Learning the Legal System with a Legal Studies Degree

Online bachelor's degrees in legal studies give learners foundational knowledge about the legal system in the United States. These programs are perfect for anyone interested in law enforcement, criminal justice, or legal careers. Students can work while earning their degrees online.

Although graduates cannot practice law as attorneys, they do have the skills to thrive as paralegals, law enforcement officers, court clerks, and mediators. Institutions that offer undergraduate legal studies degrees online are often some of the best pre-law schools, as these degrees help applicants stand out on law school applications.

Featured Legal Studies Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs

  1. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL



    Founded in 1963, UCF operates as a public university with about 72,000 students and confers 17,000 degrees annually.

    UCF offers an online bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in legal studies for students interested in pursuing a career path in the justice system. The 120-credit program prepares students for roles as an attorney, paralegal, legal assistant, court reporter, or other legal professions. Both programs are offered completely online and may be finished in four years.

  2. University of California-Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA



    Founded in 1868, Berkeley, part of the University of California system, offers 184 academic departments and programs including an online bachelor's in legal studies.

    The bachelor of arts in legal studies program provides an interdisciplinary approach to law and legality as it relates to political, economic, and cultural forces. Students explore various theories and frameworks, historic context, and the cultural prevalence of law.

    The program requires the completion of four prerequisites and an option to go the honors college route. Graduates culminate their studies with upper-division courses and an optional capstone project.

  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Madison, WI



    Located in Madison, Wisconsin, and founded in 1848 in the Midwestern United States, UW offers access to its world-renowned faculty through 238 different undergraduate majors and certificates.

    UW provides its 31,000-plus undergraduate students a chance to explore the legal realm with its bachelor of arts in legal studies program. The curriculum focuses on five major themes: legal institutions, processes of legal order and disorder, law and social forces, law and culture, and law and theory. To enroll, students must complete three prerequisite classes in communications, quantitative reasoning, and a UW gateway course.

  4. California University of Pennsylvania

    California, PA



    Founded in 1852, Cal U offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and features an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

    Cal U offers a 100% online bachelor of arts degree in jurisprudence with a legal studies concentration. Students obtain valuable skills for the legal fields including the ability to interpret and analyze legal materials, conduct legal research, evaluate crimes, and identify how law and legislation affect communities.

    The program prepares students for career roles as paralegals, court personnel, law enforcement professionals, or real estate and business roles. Graduates also may explore a path in law school studies.

  5. SUNY College of Technology at Canton

    Canton, NY



    SUNY Canton, founded in 1906, offers more than 30 bachelor's degrees, with over 450 courses available online.

    SUNY Canton's bachelor of science in legal studies degree offers students a chance to explore legal research and writing through its online program. Designed for high school graduates, paralegal studies transfer students, criminal justice transfer students, or working professionals, the program focuses on law areas such as business law, constitutional law, and family law.

    Students may choose to opt into an internship course while also taking classes in the areas of civil litigation, trusts and estates, wills, property law, and negligence and international torts.

Best Online Programs

Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online legal studies degree programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation.

What Is Legal Studies?

The legal system is complex and requires many types of professionals. Legal studies degrees give students foundational knowledge of the many parts of the U.S. legal system. Students learn about policy-making, law enforcement, civil law, and legal ethics.

The legal system is complex and requires many types of professionals.

The legal studies major represents an intersection of social sciences, criminology, economics, and political science. This broad curriculum prepares graduates to fill many positions in the legal field, all of which have tangible impacts on the community. These professionals can work for governments, nonprofit organizations, or private law firms. PayScale reports that graduates with these degrees earn an average of $60,000 annually.

Because the legal field is so widespread, some schools offer specialization or certification options for legal studies students. These options allow students to understand a particular area of law and get noticed when they apply for work in those fields.

What Is a Bachelor's in Legal Studies?

As with most bachelor's programs, earning a bachelor's degree in law requires students to complete core courses across several disciplines in addition to classes in the major. While schools design their own curricula, learners who choose the legal studies major often take courses in legal ethics, constitutional law, legal writing, and negotiation.

Some universities offer concentrations or specializations like paralegal studies, pre-law, business law, and law office management. These concentrations build on skills in foundational legal courses to better prepare graduates for specific career paths. For example, learners who choose business law specializations may take courses in employment and transactional law. These courses prepare them to work in the legal departments of major corporations.

Some legal studies degrees require candidates to complete capstone courses in which they use their newfound skills to complete major projects.

How Long Does a Bachelor's in Legal Studies Take?

Typically, a student must complete 120 credits to earn a bachelor's degree in law or legal studies. For a full-time student, this process takes four years. However, many factors can impact how long it takes a learner to finish these programs.

Many online legal studies programs use accelerated terms that last four, six, or eight weeks. This schedule allows students to take just one course at a time and graduate quickly. Candidates with previous college experience may be able to transfer their credits and earn their degrees in less time than new students.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degree?

Earning a bachelor's in legal studies is the first step to becoming a licensed attorney. After graduating with undergraduate law degrees, students may enroll in law programs, earn their Juris doctorates, pass bar exams, and become practicing attorneys. After gaining plenty of experience, some attorneys become judges.

While lawyers and judges are some of the most visible legal professionals, the field includes many other positions, including entry-level jobs. Paralegals provide research and writing support for licensed attorneys, and a bachelor's in legal studies can help graduates qualify for these positions. Some programs prepare learners to sit for paralegal certification exams, which help them stand out as applicants for paralegal positions.

Graduates can find employment opportunities in many other organizations, including law enforcement agencies, courtrooms, private businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Below are some positions that legal studies majors commonly fill after graduation.

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Bachelor's in Legal Studies Jobs

The most common positions for legal studies graduates include paralegal, mediator, and court reporter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for these professions is projected to grow at above-average rates between 2018 and 2028.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Legal assistants and paralegals support attorneys in a variety of ways. Depending on the scope of the position and the needs of the supervising lawyers, these professionals might investigate case facts, research laws related to a case, and maintain files. The BLS reports the following median salary and employment outlook for paralegals and legal assistants.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


Legal assistants and paralegals who work for the federal government, finance organizations, or insurance companies earn above-average salaries.

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

These professionals carry out negotiations between two or more parties who are in legal disputes. They resolve issues by helping parties find mutual ground and come to an agreement without going to trial. They may specialize in divorce, custody disputes, civil lawsuits, or employment issues. The BLS reports stable growth in this sector.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


Court Reporters

These legal professionals provide word-for-word transcriptions of courtroom proceedings. They sit in courtrooms during trials, administrative hearings, and depositions, recording what happens on the record. Having bachelor's degrees in legal studies gives court reporters the understanding of terminology and proceedings that they need to perform well. Court reporters also need excellent typing and listening skills.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


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