Degrees in legal studies can help you launch a career in law, criminal justice, or real estate.
In a college bachelor’s program, you can study different aspects of the laws that govern society and how they relate to daily life and business activities. You can also gain practical skills for carrying out legal responsibilities.
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Earning a legal studies bachelors degree online might allow for a more flexible educational journey, and it could also lead to a number of rewarding career paths.
Online Degrees in Legal Studies
Are you interested in the law? Perhaps you don’t want to be a lawyer but would like a career that focuses on law and justice. If so, you could think about majoring in legal studies for your bachelor’s degree.
The field of legal studies is for professionals who want to enter legal support careers. That’s a pretty broad field, so you could study many different topics during your time in school. Your coursework may cover topics like the US Constitution, legal ethics, and the litigation process. You may learn how to conduct legal research, use office software, write legal reports, and interview witnesses.
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There are many types of laws in place, and different legal professionals focus on different areas of the law. One of the main distinctions is criminal versus civil law. Further subdivisions include:
- Contract law
- Entertainment law
- Environmental law
- Estate law
- Immigration law
- Intellectual property law
There isn’t time to cover all of these areas in-depth during your program. Your college may not even offer classes in each of them. Rather, you’ll take a handful of electives that are focused on the areas you’re most interested in.
As part of your studies, you might also do an externship. That’s an experience in which you may work in a law firm or another legal organization. You could try out the things you’ve learned in the classroom and receive guidance from an experienced mentor.
You can also consider earning your legal studies degree online. Completing the courses through a virtual classroom setting, you could acquire the same knowledge that you would in a traditional campus setting. For an online program, you would still report in person for your externship, but you might be able to choose an organization in your local area as the site.
After graduation, you might choose to take an exam for national paralegal certification. Between your bachelor’s degree and your certificate, you might be a qualified candidate for paralegal roles. Other potential job paths include license clerk, court reporter, compliance officer, conciliator, or legal administrative assistant.
Legal Studies Careers and Salaries
After earning legal studies degrees online, graduates might want to work as paralegals or legal assistants. Some employers prefer job candidates who hold bachelor’s degrees, so your education might give you an advantage. You may also be interested in getting national paralegal certification to enhance your resume.
Pursuing a legal studies degree could also help you find work as a legal secretary. In that role, you might type up legal documents, conduct research on legal statutes, and do other jobs to support the work that goes on in a law office.
A degree in legal studies could take your career in other directions as well. For example, understanding legal matters could be useful for a job as a license clerk, court clerk, title searcher, or title examiner.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for legal professions overall is $82,430.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Police and Detectives||$66,020|
|Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners||$60,380|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$60,250|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$56,230|
|Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators||$49,410|
|Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents||$48,770|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$47,710|
|Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers||$47,310|
|Court, Municipal, and License Clerks||$44,610|
Compliance officers need legal knowledge, too. In that role, you’d be responsible for making sure that an organization abides by legal regulations. In some cases, you might be able to work as a mediator or a conciliator. You may be required to have expertise in a particular field in order to weigh in on related cases.
Many criminal justice jobs could be a good fit for legal studies majors as well. For example, a background in legal studies might help graduates become police officers or probation officers. You might also be interested in working as a court reporter. In addition, there are many laws governing real estate, so a legal studies degree could be useful in a real estate career. Licensure would be required.
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Your online legal studies degree could also help prepare you for law school. The median annual salary for lawyers is $127,990 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Legal Studies Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
You’ll take a variety of interesting courses as you go through an online program for a bachelors degree in legal studies. The curriculum may include opportunities to choose electives that focus on various types of law. Here are some course examples:
- Criminal Law and Procedures: In this class, you’ll learn the basics of criminal law and how the justice system operates in criminal cases, and you might also discuss specific types of crimes.
- Employment Law: In a class on employment law, you’d study topics like workman’s compensation, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination.
- Family Law: Studying family law could help prepare you to be involved with cases related to divorce, custody, and other familial matters.
- Finding Evidence: One of your classes might teach you to conduct investigations and gather evidence to support your case.
- Law Technology: You may learn about computers, office applications, legal software, and other types of technology that are used in today’s law offices.
- Legal Ethics: There may be a class that covers the responsibilities of legal professionals and discusses ethical practices.
- Legal System: You may begin your program with an overview class that covers the structure of the legal system in the US and the various professionals who work within it.
- Litigation: You might spend one or more semesters studying the process of litigation, from the first legal motions through the appeals portion of a case.
- Research and Writing: In one or more classes, you’ll learn to conduct legal research and produce various legal briefs and documents.
- Torts: To be well versed in civil law, you’ll take a class on tort law and various types of compensation.
Most bachelor’s degrees require earning at least 120 hours of college credit.
How to Choose a Bachelors in Legal Studies Online Program
Where should you earn your legal studies degree? You might want to take a look at some top considerations before settling on the right school for you:
- Campus requirements. Location might not be a major factor in your decision-making for an online program, but it’s helpful to pay attention to whether you’ll ever need to go to campus.
- Elective choices. If there’s a particular area of law that you’d like to study, you can check a school’s course offerings.
- Externship. A college may help you find a hands-on externship for in-the-field learning.
- Faculty. Some colleges promote their faculty members’ credentials, such as their experience in practicing law.
- Regional accreditation. The most reputable and widely accepted form of college accreditation is regional accreditation.
Everyone has different goals and preferences, so you may have other top priorities that will factor into your college decision-making process.
Legal Studies Major Admissions Requirements
You’ll begin your college process by applying to schools. Common application requirements are listed below:
- Application form and a nonrefundable fee
- Essay or another sample of your writing abilities
- Proof of high school completion and official transcripts from your school
- Score from the SAT or the ACT (not required by all colleges)
The guidelines for admission vary from school to school, so you may be required to gather a different set of materials for each college on your list.
Degrees in Legal Studies Accreditation
Since you’ll be putting time and effort into your online legal studies bachelors degree, you may want to ensure that it will hold value for you in the end. That’s why it’s strategic to select a regionally accredited college for your studies.
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To become accredited, schools must be rigorously evaluated. An accrediting body examines a college’s practices to make sure that students who go there receive a thorough education. Accreditation can be useful during your time in school and beyond. Accredited classes may transfer to other colleges, help you get ready for law school, or prepare you for paralegal certification.
Legal Studies Licensure and Certifications
Professional certifications show that you know what you’re doing in the legal field, and they may help you stand out among a sea of job applicants. Some employers only hire certified legal professionals.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) has two credentialing levels available. CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP) is the first one, and PACE Registered Paralegal (RP) is the advanced one. Both require passing exams. The NALA – The Paralegal Association offers the Certified Paralegal (CP) credential. It requires a two-part exam.
The National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS) also has several certifications available, including Professional Paralegal (PP).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Before enrolling in college for a degree in legal studies, you can take a look at the financial aid opportunities that may be available to you.
For one thing, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on your FAFSA results, you might qualify for government funding. There are several federal programs available, including various types of grants and loans. States often provide similar funding opportunities.
You can also apply for scholarships. Some scholarship awards are small, but they can add up and make a noticeable difference in how much you have to pay for school. There might be scholarships offered through your college as well as community groups and national organizations.
If you work while going to school, you could also check into whether your employer offers any sort of tuition benefits.
Legal Studies Professional Organizations
You can potentially enhance your career as a paralegal or another member of the legal field by joining a professional association. Belonging to a membership organization might give you access to educational resources, networking opportunities, and professional discounts.
Here are some organizations for legal professionals:
- National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS)
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
While you’re in school, you may be able to join at a student rate, which can save you money for a few years.
What Is a Legal Studies Degree?
A legal studies degree is a college program for people who want to launch a career in the legal field or a related line of work. For example, it offers good preparation for a job as a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Many schools offer legal studies as an associate program, but a bachelors degree program could broaden your education. You could take a variety of general education courses in addition to classes on legal topics. While this degree doesn’t qualify you to work as a lawyer, it might prepare you to apply for law school.
What Skills Do You Learn in Legal Studies?
As you study for this degree, you can learn about how to operate in an office setting. That may include learning about using office technology, communicating clearly, and conducting yourself professionally.
There will be classes on various types of law. The curriculum might include courses such as:
- Civil law
- Criminal law
- Property law
- Real estate law
- Sports law
In a legal studies program, you can also learn how to perform legal research. In addition, you’ll practice doing various types of legal writing. Your program might include an externship that lets you try your skills in a real-world setting.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Legal Studies?
If you decide to major in legal studies, you may pursue a job as a paralegal or legal assistant after graduation. Working as a legal secretary might be another job to consider. In fact, your office skills could be useful for secretarial positions in other types of organizations, too.
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You might also consider putting your legal know-how to work for you in a law enforcement career. Some legal studies professionals may go on to work as patrol officers, a supervisor, or a detective in a police department.
Some graduates decide to continue their educations and earn an on-campus or online Master of Legal Studies that a growing number of universities offer.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor in Legal Studies Degree Online?
It’s common for full-time students to spend 4 years in bachelor’s degree programs. Some people can finish online legal studies programs more quickly, though. That’s because online programs often let students take year-round classes, and they structure their courses so that they can be completed in about 8 weeks each.
If you have a large amount of transfer credits, then you may also be able to shorten your time in a bachelor’s degree program. Part-time enrollment will often extend the length of your program.
What Jobs Can You Get with an Online Degree in Legal Studies?
After graduating with a degree in legal studies, some people decide to work as paralegals. They may pursue national paralegal certification as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost three-quarters of paralegals work in law offices.
Court clerk is another job that some people get after earning an online bachelors in legal studies. Jobs may be available with local or federal government agencies. Legal studies could also contribute to a career as a title examiner. Other possible jobs include real estate agent, compliance officer, court reporter, and police officer.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor Degree in Legal Studies vs. Criminal Justice?
Both legal studies and criminal justice programs teach students about law, but there are differences between these two fields of study.
|Degrees in Legal Studies||Degrees in Criminal Justice|
In general, it’s usually more common to find bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice than in legal studies.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor of Legal Studies vs. Paralegal Studies?
Should you get a bachelor’s degree in legal studies or go through a paralegal program instead?
|Degrees in Legal Studies||Degrees in Paralegal Studies|
Paralegal programs often last about 2 years and lead to an associate degree in the field.
Is a Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Online Degree Worth It?
Yes, a bachelor’s in legal studies online degree is worth it for many students. The law plays an important role in daily life, business transactions, and public safety. If you study legal topics in college, you may be prepared for a wide range of careers.
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The job category that includes paralegals and legal assistants is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this set of jobs will expand by 14% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. Paralegals can handle many duties in a law office for a lower fee than lawyers charge, so many law practices are hiring more paralegals.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Legal Studies Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
American Public University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. Concentrations include Legal Ethics, Criminal Law Support, Legal Entrepreneurship, and Legal Data Analytics. Classes typically span 8 to 16 weeks each. Up to 90 of the 120 required credits may be transferred in from outside institutions.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bellevue University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. The program is designed to help prepare for a career in the legal system or to continue on to complete a juris doctor degree program. Credit for military experience and training may be awarded.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Berkeley College offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies using a mix of online and in-person learning formats. Common courses include Professional Responsibilities and Legal Ethics, Contract Law, Advanced Legal Research and Writing, and Civil Litigation. A goal of the program is to develop knowledge of advanced concepts in the law and to apply it to the analysis of legal issues.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Davenport University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online through its Global Campus. Courses commonly cover topics like data analytics, communication, professional ethics, criminal law, labor law, and family law. The program is designed to teach knowledge and skills needed for entry-level positions in law offices, government agencies, and other law-related settings.
Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dominican University offers a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Legal Studies. The curriculum combines principles from subjects like economics, philosophy, theology, and history. The program’s accelerated attendance track is designed to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the degree. Classes are typically 8 weeks long.
Dominican University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida National University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program online. The curriculum covers concepts like research, legal writing, and criminal law, torts, and civil litigation within the American legal system. The program is designed to be a step toward further studies or for a career in law.
Florida National University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Grand Canyon University offers a program for a BA in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies. Typical topics taught include public policy in the federal government, interest groups and public opinion, and legal reasoning and research. The theories and application of Christian ethics are typically emphasized throughout the program. Courses are typically 7 weeks long.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Herzing University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. The program aims to teach the knowledge and skills needed for careers as a paralegal, legal assistant, researcher, and law office administrator. On average, degree requirements are completed in 36 months of full-time attendance.
Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Hodges University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. Potential classes include Introduction to Criminal Justice Systems, Legal Reasoning, and Criminal Law and Court Procedure. The program is intended to provide a solid foundation in legal theory and practice needed for law school.
Hodges University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Pennsylvania Western University–California offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence. The program aims to help prepare for attending law school or for a career in a law office, law enforcement, or government agencies. Upon completion of general education requirements, at least 40 major-related credits must also be completed.
Pennsylvania Western University – California is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Purdue University offers an online program for a BS in Legal Support and Services with a concentration in Paralegal Studies. This program is designed to provide knowledge and skills in research, communication, and technical skills commonly needed in the legal field. Classes are typically 10 weeks long and the completion of 180 credits is required.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
South University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. Classes aim to teach the theoretical and technical skills needed for entry-level roles in legal settings. Virtual lectures, recordings, digital books, and messaging are commonly used tools of instruction. The curriculum requires the completion of 180 credit hours.
South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
SUNY Canton offers an online program for a BS in Legal Studies. Courses aim to teach aspects of law such as business, civil litigation, constitutional law, criminal practice, torts, and real estate. A baccalaureate and master’s degree in legal studies program is commonly offered as a dual degree option.
SUNY Canton is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Stevenson University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. Typical topics taught include legal investigation, research, and discovery, trial preparation and litigation support, case and document review, and witness interviews. The program aims to help prepare for a career as a legal assistant, legislative assistant, compliance officer, or a law librarian.
Stevenson University is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities.
Tulane University offers a Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies in a blend of online and in-person class attendance. Courses are designed to prepare for an entry-level career as a paralegal or to help accomplish the first step toward an advanced legal degree. A 100-hour internship within the field in a setting such as a law office is commonly offered after completion of all coursework.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Central Florida offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies. Common topics taught include fundamentals of the American legal system such as criminal law, torts, and civil litigation. The program is designed to help prepare for entry into fields such as contracts specialist, court reporter, legal analyst, paralegal, program specialist, or legal operations manager.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Houston–Clear Lake offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program online. The curriculum aims to teach topics such as legal principles, research and writing, and the importance of the judicial system. The program may permit the transfer of up to 30 credits from outside institutions.
The University of Houston-Clear Lake is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a BS in Legal Studies. Potential courses include Techniques of Legal Research, Advanced Legal Writing, Criminal Law and Procedures, and Contract Law. The program is designed to help prepare for law school or for a career in research or the production of legal documents.
UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program online. Concentrations include Paralegal Professions or Business Law. Typical topics taught are oral communication, rhetorical writing, research methods, legal theory, and the judicial system. The program seeks to apply ethical practices, critical thinking, and analytical skills to situations in a legal environment.
The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Memphis offers an online program for a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Legal Studies. The program seeks to provide the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for entry-level positions in the legal field. This may include law firms, government agencies, law enforcement, and non-profit organizations.
The University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies Online
Law can be a complicated topic, but society depends on professionals who understand legal matters and the criminal justice system. If you get a degree in legal studies, you might be prepared to fill such a role.
Online legal studies degrees are a promising option for busy students. Through computer-based classes, you can learn the necessary skills for a successful career in the legal field. You could graduate with a reputable degree that may set you apart as a competitive candidate for various law-related jobs.
You could start looking at accredited online programs today to consider what a degree in legal studies could do for you.