Top online masters programs, online master's degree, best online masters programs, masters in legal studies, online degree in legal studiesIn this article, we’re going to explore online masters programs in legal studies, which is similar to law but not precisely the same. It is common for people to think that just because someone is earning a law degree, they must be pursuing a career as a lawyer; however, that isn’t the case. There are several types of law degree that are great preparation for careers in the field of law but they don’t prepare you to work as a lawyer at all. The most common degree that would fall into this category is the Master of Legal Studies.

This type of degree program will help you to understand the court system and you can even specialize in a certain area of the law that appeals to you. You can apply your knowledge beyond the legal system or use this degree as a launching pad for your career in law. It’s entirely up to you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that careers in this field are growing at a rate that is slightly faster than the national average. The salary range is also reported as above average.

What is a Master of Legal Studies?

A Master of Legal Studies is a degree that covers a lot of topics in law but will not prepare you for the bar exam or a career as a lawyer. You will study topics like ethics, dispute resolution, the legal system, legal process, advocacy, and more. The classes that you will take will help you build strong skills in research, writing, communication, and problem-solving.

Most people who earn a Master of Legal Studies have the position of paralegal in mind. This is just one of the many things you could do. Graduates of MLS programs have gone on to work as mediators, compliance officers, human resources professionals, law enforcement officers, and more. Anywhere, whether in the public or private sector, where an in-depth understanding of the law could be applicable, this is the degree that will prepare you to fill that role.

Another significant perk of a Master of Legal Studies program is that this is a degree program that doesn’t typically require you to have work experience, as many others will. In fact, there are plenty of schools that would accept you into an MLS program without an LSAT, GRE, or even a bachelor’s degree in a related field. As long as you have an interest in law and are prepared to complete all of the required courses, you can get started sooner than you think.

Online Master of Legal Studies Programs

Earning a graduate-level degree doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or stressful. You will still have to invest your time and money; however, there are a lot of online MSL programs available today and they can help you have a smoother academic experience.

Online degree programs typically don’t require you to visit campus at all, so you will not have to worry about relocating. You also won’t have to worry about leaving your job behind because the flexibility of the course delivery can easily mold to your schedule. Earning a Master of Legal Studies online might cost you less than a traditional program and many of them are also accelerated, which allows you to graduate faster. Of course, if you’re someone who needs more time, you can also check out the part-time options that are typically offered.

When you enroll in a Master of Legal Studies degree program online, you also have a lot more freedom when it comes to exactly what you will study. All MSL programs will cover the same core curriculum, but many of them offer concentrations or areas of focus in a specific area of the law. This allows you to take extra courses that pertain directly to what you’re interested in or the type of job you’d like to hold. Because you can earn an online degree from just about anywhere, you’re not limited to what your local institutions of higher education have to offer.

If you’d like to learn more about your options for an online Master of Legal Studies, we have created a ranking that features the best ones in the nation. All of the schools were ranked according to the following.

Methodology

In order to rank the top 20 best online masters in legal studies programs, we started by curating a list of schools that featured an online masters program in the field of law. In order to be considered for the ranking, each school must be based in the United States, must hold proper accreditation, and can not operate as a for-profit institution. Master of Legal Studies degrees were the primary focus; however, other masters-level programs in law were included. After a list was created, we assigned each school a score based on these three factors:

  • Freshman Retention Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Graduation Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Affordability (⅓ of final score)

The maximum possible score that could be earned is 300 points. Once each score was calculated, the school was ranked according to that score. In the event of a tie, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names to determine their final position. All of the cost information was collected from Niche.com.

Additional information was collected from the National Center of Education Statistics as well as U.S. News & World Report. The schools’ own websites were our primary source of information, though.

OnlineCollegePlan would like to note that there are some institutions that may not be represented here that would have otherwise ranked based on incomplete information or per their own request. We are confident that these results are concise and repeatable. We do not give preferential treatment to any school, for any reason, at any time.

  1. MERIT: 268
    View Profile Average Cost: $23,986

    Master of Studies in Law

    Wake Forest University, online master's degrees, online master's programs in legal studiesWake Forest University is home to an online Master of Studies in Law. There are three dedicated professional tracks to this program, and those are Business Law & Compliance, Health Law & Policy, and Human Resources. The curriculum is designed to ensure that graduates understand the complex legal environments in their industry, and each of the professional tracks is tailored to explore the nuances of each area in regards to laws and regulations.

    The program is available entirely online and doesn’t require students to attend the Wake Forest campus at any time. The classes in this program are all delivered asynchronously as well so that students can fit school into their schedule instead of molding their life around it. There is a small list of courses that make up a required core curriculum regardless of your track.

    The mandatory classes you will take as part of this online legal studies masters program include Business Law and Literacy, Legal Foundations, Private Law, Public Law, and The Unauthorized Practice of Law. This part of the curriculum accounts for 13.5 of the 24 credits required. Depending on your experience, your track, and the electives you choose, you may be required to take more than 24 credits in order to graduate.

    More Information
  2. MERIT: 267
    View Profile Average Cost: $16,450

    Juris Master

    Florida State University, online master's programs, online master's degrees, online master of legal studiesThe online masters degree in legal studies that we have ranked Florida State University for is its online Juris Master program; Juris Master is another name for a Master of Studies in Law, and this degree does not prepare you for work as a lawyer in the United States. Instead, this 30-credit masters in law focuses on regulatory compliance and legal risk management. There are three concentrations you can choose from.

    Florida, online master's in legal studies, juris master onlineThe available concentrations for this degree program are Financial Regulation and Compliance, Health Care Regulation, and Legal Risk Management & HR Compliance. There is a required core curriculum that all students will take, and that covers topics in contracts, torts, legislation, regulation, compliance, and legal studies. Beyond that, you will be able to customize your program of study within your chosen concentration completely.

    Instead of having a prescribed curriculum that you have to follow for each area of specialization, this university allows students to choose their classes from a diverse list of advanced courses. This program can only be completed on a part-time basis. All of your classes are fully online and asynchronous. You can graduate in approximately five semesters.

    More Information
  3. MERIT: 264
    View Profile Average Cost: $19,554

    Master of Jurisprudence; Master of Laws

    TAMU Law School, online masters degrees, online masters programs in legal studies, online legal studies degreesThe Texas A&M University School of Law currently offers two online masters degrees.

    The first is a Master of Laws. This degree is actually intended for those of you who wish to practice law. This degree consists of 24 credits and will take students one year to complete. A Master of Laws is designed for students who have earned the equivalent of a Juris Doctor outside of the United States or lawyers who wish to develop a specialization in a particular area. Specialization options for this degree that are offered online include Wealth Management, Risk Management, and International Tax.

    The degree that we would like to focus on for this online masters in legal studies ranking is the Master’s in Jurisprudence. This degree is for non-lawyers that are interested in legal education and training but do not intend to practice as lawyers.

    Fort Worth, Texas, online masters programs, online master's degreesThere are several concentrations, but the only ones offered online are the same as those offered with the Master of Laws program. This legal studies degree consists of 30 credits in total and will take students one to two years to complete. The thing that sets TAMU apart is that on top of being asynchronous, the courses are flexible in other ways as well. This university goes above and beyond when it comes to accommodating its students’ careers.

    More Information
  4. MERIT: 263
    View Profile Average Cost: $32,892

    Master of Laws; Master of Studies in Law

    University of Southern California, USC, Master of Studies in Law online, master of legal studies online, online master's programsThe University of Southern California also offers two different online legal degrees. One of them is a Master of Laws that is designed specifically for international law professionals. The program that we have ranked USC for is the Master of Studies in Law, which is one of the best online masters degrees in legal studies that you can get. This MSL welcomes students regardless of their academic and professional backgrounds so they can understand how the legal system functions.

    The USC Online Master of Studies in Law is made up of 21 credits. Of those credits, only three of them will come from required courses which makes this degree stand out for its extensive customizability. You will take two classes, which are Introduction to the US Legal System and Legal Research. Once you’ve done that, you have a few options.

    You could work with an advisor and select courses that are relevant to your goals, or you can choose from one of the many online certificate programs available. You would complete a certificate as you completed your degree. Currently, the university offers Business Law, Entertainment Law & Industry, Compliance, Health Care Compliance, Financial Compliance, and Human Resources Law & Compliance. You can graduate in as little as 16 months.

    More Information
  5. MERIT: 260
    View Profile Average Cost: $30,784

    Master of Legal Studies

    Northeastern University, online degree programs, online college, college degree onlineNortheastern University offers an online Master of Legal Studies. Northeastern is an incredible institution, which is why we consider this to be one of the best online masters programs in legal studies that is available. In total, this program requires 30 credits for you to graduate. You have the option to study full-time or part-time based on the demands of your schedule, and you can finish in less than two years.

    Boston, Massachusetts, online master's degreesThis program is open to students of any academic background as long as they hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. You can choose from the available concentrations, which are Business Law, Health Law, Human Resources Law, and Intellectual Property Law. If none of those stand out to you, you can also select your own electives to mold the program into what you want it to be.

    There are two foundations courses that are required, and both of those are Introduction to Legal Studies. There are core courses required, but you will have the opportunity to choose what four classes you’ll take. As you study, you will have plenty of support from the university’s School of Law. Classes are presented asynchronously.

    More Information
  6. MERIT: 250
    View Profile Average Cost: $12,947

    Master of Legal Studies

    Arizona State UniversityArizona State University is a school that we have featured several times in the past for its online degree options, and now it is taking its rightful place among the best online masters programs in legal studies. The university describes this program as a unique advanced degree for those who don’t want to practice law. This program is one of the fastest online masters in legal studies you can earn.

    arizona, online degrees, online learning, online master's programsThere are 30 credits in total, and classes are condensed to just seven and a half weeks each. You could graduate from this program in as little as one year of full-time study based on your circumstances. There are multiple start dates throughout the year and a multitude of concentrations that you can choose from. ASU offers the following degree tracks for this program: Conflict Resolution, Construction Law, Corporate and Health Care Compliance, Criminal Law, HR & Employment Law, Intellectual Property Law, Law & Sustainability, and Sports Law.

    Each concentration consists of four courses; the remaining six courses you take will be part of a prescribed core curriculum. Something that sets this university apart is that the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has ranked among the top ten public law schools nationwide.

    More Information
  7. MERIT: 244
    View Profile Average Cost: $20,003

    Master of Legal Studies

    University of Oklahoma-NormanThe University of Oklahoma offers the first accelerated online Master of Legal Studies to be ranked among the top online legal studies degrees. There are four concentrations that you can choose from with this program, and those are Oil, Gas, and Energy Law; Indigenous Peoples Law; Healthcare Law and; International Business Law. Each of them consists of 32 credits with the exception of the Indigenous People Law track, which consists of 33.

    This accelerated online masters in legal studies program can be completed in as little as 15 months regardless of which track you’re interested in. Something that we particularly liked about the programs offered at this university is that they are each specifically tailored for the area of focus you choose. There is some course overlap here and there; however, each program is completely individual and heavily emphasizes the area you select.

    online college degree, online studyingYou will progress through the program in a cohort that is purposely kept small so that you can receive ample instruction and foster close connections with your classmates. There are two start dates per year for you to choose from and you will take two courses per module as you complete your degree. All of the classes are online and asynchronous, providing flexibility but without sacrificing a highly-interactive atmosphere.

    More Information
  8. MERIT: 243
    View Profile Average Cost: $36,372

    Master of Legal Studies

    Pepperdine University is home to a Master of Legal Studies program that one of many online masters programs offered by the university. Between the ABA accreditation, multiple accolades, and expert faculty, it’s easy to see why this program has placed so high in our ranking of the top online masters in legal studies programs. This particular degree program will require you to attend campus twice for weekend residencies; while that may not be ideal, this campus is located in Malibu.

    malibu, california, pepperdine university, online masters programsThe curriculum for this Master of Legal Studies is very comprehensive. You will take 18 credits worth of core courses that cover everything from Contracts to Criminal Law, Legal Writing, Constitutional Law, and more. The remaining credits that are required are filled in with electives that you choose, allowing you to dig deeper into a certain area that you’re interested in. You can also opt for one of the two available concentrations, which are Dispute Resolution and Human Resources. There are 32 total credits required.

    Pepperdine’s program also offers flexible scheduling options. The average age of students in the program is 38, so the university is well-versed in providing academic opportunities to busy professionals. You can choose from four start dates throughout the year, and you can also choose to study full-time or part-time based on the demands of your schedule. Full-time students can graduate in only 16 months; part-time students will take 28 months to finish.

    More Information
  9. MERIT: 242
    View Profile Average Cost: $25,086

    Master of Jurisprudence

    The University of Tulsa is featured in our ranking of the best online masters in legal studies for the Master of Jurisprudence offered through the College of Law. There are two types of MJ offered online at this school, and those are an online Master of Jurisprudence in Energy Law and an online Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law.

    The Master of Jurisprudence in Energy Law consists of required courses, elective courses, and a thesis. It requires a total of 24 credits for you to graduate. You can choose to take the program at a full-time or part-time pace according to your schedule. The majority of the credits you’ll obtain come from required courses, but you still have the customization allowed by your electives. You could finish the program in 18 to 24 months.

    tulsa, oklahoma, john hope franklin reconciliation parkThe Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law consists of more credits than the other offering, requiring a total of 30 credit hours to complete. This option does not have a thesis, but instead, you will be required to complete a capstone project. Instead of just three electives, you will be able to select four. This program is also available either part-time or full-time and can be completed within a similar timeframe.

    More Information
  10. MERIT: 237
    View Profile Average Cost: $15,758

    Master of Legal Studies

    The University of Arizona offers an online Master of Legal Studies through its James E. Rogers College of Law. Similar to other programs we have ranked among the best online masters in legal studies programs, this degree can be pursued at a full-time or part-time pace. There are 30 credits required for completion and three different start dates so you can get started whenever it works for you.

    There is an impressive selection of concentrations for you to choose from. The concentrations that are currently available include Compliance and Legal Risk Management, Criminal Law and Policy, Family and Juvenile Law, Health Law and Policy, Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, Intellectual Property, International Trade and Business Law, Mining Law and Policy, and Tax Law and Policy.

    law books, online master of legal studies, online master's degree, legal studies The majority of the concentrations start with the same set of core courses that cover legal procedure, legal analysis, writing, the constitution, research, torts, contracts, and more. The core courses account for half of the credits you’ll need. The courses are offered asynchronously online and can be as short as seven and a half weeks or as long as 16. If your schedule and lifestyle allow you to pursue the degree at an aggressive pace, you can graduate in just one year.

    More Information
  11. MERIT: 235
    View Profile Average Cost: $11,486

    Master of Legal Studies

    West Virginia University’s online Master of Legal Studies sets itself apart because online students are eligible for the same tuition rate as in-state students regardless of where they live. WVU’s legal studies program has multiple start dates throughout the year and three concentrations that you can choose from. If you don’t want to take the general program, you can specialize in healthcare, justice systems, or homeland security.

    In total, you will need to complete 30 credits hours in order to earn this degree. The majority of those credits will come from the required courses, which are static regardless of the concentration that you choose. The core curriculum introduces you to the legal system, explores administrative ethics and dispute resolution, and prepares you for in-depth research. Part of the required core is a capstone project.

    Your concentration courses or other electives will make up the remaining nine credits you need. You will take a total of ten classes, and you can finish this legal studies degree in as little as 18 months. All of the classes that you will need are available completely online so that you will never have to attend the campus.

    More Information
  12. MERIT: 232
    View Profile Average Cost: $22,090

    Master in the Study of Law

    Hamline University is home to an online Master in the Study of Law degree program. There are a lot of different options for students interested in this school. You can choose a specialization in Conflict Resolution, Litigation Support, Professional Practice Management, or Social Justice. You can also earn a paralegal certificate online as you study. If you’d like to take at least some classes on campus, you are welcome to do that too; however, there are no on-campus requirements.

    Students are admitted to this legal studies master program in February, June, and September. You can choose to study at a full-time or part-time pace. There are 34 credits required for the completion of this program; 22 of those come from required courses. The core courses will cover subjects in legal writing and research, civil litigation, regulations, and more. You will be required to complete a capstone.

    saint paul, minnesota, hamline university, online master's degrees, legal studies onlineThere is only one class that Hamline University doesn’t currently offer online, and it is Leading in Organizations, which is a requirement for the Professional Practice Management track. All of the other tracks can be taken online in their entirety. Full-time students of this program can expect to complete the paralegal portion in a year (or less!) and have their entire degree in just 18 months.

    More Information
  13. MERIT: 232
    View Profile Average Cost: $34,526

    Master of Jurisprudence; Master of Laws

    Loyola University Chicago happens to offer a significant amount of law degrees online through a partnership between the university’s School of Law and the distance education initiative, Loyola Online. Attorneys can complete a Master of Laws in Health Law, Global Competition Law, or Business and Compliance Law. However, the Master of Jurisprudence programs are what we have ranked among the best online masters in legal studies programs.

    The Master of Jurisprudence at Loyola University Chicago is offered in Children’s Law and Policy, Global Competition Law, Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management, and Health Law. All of the programs require 24 credits with the exception of the LLM in Global Competition Law, which requires only twenty. You can choose either a thesis or non-thesis option for any concentration.

    Chicago, chicago skyline, online collegeEach of the degree tracks offers multiple start dates throughout the year. The legal studies programs at Loyola are all two-year part-time programs. There are some visits to campus required. The Children’s Law and Policy program requires one visit; Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management along with Health Law will require two visits. The curriculum is designed to cover relevant topics to each area in an in-depth manner while allowing you to study on your own time.

    More Information
  14. MERIT: 228
    View Profile Average Cost: $40,977

    Master of Legal Studies

    Drexel University’s online Master of Legal Studies has several concentration areas you can explore. These are Criminal Law, Health Care Compliance, Cybersecurity and Information Privacy Compliance, Higher Education Compliance, Financial Regulatory Compliance, Human Resources Compliance, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Regulatory Compliance, and NCAA Compliance and Sports Law. Something that distinguishes this program from those that are also ranked as the best online masters in legal studies programs is that Drexel allows you to choose two concentrations.

    Graduate certificates are also available in many of the concentration areas, and you can complete those requirements concurrently with your masters in legal studies degree. There are 30 credits required to earn your degree, and you can choose from three different starts dates throughout the year, depending on what is best for you. You can also choose to take the fully-online and asynchronous classes full-time or part-time.

    There are only a few required courses you will take, and those cover compliance, risk assessment, ethics, auditing, and more. You will also be required to complete a capstone project. Just under half of your classes with come from your concentration. You can also select electives on your own to create a custom degree plan that is relevant to your aspirations.

    More Information
  15. MERIT: 227
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,820

    Master of Arts in Law

    Regent UniversityRegent University’s Master of Arts in Law comes from one of the most innovative law schools in the country (according to Prela Magazine), so it’s only natural that it would come in as one of the best online masters programs in legal studies. The most impressive things about Regent’s online law degree, though, is that it has one of the lowest tuition rates among all ABA-accredited institutions.

    There are also more concentrations offered through this university than almost any other. There are a total of 16 different areas that you can specialize in when you choose to earn your legal studies degree online at this school. All of the classes are available online, but you will have the opportunity to visit campus if you would like to in order to take some of the classes you’ll need.

    The program consists of 30 credit hours regardless of the concentration that you choose, and each offers various start dates throughout the year. All of the classes are offered asynchronously online and have been condensed to just eight weeks in length. There is some overlap in classes as you have to study the American legal system, legal thought, and legal research; however, the curriculum is very expertly tailored to the area you select, and you will still get electives as well.

    More Information
  16. MERIT: 224
    View Profile Average Cost: $12,054

    Master of Legal Studies

    UIS, Illinois, online college, online degrees, online masters, online bachelorsThe University of Illinois at Springfield has an online Master of Arts in Legal Studies that offers you small classes and interactive support while remaining flexible and accessible anywhere you happen to be. All of the classes are delivered entirely online, and you will never have to attend campus to earn your degree. One thing to keep in mind about this program is that there are some courses that might be presented synchronously because the professors can conduct their classes however they see fit.

    online degree programs, online master's programsThis online masters in legal studies is a little bit different than most because you will need to complete 40 credits of classes to earn your degree. You will take required classes such as Legal Research and Citation, Theories of Justice, Public Advocacy, and more. You will also be responsible for completing 16 credits of electives that align with your career goals and completing a thesis.

    If you have already taken a Legal Research and Citation course, you will only need 36 credits to graduate. You may also be able to earn credit from clinical education experience; this may only be open to Illinois students; the website does not make this clear.

    More Information
  17. MERIT: 223
    View Profile Average Cost: $23,835

    Master of Arts in Legal Studies

    One of the best online masters programs in legal studies comes from the College of Arts & Sciences at Webster University. This school offers an online Master of Arts in Legal Studies. Students in this program will have the option to complete a graduate certificate in paralegal studies along with the masters curriculum if they so choose. However, there is not much room for individualization beyond that.

    There are 39 total credits required for you to earn your legal studies degree at Webster. If you have yet to take Introduction to Legal Studies, you will need to take that as well to make sure you’re adequately prepared for the rest of the curriculum. If you’re one of those students, you will need 42 credits to graduate. The entire list of classes that you’ll take is predetermined in this program. You will not be able to select any electives.

    online college, online learning, online coursesEven though this program lacks the opportunity to focus your studies, it still has a lot to offer. The classes you’ll take include Computerized Legal Research, American Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, Civil Actions, Criminal Actions, and more.

    More Information
  18. MERIT: 219
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,806

    Master of Jurisprudence

    St. Mary’s University has been included in this ranking of the best online masters degrees in legal studies for its online Master of Jurisprudence. This program is comprised of 30 credits. There are multiple concentrations to choose from, and those are Business and Entrepreneurship Law; Commercial Law; Compliance, Business Law, and Risk and; Health Care Compliance Law. Not all of the offered electives in a concentration will be available online.

    Even though not every class that you could take as your elective requirement can be taken at a distance, there are enough courses offered online that you can still finish your degree without having to attend any traditional classes on campus.

    San Antonio, online college degreesFull-time and part-time options are available, and you could complete your degree in just one year of full-time study. Part-time students can choose their pace, so the timeframe for these students to graduate will vary. You must complete all requirements within three years.

    Every student of this program, regardless of concentration, will take Fundamentals of the American Legal System as well as Legal Research and Writing. Apart from that, while there may be some overlap, the rest of the core classes are designed around your focus area. You will also have the ability to build on that with your electives.

    More Information
  19. MERIT: 216
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,755

    Master of Legal Studies

    California University of Pennsylvania offers the only online Master of Science in Legal Studies that has been ranked along with the top online masters in legal studies programs. Concentrations are offered in Law and Public Policy, Criminal Justice, and Homeland Security. You may also choose to earn a graduate certificate along with your masters in legal studies instead of just adding a concentration.

    This university is an Academic Alliance partner with the FBI National Academy Associates; this means that credits from the academy seamlessly transfer to CalU. The legal studies program is also affiliated with the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association; the benefit of this is that if you’re someone who has earned the Trilogy Award, all of your leadership credits will be awarded.

    college student, studying, online collegeEach concentration has a prescribed list of courses that you will have to take; what’s really great about this legal studies degree is that each class was expertly selected and they all come together to provide you with an in-depth, career-relevant, and applicable education. You will need to complete 30 credits to graduate.

    More Information
  20. MERIT: 214
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,954

    Juris Master; Master of Laws

    Liberty University, online master's programs, online degrees, online learningLiberty University is a very solid institution, so we’re proud to include it in our ranking of the best online masters degrees in legal studies. This university offers you the choice of two different concentrations with the online Juris Master degree. You can specialize in American Legal Studies or International Legal Studies. Both tracks will require you to complete 30 credits in total. This can be done in less than 18 months thanks to the university’s generous transfer policy and its quick courses that are just eight weeks each.

    Liberty University offers you the choice of six start dates throughout the year and offers this program online in its entirety. All of the classes you will take are presented in a flexible asynchronous format. Another flexible component of this program is that you can study full-time or part-time, and you can even take a few classes on campus if you so desire. However, there are no on-campus visits required.

    The American Legal Studies track covers topics such as Contracts Law, Criminal Law, American Business Law, and Law and Economics, as well as several other key components. International Legal Studies courses you may take include International Business Law, International Trade Law, International Law and Diplomacy, and The Law of Armed Conflict. Both concentrations share a foundational set of core classes.

    More Information

What Can I Do with a Degree in Legal Studies?

online masters degrees, online masters in legal studies
A common misconception about degrees in legal studies is that you have to use them as a stepping stone on your path to becoming a lawyer; however, you can also use this type of degree as a launchpad for a number of different careers.

One of the most obvious options that you could go with is pursuing employment at a law firm. You could choose to work as a paralegal, legal assistant, or a legal administrator. Your responsibilities may include doing research for cases, investigating facts of a case, filing legal documents on behalf of the firm, and helping schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions. A legal administrator is a manager of paralegals and legal assistants. Most law firms need these roles filled.

You could also use your masters in legal studies to work in law enforcement. If you’d like to be a corrections officer, police officer, investigator, or even a detective, this degree is one of the ways that you can achieve that. There are going to be different levels of experience required for these jobs, but a degree in legal studies will give you a solid understanding of the law, which is the foundation of each of these positions as you would be responsible for helping to uphold it.

Government positions like that of a judge or hearing officer could also be something to consider with your masters in legal studies. These are all elected positions, and the requirements for each one will vary depending on your state; however, an academic background in legal studies will ensure that you know how the legal system functions. Working in the court system could allow you to have an active role in the legal system without being a lawyer.

Lastly, and probably the most surprising, is that many corporations in other industries would be interested in hiring you. Your masters in legal studies could help you to secure a position in human resource management, customer service, and more. You could work as a researcher or analyst, and you could take the necessary steps to become a teacher, and more. The skills that you will gain while earning a degree in legal studies are ones that are nearly universally applicable.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Masters in Legal Studies?


The average timeframe for earning a master’s degree is between 18 months and two years. The amount of time that it takes you to earn your masters in legal studies is going to vary based on the program that you choose, how many credits you can transfer, how many credits you need to complete, and your schedule.

Online masters programs in legal studies are a great way to accelerate your degree, though. Instead of taking courses in a set format, you may be able to find a program that has condensed courses, allows you to take more courses per term, or has better transfer opportunities for you. Some schools offer credit for experience from work, military training, or somewhere else. There are also universities that have significantly shorter classes that are delivered asynchronously. You could work on your own time instead of being held back by a strict schedule.

Of course, you may be one of those students that need to take a little longer. There is nothing wrong with that, and you will have plenty of options as well. Many online masters in legal studies are offered in part-time formats where you could take as little as one class at a time. Each school is going to have different parameters. Some may allow you more time than others.

Is Legal Studies a Good Major?

online masters in legal studies, online masters programs, online legal studies degree program
Legal studies is a great major! One thing to keep in mind is that whether or not a major is good for you truly depends on what you’d like to do when you enter the professional world. Legal studies programs are not specifically designed to prepare you for law school. Some of them may prepare you for law school, but there are some that won’t tick all of the appropriate boxes. If you’d like to go to law school, you will need to check with the schools you’re looking at to make sure that you are meeting all of the requirements.

Legal studies programs could also prepare you to work as a paralegal; however, they do not provide specific paralegal training. Instead, legal studies programs explore a lot of subjects that will help you to become familiar with the law, legal ideas and institutions, and the legal process in America. These programs will also help you to strengthen your skills in research, communication, critical thinking, and more.

If these things stand out to you and seem like they would be a good fit when it comes to your career aspirations, then legal studies is a great major choice for you.

Is Legal Studies and Criminal Justice The Same?

online masters degrees, online masters in criminal justice, online masters in legal studies
No, legal studies and criminal justice are not the same. There is some overlap in the curriculum, but there are also some key differences between the two. Both degrees can prepare you for careers in law enforcement and other positions within the legal system, but the core of the programs are going to be fundamentally different than one another.

The purpose of a legal studies program is to introduce you to the different moving parts within the legal system and familiarize you with the law. It will also emphasize expanding your skills in analytical thinking, research, and communication.

The purpose of a criminal justice program is to prepare you to work within the criminal justice system. Part of this program will familiarize you with the same concepts as the legal studies program, but you will learn more about criminal behavior, how to deter crime, how to deal with criminals, and things along those lines.

Can You Be a Lawyer With a Masters Degree?

online masters in legal studies, online master's programs, online master's of legal studies
In order to work as a lawyer in the United States, the degree that you need is called a Juris Doctor. You can’t practice law without that specific degree. You also don’t even need a master’s degree in order to earn your Juris Doctor. JD programs accept students with bachelors degrees as long as they have covered all of the prelaw prerequisites. There is no recommended major for law school, though. Instead, there is a set of requirements that will differ between schools.

You also need to take the bar exam and receive a passing score to be a lawyer. Because of what the exact requirements are, you do not need a master’s degree to be a lawyer, and you can not be a lawyer if all you have is a masters degree. This may have you wondering what the point of getting a master’s in law would be. These degree programs still serve their purpose.

If you didn’t complete the requirements for law school with your bachelor’s degree and you want to go into a Juris Doctor program with some experience in the field, a masters in legal studies or a masters in a law-related field would be a good way to accomplish that. You also may need a masters degree if you want to do more than just practice law. If you’d like to teach a course in law or you’d like to work other jobs that are peripheral to being a lawyer are some examples.

The main thing to take away from this is that you can not be a lawyer unless you have a Juris Doctor and that no masters program will prepare you for being a lawyer. However, depending on your goals, this type of degree might be something to consider.

Would You Like More Information?

Online MSL, LLM, online master of legal studies, online master of laws
OnlineCollegePlan has an extensive list of resources for students just like you. If you’re interested in reading some of our other online college rankings related to this one, you may be interested in the following:

If you’re interested in studying online but aren’t interested in an online masters program in legal studies or even a legal career, we have covered many other areas of study. You can check out our entire library of online college rankings or check out the Top 100 Best Online Colleges of 2019.