The Best Online Law
Schools in 2021

Online and hybrid learning are slowly becoming the new normal, especially for students at the tertiary level. If your dream is to get a law degree and you prefer learning remotely to in-person classes, this feature is for you.

It contains details about the best online law schools in 2021. Some of these schools are entirely online. However, others offer hybrid learning, combining online learning with occasional in-person classes.

If you are in the United States, note that you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in another discipline before attending law school and getting your Juris Doctorate (JD), Juris Master (JM), or some other graduate law degree.

In Brief: Top 10 Online Law Schools in 2021

The 10 schools in the table below offer the same courses as in-person schools. The critical difference is that most classes take place online. These schools are all accredited by the required regulators. Some are designed for students, while others are for working professionals.

Take a sneak peek at the best online law school rankings, based on key information from each school’s website.

School Degrees and Tuition Accreditation
Cornell University Master of Science in Legal Studies
$57,000
Middle States Commission on
Higher Education
Emory University Juris Master
$29,975 per semester
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools
Commission on Colleges
Florida State University Juris Master
$683 per credit hour
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools
Commission on Colleges
Georgetown University Master of Laws
$35,768 per semester
Master of Studies in Law
$35,768 per semester
Middle States Commission on
Higher Education
Michigan State University Master of Laws
$41,040 per year
Master of Jurisprudence
$41,040 per year
Higher Learning Commission
New York University Master of Laws in Taxation
$40,336
Master of Studies in Law in Taxation
$40,336
Middle States Commission on
Higher Education
University of Southern California Master of Laws
$30,232
Master of Studies in Law
$30,232
Western Association of Schools
and Colleges
University of Dayton Juris Doctorate
$1,500 per credit
Master of Studies in Law
$1,237 per credit
Master of Laws
$1,237 per credit
Association of American Law
Schools, Higher Learning Commission
University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law Juris Doctorate
$1,500 per credit
American Bar Association
Wake Forest University Master of Studies in Law
$1,039 per credit
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools
Commission on Colleges

Why You Should Attend a Law School Online

You should attend an online law school if you have a tight schedule and intend to retain a job while studying. An online JD program runs for four years or more, but it will be more flexible than the in-person equivalent. Apart from the flexible scheduling, online law schools will help you observe social distancing regulations. You will not be required to meet in large groups or commute to take classes.

The cost of attendance and tuition for online law schools is also relatively lower compared to in-person schools. Online law schools also prepare you for remote work, a trend that is becoming increasingly popular.

Choosing the Best Law School for You

Note that not every state recognizes online law schools for the Juris Doctorate. You will only be allowed to take the bar exam after completing an online law program in California, Minnesota, Maine, and New Mexico. If you live outside these states or intend to practice outside these states, an in-person law program will be an ideal option.

Irrespective of the option you choose, the tips below will help you pick the right law school.

School Accreditation

You should opt for a law school that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). The school should also be regionally or nationally accredited for post-secondary education.

However, you may be permitted to take the bar even if the law school is non-ABA-approved. Only some states allow this, so do your research before turning in the application. Two popular online ABA-approved law schools are the University of Dayton and the University of New Hampshire.

Tuition Cost

Earning your JD degree online in the United States is more affordable than the traditional route. You will reduce costs because you will not spend money on transportation, on-campus accommodation, and other fees attached to in-person learning.

Still, you should look for a school with affordable tuition. Even if you can apply for financial aid, always remember that the interest rates will keep increasing over the long term. So, make sure that the tuition isn’t going to weigh you down in the future.

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate says a lot about a school. It can serve to indicate the quality of education at the school. Students are more likely to graduate if the school provides a well-organized virtual environment for learning. It also provides insight into the admission rate. Schools with low admission rates tend to have higher graduation rates.

In-Depth: The Best Law Schools of 2021

Below is a detailed list of some of the best online law schools to earn a law degree. Note that all law schools in the United States are graduate schools, and you must complete a bachelor’s in another field before seeking admission.

Cornell University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 93.9 percent

Located in New York, this Ivy League school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. To be eligible for the Master of Science in Legal Studies, you must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of work experience in a legal field. The program runs for five terms over 20 months, and financial aid is available.

Cornell University Law Key Takeaway

You can study business immigration law, intellectual property law, human rights obligations, and many other specialized topics.

Emory University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 90.1 percent

Emory University has an extensive online law program for graduate and post-graduate levels. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. While the main campus is located in Georgia, students are allowed to take some programs online.

In just 18 months, you can complete the Juris Master (JM) post-graduate program. The online training is followed by a mandatory on-campus residency. The school offers networking opportunities by connecting students to its alumni pool.

Emory University Law Key Takeaway

The Juris Master degree gives you the option to declare a concentration in business law, healthcare law, or policy and regulation. You can’t take the bar with a JM, but you can boost your resume as a professional.

Florida State University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 79.8 percent

This is one of the most popular public research schools in the United States. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Professionals without a Juris Doctorate can apply for the online Juris Master degree for a legal insight into their field. To qualify for application, you must have a bachelor’s degree in another field. The program runs for about five semesters, but you can finish at your own pace.

Florida State University Law Key Takeaway

This option is perfect for working professionals who want to learn more about subjects including legal risk, HR compliance, healthcare regulations, and financial regulations.

Georgetown University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 94.3 percent

Georgetown University is one of the few schools that offers an online master’s degree program for people with law and non-law degrees. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits this university.

The Master of Laws (LLM) is for professionals with law degrees, while the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) is for non-lawyers who want to learn more about the legal aspect of their field.

The credit requirement varies for both degrees. Lawyers must have their Juris Doctorate, and non-lawyers must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

Georgetown University Law Key Takeaway

The most common tracks for Georgetown master’s students are local and international taxation, financial regulation, and corporate tax income.

Michigan State University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 78.2 percent

Michigan State University also has an excellent online program for master’s degrees in legal studies. Students with accredited degrees from any part of the world can enroll in the online graduate law program. The school itself is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

If you hold a Juris Doctorate, you can apply for the Master of Laws (LLM) or Master of Jurisprudence (MJ).

Michigan State University Law Key Takeaway

Only law degree holders can apply for the master’s degree if they want to specialize in intellectual property law or business law, focusing on management roles.

New York University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 85.4 percent

As one of the most popular private universities globally, New York University also has an excellent online law school. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The LLM is perfect for law degree holders, and the MSL is for non-lawyers. The program runs for about 18 months.

New York University Law Key Takeaway

The online law program is specifically for lawyers and non-lawyers in the financial sector who wish to develop a deep understanding of financial laws.

University of Southern California

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 91.5 percent

As part of the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California, this online law school is one of the world’s best. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, it welcomes domestic and international law degree students to pursue an LLM. Non-lawyers may also enroll in the MSL program.

The Master of Laws gives you access to a more extensive global alumni network.

University of Southern California Law Key Takeaway

Concentrations include financial compliance, entertainment law, business law, human resource law, cyber security, and privacy law.

University of Dayton

Degree Levels: Juris Doctorate, Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 74.6 percent

This is one of the few ABA-approved universities for online Juris Doctorate degrees. However, it is a hybrid program that demands some in-person attendance. It is also HLC-accredited. The school offers a master’s degree for those who already have a law degree. This latter option is completely online.

The hybrid JD program runs for about four years, while the LLM runs for two years or less. Non-lawyers with bachelor’s degrees in other fields may opt for the MSL.

University of Dayton Law School Key Takeaway

The course catalog covers everything from human rights law to criminal law to business law. There is a specialization for everyone.

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

Degree Levels: Juris Doctorate, Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 77.9 percent

Since 2019, the University of New Hampshire has been admitting students into its hybrid law school for students who want to take the bar. The Franklin Pierce School of Law has an online program that the American Bar Association approves to train students for the bar. Classes are both online and on campus.

The program runs for three to four years, after which successful students can take the bar. It is one of the most flexible JD programs out there.

University of New Hampshire Law Key Takeaway

The popular specializations for this JD degree are intellectual property, technology, and information law.

Wake Forest University

Degree Levels: Master’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 88.4 percent

This is another excellent online law school for graduate studies. The program is designed for bachelor’s degree professionals who have an interest in legal studies. Wake Forest University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Wake Forest University Law Key Takeaway

Students may specialize in business law, compliance, healthcare regulations, or financial law.

Types of Online Degrees in Law

There are two main types of law degrees for practicing lawyers. The JD is the Juris Doctorate, and the LLM is a Master of Laws for JD holders who want to specialize.

If you want a career in law, but you don’t want to take the bar or become a lawyer, you can get an associate degree. Non-lawyers may also specialize with an MSL, which stands for Master of Studies in Law. Those who want to dive into research and academic law may opt for a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD).

Online Law Undergraduate Degrees

Associate Degree in Law Studies

While you may not get an associate degree in law, you can get an associate degree in specific fields related to law. Associate Degree in Criminology and Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies are two popular examples. These programs typically run for about two years, and you subsequently qualify for entry-level paralegal positions.

Online Law Graduate Degrees

Juris Doctorate

This is the main law degree and is the most important requirement for taking the bar. You will need a bachelor’s degree in another field before applying to get your JD.

The program runs for about three years full-time and four years part-time. After completing it and passing the bar, you can work as a lawyer across industries.

Master of Laws (LLM)

This is a postgraduate degree for lawyers who want to specialize. Some states make an LLM a requirement for legal practice. You may also be able to apply for an LLM if you don’t have a professional law degree, but you have something similar and years of experience.

The program usually runs for about 12 to 24 months. You can specialize in international law, business law studies, law and regulation, or you can mix it all up with interdisciplinary law.

What Can You Do With a Law Degree

What Can You Do With a Law Degree?

A law degree is one of the most versatile degrees you can earn. You can secure a job in almost every industry in the US if you have a law degree. Specialization allows you to focus your skills on the area of law that interests you most. Also, these degrees aren’t just meant for prospective lawyers. Other professionals can benefit from a law degree.

Law Associate Degree

Average Salary: $40,000
Top Careers: Paralegal supervisor, senior corporate paralegal, senior litigation paralegal, law enforcement officer

This degree is for anyone who wants to work in a law firm but doesn’t want to be a lawyer. Popular entry-level positions are legal assistant, administrative assistant, and litigation paralegal in a law firm.

Law Master’s Degree (MSL, LLM)

Average Salary: $66,803 for MSL, $112,630 for LLM
Top Careers: Compliance officer, experienced tax associate, LLM placements officer

There are two main types of law master’s degrees. The LLM is for JD degree holders who want to specialize, but the MSL, also known as an MLS, is for professionals from other fields who hold bachelor’s degrees. Some positions that a law master’s degree qualifies you for are HR manager, health service manager, and detective.

Law Doctorate (JD)

Average Salary: $139,882
Top Careers: Corporate lawyer, medical lawyer, licensing attorney, intellectual property attorneys

This is for people in the United States who want to be admitted into legal practice. With this degree, you can venture into banking law, antitrust law, arbitration, corporate law, or aspire to become a member of Congress.

The Best Law Careers: How Much Can You Earn With a Degree in Law?

Profession Minimum Education Approx. Average Salary
Member of Congress Juris Doctorate $174,000
Corporate Lawyer Juris Doctorate $163,166
Tax Attorney Juris Doctorate $126,930
Defense Attorney Juris Doctorate $97,480
Federal Prosecutor Juris Doctorate $87,994
Real Estate Attorney Juris Doctorate $79,979
Medical Lawyer Juris Doctorate $68,080
Paralegal Associate Degree $51,740
Legal Assistant Associate Degree $50,664
Legal Secretary Associate Degree $50,052

Does It Matter What College I Go to for Law?

If you want to succeed as a lawyer, you need to choose an institution with a good reputation. It will influence the kind of roles you get and the amount you will earn as an entry-level worker. For example, some corporate law firms only hire graduates from Harvard Law. So, consider the career you want to help determine the school and program to which you apply.

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