The BLS projects that the number of jobs in the legal field will increase by 67,600 between 2019 and 2029, which would represent a 5% increase. Undergraduate students interested in law, law enforcement, or criminal justice might be interested in earning an online bachelor's in legal studies.
Coursework in legal studies programs typically examines cornerstones of law, detailing the historical impacts of legal infrastructure and issues within the contemporary justice system. Classes help students build essential technical skills, including those related to legal research and writing. Students who earn this degree develop an interdisciplinary background, drawing influence from political science, economics, sociology, and anthropology.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|2||Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA|
|3||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|4||Peirce College||Philadelphia, PA|
|5||University of Maryland Global Campus||Adelphi, MD|
|6||Dominican University||River Forest, IL|
|7||SUNY Canton||Canton, NY|
|8||Hodges University||Naples, FL|
|9||Brandman University||Irvine, CA|
|10||National University||La Jolla, CA|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
UCF's bachelor's in legal studies prepares students for graduate-level study or entry-level careers as legal assistants and program specialists. Core coursework includes legal research, professionalism and civility in the law, and legal writing. In the program's final year, students complete an internship or a capstone experience.
Nearly 50% of UCF undergraduates accept a job offer before graduation day. The university helps learners succeed by offering career-related resources, including Handshake job-search software and cover letter critiques.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Transfer students should have a minimum 2.0 GPA. Financial aid opportunities include merit-based scholarships, which can be viewed on UCF's Access to Opportunities website. Florida residents receive a significant tuition discount.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Delivered through its World Campus, Penn State's online bachelor's degree in law and society features courses like rights in America, the American legal process, and contemporary legal issues. The degree includes 30-39 credits of electives, allowing learners to complete a second major or minor.
Penn State offers online students internship opportunities and one-on-one career advising sessions. Thanks to these resources, 72% of Penn State graduates find a full-time job within one year of graduation.
Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores. Applicants do not need to submit recommendation letters or standardized test scores. Full-time students pay a flat, semester-based tuition rate. Learners who maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA may qualify for institutional scholarships.
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Students planning for a career in the legal system or for pre-law studies should consider BU's online bachelor's program in legal studies. During the program, learners analyze the American criminal and civil legal systems, the judicial process, and legal writing. All BU undergraduates also complete the Kirkpatrick Signature Series — three courses that emphasize American values.
BU helps students and alumni practice interviewing skills, hone their resumes, and network online. The university also provides the College Central Network, which is an online job board with opportunities throughout the United States.
First-year admission requirements include high school transcripts or a GED certificate. Enrolled students can apply to the program after completing general education courses. BU does not charge out-of-state tuition, and active-duty service members enjoy an automatic tuition discount.
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Peirce's hybrid bachelor's program in paralegal studies accepts up to 90 transfer credits, making it an excellent option for prospective students who already hold an associate degree. The program's core curriculum covers tort law, family law, and advanced legal technology. During the program's final semester, all students complete a capstone covering practical skills and regulation. Participants take a blend of on-campus and online classes
Peirce helps learners hone interviewing and resume writing skills. Paralegal studies graduates earn jobs with an average starting salary of around $38,000.
Program applicants must complete a one-page undergraduate application. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate at this private institution. Applying for institutional scholarships requires an additional essay.
University of Maryland Global Campus
|Adelphi, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
UMGC's 120-credit bachelor's in legal studies program prepares students for fulfilling careers through courses in advanced legal writing, litigation, and techniques of legal research. Learners can customize the program by completing a minor or a second major. Students who live near campus have the option to earn the degree through a hybrid format.
Distance learners can access numerous resources through UMGC, including CareerQuest and a private job and internship board. Learners can also review strategies that help individuals set and follow through on career goals.
This program accepts up to 90 transfer credits and prefers applicants with relevant professional experience. Maryland residents receive a significant tuition discount. UMGC's Scholarship Finder website provides a comprehensive list of financial aid opportunities.
|River Forest, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Students with relevant college credit can consider DU's online bachelor of professional studies in legal studies program. Major requirements include criminal law and procedure, disability and the law, and negotiation theory. The program also features an accelerated option in which students earn a bachelor's in legal studies and a master's in conflict resolution.
DU provides guides that cover interviewing, resume writing, and job hunting. More than 90% of alumni find a job or enter a graduate program within one year of earning their degree.
Prospective students must have at least 30 transferable credits. Other application materials include a statement of purpose. All students in the legal studies program pay the same tuition, regardless of residency.
|Canton, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
SUNY Canton's online bachelor's in legal studies program features an internship in which students can obtain valuable experience. Core coursework includes business law, criminal practice, and professional writing and communication. Motivated learners can complete a combined BS/JD at SUNY Canton in six years.
SUNY Canton offers multiple virtual career services tools, including resume, cover letter, and graduate school guides. Online learners can also sign up for one-on-one advising appointments.
First-year application requirements include high school course prerequisites. SUNY Canton evaluates transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. Prospective students interested in institutional aid must submit a separate application. New York residents receive a tuition discount.
|Naples, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
The curriculum of Hodges University's online bachelor's degree in legal studies features an optional hybrid learning option; students can take some courses on the university's campus in Naples, Florida. Major requirements include statutory interpretation, an introduction to constitutional law, and legal research and writing. Students customize the program by selecting 12 elective courses.
Hodges provides learners with an online job board, job fairs, and counseling sessions. Seventy-seven percent of undergraduate alumni find a job within one year of graduating.
The admissions process involves speaking with an advisor before submitting transcripts, FAFSA results, and an essay. Tuition disregards a student's state of residence, and active-duty service members and veterans receive a significant tuition discount.
|Irvine, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Brandman's bachelor's in legal studies program features 120 credits and covers topics like white-collar crime, contracts, and ethics in a legal environment. The curriculum concludes with a legal studies capstone, and learners can select between paralegal profession and business law concentrations.
Brandman provides students with Big Interview software, personalized career coaching, and an alumni network. Specialized resources for veterans include interest inventories and skills translation guides.
Prospective students must possess at least 12 transferable credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Active-duty service members and veterans can receive credit for military training. Brandman does not charge out-of-state tuition, and California residents may qualify for a state grant.
|La Jolla, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
NU's online bachelor's in pre-law studies program features four-week courses and is well suited for students who want to learn at an accelerated rate. During the program, learners hone analytical reasoning, negotiation, and advocacy skills. Students personalize their curriculum by selecting eight upper-division electives from over a dozen options.
Career resources for enrolled students and alumni include resume and cover letter samples, interviewing strategies, and networking tips. Students can also create a career plan by taking up to three online self-assessments.
NU accepts new students on the first of each month. First-year admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 high school GPA. Applicants who do not meet this threshold may still receive conditional admission.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
Exact program length also depends on whether a student chooses to learn using a self-paced format or a synchronous, cohort-driven format.
Earning a bachelor's in legal studies is suitable for detail-oriented students with strong written communication skills. These individuals often pursue careers where they must handle legal documents, adhere to very specific guidelines, and conduct highly detailed research.
While pursuing a bachelor's degree in legal studies online, program requirements and a student's graduation timeline can vary drastically depending on the institution and whether or not students have any transferable credits. For example, some programs may feature a capstone experience. And some schools boast generous transfer policies, accepting up to 90 credits from other accredited institutions. Exact program length can also depend on whether a student chooses to learn using a self-paced format or a synchronous, cohort-driven format.
Many schools offer specialized concentrations so students can further tailor their studies toward an intended career path. Some popular examples include:
- Environmental law
- Business law
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
Legal studies curricula teach students the interdisciplinary and practical skills needed to succeed in legal and criminal justice fields. Some programs might require additional internships or capstone projects to facilitate a more in-depth understanding. Programs often allow students to choose more specialized concentrations based on their career interests. Although the exact classes in a legal studies program vary, the following list describes a few courses commonly found in these programs.
- Legal Research
For students looking to work in the legal field, drawing the basis for arguments from relevant legal documents can be a critical skill. A legal research course trains students to locate and analyze appropriate documents to support a legal argument.
- Legal Writing
In this hands-on course, students become familiar with the writing style, language, and vocabulary used in legal documents. Participants learn to write original documents like memos, briefs, and contracts using proper syntax. This course equips learners with writing skills and area knowledge that align with the demands of the field.
- Civil Litigation
This class introduces litigation conventions and courtroom procedures in legal disputes. Coursework details the procedures for each step of a trial in the state and federal court systems. This overview can be especially valuable for aspiring lawyers, legal assistants, and paralegals.
- Legal Ethics
This social science and theory-based course analyzes some of the ethical questions that legal professionals encounter in their work. The curriculum centers around standard ethical parameters of professionals in legal settings, and to what extent they are compatible with ideas of morality and justice.
- The American Legal System
This course outlines the historical context of American legal conventions, and how these impact contemporary law. Learners use this knowledge to analyze present issues critically while refining their legal research and writing skills.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
- Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students
- Your Guide to College Loans
- Your Guide to the FAFSA
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degree?
Many students pursue legal studies with the intention of going to law school or earning another higher-level degree. However, there are also career opportunities for graduates with an online bachelor's in legal studies.
For example, the BLS projects that paralegals and legal assistants will experience 10% employment growth from 2019-2029, which is much higher than the average projected growth for all jobs in the U.S. (3.7%). The median annual salary for these professionals, according to the BLS, is $51,740. Additionally, court reporters and captioners are projected to experience 9% growth from 2019-2029, and these workers earn a median salary of $60,130.
Learn more about legal studies careers, and see where a bachelor's degree in legal studies can take you.
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants
These professionals are responsible for administrative duties at law firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments. Teams of paralegals and legal assistants typically support attorneys by filing or drafting documents, researching case studies, and preparing materials for trial. According to the BLS, 76% of these professionals work in private legal settings.
- Court, Municipal, and License Clerks
In legal settings, court, municipal, and license clerks are responsible for drafting, organizing, and distributing official documents. Day-to-day duties may include tracking fiscal information, issuing licenses, collecting fees, and answering correspondence. Many of these professionals work for local government agencies.
- Court Reporters
Individuals in this field record and transcribe courtroom events like hearings or trials so that lawyers and other professionals can review the dialogue later. Court reporters use stenography machines and other recording equipment to capture speech. These professionals must be very detailed in their transcriptions, noting speakers' gestures, incorporating proper spellings, and using appropriate technical language.
- Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
During disputes, these professionals use their legal background to help opposing parties negotiate their affairs outside of a courtroom setting. Arbitrators determine the final outcome of disputes, mediators aid communication between opposing parties, and conciliators meet with the parties separately. Many of these professionals work in state or local government facilities.
- Legal Secretaries
These professionals use their knowledge of legal procedures and terminology to support attorneys in an administrative capacity. Legal secretaries prepare documents like summonses, complaints, and subpoenas, and they may even help attorneys conduct research. The majority of legal secretaries work in private legal services.
Legal Studies Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs
- Is a bachelor's in legal studies worth it?
For students looking to work in the fast-growing legal field, a bachelor's in legal studies can provide an important academic background and potential networking opportunities. Many entry-level roles, like paralegal or legal assistant, only require an associate’s degree, and holding a bachelor's degree in legal studies can give candidates a significant advantage on the job market.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in legal studies?
Many individuals who graduate with a bachelor's in legal studies choose to continue their education, pursuing law or other graduate degrees. However, many graduates use their academic background to enter the legal field as paralegals, court reporters, arbitrators, moderators, or legal secretaries.
- Are legal studies majors in demand?
Legal studies degrees can lead to in-demand careers. According to BLS data, paralegals and legal assistants are projected to experience 10% employment growth from 2019-2029, which is significantly faster than the national average. Additionally, court reporters and arbitrators are projected to experience 9% and 8% growth, respectively, over that same time frame.
- How much money can I make with a bachelor's in legal studies?
Many entry-level positions in the legal field pay fairly well. For example, BLS data shows that the median annual salary for paralegals is $51,740. Additionally, court reporters earn a median salary of $60,130, while legal secretaries earn $47,300.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in legal studies?
There are a number of lucrative opportunities available for professionals with a legal studies degree. Although paralegals and legal assistants earn a median annual salary of $51,740 overall, those employed by federal agencies earn $67,080, while those who work in finance earn $64,190. Additionally, arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators who work in legal services earn median wages of $73,610 a year.