In bachelor's programs, legal studies majors take courses in criminal law, legal research, and constitutional law. A bachelor's degree in law or legal studies prepares graduates for careers in growing fields. For example, paralegals earn above-average salaries, with faster-than-average projected job growth from 2020-2030. After earning a bachelor's in law, graduates can also apply to law school.
Our ranking identifies the best online bachelor's in law programs for 2021. Prospective applicants can use this list to find the right program for their schedule and budget. This article also introduces common career paths, earning potential, and demand for law and legal studies graduates.
What Are Legal Studies?
Legal studies cover legal history, theory, and processes. Through online law school programs, learners explore legal terminology, policies, and constitutional rights, preparing for various careers in law.
Many law careers require at least a bachelor's degree in law. Graduates may move on to become lawyers, paralegals, or legal journalists. Some professionals, like judges and hearing officers, earned their bachelor's before pursuing advanced degrees.
Crucial to the legal field, law professionals review, update, and ensure the fairness of the law. Each professional must collaborate with their colleagues to uphold the integrity of the legal process. Those drawn to these positions support the law and want to improve current and future legal systems.
Legal degrees provide graduates with diverse job opportunities. Courthouses, law offices, newsrooms, and government agencies hire legal professionals, allowing graduates to choose a path that suits them best.
Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Law?
Law degrees provide foundational knowledge and skills for students interested in legal careers. Learners who want to pursue law enforcement, corrections, or law can begin with a legal studies major. This generalized degree allows students to explore various law career paths rather than commit to a specific concentration, like pre-law.
The following bullets outline other benefits of earning an on-campus or online law degree.
- Excellent Salary Potential: According to the BLS, the median annual salary for legal occupations was $84,910 in 2020. Lawyers earned a median salary of $126,930. Judges earned a median salary of $124,400.
- Diverse Opportunities: Legal studies branch into several subcategories, like corrections and law enforcement. Law graduates can choose from various career paths, including immigration lawyer, mediator, and probation officer.
- Job Stability: The BLS projects 9% growth for legal occupations from 2020-2030. Paralegals and private detectives should see faster-than-average job growth in that time.
Career Paths and Outlook for a Bachelor's Degree in Law
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in law can pursue jobs as paralegals, mediators, and claims examiners. Graduates can also expand their career options with additional training in law school. This section introduces common legal studies careers.
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators conduct negotiations between parties to settle disputes. They arrange meetings between the parties to reach a settlement agreement at the end of the mediation.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators act outside of the court system. They must apply any relevant laws or regulations when reaching a settlement. Some of these professionals hold law degrees.
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators work for insurance companies, where they research and evaluate claims. They determine whether a policy covers a client's loss. These professionals also research suspected fraudulent claims and negotiate settlements with clients.
For these roles, some employers prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees in legal studies and business.
Court reporters attend and create transcripts of legal proceedings, including trials, hearings, and depositions. This job typically requires training in stenography machines and recording devices. After creating transcripts or recordings, court reporters provide copies to the court, plaintiffs, and defendants.
Court reporters often hold degrees with specialized training in the law and court reporting. This career requires strong listening, writing, and concentration skills.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants draft legal documents, conduct legal research, and manage files to help lawyers. These professionals may gather evidence for attorneys to review, summarize reports during trial preparation, and draft correspondence with clients. Paralegals specializing in litigation file briefs and handle exhibits during trials.
Most paralegals and legal assistants undergo training in law, legal research, and legal writing. Some careers require a bachelor's degree.
Read about paralegal programs:
Private Detectives and Investigators
Private detectives and investigators find information for their clients. They may conduct background checks, research financial or legal documents, and search for missing persons. Private detectives and investigators also conduct interviews, search public records, and locate evidence for clients.
These professionals benefit from a legal studies background, since they must follow any applicable laws. Some positions require a bachelor's degree in law, legal studies, or criminal justice.
Lawyers advise businesses on their legal responsibilities, and they represent clients in court. These professionals research the law and interpret legal rulings. They also write legal documents like contracts, court motions, and wills. Lawyers represent government agencies, prosecute offenders, and file lawsuits with courts.
Lawyers typically specialize in employment law, criminal law, family law, and corporate law. They must attend law school, earn a juris doctor, and pass the bar exam to practice law.
|Career||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)|
|Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators||$66,130||10%|
|Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators||$68,130||-3%|
|Paralegals and legal assistants||$52,920||12%|
|Private detectives and investigators||$53,320||13%|
Accreditation for Online Law Degrees and Schools for Lawyers
Prospective legal studies majors should check a school's accreditation status before submitting an application. Regionally accredited colleges and universities meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. Independent accrediting agencies evaluate schools on their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic mission.
Accreditation benefits degree-seekers in several ways. Credits earned from an accredited school are more likely to transfer to other accredited schools. Many graduate programs, including those in law schools, require an accredited undergraduate degree. And employers often look for job candidates with accredited degrees.
Individual programs may also hold accreditation. The American Bar Association grants accreditation to law schools but does not accredit undergraduate programs. Instead, learners considering a bachelor's in law and legal studies should look for regional accreditation. Students can verify a school's accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education's database.
Courses for Legal Studies Majors and Future Lawyers
During an online law bachelor's program, learners explore topics like criminal and civil laws, the legal system, and the role of legal institutions in the criminal justice system. Many law and legal studies programs also incorporate courses on legal research and legal writing. This training benefits future paralegals and lawyers.
The sample curriculum below covers common classes in an online bachelor's in law program. Exact courses and class descriptions vary among programs.
Introduction to Legal Studies
Many legal studies programs begin with an introductory course. This class provides an overview of the U.S. legal system, the history of law, and the difference between civil and criminal law. Students examine topics like comparative law, constitutional law, and international law. The course prepares graduates for upper-division classes.
In constitutional law classes, students learn about their rights protected under the Constitution. This course explores concepts like the separation of powers, equal protection rights, and common law interpretations of the Constitution. Through reading court decisions, undergrads learn to interpret the Constitution and the ways it has been applied.
Legal theory courses consider the theoretical foundations of law. The class may cover natural law, political theories, and different theories of justice. Other topics may include the relationships among law, morality, and ethics. Students also examine legal concepts like natural rights and the philosophy of law.
In comparative law courses, learners explore legal systems in different parts of the world. They examine the similarities and differences between legal approaches, including the history of legal systems. Topics can include civil law versus common law systems, international laws, and the evolution of the law.
Criminal law classes examine the criminal justice system and laws governing crime. Topics can include criminology, legal policy, and the relationship between crime and punishment. Students may also examine various parts of the criminal justice system, the relationship between state and federal criminal courts, and the role of the correctional system.
How Much Will a Bachelor's in Law Cost?
A bachelor's degree in law is a pre-law credential that prepares students for law school entry. This degree costs similar to other undergraduate degrees. At public institutions, pre-law students can expect to pay $100-$500/credit for bachelor's programs.
Whether a student attends school in or out of state can affect tuition costs. In-state students usually pay lower tuition rates than out-of-state students. Some institutions charge different tuition rates for online law school programs. Degree-seekers should check their prospective program's full tuition and fee schedule to estimate costs.
At public institutions, pre-law students can expect to pay $100-$500/credit for bachelor's programs.
Many colleges and universities offer financial aid for pre-law students. Scholarships and grants can help fun learners' tuition expenses, and these forms of aid do not require repayment. Loans can also assist with educational costs but require repayment. Moreover, loans incur interest, usually beginning six months after graduating.
Choosing the Best Undergrad Degrees for Law
Law schools use strict academic guidelines and competitive admissions processes for prospective students. Therefore, degree-seekers should consider factors beyond tuition and curricula when searching for pre-law programs.
Our rankings of bachelor's degrees in law provide a helpful foundation for finding the right program. Prospective students can also consider the following points to help determine which pre-law program best suits them:
Why You Should Get Your Degree Online
Online education offers several benefits for students, including flexible scheduling and the potential for distance learning.
Pre-law students currently working as paralegals or in other legal roles may find that an online law degree allows for excellent work-life balance. Some institutions also charge lower tuition rates for their online law school programs than their on-campus programs.
Prospective students may not be able to complete their entire law degree online. Many online pre-law degrees exist, but the American Bar Association (ABA) limits its endorsement of 100% online law programs. Therefore, many students may need to attend on-campus law schools.
Students should also consider whether they would excel in online programs. Online law school degrees work best for self-motivated students who have excellent time management and organizational skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Currently, the ABA endorses on-campus and hybrid law programs, but not fully online programs. Some juris doctor degrees for bachelor's graduates hold ABA accreditation.
Paralegals may earn associate degrees, but other law careers require a bachelor's or higher. The master of legal studies, master of dispute resolution, and juris doctor degrees are a few examples of advanced law credentials.
Earning a bachelor's degree generally takes four years for full-time students to complete. Incoming students with prior college credits or an associate degree can complete their bachelor's degree more quickly.
Yes, degree-seekers can study law online. Online bachelor's in law programs use a distance learning format. Some master's in law programs offer online options as well.
Prospective law students may benefit from degrees in the humanities or social sciences, which emphasize analytical thinking and research. A bachelor's in law or legal studies also prepares graduates for law school.
Best Undergrad Online Law School Programs 2021
Our list ranks the best online law bachelor's programs for 2021, helping students find the right fit for their career goals. We only rank regionally accredited programs. Learn more about the top-ranked and most affordable online law school programs below.
Founded in 1963, UCF is a public research university offering on-campus and online degrees, including an online bachelor's degree in legal studies. Degree-seekers learn about the legal system while strengthening their legal research and writing skills. The program prepares students for careers as paralegals, attorneys, and court reporters.
The legal studies program offers specializations in public law, criminal law, and litigation. In addition to core legal studies courses, online learners take classes in advocacy, international law, and business law. Students earning the online bachelor's in law also complete an internship or a capstone course to build practical skills.
UCF's program offers BA and BS options. The BA requires additional humanities and social science coursework. The BS curriculum emphasizes math and natural science coursework. UCF admits students on a rolling basis. Applicants typically submit official transcripts and need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants with fewer than 60 transferable credits must provide standardized test scores.
A private institution in La Jolla, California, NU offers on-campus and online degree programs for busy learners. The university's online bachelor's degree in pre-law studies is one of the best law bachelor's for online students who need flexible scheduling options. Learners build analytical and critical thinking skills to prepare for careers in the field.
The fully online bachelor's in law trains students to analyze legal issues in business settings, understand contemporary legal debates, and apply rules of law. The pre-law curriculum trains students to negotiate effectively and craft strong legal arguments. Students can customize the degree through 36 credits of upper-division electives. Elective options include comparative international law, administrative law for business, mediation and facilitation, and conflict management.
NU uses four-week terms, and students take one class per month. Military members searching for the most affordable law bachelor's online program can take advantage of NU's tuition discounts for service members. Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA and a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Founded in 1977, Keiser provides a career-focused learning environment. Keiser offers an online bachelor's degree in legal studies that emphasizes the intersection between the law and professional fields. Learners in the program prepare for careers in law, business, criminal justice, and government.
Students earning this bachelor's degree in law explore legal research, legal document writing, and legal analysis. Degree-seekers choose from electives including civil litigation, alternative dispute resolution, legal investigation, and evidence. Learners can also pursue an optional internship to gain practical experience. Students apply classroom knowledge during the legal studies capstone project. Degree-seekers can add a law office management concentration to prepare for careers as a paralegal or law office manager.
Most students complete the 120-credit bachelor's degree in about 40 months. Learners with transfer credits can graduate more quickly. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. Keiser does not require standardized test scores.
A private Catholic institution in Illinois, Dominican delivers a bachelor of professional studies in legal studies for students with prior college credit. The 120-credit online degree program prepares students for law-related careers.
Legal studies majors take courses in the legal system and legal terminology. This interdisciplinary program helps learners strengthen their research, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Degree-seekers work with advisors to customize their curricula.
Learners can choose up to two concentrations based on their interests or professional goals. Concentration offerings include paralegal studies, public administration, criminal justice, and labor relations. Students can also design a custom concentration.
Accelerated eight-week terms allow students to earn their legal studies degree in 20 months. Applicants need at least 30 transferable college credits and can apply up to 90 previous credits toward the bachelor's degree. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a current resume, and a statement of purpose.
A public college in upstate New York, SUNY Canton offers online associate and bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor's degree in legal studies. The fully online program blends classroom learning with hands-on experience. Students can complete an internship to gain professional experience and prepare for the workforce.
This legal studies program trains students in legal research and legal writing. Learners also explore focus areas such as business law, constitutional law, criminal practice, family law, and civil litigation. Degree-seekers customize their curricula by choosing legal studies electives in areas like real estate, immigration law, and environmental law. SUNY Canton also offers courses in criminal justice, law enforcement leadership, and business.
Students can transfer credits from a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies or criminal justice. Applicants submit standardized test scores and an essay.
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