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Earning an online bachelor’s in legal studies degree opens the door to a multitude of rewarding career opportunities. This program equips students with a comprehensive understanding of legal principles, critical thinking skills, and ethical practices, preparing them for roles such as paralegals, legal assistants, compliance officers, and more.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants earn an average annual salary of approximately $60,970, while compliance officers can expect to make around $75,670 per year.

Typically, completing an online bachelor’s in legal studies takes about four years, though some programs offer accelerated paths. The cost of obtaining this degree varies, but according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition for a bachelor’s degree ranges from around $8,000 for in-state students at public institutions to $38,000 at private institutions.

Choose your area of study

Start by identifying your interests and career aspirations — whether you’re drawn to criminal law, corporate law, environmental law, or another specialty. Research each specialization’s job market, potential salaries, and growth opportunities using resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Next, evaluate program offerings, ensuring they include courses and internships that match your interests. Consider talking to academic advisors and industry professionals to gain insights. This ensures your studies are relevant, increasing your chances of career success post-graduation.

Research schools and programs

Compile a list of potential institutions, avoiding those that do not have regional or national accreditation. Investigate each program’s curriculum to ensure it covers essential legal topics and offers specializations aligning with your career goals. Check faculty credentials to ensure experienced professionals will be guiding your education. Additionally, explore student resources such as career services, internship opportunities, and online learning support. Reviewing tuition costs and financial aid options is also important. Reading reviews and testimonials can provide insights into student satisfaction and program quality.

Prepare for tests and applications

Research the admission requirements for each potential school, including whether they require standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Use study guides, practice tests, or prep courses to improve your test performance, if necessary. Write a compelling personal statement, obtaining letters of recommendation and highlighting relevant experiences. Make sure you thoroughly proof all materials, as a single typo could reflect poorly on your application. Tailor your application to each program, showcasing your passion for legal studies and long-term career goals. Meeting deadlines and organizing application materials meticulously is also vital.

Select your program

Compare the curricula of each program you’re considering to ensure they cover key areas such as criminal law, civil litigation, and legal research. Look for programs that offer specializations aligning with your interests. Check accreditation status to ensure the program meets high educational standards. Evaluate the flexibility of the program, considering whether it accommodates your schedule and learning pace, especially if you have other personal or professional commitments. Investigate support services, including academic advising, career counseling, and technical support. Consider the cost and available financial aid options.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Estimate the total cost of the program, including tuition, fees, and materials. Note that online programs may include a technology fee. Research financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, and student loans. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal assistance. You may also want to explore state aid programs and institutional scholarships offered by the schools you’re considering. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, so check if this benefit is available to you.

Best Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs_2024 badge
Intelligent Pick
SUNY Canton
Best Public Institution
University of Pittsburgh
Most Accomplished Faculty
Webster University
Best Asynchronous Program
Bellevue University
Best In-State Tuition Rate
University of Central Florida
Most Affordable
Keiser University
Best Catholic Institution
Dominican University
Best for Transfers
Liberty University
Best Faculty Mentors
California University of Pennsylvania
Best Law School Preparation
University of Maryland Global Campus
Best Focus on Critical Thinking
Umass Global
Best for Adult Learners
Peirce College
Best Focus on Legal Theory
Hodges University
Best Faculty
Penn State World Campus
Best for Working Professionals
Stevenson University
Most Collaborative Program
William Woods University
Best Focus on Public Policy
Wilmington University
Best Prep for CLA and PACE Exams
Florida Gulf Coast University
Best in Mid-Atlantic Region
Berkeley College
Best BPS/JD Program
The University of Memphis
Best for Military Students
American Public University
Most Career-Focused Program
Abraham Lincoln University
Best in the South-Central Region
Eastern Kentucky University
Best Capstone Experience
Missouri Western State University
Best for International Students
Florida National University
Best Three-Year Program
Herzing University
Best for Veterans
National University
Best Focus on Government
Grand Canyon University
Best Christian Institution
Regent University
Best in the South
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Best Hybrid Program
Tulane University
Most Interdisciplinary Program
Rowan University
Best Liberal Arts Focus
Central Washington University
Best Focus on Communication
Hampton University

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How we rank schools

When looking at online bachelor’s in legal studies programs, you’ll notice that most of your options offer a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. A Bachelor of Science in legal studies is more tied to the science behind laws, while a Bachelor of Arts is focused more on the humanities. While you will likely take similar legal courses in both programs, the other core classes and electives will lean one way or the other.

All of the programs on our list are approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). This ensures that you will receive a high-quality education and have the ability to transfer credits if needed.

This degree program provides a comprehensive foundation in the legal field, preparing students for a range of careers in law and related sectors. Prospective students can expect to take courses covering key areas such as criminal law, civil litigation, legal research and writing, ethics, and constitutional law. The curriculum is designed to enhance critical thinking and analytical skills and give students a deep understanding of the legal system.

Typically, the program takes about four years to complete if attending full-time, but some institutions offer accelerated paths that can shorten this duration. Part-time options are also available for those balancing work and study, which may extend the program beyond four years.

While the coursework is primarily online, some programs may have additional requirements, such as in-person labs, residencies, or internships, to provide practical, hands-on experience. Students should also be prepared to engage in interactive online discussions, complete extensive reading and writing assignments, and collaborate on group projects. Access to a reliable internet connection and strong time-management skills are essential for success in an online learning environment.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in legal studies degree program

  • Introduction to Law. Provides an overview of the legal system, including the structure and function of courts, the role of lawyers, and the process of legal reasoning. Students will learn the basics of legal terminology and the different branches of law.
  • Criminal Law. Explores the principles and practices of criminal law, including the nature of crimes, defenses, and the criminal justice process. Topics include the study of major crimes, criminal liability, and constitutional protections.
  • Civil Litigation. Covers the procedures and strategies involved in civil lawsuits, from initial filings to trial and appeal. Students will learn about the stages of litigation, discovery processes, and trial advocacy skills.
  • Legal Research and Writing. Focuses on developing essential skills for legal professionals, teaching students how to conduct thorough legal research using various resources and databases. Students will also learn to write clear and persuasive legal documents, such as briefs, memos, and motions.
  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Examines the ethical obligations and professional responsibilities of legal practitioners. Students will explore topics such as client confidentiality, conflict of interest, and the rules of professional conduct, preparing them to navigate ethical dilemmas in their careers.

How do I apply to an online bachelor's in legal studies degree program?

Begin by reviewing specific admission requirements for your chosen program. Typically, you’ll need to submit an online application, high school transcripts, and standardized test scores (SAT or ACT). Prepare a personal statement outlining your interest in legal studies and career goals. Obtain letters of recommendation from teachers or professionals who can attest to your qualifications. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to explore financial aid options. Talk to an admissions counselor to be sure the program is a good fit for you and that you are handling your application correctly.

How much does an online bachelor's in legal studies degree cost?

The cost of earning an online degree varies widely depending on the institution and whether you attend full-time or part-time. On average, tuition for online bachelor’s degrees ranges from approximately $8,000 per year at public institutions to $35,000 or more at private universities. Additional costs may include fees for technology, online resources, and textbooks. Compared to traditional in-person programs, online programs are likely to save students money on commuting and housing expenses, and tuition rates can be comparable or slightly lower.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor's in legal studies degree?

Earning an online bachelor’s typically takes around four years of full-time study, equivalent to 120 credits. Part-time enrollment can extend this timeline. Many online programs offer flexibility, allowing students to progress at their own pace and potentially earn their degree in less time through accelerated courses or credit transfer policies. In comparison, traditional on-campus programs may follow a similar timeline but generally work through a cohort model that will control the pace of study. It’s essential to review program specifics, such as required credits and graduation requirements, as these factors can influence the overall time to degree completion.

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