Earning a Master’s in Legal Studies gets you the closest to being a lawyer without actually needing to jump through the hoops of becoming one. Ditch the long hours and stuffy meetings! By starting with an online Master’s in Legal Studies, you’ll set yourself up to know the ins and outs of the court system. You can apply that knowledge in areas beyond law. This degree will be a launching point for the rest of your career!
What kind of Online Master’s in Legal Studies should you get?
One amazing feature of this type of degree is that it allows you to specialize in essentially any area you love. The law applies to all of us. So why not concentrate in a specific sector? Here are just a few of the many specialty tracks these schools offer: Financial Regulatory Compliance, Criminal Law, Cybersecurity, Entrepreneurship and Law, Information Privacy, Health Care Compliance, Higher Education Compliance, Human Resources Compliance, Sports Law. The list could go on!
Ultimately, the biggest distinction among these schools is that they are all delivered online. Online learning is increasingly the direction of higher education. You’ll be able to keep your full-time or part-time job as you complete the program. If you’re not quite settled on Legal Studies, take a look at some other options with our list of the Most Affordable Online Graduate Colleges.
How much money do people make with an Online Master’s in Legal Studies?
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, most people in this field earn anything between $50,400 to $64,000 per year. This figure varies depending on what type of job you’re in. For example, paralegals tend to earn salaries on the lower end of the spectrum while arbitrators and mediators are in the top earning percentages.
Another shining spot in this career is that jobs related to legal studies continue to be in high demand. In fact, employment rates are projected to increase by 10 to 15 percent by 2026. That means by the time you have your degree in hand, you’ll also likely have a recruiter knocking at your door.
What can you do with an Online Master’s in Legal Studies?
Earning a degree in Legal Studies opens the door to a wide range of career opportunities. A common career path for people is to start as a paralegal. If this is your goal, find an attorney who you respect and who fits your speciality. You’ll be the go-to person for gathering legal documents, drafting arguments, initiating affidavits, and more.
Your options certainly don’t stop at being a paralegal. You can work as a claims adjuster for an insurance company, a compliance officer for a sports franchise, a consultant for a healthcare company, or a legal mediator for state government. The list could go on! Any place where the law is in question, your skills will be needed.
What are the requirements for an Online Master’s in Legal Studies?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, then you can check off the first big hurdle to getting into one of these programs. A background in law, criminal justice, or history doesn’t hurt in boosting your chances of getting into a top program. Many of these programs do not require taking the GRE or LSAT, so don’t worry too much about studying for standardized tests. Just show your specific interest in law when you apply, and the rest should be a piece of cake!
Each program on this list follows a similar curriculum. In total, you’ll complete 30-40 credit hours. Most program will last anywhere from 12 to 24 months. This, of course, will depend on whether you’re attending as a full-time or part-time student.
What are the best Online Master’s in Legal Studies?
Here at College Choice, the data team has developed a fool-proof methodology in order to settle on these top programs. First, they consider the online reputations of each school. Then, they calculate the net cost of each program, graduation rates, retention rates, and the early salaries of graduates.
The final list offers you the 15 Best Online Master’s in Legal Studies. These facts and figures come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 94.93
Average Net Price: $29,998
Boston is home to Northeastern University, a private research institution with around 25,500 students in total. Northeastern is widely respected for its academic reputation. However, its shining achievement is its cooperative education program. It also ranks #14 for Best Health Care Law Programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
In total, your Master of Legal Studies degree at Northeastern University will cover 30 credit hours. You’ll take two foundational courses in legal studies, five core courses in related areas, and then three electives. All coursework is conducted online, but still holds elements of Northeastern’s specialty in experiential learning. Some highlight classes are:
- Law and Strategy
- Negotiation and Advocacy
- Intellectual Property Survey
- Anti-Discrimination Law
Most people work through this program on a part-time basis. If that’s your plan, then you can expect to finish your degree in around a year and a half. You’ll fit your classes into the 10-term length of the program. This is a great way to maintain job experience while you’re in school.
College Choice Score: 87.90
Average Net Price: $39,021
Drexel University is a strong private research university based in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to its vibrant on-campus academic life, Drexel University has maintained its online education platform since 1996. Law students enjoy the extensive cooperative education program at Drexel. The co-op system cycles through every six months.
Delivered through the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, this online Master of Legal Studies gives you the chance to apply law to your field of expertise. With over eight concentrations, this curriculum covers all the bases. You’ll take 30 credits in total, with over half of them devoted to your concentration. Here are some highlights:
- Compliance Skills: Auditing, Investigation, & Reporting
- Legal Research and Analysis
- European Union Data Privacy and Protection
- Legal Issues in Employee Hiring and Termination
Wondering what concentration tracks you can follow? You’ll have the choice of: Criminal Law, Cybersecurity and Information Privacy Compliance, Entrepreneurship and Law, Financial Regulatory Compliance, Health Care Compliance, Higher Education Compliance, Human Resources Compliance, and NCAA Compliance and Sports Law.
University of Oklahoma
College Choice Score: 85.71
Average Net Price: $17,966
A large research university consisting of 15 academic colleges, the University of Oklahoma is a force. It is located in Norman, OK and educates around 31,200 students each year. It keeps a high caliber of academic success. In fact, the school boasts a large number of enrolled National Merit Scholars.
When you enroll in the College of Law for your online Master of Legal Studies, you’ll choose one of three areas of expertise: Indigenous Peoples Law, Healthcare Law, and Oil, Gas, & Energy Law. Each area involves 33 credit hours of coursework, organized in eight modules. Here’s a peek into some classes from each track:
- Native American Natural Resources
- Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country
- Real Estate Transactions
- Oil and Gas Environmental Law
A number of elements stand out at the University of Oklahoma. For one, all of the faculty for each specialty area were specifically selected for their expertise in those areas. Even more, if you choose the online format, you’ll be able to graduate in just 15 months.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 85.33
Average Net Price: $13,007
Consistently named the #1 Most Innovative School in America, Arizona State University knows how to step up to the plate when it comes to online education. ASU Online offers over 150 degree programs to both undergraduate and graduate students. Last year, over 25,000 students were enrolled through ASU Online.
Arizona State University knows that specificity is everything. That’s why the online Master of Legal Studies offers six customizable concentration areas. You’ll leave this program with more than just the ins and outs of federal law, legal argument, and policy. You’ll have a grasp on a specific area of law. Here are just a few concentration options:
- Sports Law and Business
- Sustainability Law
- HR and Employment LAw
- Criminal Law
The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has a growing list of accomplishments. For instance, this year U.S. News & World Report named it the #8 Public Law School in the country. It also praised individual programs, such as Legal Writing, Environmental Law, and Dispute Resolution.
College Choice Score: 84.29
Average Net Price: $39,637
Aligned with the Churches of Christ, Pepperdine University is a private, Christian school. It is located just outside of Los Angeles, near Malibu, California. Pepperdine University is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program for Veterans. This means veterans who attend the university can enjoy unlimited tuition assistance.
The Master of Legal Studies at Pepperdine University will set you apart. This 32-credit-hour program is delivered online with the option of two on-campus residencies. You also can choose to specialize in Dispute Resolution. Students tend to finish in 16 to 28 months. Core classes include:
- Negotiation Theory and Practice
- Civil Procedure and Litigation
- Administrative Law and Regulatory Compliance
- Constitutional Law
The concentration in Dispute Resolution is a huge opportunity at Pepperdine University. In fact, U.S. News & World Report named it the #1 program for Dispute Resolution. You can apply these specialized skills in mediation and negotiation to practically any field.
West Virginia University
College Choice Score: 82.98
Average Net Price: $10,814
A public university with land-grant and space-grant designations, West Virginia University is a stand-out institution within the state. Though its main campus is located in Morgantown, West Virginia University also has locations throughout the state. The College of Law, established in 1878, is the only law school in West Virginia.
West Virginia University provides three areas of focus within the Master in Legal Studies: Justice Systems, Healthcare, and Homeland Security. You’ll designate 9 credits of your total 30 credits to one of these areas. The rest of your curriculum will help you master the foundations of legal studies with classes like:
- Researching the Law
- Dispute Resolution Process
- Judicial Legal Process
- Administrative Ethics
West Virginia University Online delivers over 600 unique online classes, which make up 30 degrees in total. It’s no surprise, then, that the student support at WVU Online is top notch. You’ll first get set up with an enrollment coach, who will help you set up for classes. For the rest of your program, academic advisors and tutors are only an email or phone call away.
Washington University St. Louis
College Choice Score: 80.44
Average Net Price: $28,824
Named after our nation’s first president, Washington University St. Louis was founded in 1853. It is a prestigious private research university. In fact, 24 Nobel laureates have come from Washington University. The School of Law has strong online options, too. National Jurist named it the #4 “Most Wired Law School.”
The Washington University School of Law is looking for candidates from all walks of life for the online Master of Legal Studies program. You’ll learn legal theory and practice that you can apply to nearly any industry. The online program covers 24 credits in total, which can be completed in one year. Some favorite courses include:
- Intellectual Property
- Trial Advocacy
- Corporate Compliance
- International Business Transactions
The program at Washington University St. Louis includes an optional on-campus weekend residency. You’ll get the chance to meet your professors, take a one-credit class, and network with area law firms. Online students also gain access to LexisNexis and Westlaw, two fantastic legal studies databases that come in handy for research.
University of Illinois at Springfield
College Choice Score: 79.31
Average Net Price: $11,444
A small but mighty public institution, the University of Illinois at Springfield enrolls around 5,700 students. Its online branch has been in operation since 1999. Ever since, it has been recognized for its excellence in distance learning. The MA in Legal Studies is one of 20 master’s degree programs.
The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a Master of Arts in Legal Studies that allows you to attend 100 percent online. If you prefer a hybrid program, you can take both online classes and in-person night classes. You’ll take a total of 40 credit hours, which includes seminars, electives, and a thesis project. Some core classes you’ll take are:
- Legal Research and Citation
- Theories of Justice
- Public Advocacy
- Seminar in Courts and Policy-making
Although this program is delivered online, you can also choose to participate in a clinical experience. You’ll get the opportunity to apply your knowledge in a professional setting. Past placement locations have included state and federal attorneys’ offices, private law firms, legal aid offices, and others.
Saint Leo University
College Choice Score: 79.05
Average Net Price: $21,296
One of the largest Catholic colleges in the nation, Saint Leo University was the first Roman Catholic established in Florida. Saint Leo University was one of the first to provide distance learning to the United States, starting in the 1970s during the Vietnam war. Today, it continues to be a leader in online education, especially for active-duty military members.
Saint Leo University takes a unique angle with its MS in Criminal Justice with a Legal Studies specialization. This online program acknowledges the importance of criminal justice administrators to know the legal system. This is a 36-credit-hour program, though 18 credits are solely devoted to legal studies. Here are some highlights:
- Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Criminal Justice Policy Research and Evaluation
- Analytical Understanding of Interviews & Interrogation
- Criminal Advocacy and Judicial Procedure
Saint Leo University excels in military education. It maintains strong connections with the Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Air Force, and more. Currently, Saint Leo University has Education Centers located on military bases in seven states. In addition, military personnel will find many academic resources and tuition benefits.
The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law
College Choice Score: 78.75
Average Net Price: $18,750
The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law is a law school in Southern California that was established in 1969. It offers a Juris Doctor degree as well as a Master of Legal Studies degree. The school prides itself on small class sizes and a flexible curriculum, including online coursework.
The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law offers a completely online Master of Legal Studies. Most students attend classes part-time and finish up the 30-credit-hour requirement within a year and a half. Other than your core courses, you’ll take a handful of electives that are divided into two categories: Frontiers in Law and Regulatory Compliance. Here’s a peek:
- Litigation and Its Alternatives
- American Legal System
- Privacy Dilemmas
- Liability, Risk, and Insurance
Unique to the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, you have the option of earning a dual degree. Through a partnership with the College School of Professional Psychology, students can combine the Master of Legal Studies with an MA in Forensic Psychology or an MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
College Choice Score: 78.18
Average Net Price: $24,717
A private university, Webster University is primarily based in Webster Groves, MO, but also operates branch campuses throughout the country. It originally was established as a Catholic women’s college, though opened its doors to both men and women in 1962. Webster University maintains an impressive 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
You’ll work through a series of 39 credit hours for the MA in Legal Studies at Webster University. This degree takes special interest in legal research and writing techniques. It devotes three courses specifically to those skills, and the degree culminates in a research and writing project. Some additional classes along the way include:
- Anglo-American Legal History
- Computerized Legal Research
- Criminal Actions
Webster University Online is fully equipped to meet your needs from afar. The school has an official partnership with Adobe, which allows each student access to Adobe Creative Cloud for free. WebNet+ is the online platform that lets students easily participate in classes from the comfort of their homes.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 76.09
Average Net Price: $16,466
Known as the first university established in the Arizona Territory, the University of Arizona has been a stalwart of higher education since 1885. It enrolls close to 44,000 students. The James E. Rogers College of Law also has the distinction of being the first law school in the state.
This online Master of Legal Studies has a little something for everyone. Beyond a strong legal studies framework, you’ll select one of ten areas to earn a concentration. These areas include everything from Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy to Mining Law to Intellectual Property. A few of your required courses include:
- American Public Law System
- Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research
- Criminal, Civil, and Administrative Procedure
- American Common Law System
Faculty and students alike at the University of Arizona are on the forefront of legal research. In fact, it has a number of student-run law journals. You could edit, contribute, or read any of the following: Arizona Law Review, Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Arizona Law Journal of Emerging Technologies, and more.
College Choice Score: 72.60
Average Net Price: $19,017
Based in Naples, FL, Hodges University is a small, private institution that enrolls close to 1,700 each year. Hodges University opened its doors in 1990, and delivers degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level through its five academic colleges. The online courses at Hodges are delivered in an accelerated 7.5-week format.
The online MS in Legal Studies at Hodges University will cover all the basics and more. You’ll gain confidence in your research and writing skills, and gain valuable tips in negotiation and advocacy. This degree can be completed in just over a year. The 30-credit-hour curriculum includes classes such as:
- Governance and Management
- Intellectual Property
- Mediation, Arbitration, and Conflict Resolution
- Ethics and Law
One huge bonus of working through the online program at Hodges University is the added benefit of fully certified instructors. All professors for this degree hold a Juris Doctor degree. In addition, your courses will stay intimate with an average size of just 14 students.
College Choice Score: 67.56
Average Net Price: $17,837
A private Christian school in Virginia Beach, VA, Regent University was established in 1978. It educates over 8,500 students each year through eight academic schools. It also delivers online education. This year, it was named as hosting the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report.
Regent University designs this program slightly differently with an MA in Law that includes a concentration in General Legal Studies. You can complete this degree 100 percent online. Most students work through this 30-credit-hour program in just five semesters. You’ll find that the core curriculum includes a solid foundation in law:
- American Legal System & Writing
- Legislation and Regulation
- Criminal Law
- American Tort System
Regent University has a fantastic track record when it comes to its School of Law. In fact, for a number of consecutive years, the Princeton Review rated the faculty there among the Top 10 Faculty in the nation. Even more, the Trial Advocacy Curriculum within the School of Law ranked among the top 20 schools last year, according to PreLaw Magazine.