When most people think of a law career, they naturally think of someone cramming for nights on end to pass the bar exam and become a lawyer. Offered here are some Juris Doctor degrees intended for those hoping to follow this route. However, some warnings are in order.
In spite of the rapid growth in online learning over the past 20 years, it remains extremely risky to pursue an online degree with the intention of practicing law.
What kind of online law school should I attend?
While the schools below will all offer you a foundation in legal studies, they will each vary in how you can specialize and what you will specifically study. For example, Liberty University and Regent University are committed to giving you a faith-based approach to law and legal studies. And on the other end of the spectrum, Penn State will provide a broad-based introduction to law from a renowned faculty community.
However you choose a program, know that all of these degrees can be completed online and at your own pace.
How much money will I make with a degree in law?
And there continues to be good employment for lawyers and for those hoping to specialize in an array of areas. These are significant challenges, and anybody hoping to become a lawyer by utilizing online education should think twice. It is one possible route into the field, but requires a lot of hard work and, to be honest, more than a little good luck.
These cautionary remarks aside, there are excellent reasons for studying law besides intending to practice as a lawyer.
We have also included here very affordable non-Juris Doctor law degrees that are intended to either prepare students for a Juris Doctor or prepare students to become paralegals, policy makers, risk managers, and HR representatives.
What can I do with a degree in law?
Whatever the source, the saying is true in that law has always been one of the most ambitious and respectable professions around, even if we do occasionally make jokes at the expense lawyers. Also, given its versatility, it can be a gateway to just about any major field, from corporate business to healthcare to politics.
Another great option is paralegal work. Paralegals are an especially in-demand career with excellent earning potential. Paralegals in areas such as Washington DC and Alaska can expect to earn around 70,000 dollars a year. Our research will help you make the most of whatever legal career you choose by finding the most affordable programs with the added flexibility of online learning.
What are the requirements for a degree in law?
The American Bar Association (ABA) currently does not accredit any online degrees and only one state- California- allows students from non-ABA accredited online schools to sit for the bar exam. Moreover, those online students who complete a Juris Doctor degree and sit for the California bar are much less likely to pass it.
Even those who manage to pass the exam face significant challenges, as it is difficult to find employment in a preexisting firm with a degree from a non-ABA accredited school.
For those who manage to practice law in California, it can take several years of law practice before they are eligible to practice in other states, so if you are planning on getting an online degree for the purpose of practicing law, expect to live in California for at least a decade. Then again, there are worse places to live than the land of sun and sand.
What are the most affordable online law degrees?
Because this list includes Juris Doctor degrees as well as master’s degrees and bachelor degrees, we have ranked the programs by cost per credit unit rather than by total cost. You may also find our Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs useful.
However, included in the description of each program is the out of pocket tuition expenses you can expect to pay for the entire degree. Now stick around while College Choice passes judgment on the most affordable online programs in the fields of law and legal studies.
See our rankings methodology page.
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $146
Keiser University offers an online bachelor of arts in legal studies to students that want to pursue careers in law and law-related fields. Students can specialize in law office management or complete the general degree, both designed to provide learners with information and skills to thrive in a law-focused environment. The 120-credit hour, 40-month program prepares future law office managers with coursework on management, finance, and management information systems. Similarly, students interested in criminal justice study evidence, criminal procedures, and legal investigation. With coursework on legal writing and research, civil and criminal litigation, and contracts and property law, students also develop the foundations needed to continue onto law school. Estimated per-credit tuition is about $300, making Keiser one of the cheapest online law school options available.
California Southern University
Location: Irvine, CA
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $350
California Southern University is a private, for-profit, online university. With a mostly online and distance education platform, the University still maintains a headquarters in Irvine, California. It is a known leader in alternative education.
CSU’s 18 member law faculty are among the best in their fields. Not counting transfer credits, California Southern’s 88 credit JD program takes four years to complete, and the entire program costs $30,800. The curriculum covers:
- Legal writing
- Legal research
- Constitutional law, and more
It is among a handful of schools that have registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners in California, which, though it is not ABA accredited, allows its JD graduates to sit for the bar examination in that state. CSU is also among a select few of the Committee-registered law schools that are also regionally accredited, its accreditation coming from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Illinois at Springfield
Location: Springfield, IL
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $362
The University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) is a small public university. It is a member school of the well-regarded University of Illinois system. UIS is home to nearly 6,000 students and more than 50 academic and professional programs.
They offer a 40 credit-hour Master’s of Arts in Legal Studies degree intended for those hoping to work in any field where practical legal expertise is required or for those who want to pursue more advanced legal studies. In addition to the core curriculum, there are several electives offered that allow students to tailor their legal education to whatever field they intend to enter. These include:
- Theories of Justice
- Public Advocacy
- Seminar in Politics and Law
- Seminar in Courts and Policymaking
Something to note is that the UIS curriculum includes a four credit preliminary course in legal research and citation which can easily be waived for those with previous educational or vocational experience in legal studies. The total out of pocket tuition expenses to complete the degree is $14,490. UIS has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Location: Bellevue, NE
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $410
Bellevue University is a medium-sized, private, nonprofit university located in Bellevue, Nebraska. Boasting a long history of educational outreach, they offer a number of online courses that have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
In addition to their law faculty, students in the BS in Legal Studies program will benefit from the knowledge and experience of Federal Judges, members of congress, lobbyists, and corporate executives. Students will also have the chance to see how legal expertise is applied in legislative sessions as well as corporate boardrooms. Coursework includes:
- The American Criminal and Civil Legal Systems
- Theory and Practice of Law
- Constitutional Law, Liberty, and Emerging Policy
- Legal Research, Analysis and Writing
Bellevue University is known for its innovation when it comes to education. For example, all undergraduate students at Bellevue take part in the Kirkpatrick Signature Series. This is considered the core of the Bellevue curriculum and includes courses such as American Vision and Values, Tradition and Change, and Freedom and Responsibility.
Concord Law School of Purdue University Global
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $416
Concord Law School is an online law school headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Approximately 1,900 students are enrolled at Concord, which offers two law degrees: a traditional JD and an executive juris doctor (EJD).
Their online Juris Doctor degree is also registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners for the state of California, giving their graduates the ability to sit for the California State Bar Examination. Coursework includes:
- Civil Procedure I and II
- Future of Law Practice
- Criminal Law I and II
- Legal Analysis and Writing
Concord merged with the much larger and better resourced Kaplan University – now called Purdue University Global – in 2007. With the merger, Concord Law School benefited from Kaplan’s regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, making it the first online law school to be regionally accredited.
Location: Glassboro, NJ
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $455
Rowan University is a medium sized public university located in Glassboro, New Jersey, that has been regionally accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education.
Among their online undergraduate degrees is a 120 credit-unit Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice.Required coursework includes classes in criminal law, corrections, human rights, evidence, and the rights of the convicted. The program is designed to facilitate understanding of legal issues in order to prepare students for work in fields such as:
- Law Enforcement
- Human Services
- Security Services, and more
The curriculum is also designed for those who want to use it as a foundation for further graduate work in the field of legal studies. Indeed, graduates have gone on to be admitted to prestigious law schools across the country. The total cost of tuition is $54,600.
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $565
Founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971 and located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a private, nonprofit, conservative Christian research university. Liberty is a large school by private college standards, with a student population of over 100,000. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Liberty’s online Master of Laws (LL.M) in International Legal Studies is the only degree program in this list intended for those who are already practicing attorneys. While most lawyers are educated in US domestic law, this degree will help attorneys prepare for the complex legal environment that structures international business and economic relations. Classes include:
- Wills, Trusts, and Estates
- Constitutional Law I and II
- Criminal Procedure
- Taxation of Individuals
The second school on this list to be founded by a televangelist is Liberty University. It is considered one of the most conservative schools in the nation. And often makes the top 10 for most socially, politically, and religiously conservative.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Location: State College, PA
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $584
Pennsylvania State University is a very large public research university whose flagship campus is located in State College, Pennsylvania. Though it also home to a renowned global campus. Penn State has been regionally accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education.
Among the degrees offered is Penn State’s 123 credit Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society. In addition to building skills in writing, speaking, research, and logic, the curriculum is designed to help students prepare for careers in fields with a strong legal component. Such areas include:
- Regulatory Agencies
- Law enforcement
One of its special mission campuses is its World Campus, the name given to its online programs. Penn State- World Campus was tied for #1 for the best colleges to get an online bachelor degree in US News and World Report for 2016.
Regent University Online
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $650
Regent University is a small, private, conservative Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Founded by Pat Robertson in 1977, Regent has grown considerably since that time and has gained regional accreditation status from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Among the online degrees offered by the Regent University School of Law is their Master of Arts in Law. The degree is intended for those for whom knowledge of the law can help advance their career in related fields. As such, the program offers a number of different concentrations, including in:
- Administration and Regulatory Law
- Criminal Justice
- Human Rights, and more
As a Regent student you should expect a curriculum shot through with the Christian perspective. The University was founded by Pat Robertson. It was originally named the Christian Broadcasting Network University.
Location: Naples, FL
Tuition Per Credit Unit: $660
Hodges University is a small, nonprofit, private university located in Naples, Florida. The total cost of the 30 credit degree is $19,800. Hodges University has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
It offers an online Master of Science in Legal Studies intended for those hoping to understand the connection between US law and various other disciplines. It has a special emphasis on ensuring that businesses are in compliance with various aspects of corporate law, making it valuable for those hoping to enter the business world. Classes include topics such as:
- The Legal Environment
- Governance and Management
- Regulatory Complianc
- Mediation, and and much more
Hodges is known for its emphasis on professional development. It comes as little surprise then that Hodges offers an array of online programs that are well ranked. In fact, several of its distance education degrees land on the lists of U.S. News & World Report.