The Best Bachelor's Programs in Legal Studies

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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.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs 2020

#1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#2 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
#3 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
#4 Stevenson University Stevenson, MD
#5 Dominican University River Forest, IL
#6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#7 SUNY College of Technology at Canton Canton, NY
#8 Missouri Western State University Saint Joseph, MO
#9 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
#10 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD

Best Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Programs

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Stevenson University 

Stevenson, MD Apply Now

About this school

Established as Villa Julie College in 1947, Stevenson adopted its current name in 2008. Stevenson provides more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 2,700 students annually. It offers 27 online, career-focused degrees designed for working professionals.

Stevenson's online bachelor's in legal studies is the only four-year legal studies program in Maryland approved by the American Bar Association. It integrates synchronous, scheduled classes with asynchronous online work. Throughout the program, learners build specialized skills that they can later use as essential members of legal teams. Students build a comprehensive understanding of investigatory processes and trial procedures and learn to conduct legal research and writing, interview witnesses, and investigate cases.

Required classes include business organizations and law, contract law, and civil litigation and pleading. As part of elective options, students can focus on an aspect of law, such as corporate law, law office technology, or litigation.

To apply, candidates need at least 15 transfer credits, and students can transfer up to 70 credits from a community college or up to 90 credits from a four-year institution. Stevenson awards up to 30 prior learning credits for previous work and life experiences. Each applicant submits transcripts and a personal statement for consideration.

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Private Non Profit
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Dominican University 

River Forest, IL Apply Now

About this school

Established by the Sinsinawa Dominican Catholic Sisters in 1901, Dominican moved from its initial home in Wisconsin to its current campus in 1922. Dominican offers more than 75 undergraduate and graduate programs, all steeped in Dominican belief and tradition, to over 2,100 students annually.

Dominican's online bachelor of professional studies in legal studies is a degree-completion program. Students can complete the accelerated, interdisciplinary degree in just 20 months.

The legal studies curriculum at Dominican builds an understanding of the American legal system by incorporating various perspectives. Enrollees explore economics, philosophy, theology, and history as they relate to law, with additional emphasis on legal ethics. Major courses include legal research and writing, religion and the law, philosophical basis of the law, and contract law.

Within the 120-credit program, learners can declare up to two concentrations. Options include criminal justice, paralegal studies, labor relations, and public administration. Learners can also specialize in disability advocacy, law and social justice, and sustainability studies.

Applicants need at least 30 credits of previous college coursework to apply to the legal studies program. Dominican accepts up to 90 transfer credits from four-year institutions and up to 68 credits from community colleges.

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Private Non Profit
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Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA Apply Now

About this school

With more than 700 undergraduate and graduate programs offered through 15 academic schools and colleges, Liberty teaches all of its programs with an evangelical Christian perspective. Founded by Jerry Falwellin 1971, Liberty enrolls over 100,000 students annually, both on campus and online.

Liberty's online bachelor of science in law and policy includes 120 credits of coursework. Students can complete the program in under three years, depending upon how many transfer credits they have. As learners explore the foundations of legal processes and policy implementation, they can specialize in pre-law or public policy.

The concentration in pre-law qualifies students to continue to law school after graduation. Coursework focuses on legal ethics, American constitutional history and law, and legal research and writing. The curriculum hones critical thinking skills through classes in advanced logic and legal reasoning, which prepares students for the LSAT exam.

The public policy concentration also builds logic and reasoning competencies, while training students in legal research and writing, persuasive communication, and public policy advocacy and implementation.

Applicants must submit previous transcripts and a high school self-certification form for consideration. Liberty awards up to 90 transfer credits toward the law and policy degree.

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Private Non Profit
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SUNY College of Technology at Canton 

Canton, NY Apply Now

About this school

Chartered as the first postsecondary college in New York in 1906, SUNY Canton became part of the SUNY System in 1987. SUNY Canton offers over 50 undergraduate programs through three academic schools to roughly 3,200 students each year. Enrollees benefit from cross-registration agreements with regional institutions, such as Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, and SUNY Potsdam.

SUNY Canton's online bachelor of science in legal studies accommodates first-year college students and working professionals. As the only four-year undergraduate legal studies degree within the SUNY system, the program includes business law, criminal practice, legal research, and advanced legal writing.

Learners meet their personal and professional goals by pursuing electives in immigration law and border control, environmental law, and trial courts and rules of evidence. SUNY Canton's online legal studies degree also incorporates an internship option. Degree-seekers can gain practical experience working in a legal setting, gaining insight into the business and operational aspects of the field. An individual who opts out of the internship completes a senior research project instead.

SUNY Canton participates in a 3+3 program with the University of Buffalo School of Law, creating a pathway to earning both degrees in six years.

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Public Non Profit
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Percent Receiving Loans

Missouri Western State University 

Saint Joseph, MO Apply Now

About this school

MWSU was founded as St. Joseph Junior College in 1915 and joined the Missouri State University System in 1977. Today, MWSU offers undergraduate and graduate programs through seven academic schools and colleges, with additional seminars, conferences, and workshops designed to enhance its student-centered learning community.

The university's online bachelor of science in criminal justice builds foundational understanding of criminal justice administration, law enforcement and corrections, and court processes, and it offers a legal studies concentration. As part of this 120-credit degree, students complete core classes in criminal law and investigation, criminal theory, and research in criminal justice.

In the legal studies concentration, students gain insight into the principles and purposes of legal institutions and operations. Required legal studies coursework includes litigation, criminal procedure, and legal drafting. Degree-seekers use 12 credits of electives to study topics such as civil rights law, victimology, juvenile law and procedure, and criminal evidence.

Each enrollee participates in an applied learning requirement by completing an internship, qualitative analysis, or practicum. This online criminal justice degree with a concentration in legal studies also includes a senior capstone project.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts or equivalent and SAT or ACT scores for consideration. Transfer students must provide documentation from all previous college coursework.

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Public Non Profit
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Bellevue University 

Bellevue, NE Apply Now

About this school

Currently home to four academic colleges, BU first opened its doors in 1966. The university serves roughly 9,000 students annually at locations in four states and online, offering undergraduate and graduate programs with both accelerated and traditional formats.

BU's online bachelor's in legal studies comprises 127 credits of coursework. The curriculum integrates coursework in political science and criminal justice with focused classes in judicial systems, law and policy, and ethics.

Forty credits of major courses emphasize the theory and practice of law, judicial and administrative practices, and the rule and role of law in matters of life and death. Learners build knowledge and skills applicable to careers as legal assistants or paralegals. The degree also meets the needs of students preparing for law school.

All undergraduate enrollees at BU must complete nine additional credits as part of its Kirkpatrick Signature Series. This series highlights institutions and traditions of Western Civilization that contributed to the creation of the United States while also highlighting active citizenship and civic engagement.

Applicants to this cohort-based degree-completion program need at least 60 credits of previous college coursework or an associate degree to be considered.

School Type
Private Non Profit
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Percent Receiving Loans

University of Maryland-University College 

Adelphi, MD Apply Now

About this school

UMGC is dedicated to providing affordable, quality higher education to individuals around the world. Serving working professionals and military service members since 1947, UMGC continues that tradition by offering more than 90 online degrees and certificate programs.

UMGC's online bachelor's in legal studies includes 120 credits of coursework. Learners conduct legal research, draft documents, and synthesize relevant information while studying legal concepts and procedures applicable to careers in legal environments.

Major courses include 33 credits in legal ethics, domestic relations, litigation, and advanced legal practices. The advanced legal practices class is a capstone course, where learners create a portfolio demonstrating the integration of their coursework with their practical experience.

Enrollees also complete 46 credits of elective coursework. Potential electives include estates and probate and administrative law. Learners can also participate in a workplace learning experience in a legal environment by completing a series of assignments that parallel their work activities.

Learners can transfer up to 90 credits into the legal studies bachelor's degree at UMGC. Applicants must submit transcripts for consideration.

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Public Non Profit
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Ranking Methodology
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.

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.

Paralegal Careers Legal Assistant Careers

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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