Best Online Master's in Legal Studies Degree Programs

Explore the top schools with online legal studies master's degree programs and find out what concentrations are often available. Learn what to look for when choosing a school as well as what types of jobs you may qualify for after graduation. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Top Schools for Online Legal Studies Master's Programs

To determine the best schools for online legal studies master's degree programs, you should consider factors such as admissions requirements, accreditation, cost and flexibility. Listed below are the top 20 schools with online programs for master's degrees in legal studies.

1. University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Norman, OK $8,577

The University of Oklahoma Norman campus was founded in 1890 and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school offers an online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program that consists of 24 credit hours and allows students to select from four concentration areas:

  • Oil, gas and energy law
  • Healthcare Law
  • Indigenous peoples law
  • International business law

Students can customize their learning experience and choose from a list of available courses to meet the program's curriculum requirements, including concentration courses, core courses, and foundational legal courses. In-state students have a tuition fee of $524 per credit, and out-of-state students have a tuition fee of $919 per credit for the 2019-2020 academic year.

2. Purdue University Global

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Indianapolis, IN $11,414

Purdue University Global is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is part of the Purdue University system, which was founded in 1869. The Global campus offers a variety of online programs and resources to online students, including career counseling and individual advising. The school offers an online Master of Science in Legal Studies program that consists of 10-week terms, 55 credit hours, and a tuition rate of $420 per credit hour, as reported in March 2020. Students can choose from various electives to customize their education and complete their program with either an exam or research project.

3. Texas A & M University - College Station

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
College Station, TX $9,812

Texas A & M University at College Station is the main campus for the Texas A & M University system and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school was founded in 1876 and offers two online legal studies degrees, a 30-credit Master of Jurisprudence program and a 24-credit Master of Laws program for foreign-educated lawyers, each of which offer concentration options as shown below:

  • Master of Jurisprudence
    • Risk Management
    • International Tax
    • Energy, Oil and Gas Law
    • Wealth Management
    • Health Law and Policy
  • Master of Laws
    • Risk Management
    • International Tax
    • Wealth Management

For the 2019-2020 school year, students of each program have a tuition rate beginning at $1,230 (in-state) or $1,498 (out-of-state) per credit.

4. The University of Alabama

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Tuscaloosa, AL $10,780

The University of Alabama has been providing college programs for nearly 175 years and is accredited by the SACSCOC. The school offers two online legal studies master's degree programs, which each have a tuition rate of $1,735 per credit hour for all students for the 2019-2020 school year.

  • Master of Laws - This 24-credit program is suited for lawyers seeking to increase their understanding in a specific area of law, offering concentration options in business transactions and taxation.
  • Juris Master - This 30-credit program has a concentration in taxation and is open to non-lawyers, such as business and accounting professionals.

5. Nova Southeastern University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,620

Nova Southeastern University has been offering college programs since 1964 and is currently considered a high research institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The school is accredited by the SACSCOC and offers two online legal studies programs.

  • Master of Laws - Students can earn an LLM with a concentration in intellectual property, cybersecurity, and technology law online in as little as one year, with a tuition rate of $1,450 per credit hour for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Master of Science in Law - The Master of Science in Law program has a tuition rate of $711 per credit hour, can be completed in two years, and offers four concentration options:
    • Health Law
    • Education Law
    • Law and Policy
    • Employment Law

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL $11,553
7 Western New England University Springfield, MA $24,318
8 Widener University Chester, PA $22,600
9 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ $12,134
10 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $8,333
11 Stetson University DeLand, FL $17,369
12 Champlain College Burlington, VT $14,310
13 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA $34,995
14 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL $11,486
15 Hamline University Saint Paul, MN $9,257
16 Hodges University Naples, FL $13,280
17 Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis, MO $52,875
18 University of Tulsa Tulsa, OK $22,720
19 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA $33,820
20 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC $39,176

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition represents the 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Legal Studies Master's Degree Programs

There are a few different types of legal studies master's degree programs that are available online, some of which are noted below.

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) - These programs are open to a variety of students, many of which work in fields relating to their MLS concentration (such as taxation or business). Depending on the school offering the program, they can be referred to by several names, such as:

  • Master of Legal Studies
  • Master of Studies in Law
  • Master of Science in Legal Studies
  • Master of Jurisprudence
  • Juris Master

Master of Laws (LLM) - These programs are open to students who already have a degree in law and enable them to increase their knowledge relating to a specific area of law.

Admissions Requirements

MLS and equivalent programs require students to have a bachelor's degree but usually accept a variety of degree fields. Depending on the school, students may need to earn a qualifying score on a graduate entrance exam (such as the GRE or GMAT). Students interested in earning an LLM usually need to have a Juris Doctor. Some schools also require applicants to have one or two years of work experience as attorneys. In other cases, work experience may only be preferred.

Concentrations Available

Many MLS and similar programs offer concentration options so that students can learn more about topics that are relevant to their field of work or career interests. Some of the concentrations available to online students of legal studies programs are:

  • Gas, oil and energy law
  • Health law
  • Business law
  • Tax law
  • Investment law
  • International business law
  • Education law

Length of Online Legal Studies Master's Programs

Online MLS programs can usually be completed in two years or less of full-time study. Students may be able to shorten the length of their programs by taking more courses per semester. Depending on their school and program, students may need to complete between 24 and 55 credit hours. Graduate students are typically considered full time if they take at least nine credit hours per semester. Students who take 12 or more credits per semester can decrease the number of semesters needed to complete their program. For example, a 36-credit-hour program would take four semesters at nine credits each, or three semesters at 12 credits each.

Standard semesters are 16 weeks long for fall and spring with a shortened semester over the summer. However, some colleges offer online courses as 8-week or 10-week semesters four or more times per year. Other schools offer coursework through a set sequence of course modules that students progress through in a cohort format. Both of these options could allow students to complete their coursework in around a year.

Common Courses

The courses in online legal studies master's degree programs vary by area of concentration, but many programs include some combination of the courses listed below.

  • Intro to Law - Students explore the foundations of the United States legal system, including the roles of legal professionals, court systems, and how laws are created.
  • Ethics for Legal Professionals - This course teaches students various ethical concepts and behavioral expectations.
  • Legal Research - Students learn proper methods for conducting and reviewing legal research, including how to maintain familiarity with changes in laws and legal findings.
  • Constitutional Rights - This course explores equal protections guaranteed by the Constitution and includes a discussion of topics like due process and the Bill of Rights.

Choosing the Right Online Legal Studies Master's Program

As you review schools for you online legal studies master's degree program, you should consider factors such as flexibility, cost, and programs available.

Programs Available

When choosing a school, confirm that the specific program you're interested in is available online. A school may offer a program with six concentration options but only have three of those concentrations available for the online program.

Flexibility

While many schools offer programs that allow you to take courses at the pace that fits your needs, some programs are only available as full-time or part-time options. Consider your time commitments and talk with your admissions advisors to ensure the program that you select works with your schedule and desired program length.

Faculty

Having an experienced faculty can give you better insight and support as you progress through your program, and having faculty with expedient response times can be the difference between success and struggle. Ask your school choices about the experience and availability of the faculty for your program.

Cost

The cost of an online master's degree program in legal studies can range from less than $20,000 to more than $50,000. Tuition is the largest part of program costs and is typically charged per credit hour. Ask your schools about any tuition discounts or other cost saving opportunities.

Career Options for Graduates of Online Legal Studies Master's Programs

There are a variety of career options available to graduates of online legal studies master's degree programs, including those in legal, business, and other fields.

Financial Examiners

Financial examiners review various financial statements and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable laws. Their tasks can include preparing reports and presentations, reviewing balance sheets and accounts, and keeping up to date with current laws and regulations that impact a business. Financial examiners often need a bachelor's degree in fields such as finance or accounting for entry-level positions, but those interested in senior positions can apply the knowledge from a legal studies program.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegals and legal assistants provide support to lawyers by completing various tasks, such as maintaining files and conducting research. Their duties can include contacting clients, investigating cases, researching applicable laws, and organizing and reporting information. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies or a related field and a paralegal certificate. A master's degree in legal studies can allow prospective or current paralegals to develop their skills in a specialty area, such as business or taxation law.

Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators provide assistance with negotiations and discussions between parties before a dispute leads to court. Their duties can include scheduling and observing meetings, providing clarification, preparing settlements, and applying applicable regulations and laws to proceedings. These professionals usually have at least a bachelor's degree relating to their field of work. Some programs offer online Master of Legal Studies programs with a concentration in conflict resolution.

Top Executives

Top executives direct and oversee the operations and practices of organizations and ensure that they meet their goals. Executives' duties can include appointing department managers, analyzing financial information, developing ways to decrease costs, and creating organizational policies. Educational requirements vary by position, but most top executives need significant experience and a bachelor's or master's degree related to their field of work. A master's degree in legal studies with a concentration in business, for example, provides a business executive with a stronger understanding of legal implications for their roles.

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers direct and oversee the human resources functions of businesses and other organizations. Their duties can include handling disputes, managing benefit packages and programs, educating staff on issues such as sexual harassment, and overseeing hiring functions. They typically need a bachelor's or master's degree and some applicable experience; candidates with a legal studies master's degree are better equipped to address regulations and laws that affect their duties.

Management Analysts

Management analysts advise organizational leadership on ways to increase profitability for their businesses. Their duties can include conducting research, making recommendations for organizational change, reviewing applicable laws, and collaborating with management. Management analysts usually need to have a master's degree or bachelor's degree, depending on the position. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in business or a similar field, along with a master's degree in legal studies, may have more opportunities because of the stronger understanding of the legal aspects of their field.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Financial Examiners $80,180 7%
Paralegals and Legal Assistants $50,940 12%
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators $62,270 8%
Top Executives $104,980 6%
Human Resources Managers $113,300 7%
Management Analysts $83,610 14%

All salary and outlook data are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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