Online Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies

Legal professionals fight on behalf of their clients, research complex laws, and mediate disputes. The legal industry is a broad field that offers many lucrative opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers in legal services earn an average of $109,550. Interestingly enough, the top-paying sectors for legal services are the oil industry, airline transportation, and manufacturing. The law affects every aspect of business, so legal professionals will always be in high demand. According to the BLS, over one million Americans work in legal services and the number continues to grow.

If you're interested in legal studies but you don't have the time to dedicate to traditional classes, then you should consider online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies. Online programs allow students to earn an education while continuing to work full time. With an online legal studies degree, students can pursue high-paying jobs in exciting sectors.

Students pursuing a legal studies degree online must take the same amount of credits and adhere to the same learning objectives as their traditional counterparts. The only difference between an online legal studies degree and an on-campus legal studies degree is the way classes are conducted. Online classes use a course management system that allows users to write on forums, upload files, and send emails.

Online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies explore the ethical, theoretical, and constitutional components of law.

Online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies explore the ethical, theoretical, and constitutional components of law. As with most bachelor's programs, students take core courses, general education courses, and electives. Students learn about navigating legal system, conducting research, and communicating ideas to third parties. Elective coursework usually addresses specific disciplines such as real estate or tort law. An online legal studies degree is similar to a pre-law degree. In fact, the terms legal studies and pre-law are interchangeable.

Students should consider several factors when choosing an online bachelor's degree in legal studies. Important aspects include location, program format, length, credit requirements, and cost. Busy students should research whether their chosen program offers part-time enrollment options. Students may choose an on-campus, fully online, or hybrid format. Hybrid courses combine online coursework with an in-class component.

Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Concentrations

Sample Courses for a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies

Online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies foster critical-thinking skills. Each school's curriculum is different, but most programs include the same set of core courses. Students pursuing a legal studies bachelor's degree online usually take classes in law, writing, ethics, and criminal procedure.

Example Courses

Introduction to Legal Studies This course introduces the legal studies major and explores the relationship between law and society.
Legal Research and Writing In this course, students learn how to write and communicate effectively in order to convey ideas to juries and judges. The legal writing course resembles the research class that first year law students take.
Legal Ethics Lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals must adhere to a strict code of conduct and ethics. Students in this course debate proper behavior and analyze codes of ethics.
Family Law This course covers the laws and statutes that regulate child support, spousal support, custody, and visitation.
Civil Litigation Practice This course develops students' litigation and interviewing skills. Trial lawyers work to resolve civil suits, mostly concerning monetary damages between parties.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies?

The cost of legal studies degree programs largely depends on the institution. Private institutions tend to charge more than public institutions. According to College Board, public universities charge approximately $9,410 for in-state students and $23,890 for out-of-state students. Private colleges charge around $32,410. Some schools give a discount to online learners, while others charge an additional technology fee. Students earning a legal studies bachelor's degree online avoid certain fees that on-campus students must pay, including activity fees, parking, room and board, and meal plans.

The number of prerequisites a student completes prior to entering the program can drastically influence cost. For example, students with associate degrees save money on the first two years of their program. Another factor that affects price is enrollment. Each semester, part-time students take fewer classes than full-time enrollees. In the short term, they pay less in tuition. However, the entire program still costs the same rate. Schools may charge per course or may charge a flat rate for a certain amount of credits. To determine the price of the program, students must consult the financial aid department.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies?

The required number of credits for a legal studies program varies, but on average, most schools require at least 120 credits. Full-time students can typically complete a bachelor's degree in four years. However, several factors can affect this timeframe, including program format.

Full-time students can typically complete a bachelor's degree in four years.

Students in online courses have more flexibility with their schedule. Learners can enroll in individually paced programs or cohort learning programs. In cohort programs, students progress through courses as part of a group. Since these programs follow a predetermined schedule, students are unable to graduate early. Individually paced programs allow students to work at their own pace. Students in these programs may be able to graduate in a shorter timeframe.

According to the BLS report on legal occupations, legal professionals earn most in the District of Columbia, New York, and California. In the District of Columbia, professionals in the legal field make a median annual wage of $169,000. New York comes in second with a median wage of $133,360. In 2017, California, New York, and Florida boasted the highest employment rates for legal professionals. Legal professionals in metropolitan areas tend to make more than rural workers due to higher demand and the high cost of living.

With a bachelor's degree in legal studies, graduates can take on entry-level positions or enroll in law school. Legal studies degree programs prepare students for careers as legislative assistants, compliance officers, human resource representatives, and law librarians. In addition to law firms, legal studies majors can find jobs in the local and state governments and major corporations.

Online Bachelor's in Legal Studies Careers

Paralegal

A paralegal is a legal assistant that helps lawyers prepare for court cases. Paralegals research laws and decisions regarding a court case, file documents, and write reports for lawyers. Many paralegals schedule interviews with witnesses and clients.

Arbitrator

Arbitrators help two sides come to a binding legal agreement. They use conflict resolution techniques to resolve an issue before it goes to trial. Many arbitrators have a background as a lawyer or judge. However, arbitrators only need a bachelor's at minimum.

Lawyer

Lawyers guide their clients through the entire legal process. They consult individuals to determine if they have a viable case and research laws and rulings regarding the client's situation. Lawyers speak to judges and other lawyers during the court proceedings to address their issues and concerns.

Judge

Judges oversee court proceedings to ensure the law is upheld. Judges are neutral parties that listen to arguments and evaluate evidence from both sides. In certain cases, judges make the final decision or preside over a jury. Judges often write about their decisions and opinions on cases.

Court Reporter

Court reporters create transcripts of legal proceedings. They attend hearings, depositions, and trials to record testimonies. Court reporters use special equipment like microphones, stenography machines, and audio/video recorders to capture word-for-word testimony. Court reporters also provide closed caption written dialogue for televised court events.
Occupations and Salary for Online Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies Graduates
Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Paralegal $50,410 15%
Court Reporter $55,120 3%
Arbitrator $60,670 10%
Judge $115,520 5%
Lawyer $119,250 8%
Source: BLS, May 2017

Licensure and certification

While pursuing an online legal studies degree, students may be interested in receiving licensure or certification to boost their earning potential. To practice law, students must graduate from law school and pass the bar exam. However, there are many legal professionals that do not require a juris doctor degree. To work as a paralegal, for instance, students do not need a license. However, many states maintain rules and regulations for paralegals. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations website features information regarding paralegal certification. The association also offers its own credentialing system. Students interested in court reporting should refer to the National Court Reporters Association to learn more about state certification requirements.

Earning a Master's Degree in Legal Studies

Students that have already completed a bachelor's program can pursue a master's degree in legal studies online. Like online bachelor's programs, online master's programs require students to actively engage with instructors and classmates.

A master's degree in legal studies can prepare students for supervisory positions in the legal field.

A master's degree in legal studies can prepare students for supervisory positions in the legal field. While bachelor's degree holders can find work as compliance officers, master's degree holders can take on roles as compliance directors. These supervisors oversee staff and enforce government regulations. Oftentimes, they work for large corporations and private businesses.

An advanced degree also helps graduates secure high-level positions in the the government. Graduates can find work as federal regulatory agents in the FBI, DEA, or Federal Aviation Administration. Federal regulatory agents earn six-figure salaries and receive financial allowances.

All credible online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies should have accreditation from a national or regional accrediting agency. Accrediting bodies evaluate the academic rigor of degree programs and the teaching ability of the instructors. Accreditation is voluntary, but highly encouraged. Most employers, graduate schools, and law schools prefer degrees from regionally accredited schools. Six accrediting bodies survey public and private institutions in each region of the country. Regionally accredited schools receive government funding, including federal loans and grants. Students can also transfer credits from these schools to other institutions. National accrediting bodies usually assess vocational and trade schools. There are multiple national accrediting bodies, but they do not have any set rules or regulations. The best online legal studies degree programs hold regional accreditation. Some schools also hold accreditation from the American Bar Association.

Like with any college education, online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies can cost a significant amount. Students usually seek outside funding through grants, loans, and scholarships. Before anything else, students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines which federal grants and loans you may receive.

Like with any college education, online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies can cost a significant amount.

Grants assist students with significant financial need. The Pell Grant, for instance, helps students from low-income families. Students can receive grants through the federal government, state governments, foundations, and large organizations. Students do not need to pay back any portion of a grant or scholarship.

By contrast, students do need to pay back all loans. The federal government offers fixed-rate interest loans with several repayment options. Students can also access loans through banks and other financial institutions, but these loans typically come with higher interest rates and less flexible repayment plans.

Scholarships are merit-based financial awards. Students can apply for scholarships by submitting school transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. A committee reviews applications to select a winner. Currently, there are hundreds of scholarships available to students enrolled in online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies. Organizations such as the American Bar Association provide scholarships, resources, and internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Most scholarships reward students with high GPAs and histories of public service. Many local law firms organize their own scholarship funds to help legal studies students in the community.

Legal Studies Scholarships

Students pursuing an on-campus or online legal studies degree can find several different scholarship opportunities. Most scholarships reward students with an outstanding GPA. Other scholarships assist students based on financial need, personal achievements, work history, or other factors. To apply for any of these scholarships, please follow the links below.

Scholarships for Legal Studies Students

Munley Law Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship accepts applicants from graduating high school seniors, undergraduate students, graduate students, and law students. View Scholarship

Staver Law Group Personal Injury Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants for this scholarship should enroll in college and maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. View Scholarship

Console and Hollawell P.C. Legal Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps students with a 3.0 GPA pursuing a law-related degree. View Scholarship

Christopher W. Keyser Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants must submit a 2,000-3,000 word essay on a pre-selected topic. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to high school seniors, college freshmen, and college sophomores pursuing a degree in law or law enforcement. View Scholarship
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