A Bachelor in Legal Studies degree qualifies you for a career with law firms, government agencies—including law enforcement—and corporations. The degree can also pave the way to graduate studies, especially law school.
A Bachelor in Legal Studies degree can help you pursue such jobs as court administrator, FBI agent, investigator, legal assistant, court clerk, law clerk, immigration and customs inspector, contract administrator, paralegal, and more. Paralegals work in private law offices, government agencies, and corporate legal departments.
Bachelor in Legal Studies degree programs address the organization, process, and function of institutions as they relate to the legal system. The programs typically cover such subjects as the fundamentals and foundations of the law, criminal justice, the court system, legal processes and systems, contracts, legal research, legal writing, law office computer applications, consumer law, the rights of individuals, and more.
Legal Studies Bachelor’s degree program ranking guidelines
We selected these degree programs based on academic excellence, faculty strength, range of courses provided, awards, rankings, and reputation. For a detailed account of how we do rankings at TheBestSchools.org, see “Our Ranking System.”
The Best Legal Studies Bachelor Degree Programs
1. University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh offers a Bachelor in Legal Studies degree which combines law with various social science disciplines. Designed to teach an understanding of the nature, content, and operation of American law, the interdisciplinary degree prepares students for graduate work or entry-level careers in the administration of justice, business, legal studies, and social services, among others.
To complete the Bachelor in Legal Studies program, students must complete 120 credits. In addition to general education requirements, all legal studies majors take Introduction to Legal Studies, Law and Politics, six legal studies electives, and two approved electives from outside departments such as History, Communication, Political Science, or Philosophy.
Although students must complete the majority of the degree on campus, the program does provide some online classes.
U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Pittsburgh #62 in its ranking of the best national universities, while Princeton Review includes the university in its lists for Best Northeastern Colleges, 378 Best Colleges, and Best Value Colleges for 2014 (public).
(New York, NY)
St. John’s University—with campuses in the NYC boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—offers an on-campus, American Bar Association (ABA)–approved Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree which prepares students for graduate work or careers in areas of civil rights litigation, federal and state prosecution and defense, and government agencies.
Students complete 126 credits of core, major-sequence, and elective requirements to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies.
Required courses include Legal Writing and Legal Ethics. Elective choices include classes such as Family Law, Immigration Law, Elder Law, Environmental Law, International Law, and many more.
The department’s Advisory Board includes a law school professor, a federal district judge, attorneys, and legal assistants, through whom exemplary students have connections to hundreds of for-credit internship opportunities.
U.S. News & World Report ranked St. John’s University #152 in its ranking of the best national universities. Princeton Review includes St. John’s University in its lists of Best Northeastern Colleges and 378 Best Colleges.
3. Ball State University
Ball State University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies. The on-campus, ABA-approved degree prepares students for either a career as a paralegal in government or the private sector, or for graduate studies at a law school.
To complete the full legal studies degree, students choose between concentrations in Business or Public Law.
Students pursuing the Business Option complete the general education requirements, plus 69 additional credits consisting of law and businesses classes such as Statistics, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, and Criminal Justice Systems.
Students interested in government, politics, and public policy can take the Public Law Option, which includes general education courses, plus an additional 69 credits of law classes such as Constitutional Liberty, Urban Government, and Environmental Law Policy.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Ball State University #181 in its ranking of the best national universities.
4. University of La Verne
(La Verne, CA)
The University of La Verne’s Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies prepares students for a career as a paralegal. Though the ABA-approved degree is not preparation to practice law, the program provides the organization, analytical skills, and knowledge of law necessary to work in a legal field.
Students in the legal studies degree program must complete 46 credits, in addition to the general education requirements. Thirty-four of the 46 credits are major core classes, such as Legal Research and Writing, Litigation I and II, Torts, and Contracts. Students can select the final 10–12 credits from a list of electives which includes Bankruptcy, Family Law, and a Paralegal Internship.
The university offers adult students aged 25 or older an accelerated Bachelor’s in Legal Studies degree program. Students can attend classes either full-time or part-time. Students have the option of completing some general education classes online.
U.S. News & World Report ranked University of La Verne #161 on its rankings of the best national universities.
5. Webster University
(St. Louis, MO)
Webster University’s Bachelor in Legal Studies degree prepares students for a career as a legal assistant or paralegal. The on-campus, ABA-approved degree program emphasizes the fundamentals of legal reasoning and analysis, legal ethics, and the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as the essential responsibilities of a legal assistant such as legal researching and writing.
In order to complete the 128-credit Bachelor in Legal Studies degree program, students take a combination of general education classes, electives, and required law courses specifically designed to instill a broad understanding of a legal profession. Popular courses include American Constitutional Law, International Law, Computers and the Law, and Legal Ethics.
Webster University students have the opportunity to learn from working industry professionals, many of whom are judges, practicing attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders, and paralegals.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Webster University #21 in its list of best regional (Midwest) universities.
Gannon University’s Legal Studies Program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, as well as an Associate of Arts and a Certificate. The ABA-approved bachelor degree prepares students for entry-level positions in the legal field, law firms, and the criminal justice system.
In addition to the traditional liberal arts courses making up the Gannon University core curriculum, students completing their legal studies degree take courses which cover the State and Federal court system. In these courses, they learn to analyze legal opinions, write effective legal memoranda, conduct effective interviews, and much more.
Due to the university’s easy proximity to the Erie County Courthouse, legal studies students have ample opportunities to observe trials, and/or obtain an internship.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Gannon University #54 in its ranking of best regional (North) universities.
7. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida offers programs leading to either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. These programs are among the largest legal studies programs in the country. The university designed the programs to prepare students to understand the American legal system and the role of attorneys and legal assistants.
Depending upon their specific interests, students may choose to specialize in one of eight offered specializations. Especially popular options include Public Law, Sports and Entertainment Law, and Estates and Property Law.
In addition to the university’s standard core curriculum, and regardless of chosen concentration, all students must take courses in Law and the Legal System, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Civil Practice and Procedure, and Property and Real Estate Law.
Near the end of the program, students participate in a capstone internship in one of a variety of public and private sector law-related organizations. The Legal Studies department also offers a wide range of online courses.
U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Central Florida #170 in its ranking of best national universities, while Princeton Review includes the university in its lists of Best Southeastern Colleges, 378 Best Colleges, and Best Value Colleges (public).
8. University of Alaska Anchorage
The University of Alaska Anchorage offers a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program, which provides students with a broad understanding of the American legal system and prepares them for a lifetime of responsible civic participation. The university designed the ABA-approved degree for people interested in a paralegal career.
The 120-credit bachelor’s degree includes required courses such as Development of Law, Legal Ethics, and The Courts. Students also have the opportunity of taking classes from a long list of electives, which includes Aviation Law and Regulations, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Movies and the First Amendment, and many more.
Students take a three-unit capstone course in the final semester. Bachelor’s in Legal Studies program students must successfully pass the Legal Studies Exit Exam.
Although most classes are available both on-campus and online, students must complete at least 30 credits in residence.
U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Alaska Anchorage #71 on its ranking of best regional (West) universities.
9. Morehead State University
Morehead State University offers an ABA-approved Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree. The university designed the program to develop students’ understanding of legal knowledge and the skills necessary to work successfully.
Students work closely with their attorney-professors throughout the 120-credit bachelor degree program.
Students must take classes in Math, Life Science, and Humanities, plus required core classes such as Introduction to Law and Ethics, Pretrial Litigation, and Legal Research and Writing. Students can take electives or classes chosen as a concentration in their final four semesters.
Legal studies students participate in a variety of community projects, which include staffing pro se divorce clinics, wills clinics, and working with elementary through high school-aged students on mock trial events.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Morehead University #59 on its ranking of best regional (South) universities.
10. Washburn University
Washburn University offers an on-campus Bachelor of Legal Studies degree. The degree requires 110 total credits, including general education courses in the Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.
Degree core requirements include Legal Research, Legal Writing, Litigation, Interviewing & Investigation, and a semester-long internship.
Students can choose from a list of concentration-specific classes, which includes Technology and Society, Philosophy of Law, American State and Local Government, Constitutional Law I & II, Corporate Law, Family Law, and many more.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Washburn University #77 in its ranking of best regional (Midwest) universities.
Saint Joseph’s University offers an ABA-approved Bachelor in Legal Studies degree grounded in a liberal arts education.
The university designed the degree for students interested in a career as a paralegal, and also for people seeking a bachelor degree to benefit their current position. Students can complete the program with both a B.S. in Legal Studies and a paralegal certificate.
The program covers evaluating problems, researching solutions, and presenting persuasive arguments in person and on paper.
Although students must take most of the required Bachelor in Legal Studies classes at the campus in Philadelphia, Saint Joseph’s offers a number of its general education, liberal arts courses online.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Joseph’s University #11 in its ranking of best regional (North) universities.
Champlain College offers a Bachelor in Legal Studies degree designed for students preparing for law school and a career as an attorney. The versatile, ABA-approved program reviews a variety of legal areas, including contract negotiation and preparation, real estate law, family law, estate planning, property crime, law research, and more.
With Champlain’s “Upside-Down Curriculum,” students take Introduction to Law, Criminal Law, American National Government, and at least two other Legal Studies major courses, all in their first year. This unique curriculum system allows Champlain students to build a competitive résumé faster than their peers at other schools. As an added bonus, all Legal Studies students spend a semester studying at one of the college’s sister campuses in Montreal, Canada, or Dublin, Ireland.
The college provides legal studies internship opportunities.
The Bachelor in Legal Studies degree program covers subjects such as real estate, mortgage & foreclosures; contract negotiations & preparation; estate planning; family law & child custody; personal & property crime; civil & criminal litigation procedures; and statutory & case law research.
The on-campus, Bachelor in Legal Studies major at University of Illinois Springfield attracts student interested in law in the social context. Graduates of this program go on to careers as social workers, lobbyists, union representatives, personnel administrators, law enforcement officials, court administrators, and more.
The Legal Studies program offers students two choices of concentrations: the general legal studies concentration and the legal assistant concentration. Students interested in the legal studies concentration take a variety of classes which take a unique, liberal arts approach to legal studies, while students interested in the legal assistant concentration take classes focused on the knowledge and skills needed for a successful paralegal career.
Students in both concentrations must take a variety of general education and major core classes.
U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Illinois Springfield #28 in its ranking of best regional (Midwest) universities.
(Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Nova Southeastern University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies through its Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences. The university designed the major for students preparing for law school or other graduate work, or for those interested in a legal perspective in a humanities degree.
The Bachelor’s in Legal Studies degree includes 140 credits of general education and major core requirements. Additionally, students complete 24 credits from their choice of either the Pre-Law or International Law tracks.
Throughout the degree program, students also have the opportunity to participate in a number of special programs, which include visits from judges, attorneys, and prosecutors. The university offers the Legal Studies degree program on campus both during the day and in the evening.
Students planning to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in law may participate in the school’s Dual Admission Program, which enables qualified undergraduates to obtain early acceptance into the university’s competitive graduate degree program.
15. Dominican University
(River Forest, IL)
Dominican University offers a comprehensive, 100-percent online Legal Studies bachelor’s degree. The online program includes 120 credits.
The program reviews the American justice system and legal terminology. Additionally, students choose two concentrations from options such as paralegal studies, public administration, criminal justice, and others.
The program covers subjects such as legal writing, legal research, the ethical obligations and limitations of legal professionals, and the software applications commonly used in legal settings. The program also reviews specific areas of law, including civil litigation, criminal law and procedure, employment law, real estate law, estate planning, family law business law, and administrative law.
Students can complete the online Bachelor in Legal Studies degree in as few as two years. Students are able to complete their classes at any time, from anywhere, and at their own pace.
16. Wilmington University
Wilmington University offers an ABA-approved Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Studies. The degree program aims to prepare students for careers in legal fields—as well as in government, human resources, and banking—by providing them with a solid foundation of liberal arts and legal studies.
To obtain the legal studies degree, students must complete the 120-credit curriculum consisting of general education, general studies concentration, legal studies core, and electives.
Required courses include Public Speaking, American Politics, Legal Ethics, and subject-specific classes on a variety of legal concentrations such as Constitution Law, Family Law, Real Estate Law, and more. Students also have the opportunity to compete for coveted internship positions in law offices, corporations, and other industries involving legal services.
Although students must complete the majority of the degree at either the New Castle or the Dover campus, most of the general education courses, and many of the legal studies courses, are available in a convenient and flexible online format.
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is among the largest distance-learning universities in the world. A member of the University System of Maryland, UMUC specializes in distance learning for military and adult, non-traditional students.
Focused specifically on the responsibilities of the paralegal in the legal system, UMUC’s Bachelor of Legal Studies degree emphasizes legal analysis, writing, drafting, and research. The university designed the degree for people interested in paralegal work and for those already working in a legal field who seek to further their education.
The legal studies degree requires successful completion of 120 credits, including 41 general education credits, 33 credits from major core classes such as Media and Society, Introduction to Law, Legal Ethics, and Techniques of Legal Research, and 46 credits from a combination of minor classes and electives.
Towards the end of the degree, students must also successfully complete a capstone course, usually consisting of an internship or other advanced professional practice.
18. American Military University
(Charles Town, WV)
American Military University—which is a part of the American Public University system—designed the online Bachelor in Legal Studies degree for students interested in a social sciences perspective on government, civil and criminal processes, legal systems, and the theory and philosophy of justice.
Students at American Military University complete 122 credits consisting of general education, major core, a required introduction to online learning, electives, and a final program requirement that students take during their final semester.
The program provides students with a solid working knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other amendments, the fundamentals of legal writing and citation, the present-day American court systems, family law, criminal law, and much more.
19. Virginia Intermont College
Virginia Intermont College’s Legal Studies program uses an interdisciplinary approach to provide students planning on continuing on to law school with a solid introduction to legal systems in both the private and public sectors. The program’s focus on developing logic and analytical reasoning skills prepares students for a successful transition to law school or a graduate program.
The program offers two majors: Pre-Law Concentration and Legal Studies: Criminal Justice Concentration.
Virginia Intermont offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. Though the major core classes vary based on the student’s choice of degree, both degrees require coursework in ethics, economics, criminal law, government, and political science.
Students can gain experience through various internship opportunities at local law offices and other legal service agencies. Some students receive permission for independent study and the opportunity of a research practicum.
20. Post University
Post University’s online Bachelor in Legal Studies degree prepares students for careers in business and government. The university designed the program for students seeking a flexible, accelerated program.
Students can complete the Legal Studies degree entirely online. The program combines the convenience and flexibility of an online program with the strengths of a traditional university education.
The university offers each online class in an eight-week module, six times a year.
The Legal Studies degree program includes classes such as Civil Litigation Practice, Real Estate Law & Practice, Family Law & Practice, Legal Research, Business Organizations & Practice, Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law, and Environmental Law & Practice.
This accelerated program makes it possible for students to receive a quality education in less time than would a more traditional program.
21. Berkeley College
Berkeley College—which has 10 campuses throughout New Jersey and the New York City area—designed the Bachelor’s in Legal Studies degree program to prepare students interested in legal support careers in fields such as government, non-profit organizations, regulatory offices, and other law-related careers.
Students in the Legal Studies degree program can choose to concentrate in law firm administration, health and elder law, or business law. In addition to four subject-specific classes, each concentration focuses on the development of critical reasoning and analysis, communication, writing, research, and other skills necessary for a successful career.
Required classes include Law and the Humanities, Social Justice Philosophies, and Public Speaking, among others.
Berkeley College provides a 100-percent online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies degree, as well as traditional degree programs at many of the college’s 10 campuses.
Kaplan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree program which introduces students to a variety of topics relating to legal theory and practice to prepare students for a successful transition into law school.
Kaplan’s unique, 180-credit curriculum allows students to customize their education to a specific focus or interest. The program includes courses such as Legal Ethics, Constitutional Law, and Legal Philosophy. The program also includes introductory classes on such topics as torts, legal research, and legal analysis and writing.
Students have at least eight opportunities throughout the course of the degree to choose from a lengthy list of elective options. Students finish with a capstone course which usually consists of some type of research opportunity.
Students who already have an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree have the option to take the Advanced Start Track—a 90-credit curriculum which cuts out general education requirements and some other basic courses.
Students can complete the Bachelor in Legal Studies degree online, or at one of school’s 11 campuses throughout the Midwest.
Herzing University offers a Legal Studies Bachelor’s degree program which prepares students for entry-level positions in legal assistance, legal administration, or business management, as well as for entry into law school.
The 126-credit program combines a selection of core business courses, legal theory, and political science courses, as well as general education courses. It is a unique curriculum designed to provide students with a solid foundation of legal, ethical, technical, and communication skills.
Required classes include Introduction to Management, Administrative Law, Torts, Contract Law, Civil Litigation, and a number of others.
Herzing University offers this degree as a hybrid on-campus/online program; however, students completing their degree in New Orleans or Atlanta must complete the entire degree on-campus in a traditional classroom setting.
Herzing University has 11 campuses nationwide in the U.S., as well as four campuses in Canada.
University of West Florida offers an on-campus Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the American legal system and to prepare them for law school.
The 120 credits required to complete the Legal Studies bachelor degree consists of general education courses, lower division electives, major core courses, and major-related electives. Some of the major core courses include Legal Research and Writing, Evidence, and Law and Society, while some of the major-related electives include Social Psychology, Argumentation and Debate, and The Founders’ Constitution
Students also have the opportunity to earn credits through field study, internships, or directed study.
Regardless of post-graduation goals, all students work closely with a Legal Studies adviser, a faculty member and working attorney who can help them plan their programs to reach their individual goals.
Whether students’ goals include law school or a law-related position, Brandman University’s Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program provides the solid political-science foundation necessary to understanding law in a democratic society.
Students need a minimum of 120 credits to complete the Legal Studies degree. In addition to general education, students take a series of major core and Legal Studies electives.
Required courses include History of Political Philosophy, Constitutional Government, White Collar Crime, Police and Society, and a number of others.
To complete the degree, students must also complete a social science capstone course.
Brandman University offers a completely online Bachelors in Legal Studies degree program and the program is also available at most of its campus locations, which number some 27 throughout California and Washington state.