A legal studies degree is one of the top bachelor degrees for aspiring lawyers, paralegals, and law enforcers. Because of how broad the field is, it could also prepare you for a career in business, politics, nonprofit work, or public administration.
In a legal studies degree program, you can hone your analytical and communication skills while developing a strong understanding of the legal system.
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Legal professionals are constantly in demand, and a legal studies degree could potentially lead to jobs that are lucrative, stable, and intellectually challenging.
Online Legal Studies Degrees
Legal studies is an interdisciplinary program that gives students an overview of fundamental legal concepts—from the legal structures in the US to the reasoning behind how laws are applied. It’s a common undergraduate degree for those looking to pursue law school.
Many graduates also start off with entry-level roles in law firms, such as paralegals and legal assistants, while others venture into regulatory compliance, social work, and other fields. Legal studies majors also pursue work in courtrooms as court reporters. A BA in Legal Studies degree online can expose you to the theories behind law, including how laws affect society, how they’re developed, and how they’re implemented.
You’ll learn about core legal terminology while looking into the current legal system and processes in the US and internationally. Aside from understanding how the federal and state court systems work, you’ll likely become familiar with the Constitution and major laws.
Most legal studies programs provide you with a well-rounded survey of different areas of law, including:
- Business law
- Criminal justice
- Employment law
- Family law
- Real estate
- Mediation and dispute resolution
- International law
Another goal of a legal studies degree program is to train you to communicate well, reason critically, and take into account all of the facts.
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Throughout the program, you’ll practice doing legal research and writing, which includes analyzing case studies, forming logical arguments, and applying laws to real-life scenarios. Since legal studies degrees have a wide scope, you’ll usually be able to choose electives and specializations to focus on a specific area of law.
Many legal studies programs have tracks for preparing you to be a paralegal. Some programs even base their coursework on professional certification exams for paralegals and legal assistants. Alternatively, you may specialize in law office management or study how legal regulations affect businesses. All in all, a legal studies degree is a flexible program that can fit well with a variety of interests and career paths.
Legal Studies Careers & Salaries
A Bachelor of Legal Studies can be the starting point for many possible career paths, ranging from working directly in the legal field to specializing in compliance or human resources.
Many legal studies graduates go on to pursue higher studies through law school. If you’re aiming to be a lawyer, a legal studies degree can give you a helpful foundation for law school, as you’ll already be introduced to the workings of major laws and policies.
On the other hand, a legal studies degree can also help you pursue entry-level jobs. Some graduates become paralegals and legal assistants, while others take on roles such as mediators and court reporters. Paralegals work with lawyers to conduct research on cases, prepare documents, and coordinate with clients.
Mediators specialize in conflict resolution, and they guide opposing parties to work toward a mutual solution and avoid filing lawsuits. Court reporters are responsible for making accurate written records of what happens in court proceedings like trials and public hearings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the median yearly salaries of potential career paths associated with legal studies.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Police and Detectives||$66,020|
|Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners||$60,380|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$60,250|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$56,230|
|Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators||$49,410|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$47,710|
|Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers||$47,310|
Another popular field for legal studies graduates is law enforcement. Legal studies majors might become police officers, detectives, or probation officers with additional training outside of school.
Since these roles are very hands-on, you’d have the chance to apply the legal concepts you’ve learned and contribute directly to administering justice. Other jobs are possible in industries such as social work, real estate, business, and regulatory compliance.
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Investigators are in-demand because of the prevalence of lawsuits and crimes. There are increasing job openings for paralegals, too. Lawyers and judges are among the most well paid, given their extensive educational and professional training.
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies Curriculum & Courses
Legal studies programs often feature core classes similar to the following:
- Introduction to Law: This course gives you an overview of the different areas of law in the US, including criminal law, torts, family law, contracts, and consumer law.
- US Legal System: You’ll study the structure and processes of the US legal system, from how laws are created and implemented to the jurisdiction of federal and state courts.
- Litigation: This course tackles the different stages of civil litigation proceedings, with emphasis on paralegal tasks like researching case facts and conducting interviews.
- Criminal Law and Procedures: You’ll dive deeper into the different types of crimes and offenses—such as murder, fraud, and theft—as well as the current legal responses to them.
- Dispute Resolution: This course looks into various conflict resolution methods—such as arbitration, negotiation, and mediation—which are meant to avoid litigation.
- Torts: A tort is an act that leads to the harm of a person or their property and results in civil litigation, so you’ll look into common types of torts, such as trespass and negligence.
- Contract Law: You’ll examine the components of contracts, along with how to create, modify, and interpret them and how to handle contract breaches and damages.
- Legal Ethics: This course introduces you to common ethical problems related to law, including conflicts of interest, doing legal services without payment, and client privileges.
- Legal Writing and Research: You’ll practice using legal terminology, writing objectively and persuasively, and consulting relevant materials and authorities for research.
- Employment Law: This course tackles laws related to the workplace, such as electronic surveillance and harassment laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Most legal studies programs offer electives so that you can spend more time studying the areas of law that you’re the most interested in.
How to Choose an Online Bachelors in Legal Studies Program
To narrow down your list of possible legal studies programs, you might want to consider these factors:
- School credibility. First, it’s beneficial to make sure you choose an accredited school since they have been vetted for educational quality. You can also look up graduate outcomes. For instance, have many of the program’s graduates ended up in the career that you’re aiming for?
- Coursework and specializations. Most legal studies degree programs will have their list of coursework readily available, so you can look through the classes to check if they line up with your interests. Some programs offer specializations, such as paralegal studies, criminal law, or business.
- Program style. Some online programs don’t require you to visit the campus at all. Those that follow a hybrid format will require you to come to campus occasionally for some classes and events.
- Student resources. You may want to compare schools’ student resources. Aside from basic technical support, legal studies programs can have tutoring services, alumni networking, and career advising as well as internship opportunities.
- Tuition. While online programs tend to have lower overall costs than on-campus programs, tuition can still vary widely. Each school will have its own set of financial aid options, with some schools offering scholarships that you may be able to apply for.
With so many legal studies degrees online, it’s helpful to discover the ins and outs of a potential program before enrolling.
When applying for a bachelor degree in legal studies online, you’ll likely submit these materials:
- High school transcripts. These are the most common requirement, with some schools looking for a minimum GPA.
- Essay. Many programs will ask you to write about your experiences, achievements, and goals.
- References. Programs often request two or three reference letters from teachers, bosses, or other people who know you well.
- SAT or ACT scores. Submitting your test scores is part of the traditional admissions process, but a growing number of schools no longer require them.
Some online programs might require interviews or resumes as well.
One of the main criteria for choosing a reputable legal studies program is accreditation. Schools that are regionally accredited have been evaluated based on high standards, and they’re more likely to give you quality education.
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You can find a list of accrediting organizations and accredited schools in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) directory. If you’re planning to go to law school, you’ll likely be required to hold a degree from an accredited institution. Some employers even prioritize applicants with degrees from accredited schools. Attending an accredited school can also allow you to apply for federal financial aid.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Most college students apply for financial aid to help fund their education. As a first step, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal aid typically comes in the forms of student loans, grants, and work-study programs.
Loans are available from private sources as well, but federal student loans have lower interest rates. In comparison, grants are more competitive because they’re gift money. Many schools offer scholarships to qualifying students, and there are also external scholarships for legal studies majors specifically. Employer tuition assistance may be possible as well, especially if you’re already working in a related field.
Legal Studies Professional Organizations
Joining a professional organization early on could expose you to job opportunities, introduce you to peers and mentors, and help get you started with building your career. Many also offer trainings and certifications that could help you gain marketable skills.
These are some of the top professional organizations in legal studies:
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- National Contract Management Association (NCMA)
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
You can even join any of these organizations as a student and continue your membership as you become a legal professional.
What Is a Legal Studies Major?
A legal studies major is a bachelor program that studies the principles behind law, the legal system in the US, and how laws are applied across different areas.
Legal studies programs have a wide scope, with topics such as criminal law, litigations, and business and employment law. Going beyond theory, there is an emphasis on studying real-life scenarios and combining facts with legal knowledge to make the right decisions.
Legal studies graduates can apply for entry-level roles in fields related to law or even business, and many go on to law school.
What Can You Do with a Legal Studies Degree?
A legal studies bachelor degree can help prepare you for various possible career paths. Many legal studies graduates pursue jobs with law firms, where they might work as paralegals or legal assistants. Others focus on law enforcement, pursuing roles such as police officer and correctional treatment specialist.
Other law-related careers include court reporter, mediator, and conciliator. Another popular track for graduates is to go to law school to become a lawyer. Aside from these options, some graduates work in human resources, finance, regulatory compliance, public administration, and other fields.
Is Legal Studies a Good Major?
Yes, legal studies is a good major for many undergraduate students. For one, it’s a practical major that can teach you a lot of relevant skills that can be applied to many jobs, such as paralegal studies, investigation, and human resources. The skills you can develop—such as persuasive communication and logical analysis—are highly transferable.
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If you’re planning to enter law school, legal studies is one of the most relevant bachelor degrees. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, legal careers tend to have steady growth and above average pay. The median yearly salary of legal occupations overall is $82,430.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Legal Studies Degree?
Online legal studies degrees typically consist of 120 credit hours. You can usually finish a bachelors in 4 years with full-time study. Since online programs tend to have more flexible options, it might be possible for you to take a lower or higher number of courses per semester.
Many online students have other commitments aside from studying, so they may take classes part-time and take longer to finish. Alternatively, some programs offer an accelerated track that can allow you to finish sooner if you study full-time all throughout the year.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor in Legal Studies vs. Paralegal Degree?
Legal studies and paralegal degrees have these key differences.
|Legal Studies Degree||Paralegal Degree|
Still, many legal studies degrees allow you to specialize in paralegal-oriented training.
Is a Legal Studies Degree Worth It?
Yes, a legal studies degree is worth it for many students. If you’re planning to work at a law firm or go to law school, a legal studies degree is one of the most relevant undergraduate degrees to pursue.
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Many careers associated with legal studies are in demand. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12% job growth for paralegals and legal assistants and 10% job growth for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators over the next ten years. A legal studies degree can also be useful for other fields, such as business and public administration, since you’ll receive training in expressing your ideas and analyzing data.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Legal Studies Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dominican University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida National University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Hodges University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Pennsylvania Western University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
SUNY Canton is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Stevenson University is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
UMass Global is accredited by the WSCUC Senior College and University Commission.
The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Online
From law enforcement and conflict resolution to academia and nonprofit work, a legal studies degree can lead to a variety of job opportunities. It’s one of the most relevant bachelor degrees for law-related careers, and you’ll get an overview of important aspects of the law while developing essential legal reasoning skills.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in legal studies is now more convenient than ever because of accredited online programs. With an online legal studies degree program, you can choose classes that fit better around your schedule, and you can often study at a more comfortable pace.
You can start exploring accredited schools today to find reputable online legal studies programs that align with your personal and professional goals.