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2023 Best Online Law Schools

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/18/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Law Badge

An online bachelor's degree in law can serve as the basis for further education or a rewarding career in the legal field. Bachelor's in legal studies degrees introduce the foundations of U.S. law, the powers and responsibilities of each branch of government, and the connections between law and public policy. Students learn to closely examine legal documents for accuracy and research archives for precedents relevant to current cases, as well as how to argue a point in speech and writing. Many lawyers got their start by studying law as undergraduates, including some of those who work at top law firms.

If you're looking to enter the legal workforce faster, you might consider an online certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies instead.

View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn more about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Law Badge
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Online Law Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

List Of Accredited Online Law Schools

School Online Enrollment Annual Tuition
American Public University System 37,335 37,335 $7,324 $7,324
University of Maryland Global Campus 35,971 $12,336
Liberty University 34,092 $11,700
Arizona State University 33,410 $24,413
Purdue Global 28,447 $14,358
University of Massachusetts Global 10,090 $12,440
Pennsylvania State University 8,636 $35,514
University of Central Florida 7,588 $22,467
Keiser University 7,362 $21,008
Bellevue University 7,352 $7,851

American Public University System

  • Annual Tuition: $7,324
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The American Public University System (APUS) is a private institution with an online Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree that takes 120 credit hours of coursework. Full-time enrollees may take as little as four years to complete this program. With its open enrollment policy, APUS generally accepts any bachelor's degree candidate. However, only 18% of them finish their degree program.

APUS uses the Brightspace platform to deliver online courses. The legal studies curriculum includes lessons on legal research, the judicial system, and ethics. Students must choose a generalist path or one of seven concentrations during this program. Some of the core classes include Proficiency in Writing, Constitutional Law, and Civil Practice and Procedure.

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $12,336
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is a public school that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree. This program requires 120 credit hours, which might take four years with a full-time schedule. The university has an open admissions policy and a 28% graduation rate for bachelor's degree students.

UMGC's online students use the Learning Experience Online system to complete coursework. The school's legal studies faculty aim to create ethical, analytical legal professionals who can research and write well. The major course requirements include Advanced Legal Writing, Torts, and Advanced Legal Practices.

Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University is a private Baptist school with two online options for bachelor's degrees in legal studies. The university's Bachelor of Science in Law and Policy – Pre-Law degree is intended for students who want to be lawyers in the future. The Bachelor of Science in Law and Policy – Public Policy degree may also suit future lawyers, but is aimed more broadly at anyone who wants to work at the intersection of law and government. Both degrees take 120 credit hours.

Liberty uses the Canvas system to host online courses. Both degrees feature the same core law classes, but the public policy degree calls for different major courses, such as Public Policy Development in the Political Environment.

Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $24,413
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The public Arizona State University (ASU) features an online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Philosophy – Morality, Politics and Law degree with 120 required credit hours. This degree might take four years to finish for full-time students. The university accepts 73% of bachelor's candidates, and 52% of them graduate with their degrees.

ASU students use the digital learning platform Canvas to work on asynchronous online classes. As a philosophy BA, this degree emphasizes the existential and ethical foundations of the law more than its practical application. Students in this program take courses such as Principles of Sound Reasoning, Theory of Knowledge, and Philosophy of Law.

Purdue Global

  • Annual Tuition: $14,358
  • Locations: Indianapolis (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Purdue University Global (PUG) is a public, fully online school offering a Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services degree. This program takes 180 quarter credits, which students may complete in four years with a full-time schedule. Purdue accepts all applicants with its open admissions policy, and its bachelor's degree graduation rate is 30%.

Purdue uses the learning management system Brightspace to deliver online courses to students. This program seeks to create analytical professionals who can perform legal research and administer law offices. Enrollees take courses such as Legal Ethics and Law and Society, and they may choose a concentration in paralegal studies.

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Overview of Online Legal Studies Degrees

A bachelor's in legal studies may be a fitting choice for individuals interested in an education that can lead to entry-level positions in different fields, foster transferable skills, or create a path to graduate study. 

As a distinct area of study within the social sciences, legal studies focuses on the law's history, theory, application, and role in society. Unlike a professional law degree in which students analyze specific statutes or landmark court cases, a bachelor's in legal studies provides graduates with an understanding of the law as a vast and evolving collection of beliefs, rules, and procedures. Students may, therefore, critically reflect on important questions such as the nature of citizenship, the impact of law on race and identity, and the nature of societal values. Individuals enrolled in such a program also gain exposure to foundational concepts from various other fields, including history, political science, sociology, economics, and psychology.

Legal studies graduates have the real-world knowledge and skills to work in various settings. While many may consider working for a law firm, it's important to note that graduates may also find fulfilling roles in other sectors where legal knowledge and research skills are required — such as government, business, and education, to name a few. Students who hope to pursue law school may find that this program provides them with a foundational understanding of the legal concepts covered in more depth at the postgraduate level.

Explore our list of the most affordable online law degrees for more budget-friendly options. 

Importance of Accreditation

Accreditation is granted to colleges, universities, and individual degree programs that choose to be evaluated by an outside agency and then successfully meet the agency's requirements for high academic standards. It's recommended that students choose an accredited program or school to ensure that they receive a high-quality education with regard to its curriculum, faculty, and student resources and outcomes.

Although not required, paralegals can look for accredited programs through the American Bar Association. The ABA approves only a small number of 100 percent online paralegal programs, as they typically look for more traditional educational approaches primarily in on-site settings. Other accredited law-related degree and certificate programs can be found through either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education

For students who plan to become a licensed attorney, it should be noted that in order to sit for the bar exam in most states, you will need to graduate from an on-campus Juris Doctor program that has been accredited by the American Bar Association. The ABA does not currently accredit any 100 percent online JD programs. Review the particular requirements for licensure in your state via the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Career Options for Legal Studies Graduates

Given its interdisciplinary nature, an online bachelor's in legal studies may offer students several career opportunities once they graduate. For those who hope to work in the legal field, this program can help prepare individuals for paralegal or legal analyst roles. Indeed, a background in law may help provide an edge in a growing legal sector, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 10% increase in occupations over the next decade. Alternatively, for those interested in the law but unsure about a legal career, the communication, writing, and critical thinking skills gained in a legal studies major may qualify graduates for entry-level positions in real estate, finance, and business.

Below is a brief list of careers that students with a legal studies bachelor's degree may be interested in, along with salary and job growth data through 2031 from the BLS:

Claim Adjusters

Median Annual Salary: $64,710
Job Growth: -6%

Claims adjusters work with insurance companies and carry out various duties. Their daily responsibilities include assessing whether a claim is legitimate and covered by a particular policy. These professionals also typically work with attorneys and other legal professionals to evaluate and settle disputed claims.

Financial Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $95,570
Job Growth: 9%

Financial analysts, also known as financial advisors, help businesses develop investment strategies. Their work involves using financial models to identify emerging markets and opportunities to increase profits. Financial analysts can advise individual clients or work for institutions, such as hedge funds or investment banks.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Median Annual Salary: $56,230
Job Growth: 14%

Paralegals and legal assistants support attorneys in preparing cases. Their work may include conducting legal research, drafting affidavits, contacting clients, and transcribing interviews. Although it is possible to become a paralegal or legal assistant with an associate degree, employers may require a bachelor's degree as a minimum qualification. (Tip: if you're interested in paralegal studies, you might explore our rankings for the most affordable paralegal associate degrees and certificate programs.)

Police Officers and Detectives

Median Annual Salary: $66,020
Job Growth: 3%

Police officers and detectives are responsible for ensuring public safety. Law enforcement personnel work in fixed jurisdictions, conducting patrols, responding to emergency and non-emergency calls, and watching for suspicious activity. Detectives are primarily responsible for investigating and solving crimes.

Types of Law Degrees You Can Earn Online

Legal Office Administration

If you are interested in working in a law office, assisting an attorney, or managing the administrative duties for a legal firm, a degree in legal office administration can qualify you for this type of career. Legal office administration degrees teach students about business practices in law offices, methods of communication, record keeping, billing, and laws relevant to careers in legal administration.

Legal office administrators of all varieties organize, manage, and assist in the legal process, enabling attorneys to do their best possible work in service of the law. Duties range from basic clerical tasks, paperwork, and billing and information systems to interacting one-on-one with lawyers and clients. For all of these duties, the legal office administrator or assistant must combine secretarial duties and skills with legal acumen.

The master's degree programs available in legal assisting are often Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. Whereas the undergraduate degree will prepare students for work performing day-to-day clerical services or assisting lawyers and clients, a master's degree will provide students with the advanced skills necessary for running a legal office or entire firm. Some master's degree programs will qualify graduates to take the Certified Legal Manager (CLM) assessment, which grants licensure to manage a legal office to those who pass. Admission to an MBA program requires a bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Legal Studies

Online legal studies degrees provide students with an understanding of the ways that U.S. law works and the ways that justice translates into law. Graduates can use these degree programs to enter positions as legal assistants and paralegals, public administrators, or law enforcement agents. Associate degrees in legal studies are most commonly used to learn the skills of legal writing and research. Bachelor’s degrees can be used to prepare for graduate study in law or to enter administrative positions. Master’s programs in legal studies are usually aimed at non-lawyers who seek a working knowledge of the law.

Online bachelor’s programs in legal studies provide a more in-depth look at the U.S. legal system, and they may offer the ability to specialize in a particular legal area, such as public administration or pre-law. Core classes discuss social and political thought, sociology, American politics, American history, and constitutional government. Other courses look at the way law currently functions in society or how public policy affects citizens in areas such as drug policy, law enforcement, or social inequality.


Online paralegal degrees are designed to provide students with the necessary skills and education for paralegal careers. Students may often complete online degrees without ever having to visit a physical classroom, and courses may be taken as quickly or slowly as the student's work and home life permit. Paralegals help lawyers research cases and manage their relationships with clients. General paralegal degrees teach students about legal research, law databases, and maintaining client confidentiality. More specialized programs prepare students for paralegal careers in areas such as bankruptcy, public policy, or criminal defense. 

Alternatively, you may want to check out similar online degrees in this field, such as law enforcement bachelor's degrees or criminology degrees. For those interested in healthcare, read about the best online legal nurse consulting programs.

Is a Legal Studies Degree Worth It?

An online legal studies degree can provide you with valuable knowledge and practical skills. However, the worth of this degree can vary based on your career goals, personal situation, and financial circumstances. 

Below is a list of the pros and cons of obtaining a legal studies bachelor's degree online:

Potential Benefits

  • A legal studies bachelor's has the potential to land you a job in a solid labor market. For instance, the BLS projects that demand for certain legal professionals — such as arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators — is expected to grow by 6% through 2031, slightly faster than the national average of 5% for all jobs.

  • A legal studies degree online can be highly flexible. This credential covers concepts in various disciplines such as history, political science, and sociology, thus giving you the chance to embark on a non-legal career path as well.

Potential Drawbacks

  • A bachelor's in this field may not be sufficient for career advancement in some roles within the legal system. For instance, while some graduates may want to practice law as private attorneys or public defenders, most states require a Juris Doctorate or other professional degree from an accredited law school.

  • Working in a legal environment can lead to burnout. Graduates who work in entry-level positions within the legal system or gain further education to become lawyers work long hours and deal with demanding clients. This can foster low job satisfaction and high stress, often causing burnout.

You may also want to consider whether pursuing a legal studies degree online is a suitable option. Distance learning programs offer significant flexibility, allowing you to learn at your own pace and avoid having to relocate. However, an online degree requires self-discipline and motivation to complete. Some distance learning programs may also require taking all classes asynchronously, thus limiting your ability to interact with peers and professors.

FAQs About Online Law Degrees

Is an Online Law Degree Credible?

With a majority of HR leaders seeing online programs as equivalent to on-campus ones, an online law degree from an accredited institution is a credible qualification. Online students meet the same admission and program requirements as their on-campus peers to earn their degree and therefore receive the same education. This is perhaps why potential employers have, over time, become less likely to treat those with online credentials as somehow less capable or knowledgeable.

In What States Can You Practice Law Without a Law Degree?

To become a licensed attorney, you must take the bar exam. There are only four states that allow you to take the bar exam without earning a law degree: California, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. The states of Maine, New York, and Wyoming will allow you to substitute a legal apprenticeship for some years of law school, but still require at least some time spent in legal education. All other states require lawyers to earn their JD to become licensed.

What Is the Best Bachelor’s Degree for Law School?

Data shows political science, psychology, and history are the most popular undergraduate degrees for those admitted to law school. However, many recommend majoring in something challenging that you enjoy and are likely to do well in, as law schools look for students with an impressive academic history.

Unsure about an online bachelor's in legal studies? Explore some of the very best online bachelor's programs, and find the online degree that's right for you.

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