If you want to work with the law in America, you will find many career fields open to you. You can work in law enforcement, as an attorney, in mediation, or even in academia, teaching about U.S. history and policy. Since there are numerous professional paths for someone passionate about studying the law, there are also extensive academic routes to pursue. One of those is an online bachelor’s in legal studies.
What Is an Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies?
Most people know that going to law school is one path to working in the legal field. But many don’t know that you can begin your law journey by studying it at the undergraduate level. Law school is a post-collegiate program you can only attend after you have completed an undergraduate degree, and after you’ve taken standardized tests and filled out applications for admission to law school. If you want to study the law earlier and in a less intensive way, consider delving into legal studies. Many undergraduate institutions offer bachelor’s degrees in legal studies, and these programs can be a great first step toward a career working in justice, policy, or community advocacy.
If you choose to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in legal studies, you can hold a variety of jobs that involve justice, policy, and the law. Alternatively, you can finish your undergraduate program and work in a corporate position that requires a college degree but is not necessarily law-related (i.e. human resources, consulting, analysis, and beyond). However, if you have a passion for the law and want to work in a field related to justice, you may choose to become a paralegal, law librarian, legislative assistant, legal assistant, or compliance officer once you get your degree. If you’re interested in becoming an attorney and don’t mind going to more school, you can start practicing law once you earn your Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
The classes you take toward an online bachelor’s degree in legal studies will help you understand what law is in America, how the courts work, how laws apply in specific situations and scenarios, and how America’s legal system has changed. The field of study covers historical, sociological, economic, political, and philosophical topics — besides covering specific laws (and a wider range of generalized liberal arts courses, depending on the program).
Students of legal studies have a broad array of fields to pursue post-degree. Some legal studies students will study law more broadly, and others will pick a concentration in which to specialize. However, regardless of whether you zero in on a specific area within the field, your legal studies education combined with more general liberal arts classes will have you ready to enter the professional world with the right skills.
If you are ready to take a step forward in your educational path, continue reading for the Campus Explorer guide to earning an online bachelor’s in legal studies.
How Much Does an Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Cost?
To get a bachelor’s in legal studies online, you’ll pay the school’s annual tuition — but the amount of that tuition varies depending on what institution you go to and whether you attend a specialized program. Students who pursue a bachelor’s program can expect to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 of tuition for the entirety of their degree. Since schools often charge tuition based on each individual credit, your degree could cost more related to the number of classes you take as a student.
One way to make a bachelor’s degree in legal studies more affordable is to take an accelerated program. Accelerated bachelor’s programs can often pack more courses into a shortened schedule, and as a result, they may better suit your needs.
While going to school online is often a more affordable decision than getting your bachelor’s degree in person, you will find some additional costs associated with the experience. For example, you’ll need to have your own computer, an internet connection, any books you’ll need for classes, and school supplies to help you take notes and study for exams.
Average Salary for an Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies
With a bachelor’s in legal studies, there are countless jobs you’ll be qualified to hold. The average salary for someone with a legal studies degree depends on what kind of job you end up doing related to legal studies. Still, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the annual median wage for someone in legal services is $52,000 annually as of 2018. Many people who work in legal fields — particularly lawyers — make a much higher amount annually, on average.
One of the most sought-after jobs for graduates with a bachelor’s in legal studies is a lawyer. The median annual salary for a lawyer in the United States is $126,900 as of May 2020.
However, depending on your course concentration and skills, you might consider a position as a paralegal, legal assistant, sheriff or sheriff’s patrol officer, teacher, auditor, or financial manager.
If you decide to work as a paralegal or legal assistant, you can expect to earn around $52,900 per year or $25.40 per hour on average as of May 2020. While this salary is lower than some in the field, the job outlook shows a 10% annual growth rate, which is much faster than the current national average rate of 4%. This means there will continue to be many available positions and job openings when you finish your degree or certification and are ready to be hired.
What you’ll earn with your online bachelor’s in legal studies depends on several factors. Some considerations include: when you begin your job hunt, what type of work is most meaningful to you, what your strongest skills and abilities are, and what type of job will afford you the quality of life you want.
What Is the Job Outlook for Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Holders?
According to the BLS, people who work in legal studies — particularly as lawyers — can expect the job outlook to grow by 4% in the next eight years. This growth rate is just about average for most fields in the country. Because the field is expected to grow, graduates in legal studies are likely to find a well-matched job when they graduate from their bachelor’s program. Alternatively, some legal studies graduates will choose to attend graduate school after earning their bachelor’s degree, which means their job search will take place after graduate school rather than their undergraduate program.
If you end up choosing to get your bachelor’s degree in legal studies, you may expect to hold one of the following popular positions (after completing all education necessary for that position):
- Human resources assistant
- Customer service representative
- Teaching paralegal or legal assistants
- Community advocate
- Nonprofit professional
- Legal assistant
- Legal administrator
- Corrections officer
- Police officer
- Magistrate judge
- Administrative law judge
- Hearing officer
- Court reporters
- Simultaneous captioners
- And more
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies
An online bachelor’s in legal studies requires various courses related to history, politics, the inner workings of the justice system, ethics, and more. You should also expect to fulfill requirements for classes that prepare you for higher-level courses as you advance from your first year through the program. And as with any four-year degree, your school of choice will require core curriculum courses that prepare you to be a well-rounded, deep thinker in the real world. These courses include basic math, humanities, and more.
Some of the most common courses for people pursuing legal studies include:
If you get a degree in legal studies, you may end up graduating with your generalized degree. However, some programs offer concentrations within the degree, which means you might focus on one area that appeals to you and your intended professional path. Here are some of the concentrations offered in legal studies bachelor’s programs that you may specialize in during your time at school:
- Business Law
- Criminal Justice
- Entertainment Law
- White-Collar Crime
- American Constitutional Law
- Intellectual Property and Innovation Law
- Court Reporting
Core Takeaways for an Online Bachelors in Legal Studies
- The benefit of an online degree in legal studies is that you can learn without a commute, and you can structure your schedule.
- Accelerated legal studies programs can get you closer to your career goals in as few as two years.
- Many legal studies programs allow you to choose a concentration to begin a specific professional path in the field.
- The field of legal studies is growing, which means the job outlook is good.
- Jobs in the legal field range in salary, but the most expert-level jobs pay well over $100,000 per year, on average.
- Professionals in legal studies help others and often find their work meaningful.
- The tuition price for an online degree in legal studies can vary based on many factors.
- Accelerated programs in legal studies, which are those that help students graduate faster, are often a more affordable option than traditional, full-time coursework.
- To earn a legal studies degree online, you’ll also need to pay for a computer, internet connection, books, and any necessary school supplies.