Whether you love to watch marathons of Law & Order or you simply love the idea of studying law and criminal justice, a degree in legal studies may be perfect for you. If you love research, fact-finding, and bringing the truth to light, you’re already off to a great start.
Individuals who pursue careers in legal studies must be highly organized, great communicators, and avid learners. A degree in legal studies doesn’t necessarily prepare you to become a lawyer, nor will it ready you for the bar exam. Rather, paralegals and legal assistants work hard to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting important documents.
What kind of Legal Studies degree should you get?
With the rise of degree offerings in legal studies, it can be difficult to decide which program is best for you. Should you attend online or on-campus? Should you choose a concentration? Now that you’ve made the decision to earn a degree in legal studies, plenty of other decisions will follow. Luckily, we’re here to help!
If you’re considering an online education, we’ve got you covered. In fact, College Choice has ranked the overall Most Affordable Online Colleges for a Master’s Degree for your convenience.
How much money do people make with a degree in Legal Studies?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for Paralegals and Legal Assistants is around $50,000 per year. Not a bad salary to fight for justice! And your salary will only increase with the more education and experience you have. Plus, you can pursue a number of different careers with a degree in legal studies. Your salary will ultimately depend on your chosen path.
The BLS projects a growth of 15 percent in legal jobs from now till 2026. In fact, formally trained paralegals who possess strong computer and database management skills will have the best job prospects moving forward.
What can you do with a degree in Legal Studies?
Earning a degree in legal studies will open up many doors for graduates.
While you may wish to pursue a law degree, many folks who pursue an advanced legal studies degree have careers in which knowledge of the law is helpful. If you’re a legislative assistant, compliance officer, law enforcement officer, paralegal, or even a real estate agent, a degree in legal studies can be a great asset.
If you’re someone who practices law outside of the United States, it may be helpful to earn an advanced degree in legal studies if you often work alongside American lawyers.
What are the best degrees in Legal Studies?
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Legal Studies with you and your needs in mind. Here’s how we did it:
First, we located the best programs in the country by taking an objective look at the best schools in the country as measured by reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we looked at the bottom line – how much does it cost?
We combined these factors to reach our College Choice Score, which determined where each school fits into the big scheme of things. The end result is a list of schools that not only represent the best legal studies education you can get and a good return on investment but also one that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!
See our rankings methodology page.
West Virginia University
Average Net Price: $10,814
This public, land-grant, space-grant, and research-intensive university is located in Morgantown, WV. Founded in the late 1800s, WVU is now home to nearly 30,000 students. Ranked among the top 100 public schools in the nation, WVU offers a variety of its degrees online. In fact, students can now pursue an online Master of Legal Studies degree program at WVU.
This program is made up of 30 credit-hours which graduate students can complete in just 18 months. Required courses may include:
- Researching the Law
- Administrative Ethics
- Law and the Legal System
- Dispute Resolution Process
- Administrative Legal Process
This program offers three areas of emphasis, including healthcare, justice systems, and homeland security. All students must also complete a Research Capstone prior to graduating. The cost of this program, $561 per credit-hour, is the same for both residents and non-residents.
All online programs and courses are offered through WVU’s eCampus. Students will participate in live class sessions through Blackboard Collaborate. Some courses offer live class sessions through an online virtual world called “Second Life.” Online programs at WVU are flexible, affordable, and offer the same integrity as those on-campus.
University of Illinois at Springfield
Average Net Price: $11,444
With over 30 bachelor’s degrees, 20 master’s degrees, 1 doctoral program, and over 1,600 online majors, the University of Illinois at Springfield is abuzz with academic pursuit. In fact, U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of Best Colleges ranked this university as one of the best Regional Universities in the Midwest. Now, students can obtain an online Master of Arts Degree in Legal Studies.
Offered through the university’s College of Public Affairs and Administration, this online program is perfect for working professionals. Graduate students must complete 40 course hours, including a graduate seminar or thesis. Other required courses may include:
- Public Advocacy
- Theories of Justice
- Legal Research and Citation
- Seminar in Courts and Policy Making
- Introduction to Graduate Legal Studies
With the same curriculum as those on-campus, graduate students in this online program will receive a high-quality degree with the flexibility they need.
Springfield’s Legal Studies Department has been in existence for over 30 years. With small class sizes, as well as the option to take classes both on-campus and online, this department emphasizes practical application and real-world experiences. Alumni of this program have gone on to become: attorneys, legislative staff, lobbyists, state agency directors, university administrators, FBI agents, and more!
Arizona State University
Average Net Price: $13,007
Home to mascot Sparky the Sun Devil, Arizona State University was founded in 1885 and now has a total enrollment of nearly 72,000 students! With its multi-campus system, ASU is said to have the largest student body amongst US institutions of higher learning. ASU’s motto of “one university in many places,” stands true. In fact, students can now pursue a Master of Legal Studies entirely online!
Offered through ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, this online MLS program offers six areas of emphasis. These include:
- Corporate and Health Care Compliance
- HR and Employment Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- Sports Law & Business
- Sustainability Law
- Criminal Law
This 30-credit degree program is uniquely designed for non-lawyers. The cost of this program is approximately $1,060 per credit-hour. Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree before joining this MLS program.
U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of Best Colleges ranked this university as one of the Best National Universities as well as a Best Value School and Best Colleges for Veterans. ASU offers over 600 degree programs at all levels across 15 schools and colleges. Undergrad students can choose from nearly 400 programs (major, minor, certificates).
Average Net Price: $16,205
Harvard is the United States’ oldest and perhaps most well-known institution of higher learning. This prestigious Ivy League boasts many honors, including 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, and over 45 Pulitzer Prize winners. For those looking for a challenging, yet rewarding online program, look no further than Harvard’s Master of Liberal Arts in Legal Studies.
Offered through the Harvard Extension School, this degree program is made up of nine courses and a thesis. Required courses may include:
- Law, Gender, and Equality
- The Constitution and the Media
- An Introduction to American Law
- History of the Book and of Reading
- The Law and Policy of Climate Change: Influencing Decision Makers
While this is an online program, there is an on-campus component as well. In fact, graduate students will go to Cambridge for at least three of their courses. Harvard makes it flexible for both out-of-state and international students to fulfill this requirement. With a number of on-campus options, including summer and weekend courses, you can study on your terms.
It’s no surprise that Harvard is consistently ranked among the world’s best universities. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranked Harvard first on its list of Best Global Universities. The university was ranked second amongst National Universities and second for Best Value Schools as well.
University of Arizona
Average Net Price: $16,466
Founded in 1885 and located in Tucson, AZ, the University of Arizona is home to over 40,000 students. Now, this prestigious university offers online courses, giving their students more flexibility to fulfill their degree requirements. The Master of Legal Studies is one of the school’s best online programs, offered through the James E. Rogers College of Law.
University of Arizona Law’s online MLS degree is a 30-unit program that can be completed either part-time or full-time. Required courses may include:
- Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research
- The American Common Law System
- The American Public Law System
- Introduction to Family Law
- Criminal Procedure
Students in this program can choose to concentrate in a number of areas, including: Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, Human Rights, Environmental Law and Policy, and more! All courses are 7.5 weeks in length and are offered during fall, spring, and summer semesters.
Degrees earned through UA Online are exactly the same as those you would earn by taking traditional classes on campus. Perks of online degrees also include in-state tuition costs, even if you don’t live in Arizona! The cost of the above program is fixed at $650 per unit.
Average Net Price: $17,837
Founded in 1978, this private Christian research university is located in Virginia Beach, VA, and is home to over 3,800 students. The university offers over 125 graduate and undergraduate areas of study on campus and online. Now, through the university’s School of Law, students can earn an online Master of Arts in Law with a concentration in General Legal Studies.
This completely online 30-credit-hour degree program can be completed in just five semesters. Required courses may include:
- Foundations of Legal Thought
- Constitutional Law and Policy
- Property Law and Policy
- American Tort System
- Criminal Law
The Master of Arts in Law tuition rate is approximately $650 per credit-hour. Regent also offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid packages for eligible students. The university is also military-friendly, offering discounted rates to service members.
Regent University topped the list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report in 2018. It also ranked first among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in Virginia. Not to mention, five university faculty members have been named Fulbright Scholars! Students can learn from the best with the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.
University of Oklahoma
Average Net Price: $17,966
Located in Norman, OK, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university that was founded in 1890. Home to the National Weather Center, this university is buzzing with over 21,000 students and 170 majors. Now, students can pursue an online Master of Legal Studies program through the university’s College of Law.
OU Law offers three distinct programs that focus on core areas of expertise, including: Oil, Gas, and Energy Law, Indigenous Peoples Law, and Healthcare Law. Depending on your chosen concentration, required courses may include:
- Professional Relationships in Health Care Enterprises
- Introduction to the American Legal System
- Native American Natural Resources
- Fraud and Abuse/False Claims
- Oil and Gas Law
Each of these three online programs is made to be completed in just 15 months. The cost of this program per credit-hour for residents is approximately $500. The cost for non-residents is upwards of $850 per credit-hour. Small class sizes and industry experts ensure that you get the attention you deserve.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked the University of Oklahoma among the Best National Universities and Best Value Schools in the United States. The university also boasts more than 400 student clubs and organizations, including a bustling Greek system. About 25 percent of students opt to join one of the school’s 40 fraternities and sororities.
Average Net Price: $19,017
Located in Naples, FL, Hodges University was founded in 1990 as International College. Renamed in 2007, this private university is now home to over 2,000 students. With a variety of academic programs offered across Hodges’ five schools, students can earn a quality degree that’s flexible and affordable. In fact, Hodges now offers an online Master of Science in Legal Studies.
This online degree is perfect for those who can benefit from legal training but do not wish to practice as an attorney. Required courses in this 30-credit program may include:
- International Law
- Administrative Law
- Regulatory Compliance
- Governance and Management
- Mediation, Arbitration, and Conflict Resolution
All graduate students are also required to complete a Master of Legal Studies Capstone. With small class sizes and all instructors of law holding Juris Doctor degrees, this program can easily be completed while working full-time. Most students earn their degree in as little as one year.
Hodges University is known for its flexible schedules of day, evening, and online classes. In addition, the university offers career counseling and hands-on support from highly qualified faculty and staff members. Online students can benefit from all of the same offerings that those on-campus have access to.
Saint Leo University
Average Net Price: $21,296
This Catholic liberal arts university is located in St. Leo, FL and has more than 15,000 enrolled students. The university boasts one of the oldest distance learning programs in the country. If you’re looking for a flexible and affordable degree in legal studies, St. Leo may be perfect for you. Check out the university’s MS in Criminal Justice with a Legal Studies specialization.
Offered through Leo’s School of Education and Social Services, this 36-credit program offers graduate students a well-rounded curriculum. Required courses may include:
- Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Leadership Applications in Criminal Justice
- Public Policy Making in Criminal Justice
- Future Studies in Criminal Justice
All graduate students must also complete a capstone project, known as the Applied Project in Criminal Justice Administration.
Saint Leo University offers the flexibility and affordability for working professionals to obtain an advanced degree. The university’s criminal justice program director, Dr. Robert J. Diemer, has decades of investigative experience. His leadership influences the legal studies program and attracts folks from a variety of backgrounds. From criminal justice administrators and first responders to government officials, correctional officers, and more, this degree will further your career.
Average Net Price: $24,717
Webster is a private, nonprofit university that was founded in 1915. Located in Webster Groves, MO, Webster also has campuses across Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as many online programs. This international university is now home to one of the best legal studies programs in the nation. Check out their MA degree in Legal Studies below.
This 39-credit legal studies program is offered through Webster’s College of Arts and Sciences. Required courses may include:
- American Constitutional Law
- Computerized Legal Research
- Ethics for the Legal Professional
- Methods of Legal Research and Writing
All graduate students will also have to complete a three-hour Research and Writing Project course. This program will not prepare you for the practice of law, nor will you be eligible for admission to the bar. Rather, this program is ideal for working professionals who can benefit from understanding legal knowledge.
Webster University was ranked fifteenth in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report. The university also ranked well among the nation’s Best Regional Universities in the Midwest, as well as the Best Value Schools. With a variety of scholarships and financial aid options, it’s no wonder so many choose Webster.