Best Online Undergraduate Degrees in Legal Studies
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Laws (and how they are applied, and to whom) determine the very shape of our society.
An online legal studies degree can help you to unpack and understand the intricacies of our legal system –– and then use that knowledge to access fascinating career opportunities.
Grads often go on to become lawyers, judges, mediators, legal consultants, paralegals, compliance officers, and legal writers — jobs that really make an impact.
"I'm so lucky that my bachelor's degree in legal studies put me on the path I'm on today," said Martin Gasparian, owner and attorney at Maison Law. "I own my own business and practice in a field where I am truly passionate, where I hope that my team and I can make a difference for people all over the country."
Why Should I Get A Legal Studies Degree?
Earning a bachelor's degree in legal studies can be a good financial investment — especially if you leverage it into a government position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators who worked for state and local government earned a median annual salary between $65,310 and $73,610 in May 2021.
Legal studies is also a good degree for job security: According to the BLS, the demand for legal professionals is on the rise.
Legal occupations are projected to grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031 — much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS projects jobs for paralegals and legal assistants will grow 14% during that same decade.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
In this program, students can develop research and writing skills and learn how to sift through technical legal texts and documents. Students with strong written communication, organization, and analytical skills are often well-suited for this area of study.
Online bachelor's in legal studies programs typically consist of 120 required credits and take about four years of full-time study to complete. Part-time or self-paced asynchronous programs tend to take longer.
Some programs may require students to complete capstone projects or internships. Many learners decide to pursue these opportunities voluntarily to bolster their resumes and gain hands-on industry experience.
Legal studies curricula tend to be more generalized. Learners must complete foundational courses such as legal research, legal writing, and civil litigation. Many students choose specialized concentrations that align with their academic interests and intended careers.
Popular Online Legal Studies Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
- Legal Research: Researching existing legal documentation and gathering evidence to support cases are among the most integral skills legal professionals will need. In this course, students learn how to find and evaluate relevant evidence from legal documents.
- Civil Litigation: Students learn about the processes associated with standard courtroom procedures — pleadings, damages, appeals, and motions in both state and federal court settings. This course teaches students about litigation techniques and corresponding research that drive cases.
- Legal Ethics: Most programs require students to complete a legal ethics course. Learners explore the ethical procedures that legal professionals follow. Learners also analyze more abstract ethical questions through case studies and theory-based analysis.
- The American Legal System: In this course, students learn about the evolution of federal and state law, and how legal protocols function in the United States. They explore historic policy reforms and how they impact contemporary procedures.
- Criminal Law and Procedures: Many legal professionals build a practical understanding of criminal justice theory and conventions. Students learn about the research, ethics, and strategy behind an effective criminal defense and prosecution
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
Admission requirements for online bachelor's programs are generally similar to those of on-campus programs. In addition to the material listed below, some online programs may also require interviews, a resume, or a personal statement.
Nearly all undergraduate programs require a standard application, which will include information about your extracurriculars, awards, honors, and other qualifications.
Many schools allow applicants to submit application materials via the Common Application, an online platform designed to streamline the application process.
Many colleges use entrance exam scores as metrics of academic abilities such as writing conventions, reading comprehension, and mathematics.
However, an increasing number of colleges no longer require standardized test scores. For test-optional schools, applicants may still decide to submit their SAT or ACT scores if they feel it will help boost their application.
Letters of Recommendation
Many colleges require one or more letters of recommendation from people who know you well and can speak to your abilities and aspirations. Teachers, professors, guidance counselors, and employers can provide these for you.
You will likely need to provide a college essay, as well. This is your opportunity to talk about the things that make you, you: your passions, experiences, and academic interests.
Most colleges will want a copy of your high school transcripts, as well as records of any transferable postsecondary credits, such as those from a community college. These provide a concrete metric of your past academic performance.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degree?
Legal professionals work in a variety of roles, settings, and specializations. They assist lawyers as paralegals or legal secretaries and negotiate directly with disputants.
Some bachelor's degree graduates work in courtroom settings as court reporters. Others decide to pursue higher degrees and work as lawyers or postsecondary educators.
Here are some of the in-demand legal career paths you can pursue with an online degree in legal studies:
- Assist lawyers by gathering, writing, transcribing, and organizing legal documents.
- Conduct research on existing laws to inform cases and correspond with lawyers, witnesses, and clients.
- Draft reports, contracts, and other legal documents.
- Represent and advise clients in a variety of legal matters.
- Corresponding with judges, clients, and other figures.
- Analyze and interpret legal documents, policies, and evidence to strengthen cases.
- Advocate for clients in a diverse array of specialties, such as family law, corporate law, or environmental law.
- Assist lawyers and paralegals with various administrative duties.
- Prepare legal documents and correspondence materials, such as subpoenas, motions, and summonses.
- Communicate with clients, lawyers, and other legal professionals.
- Attend, document, and transcribe court events like hearings and depositions.
- Use specialized equipment, like stenography machines, to record and transcribe speech.
Many nonprofit organizations advocate for criminal justice reform or the relationship between law and public policy. As a social and community manager, you may:
- Plan fundraising initiatives
- Oversee budget plans
- Communicate with corporate sponsors, and
- Oversee daily operations.
Legal Studies Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
For many students, earning a bachelor's in legal studies is a stepping stone to more specialized career training or graduate programs. For example, individuals who hope to work as paralegals may earn a paralegal certification in addition to a bachelor's degree.
Other graduates may go on to attend law school, earn a law degree, or pursue a master's in different legal specializations like business law or a more generalized master's degree in legal studies.
Those who are more interested in shaping policy may earn a master's degree in public policy, while those more focused on justice reform can pursue a master's in criminal justice.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Program?
There are a few factors to consider when you're trying to choose the right online program.
Prioritize programs that offer financial aid like grants and scholarships, which you don't have to pay back. In some cases, an in-state online program may cost less than an out-of-state program.
Consider what scheduling demands your life can accommodate. Online students who work, are parents, or who have other responsibilities will find that asynchronous courses can give them more flexibility.
Even online students may find it beneficial to be able to meet with professors or classmates in person on occasion. If in-person networking is a big priority for you, consider enrolling in an online program within driving distance.
It's crucial to select a school that is accredited if you want employers to take your degree seriously.
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Browse programs Discover matches Request info Orlando, FL
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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
- 4 years
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.
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
- 4 years
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
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
UMass Global'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.
UMass Global 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. UMass Global does not charge out-of-state tuition, and California residents may qualify for a state grant.
La Jolla, CA
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs
Is a bachelor's in legal studies worth it?
Graduates report that a bachelor's degree in legal studies is worth it, for the right students: "I would recommend this degree path to prospective students who are passionate about the law and exploring a career in the legal field," said Philadelphia immigration attorney Min Hwan Ahn.
"My degree enabled me to build a solid foundation and understanding of the legal system and develop critical thinking and analytical skills which are essential in my day-to-day work at my law office."
What exactly is a legal studies degree?
It's a four-year, interdisciplinary bachelor's degree that provides students with a broad foundational education in the legal system, legal principles, and legal processes.
It's a good way to prepare for a number of legal careers or juris doctorl (JD) programs.
Is legal studies the same as law school?
Nope, legal studies and law school are not the same thing.
Legal studies degrees are undergraduate programs that guide students through the theoretical and academic study of the law. Law school, on the other hand, is a graduate program that provides the professional training required to become a lawyer.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in legal studies?
Legal studies students who go on pursue a JD and become lawyers make very high salaries: The highest-earning lawyers can make more than $208,000 a year, according to the BLS.