Involving elements of business and law, legal studies is a broad field that can prepare graduates to work in a number of industries. On this page, we take a look at 10 of the best online master's in legal studies programs and examine the degree in greater detail. Covered topics include curriculum, graduate admission requirements, potential career options, and frequently asked questions.

Read on to discover how a master's in legal studies can benefit your professional career.

Specialized skills and expertise can help any business professional stand apart from the crowd. Earning a master's in legal studies provides nonlawyers with a solid understanding of the laws and legal systems that regulate industry.

Graduates may pursue careers as compliance officers, human resource managers, legal consultants, paralegals, and healthcare administrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compliance officers earned a median salary of $781,100 in 2020, with top employers including federal and state governments.

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2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Legal Studies Programs

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#1 Online College in Virginia

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $565
Out of State | $565

Credits to Graduate
24-30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Liberty's law school offers three online master's in legal studies programs. The degrees do not prepare enrollees for the bar exam. The juris master in American legal studies serves business professionals who want a better understanding of the law and its implications in the business arena.

Students pursue the juris master in international legal studies if they want to develop expertise in international trade law. The master of laws (LLM) in international legal studies enrolls lawyers who want to advance their knowledge in areas such as trade law.

The online master's in legal studies requires a bachelor's degree and minimum 3.0 GPA for admission. The LLM requires a juris doctor or higher for admission. 

#2 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Springfield

School Information
Location Springfield, Illinois
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $365
Out of State | $365

Credits to Graduate
36-40

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UIS's MA in legal studies provides practical training in the legal system and judicial process within a liberal arts framework. Working professionals complete the master's in legal studies as an online cohort.

Students explore theories of justice, public advocacy, and politics and law. Generous elective credits allow enrollees to choose or create a focus area in law or legal policy. Participants get direct experience through clinicals, culminating the degree with a thesis. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in any major and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#3 Online College in Ohio

University of Dayton

School Information
Location Dayton, Ohio
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,274
Out of State | $1,274

Credits to Graduate
24-30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Bar Association

The master of laws in American and transnational law at UD features a customized bar-focused curriculum. Students complete the degree at their own pace, taking as many or few classes as they like each term. The online program enrolls students with a first law degree from the United States or abroad. Applicants do not need a law license to apply. 

Students develop expertise in areas such as contract and sales, criminal law and procedure, and trusts and estates. Participants receive free reading materials and may qualify for partial tuition scholarships. Admission to the master's in legal studies requires law school transcripts and a resume. 

#4 Online College in Florida

Nova Southeastern University

School Information
Location Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 58%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $736
Out of State | $736

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 

Located in Fort Lauderdale, NSU offers an online MS in law and policy. Students learn to apply knowledge of the American legal system to address legal issues in the workplace. The  degree does not prepare students for the bar exam.

Enrollees explore issues such as bullying and harassment, alternative dispute resolution, and employee benefits. Students learn the basics of effective oral and written advocacy. The master's in legal studies offers a concentration in cybersecurity law. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

#5 Online College in Pennsylvania

Drexel University

School Information
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,275
Out of State | $1,275

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The master of legal studies at Drexel is administered by the law school. Students learn to help businesses and organizations navigate complex legal issues and meet compliance requirements. The program's eight concentration offerings include HR compliance and financial regulatory compliance.

A notable concentration in the master's in legal studies focuses on National Collegiate Athletic Association compliance and sports law. Students interested in healthcare can choose the healthcare compliance option to better understand the rules and regulations that govern their industry.

Students have the option to supplement their online learning with in-person classes. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college and school transcripts.

#6 Online College in Missouri

Webster University

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 58%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $780
Out of State | $780

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Webster's MA in legal studies provides a broad law curriculum that professionals can apply to various fields. The degree does not prepare students for the bar exam. Students learn jurisprudence, American constitutional law, and Anglo-American legal history. Enrollees can use elective credits for specialized training such as a paralegal clinical. 

Participants apply their knowledge of legal research and writing to produce a culminating project. Admission to the master's in legal studies requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.

#7 Online College in California

The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law at Ventura

School Information
Location Ventura, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation |  Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California 

The Colleges of Law has made legal education more accessible since 1969. The master of legal studies continues that tradition with a fully online, part-time program. Working professionals build a deeper understanding of the law and the American legal system. This  online master's in legal studies does not prepare students for the bar.

The 30-unit curriculum requires coursework in areas such as the administrative process, the American legal system, and litigation and its alternatives. Students customize the degree with a frontiers in law or regulatory compliance/legal risk management concentration. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts. 

#8 Online College in Missouri

Washington University in St Louis

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,611
Out of State | $2,611

Credits to Graduate
24

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Washington University's master of legal studies (MLS) provides advanced legal training for professionals who don't plan to practice law. Graduates can apply their MLS expertise in fields as broad as HR, healthcare, and social work.

Students complete the online master's in legal studies in just one year. Enrollees supplement the degree's two required courses with a concentration. Concentration options include litigation, employment law, and regulatory compliance.

Participants can enhance their online learning experience with an optional in-person weekend immersion with faculty and peers. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

#9 Online College in Indiana

Purdue University Global-Indianapolis

School Information
Location West Lafayette, Indiana
Graduation Rate 27%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $378
Out of State | $420

Credits to Graduate
55

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Purdue Global designs its MS in legal studies to prepare professionals to provide legal support services in various roles. The 55-credit master's in legal studies involves applied research and comprehensive exam tracks. All participants take core courses that examine legal methods and process and jurisprudence and legal history. 

Students use 15-20 open elective credits to pursue career-focused training. Ten-week terms accelerate degree completion. Multiple start terms give students enrollment flexibility. Purdue Global specializes in affordable flat-rate education. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

#10 Online College in Virginia

Regent University

School Information
Location Virginia Beach, Virginia
Admission Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 57%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $675
Out of State | $675

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 

Located in Virginia, Regent offers an MA in law taught from a Christian perspective. The curriculum provides general legal knowledge supplemented by 14 concentration offerings.

The master's in legal studies entails a core curriculum including constitutional law and policy coursework. 

Participants receive specialized training in concentrations such as immigration law, advanced paralegal studies, and regulatory compliance. A notable cybersecurity law concentration  prepares participants to manage cybercrime cases.

Students pay the same tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency status. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Legal Studies Program?

Law schools offer several academic options designed to satisfy different professional goals. The distinguishing feature of a master's in legal studies is that, unlike a juris doctor or master's in law, this degree does not prepare graduates to practice as lawyers or attorneys. Rather, these programs are designed to educate nonlawyers about fundamental legal concepts and issues.

Courses in a legal studies program are similar to those taken by first-year juris doctor students. Areas of study include legal research and writing, laws and legal procedure, contracts, and intellectual property. Students can also take elective courses that match their professional goals and interests.

It is common for students to pursue a legal studies degree after already accruing several years of professional experience. Individuals who earn a master's degree can immediately apply their newfound knowledge in their current workplace or decide to seek advancement. Further postgraduate education is also an option.

Common Master's in Legal Studies Degree Courses

Introduction to Legal Studies

This introductory course provides a framework for graduate-level study of law and the American legal system. Focus is placed on ethics and terminology. Common topics include history and philosophy of justice; legal institutions; and overviews of major areas like contracts, property, and criminal law.

Legal Research and Writing

In this course, students practice and develop their research and writing skills. Coursework introduces effective formats and styles used for written communication with lawyers and other professionals. Skills are also developed in identifying, locating, and using legal resources found in law libraries and through computer-aided research.

Ethics for the Legal Professional

This course focuses on the ethical and professional responsibilities of legal professionals. Students examine issues like confidentiality, unauthorized practice, conflicts of interest, and corporate social responsibility. Attention is paid to providing students with frameworks to handle moral dilemmas in the face of increasing expectations of transparency and accountability.

Constitutional Law

Students taking this course examine the concept and evolution of constitutionalism, the role of constitutional law in protecting individual liberty, and the relationships between federal government branches. Other common discussion topics include judicial review, separation of powers, and constitutional interpretation.

Thesis/Capstone

Prior to graduation, master's programs commonly require students to complete a culminating experience in the form of a thesis or capstone. Specific requirements vary, but students can expect to integrate knowledge from all prior courses, participate in extensive research, and craft a major written project.

Related Master's in Legal Studies Degree Concentrations

Human Resources

A concentration in human resources provides students with expert knowledge of the legal system and employment law. Courses cover critical compliance issues commonly faced by HR professionals, including hiring, termination, negotiation, and mediation.

Criminal Law

A legal studies concentration in criminal law prepares students to function within the complex regulatory environment of the modern criminal justice system. Suitable for mid-level and managerial professionals, courses cover key concepts and issues in criminal law, criminal procedure, and corrections law.

Dispute Resolution

A concentration in dispute resolution provides students with a formal background designed to help them compete in a growing field. Courses cover the theory and practice of arbitration and mediation, alongside topics in psychology, communication, and conflict. Graduates can find work as arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators.

Healthcare

This concentration provides education about healthcare law and regulation. Courses cover concepts including state and federal regulatory requirements, liability issues, family law, and employment. This area of study is ideal for professionals working in a variety of healthcare sectors, such as hospitals and doctors' offices, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, and government agencies.

Compliance

This concentration prepares and trains students for careers in compliance and risk management. Courses commonly cover the American legal system, corporate compliance, and legal research. Students can further focus their study toward field-specific compliance issues, including human resources, healthcare, taxation, and environmental law.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Legal Studies Program?

In order to apply to a master's program, prospective students must first complete a bachelor's degree at a regionally accredited school. To qualify for a master's in legal studies online program, schools do not typically require applicants to hold their undergraduate degree in a specific field.

Graduate schools want to enroll students who are likely to succeed academically. To help accomplish this, many universities set a minimum GPA requirement for admission. Online master's in legal studies applicants typically need to demonstrate a minimum 2.5-3.0 undergraduate GPA.

Another way to evaluate the academic abilities of a prospective student is through standardized testing. Though not a common requirement for master's programs in legal studies, some schools request that applicants submit GRE scores or GMAT scores. Scores remain valid for five years after test completion.

Graduate programs frequently require applicants to supply a written statement of purpose along with their application, transcripts, and test scores. This essay usually discusses an applicant's motivation for enrollment, professional interests and goals, and any relevant prior accomplishments. Specific content and length requirements vary by school.

Letters of recommendation discuss an applicant's knowledge, skills, and relevant work and/or education history. One or two of these letters are required for most master's in legal studies programs. Applicants should request letters from supervisors and/or professors well in advance of application deadlines.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Legal Studies Degree?

Earning an online master's in legal studies does not prepare graduates to practice law, but there is no shortage of employment opportunities for nonlawyers with a solid legal background. A legal studies degree may be appropriate for professionals working in industries that intersect with law, such as criminal justice, business, banking, higher education, and healthcare.

Legal studies graduates commonly pursue careers as human resource managers, paralegals, compliance officers and directors, contract negotiators, and legal consultants. Licensure requirements vary by industry and state, but many of these jobs can be pursued without any additional certification.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Master's in Legal Studies Programs

What can you do with a master's in legal studies?

A master's in legal studies is not a law degree, meaning graduates are not qualified to work as lawyers or attorneys. Rather, the curriculum of a legal studies program helps prepare industry professionals to navigate complex regulatory environments. Graduates can work in a variety of positions relating to business, law, and compliance.

Is legal studies the same as law?

Legal studies programs are offered by many top law schools. However, a legal studies degree varies significantly from law degrees like a juris doctor or master's in law, which prepare graduates for work as attorneys and lawyers. Legal studies programs are specifically designed for nonlawyers working in industries like business, healthcare, and compliance.

How long does it take to get a master's in legal studies?

Program completion times vary depending on a student's schedule. When studying full time, an online master's in legal studies typically takes about one year to complete. Online programs may also offer part-time scheduling options, which allow students to study while maintaining obligations to work and family.

Is a master's in legal studies worth it?

Although the value of any academic degree is largely subjective, earning an online master's in legal studies can prove incredibly useful for professionals working in complex regulatory environments. Legal knowledge and skills can help mid-level employees advance and allow current managers and executives to handle new, emerging challenges.

What jobs can you get with a master's in legal studies?

A master's in legal studies program is designed for nonlawyer professionals who desire additional education and training about legal concepts and issues. Graduates may apply their newfound knowledge to careers in compliance, human resources, management, and other fields.

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