Best Colleges Online - Most Affordable Degrees-01
In this article, we profile the top 10 most affordable online master’s in legal studies degree programs for 2019.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15 percent employment growth rate through 2026 for paralegals and legal assistants. This is approximately seven percent higher than all other occupations. Educated, trained, and experienced individuals will have the best job prospects. Thankfully, online legal studies programs are now available from reputable institutions.

Top 10 Online Master’s in Legal Studies Programs Methodology

We looked at 66 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online master’s in legal studies programs or closely related graduate degrees. We narrowed our selection by applying the following criteria: regional or national accreditation, online degree completion options, and school or program rankings with a major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the schools in order of raw affordability.

Below is our list of the top 10 master’s in legal studies online programs of 2019.

#10 – Northeastern University

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

Northeastern University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Northeastern University’s master’s in legal studies online program–for non-lawyer professionals.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,688

Northeastern University’s master’s in legal studies online degree program is for non-lawyer professionals who work closely and regularly with lawyers and legal issues. The program is available on a part-time or full-time basis and takes less than two years to complete. Courses in the online legal studies programs are offered entirely online and include topics like data regulation and compliance, introduction to legal studies, law of information and records, law and organizational management, and law and strategy. To be admitted to the program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and offer two letters of recommendation. U.S. News and World Report ranks Northeastern #44 in best national universities and #72 in best value schools.

#9 – Regent University

Online Master’s in Law – Legal Studies

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Website

Regent University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Only 5 semesters! Regent University’s master’s in legal studies online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,326

The online master’s in legal studies program at Regent University offers a fully customizable degree. Designed for working professionals, the online law degree can be earned in just five semesters with select on-campus course options. Thirty credits are required for the completion of the degree. Courses include business entities, contract law, foundations of legal thought, property law and policy, and Regent foundations for graduate success. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree from an approved college or university. The LSAT and GRE are not required for admission. U.S. News and World Report ranks Regent #201 in best national universities.

#8 – Webster University

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Saint Louis, Missouri

Website

Webster University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Ranked and accredited – Webster University’s master’s in legal studies online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,140

Webster University offers a master’s in legal studies online degree designed for working professionals with an interest in law. This 39-credit law degree is one of the most affordable online legal studies programs on our list. Courses are delivered online and include advanced topics in law, computerized legal research, criminal actions, ethics for the legal professional, methods of legal research and writing, and research and writing the legal project. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and submit official transcripts and a statement of purpose. U.S. News and World Report rank Webster #23 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #56 in best value schools.

#7 – University of Arizona

Online Master of Legal Studies

Tucson, Arizona

Website

University of Arizona - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Only 30 credits – University of Arizona’s online master’s in legal studies program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,748

University of Arizona’s master’s in legal studies online program consists of 30 credits that can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. The program offers several concentration areas designed to help students tailor their degree. Concentrations include criminal law and policy, environmental law and policy, health law, human rights, international trade and business law, and tax law and policy. Courses are delivered online and vary by concentration. Some of the general courses include legal analysis, writing, and research, procedure, and the American common law system. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Arizona #106 in best national universities and #97 in best value schools.

#6 – Hodges University

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Naples, Florida

Website

Hodges University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Fully online! Hodges University’s master’s in legal studies online degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,560

The online master’s in legal studies at Hodges University is designed for working adults interested in career advancement in the legal industry. Courses, taught by university professors, are delivered online in a convenient fashion. These courses include employment and human resources, ethics and law, intellectual property, international law, legal environment seminar, and regulatory compliance. To start one of the graduate online legal studies programs at Hodges, an accredited bachelor’s degree in legal studies is required. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Hodges among the top regional universities in the South. The school is accredited and one of the most affordable institutions on our list to offer an online master’s in legal studies.

#5 – Arizona State University

Online Master of Legal Studies

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Arizona State University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Ranked and affordable – ASU’s master’s in legal studies online degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,938

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University offers an online master’s in legal studies designed for professionals to earn a degree in just one year. A total of ten courses are required, and classes run 7.5 weeks in length. The MLS degree is customizable with six possible focus areas, including corporate and health care compliance, criminal law, HR and employment law, intellectual property law, law and sustainability, and sports law. Application consideration requires a personal statement, transcripts from all attending institutions, and two letters of recommendation. U.S. News and World Report ranks ASU #115 in best national universities.

#4 – University of Illinois

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Springfield, Illinois

Website

University of Illinois - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
100% online – the online master’s in legal studies at University of Illinois.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,308

University of Illinois offers an online master’s in legal studies designed with the working professional in mind. Night classes with 100% online access allow busy and working professionals the flexibility needed to earn a graduate degree. The online legal studies programs at University of Illinois prepare students with an interdisciplinary liberal arts education that can be transferred into various fields. Courses are delivered online and include classes like legal research and citation, public advocacy, seminar in courts and policymaking, seminar in politics and law, and theories of justice. U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution #50 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #9 in top public schools.

#3 – Saint Leo University

Online Master of Criminal Justice in Legal Studies

Saint Leo, Florida

Website

Saint Leo University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
Fully accredited and ranked – Saint Leo’s master’s in legal studies online degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990

Saint Leo University is one of the few master’s in legal studies online programs offering a criminal justice degree with a legal studies specialization. The program consists of a series of core courses, legal studies courses, and electives. All courses are delivered online and include topics like criminal advocacy and judicial procedure, ethical issues in criminal justice administration, fundamentals of civil litigation, legal issues in criminal justice administration, legal issues in criminal justice agencies, and public policy making in criminal justice. A total of 36 credit hours is required for degree completion. Upon entering the program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related discipline. U.S. News and World Report ranks Saint Leo #47 in best regional universities in the South and #14 in best value schools.

#2 – West Virginia University

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Morgantown, West Virginia

Website

West Virginia University - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
GRE test scores required – WVU’s master’s in legal studies online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,450

West Virginia University offers a master’s in legal studies online program designed with three areas of emphasis. Students may tailor their degree to highlight interest areas like healthcare, homeland security, or justice systems. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better and submit test scores from the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT. Students are required to complete 30 credit hours, which take 18 months on average. Courses are taught online and include administrative ethics, dispute resolutions process, law and the legal system, and researching the law. U.S. News and World Report ranks WVU #205 in best national universities and #112 in top public schools.

#1 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Norman, Oklahoma

Website

University of Oklahoma - Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs 2019
#1 most affordable! University of Oklahoma’s master’s in legal studies online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,577

University of Oklahoma’s master’s in legal studies online degree program is designed for working adults who desire an accelerated graduate program that will lead to an MLS degree. The school offers one of the most affordable online legal studies programs for graduate students on our list. Three areas of specialty allow students to explore areas of interest that are unique and flexibly designed. These core areas of expertise include healthcare law, indigenous peoples law, and oil, gas, and energy law. All classes are delivered online and taught by university professors. Documents required for application include a resume, personal statement, and at least one (optional) letter of recommendation. There is no GRE requirement for admission. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Oklahoma #124 in best national universities and #135 in best value schools.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a master’s in legal studies online degree?

The duties of a legal assistant or paralegal vary with jobs and organizations, but the role never changes. These specialized legal professionals are hired to support lawyers through case preparation, drafting documents, and legal research.

With a master’s in legal studies online degree, you will be prepared to assist with the wide range of duties required. These duties include calling clients, witnesses, and other lawyers to schedule interviews, meetings, or dissertations. Other duties include drafting court documents and legal correspondence. Writing summary reports to help attorneys prepare for trial is also a common task of the legal professional.

Depending on the area of law in which the paralegal or legal assistant works, specific tasks may also vary. Corporate paralegals spend time preparing contracts and shareholder agreements or reviewing new legal requirements the company needs to be aware of. Litigation paralegals often maintain documents for clients. They also conduct research for lawyers and organize evidence needed in depositions or court.

Duties also vary with the size of the organization. Small firms may have only one paralegal who conducts officer work, manages telephone calls, and handles case files as needed. In large organizations, paralegals may be assigned to particular cases or a specific phase of the case.

How much money can I earn with a master’s in legal studies online degree?

PayScale, a global compensation research organization specializing in the collection and synthesizing of salaries, reports the average individual with a master’s in legal studies earns $55,000 per year. Paralegals earn an average compensation of $46,695 per year, and executive legal assistants earn an average of $58,358.

Paralegals and legal assistants with a master’s in legal studies online degree generally make more money than individuals without a graduate degree. Employers often see a master’s degree as having more experience than a job candidate with a bachelor’s degree. PayScale reports a positive pay by experience trend.

Individuals with less than five years of experience can expect to earn less pay than individuals with five to ten years of work experience. Individuals with the most experience, more than 20 years of work history, can expect to earn over $60,000 per year.

It is not uncommon for legal assistants, legal secretaries, or paralegals to also earn annual bonuses or commission. Some firms also offer profit sharing compensation. The average bonus ranges from $487 to $4,876 per year.

Most legal professionals work full time. In many cases, the job requires more than forty hours per week, especially when deadlines need to be made.

What is the career outlook for individuals with a master’s in legal studies online degree?

Employment of legal assistants and paralegals is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. The growth rate is eight percent faster than the average for all other occupations. Experienced legal assistants or paralegals armed with a master’s in legal studies should have the best job prospects.

Growth is expected due to the expansion of law firms and the increase in efficiency of legal services. As legal firms reduce their costs, paralegals will take on a more hybrid role. We will see paralegals performing traditional paralegal duties but also the duties previously completed by legal assistants.

Due to the high cost of legal services, clients will seek alternative resources, such as online law firms. These organizations continue to grow and hire paralegals and legal professionals.

While traditional law firms continue to be the largest employers of legal assistants, large corporations will begin to increase their in-house legal departments. This means more legal assistants and paralegals will be hired to work for legal departments within a wide range of organizations. The high cost of outsourcing legal services and acquiring legal counsel outside of the company can be cut by incorporating in-house legal counsel and services. The greatest demand for this type of job will be in insurance firms and healthcare providers.

What are the admission requirements for master’s in legal studies online degree programs?

The admission requirements for a master’s in legal studies online degree vary among programs, but in general ask applicants for similar eligibilities. To enroll in a master’s program, you are typically required to hold a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree does not have to be in a related discipline like legal studies or criminal justice. However, the bachelor’s should have been earned from a regionally accredited program.

Whether or not graduate test scores are required for admission varies among programs. Some programs require the GMAT, GRE, or even LSAT scores, while others make the test optional. Many times, test scores are not required.

Top-ranked institutions do require GMAT or GRE scores, though the minimum score varies. Elite schools require high GRE scores for consideration while others accept lower scores. If you want to avoid taking the GRE or GMAT, be sure to research program requirements with the institution you seek admission to. Also, remember test scores are only a part of the overall application. Decisions are made based on the overall performance of an applicant on more than the graduate exam.

Additional admission requirements may include letters of recommendation from undergraduate instructors or employers. On average, programs ask for two or three recommendations. In rare cases, some master’s in legal studies online degree programs may also ask for an in-person or telephone interview.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in legal studies online degree?

While there are several paths an individual can take to become a legal assistant or paralegal, a common path is education. Employers prefer legal assistants and paralegals with a degree. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree and experience. If you do not have experience working in the legal field, a master’s degree can improve your eligibility. In fact, some employers view a candidate with a master’s in legal studies as having two years of experience.

From our list, we determined the average time to earn a master’s in legal studies online degree as 18-20 months. Some programs require more time and stretch toward 24 months, while others may be completed in as little as 16 months.

Program completion time varies with enrollment. Full-time and part-time enrollment options allow students to speed up or slow down the pace of the program. To earn a degree faster, full-time enrollment allows students to take more classes at a time and finish their degree quicker. Part-time options are ideal for individuals who work and do not have many hours in a day to focus on studies. Part-time programs generally take longer to earn a degree.

One should expect to spend at least 16 months while earning a master’s in legal studies online degree.

BCO Staff
January 2019

This concludes our list of the top 10 most affordable online master’s in legal studies degree programs for 2019.