawa, WI before moving to its current location in River Forest, IL, a few minutes away from downtown Chicago. After more than a century of growth and change, Dominican retains a strong commitment to career-enhancing education and Roman Catholic values. Legal Studies majors at Dominican can choose to take classes either online or on campus.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies allows students to choose concentrations in up to two areas. Numerous areas of concentration are available, including Disability Advocacy, Law and Social Justice, Sustainability Studies, and several more. Regardless of the concentration (or concentrations) that a student chooses, the following coursework will be required:

    The American Legal System Religion and the Law Law and Economics Philosophical Basis of the Law

    Notables

    Through this program, students can prepare for paralegal certification, law school, or graduate school in a related discipline. Dominican offers a traditional campus program leading to a BA in Criminology. On-campus students also have the option of a 6-year, dual-degree program leading to both a BA degree and a Juris Doctor degree.

  5. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    According to the New York Times, the University of Florida ranks sixth nationwide among universities doing the most to help low-income students get a college education. As a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, UF has facilities in all 67 counties in Florida. UF Online, the universitys distance learning division, offers undergraduate degrees in Environmental Management, Fire and Emergency Services, Criminology, and many other in-demand fields.

    Program Features

    The online Bachelor of Arts in Criminology prepares students for careers as a court clerk, criminal investigator, youth correctional officer, and many other roles in the legal system. This program explores criminal justice systems and law from a multidisciplinary, liberal-arts perspective. Students will have the opportunity to customize their degree path with 18 credit-hours of criminology electives. All Criminology majors will complete these four core courses:

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

    Notables

    To fulfill their elective requirements, students may take classes such as Media and Crime, Juvenile Justice, and Introduction to Law Enforcement. Students with a major in Criminology will be required to pass a department exit examination. This exam will cover critical topics such as crime, criminal justice, law and society, and criminological theory.

  6. Tulane University
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The community of Tulane University includes 8,400 undergraduate students and 5,100 graduate and professional students. Tulane is one of just 62 schools in North America to be selected for membership in the elite Association of American Universities, a consortium of top-ranked research institutions. The General Legal Studies degree at Tulane is ideal for students who plan to pursue law school, or who wish to move directly into a legal career in an administrative capacity.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies from Tulane incorporates the requirements for a certificate in Paralegal Studies. This program has held approval from the American Bar Associations Standing Committee on Paralegals since 1981, making it the regions oldest ABA-approved program. Coursework for this degree-plus-certificate program may include:

    Computers in the Law Firm Business and Corporate Practice Legal Interviewing and Investigation Social Security Disability Law

    Notables

    Coursework for this program is available online as well as through in-person evening classes. At least four courses will need to be taken either in-person or through synchronous (real-time) transmission. Regardless of the format, all classes are taught by practicing attorneys and paralegals. The practicum course in this program incorporates a 100-hour internship in a law office.

  7. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bellevue University is a nonprofit institution focused on providing highly accessible, career-focused education. The universitys main campus is in Bellevue, NE, while additional campuses are located in three more states (Washington, Iowa, and Idaho). Fully online degree programs are available at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. The dynamic Legal Studies program integrates coursework in law and a broad array of related fields, such as political science, public administration, economics, and management.

    Program Features

    Students can choose to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies fully online or through face-to-face classes. The curriculum for this degree features 36 credit-hours of general education coursework, 51 credit-hours of elective coursework, and 40 credit-hours within the Legal Studies major. Classes within the 40-credit core include:

    The American Criminal and Civil Legal Systems Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Law Judicial and Administrative Practices: Civil and Criminal Procedure Legal Applications for Contemporary American Business and Social Organizations

    Notables

    This program provides students with the opportunity to visit government offices, experience shareholder or corporate board meetings, attend legislative sessions, and engage with other real-world applications of law. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the cost for this degree is $415 per credit-hour. This rate is the same for both online and on-campus courses.

  8. Purdue University Global
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Designed to serve the unique needs of working adults, the degree programs of Purdue University Global are flexible, innovative, and industry-relevant. As part of the esteemed Purdue University system, Purdue Global offers top-tier academic programs taught by nationally renowned faculty members. According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Purdue Global is one of the nations largest providers of online legal studies programs by number of degrees conferred.

    Program Features

    Purdue Globals Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services will prepare graduates to work in law firms, corporations, insurance firms, consulting firms, and health care institutions. Students will have regular opportunities to participate in live seminars, discussions boards, and one-on-one interactions with faculty members. This degree path includes required courses such as:

    Introduction to American Jurisprudence Advanced Legal Research and Writing Business Law Ethics and the Legal Environment

    Notables

    The Legal Support and Services program offers an optional concentration in Paralegal Studies. This concentration features coursework in litigation, criminal law, and administrative law. While earning their bachelors degree, students in the Legal Support and Services program can simultaneously work toward a Master of Public Administration, Master of Science in Legal Studies, Master of Science in Human Services, or Master of Science in Psychology.

  9. Peirce College
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Peirce College has been a pioneer in distance learning since the days of dial-up. The college was first founded in 1865 to offer practical education for returning soldiers after the Civil War. More than 130 years later, Peirce offered its first fully online degree in 2000. Today, the college continues its tradition of accessible, career-centric education with an outstanding Legal Studies in Business program.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies in Business is a degree completion program. It is intended for students who have already earned at least 45 college credits. Coursework for this degree is available on the Philadelphia campus, fully online, or through a combination of both formats. Students pursuing this degree will take courses such as:

    Legal Research for Legal Studies in Business Majors Accounting for Non-Financial Managers Human Resource Management Applied Management Concepts

    Notables

    Students may transfer up to 90 credits from another accredited institution toward their Peirce degree. Graduates of the Legal Studies in Business program may go on to law school, or directly into careers in regulation, compliance, research analytics, and corporate practice. Peirce also offers a BS in Criminal Justice as well as a BS in Paralegal Studies. This is the only American Bar Association-approved bachelors paralegal degree program in the Philadelphia area.

  10. Arizona State University
    Location

    Phoenix, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Times Higher Education ranks Arizona State University among the top 1 percent of the most prestigious universities in the world. ASU confers more than 20,000 degrees annually, adding to a network of 500,000 alumni all over the world. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU has a student body of 20,000 and offers 89 undergraduate majors, including a highly acclaimed program in Justice Studies.

    Program Features

    ASUs Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies prepares students to create meaningful change through law, policy, and social justice. This program highlights five key 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. Specific course titles for this degree may include:

    Research in Justice Studies Inequality, Economy, and Justice Statistical Analysis for Justice Studies Social Protest, Conflict, and Change

    Notables

    Each class in the online Justice Studies program lasts seven and a half weeks. This degree program prepares graduates to pursue careers in human welfare and social work, law enforcement, advocacy, and other fields within the legal system. The National Science Foundation ranks ASUs College of Liberal Arts and Sciences among the top 20 nationwide for humanities research.

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