Best Online Master’s in Legal Studies
Updated August 22, 2022
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Are Legal Studies Designed for NonLawyers?
A master's in legal studies degree prepares students for a variety of professional roles working with the government and in other fields.
Many law schools offer master's programs in legal studies designed for nonlawyers seeking an advanced understanding of the laws, regulations, and legal procedures that impact businesses and organizations.
It's important to note that a legal studies degree does not qualify graduates to represent clients or practice as attorneys. Instead, graduates can apply their legal expertise to roles like a realtor, human resources specialist, court employee, or small business owner.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that several careers suited for legal studies graduates will experience significant growth between 2019-2029. For instance, jobs for real estate brokers are projected to grow 2% and jobs for mediators are projected to grow 8%.
This guide covers important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates. It also ranks the best online master's in legal studies programs.
Featured Online Schools
What Is an Online Master's in Legal Studies Degree?
An online master's in law studies is a relatively new graduate discipline offered by university law schools. In these programs, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework in which businesses and organizations operate, examining topics like legal research and writing, contracts, and civil procedure.
Legal studies graduates can apply their knowledge of the legal system to careers in fields like human resources management, compliance, and consulting.
Choosing an Online Program
Students should consider several factors when researching prospective online master of legal studies programs, including tuition costs, on-campus requirements, and course delivery format.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Legal Studies Program?
A master's in legal studies typically begins with introductory courses, followed by core courses on topics like compliance, legal writing, and litigation. Students may also take electives or pursue concentrations in areas such as business law, dispute resolution, or human resources law.
Legal Studies Curriculum
- Regulation and Compliance: This course introduces students to the lawmaking process and the ways that administrative agencies interpret and apply laws. Coursework may also examine corporate compliance programs, including challenges faced by companies, key compliance roles, and various compliance-related processes.
- Mediation: This course explores mediation theories and practices. Students develop proficiency as mediators through simulations and other experiential exercises that address legal, ethical, and public policy issues.
- Contract Drafting: This course develops the skills needed to evaluate and draft legally binding contract documents. Students examine the various components of a contract and how they work together. Coursework emphasizes meeting the needs and goals of clients.
Careers in Law
While an online master's in legal studies degree does not qualify individuals to practice as lawyers, graduates can pursue law school to gain the credentials necessary to work as attorneys. They can also work in areas like compliance, consulting, and administration. We cover several common careers for graduates below.
Lawyers advise and represent individual clients, businesses, and government agencies during legal disputes. Lawyers may specialize in a certain type of law, such as environmental, intellectual property, family, or tax law. Common job duties include conducting research and analysis, communicating with clients, and filing legal documents.
Lawyers typically need a juris doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. To practice, lawyers must also pass licensure exams, meet state requirements, and participate in continuing education. This career requires keen analytical, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.
Paralegals help support the work of lawyers by maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents. Job duties vary by legal field, but these professionals often investigate cases, write reports, gather evidence, and communicate with clients.
Entry-level positions require at least an associate degree in paralegal studies, but many employers prefer to hire graduates with a bachelor's degree. Paralegals need strong communication, organization, and research skills.
Compliance officers examine, evaluate, and investigate an organization's conformity with laws and regulations. These professionals work in industries like finance, taxation, occupational health and safety, construction and building, and agriculture. Common job duties include examining permits, licenses, and applications; issuing written notices of code violations; and maintaining inspection records.
Most compliance officers hold at least a bachelor's degree, but many employers prefer candidates with a master's degree in a relevant discipline, such as accounting, finance, or legal studies. These professionals need strong leadership, ethical decision-making, writing, and public speaking skills.
The Best Online Master’s in Legal Studies Programs
Online Master's in Legal Studies Programs Ranking Guidelines
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in Legal Studies Program?
In general, an online master's in law studies takes approximately one year of full-time study to complete.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Legal Studies?
Master of legal studies programs give nonlawyers a thorough understanding of American law and the legal system. Graduates commonly work in industries like consulting, compliance, and management/administration.
How Much Do You Make as a Lawyer?
According to the BLS, lawyers earn a median salary of $122,960. However, earnings vary significantly by law field, geographic location, and employer.
What Is a Lawyer?
Lawyers are trained professionals who advise clients and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies in legal disputes. Most lawyers work in private and corporate legal offices.
What Is a Master's in Legal Studies?
A master's in legal studies is a relatively new degree aimed at professionals who need working knowledge of the law but are not seeking to become attorneys or lawyers themselves.
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