25 Best Online Masters in Legal Studies

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In today's world, many industries are seeking experts who understand complex legal issues. Students earning a Master's Degree in Legal Studies will be well prepared to take advantage of numerous career opportunities. Many graduate students pursuing a degree in Legal Studies are currently working as financial experts, schools administrators, consultants, compliance directors, law enforcement professionals, and more. By earning a graduate degree, these students are positioning themselves to add real value to the corporations, start-ups, non-profits, schools, and government agencies where they work.

Online Masters of Legal Studies programs are designed for professionals who can benefit from legal training but do not wish to earn a law degree, sit for the bar examination, or become a practicing attorney. Masters of Legal Studies degrees help students better understand the American legal system, legal compliance, and other complex issues. Legal studies degrees can support a wide range of industries including finance, health care, law enforcement, education, and beyond. Studying for a degree in legal studies is not the same as earning a Juris Doctor degree. A legal studies program focuses on how laws and regulations function and how to assist organizations in navigating them. Students will study subjects like risk management, compliance, contracts, negotiation, and ethics. The degree programs on our list are customizable and include concentrations in areas like criminal justice, health care, homeland security, financial regulation, and more.

A Masters of Legal Studies is an excellent way to stimulate career growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in legal occupations is expected to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026 with thousands of new job openings. Career opportunities for students with a Master's of Legal Studies are lucrative, with Payscale.com reporting average salaries for legal professionals surpassing $101,000 per year.

Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.

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#25 – Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Master of Legal Studies

San Diego, California

Access high-level legal knowledge with the Master of Legal Studies from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The school offers degrees with concentrations in financial compliance and risk management, taxation, and financial services and wealth management. The program is aimed at working professionals and includes 24 credits. Classes are taken one at a time, and students can finish their degrees in one year. Asynchronous classes allow students to study without a set schedule. Course topics include tax planning, civil tax procedure, asset protection planning, securities law and compliance, and more. The school also offers a terminal degree with its Doctor of Juridical Science program. The master's degree has been offered online since 2008, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the country.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,420


#24 – Nova Southeastern University

Master Of Science in Law

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Master Of Science in Law from Nova Southeastern University provides you with critical legal insights to further your career. The fully-online degree can be completed in two years and includes a rigorous curriculum developed by the university's Shepard Broad College of Law. Students will complete four core classes, followed by four program courses. Several concentrations are offered in the degree, including education law, employment law, health law, law and policy, and cybersecurity. A total of 12-14 elective credits are required to complete the concentration along with a four-credit capstone project. Students may also complete an honors thesis. Graduate entrance tests are not required for admission. The Shepard Broad College of Law holds accreditation from the American Bar Association and is a member of the American Association of Law Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,131


#23 – Samford University

Master of Studies in Law

Birmingham, Alabama

Earn a flexible degree you can customize to meet your goals with the Master of Studies in Law from Samford University. Offered by the university's Cumberland School of Law, the fully-online program can be completed in 24 months and is intended for non-lawyers looking to further their careers. Students will earn a total of 36 semester hours. Available concentrations include financial services regulatory compliance, health law and policy, higher education law and compliance, legal project management, or a customizable option. Applicants will need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, although strong Graduate Record Examination or Law School Admissions Test scores can be substituted for a low GPA. Online graduate certificates are also available.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,255


#22 – Seton Hall University

Master of Science in Jurisprudence

Newark, New Jersey

Advance your career in a number of fields with a Master of Science in Jurisprudence from Seton Hall University. Graduate students select from concentrations in health and hospital law, pharmaceutical and medical device law and compliance, intellectual property law, privacy law, cybersecurity, and finances services compliance. Applicants are not required to submit Graduate Record Examination or Law School Admission Test scores. The 31-credit program can be completed in two years by students studying part-time. Courses last eight weeks and can be taken either entirely online or in a hybrid setting. Students can add academic depth to their program through elective coursework, including topics in internal investigations, managing legal issues in the workplace, and managing whistleblower risks. A HealthCare Compliance certificate program is also available.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,662


#21 – American University

Master of Legal Studies

Washington, D.C.

Non-lawyers can expand their grasp of legal concepts with the Master of Legal Studies from American University. The 30-credit degree program can be completed part-time or full-time, and include concentrations in business, health care compliance, technology, and general legal studies. In all concentrations, students focus on foundational courses covering topics in courts and law, regulation and compliance, policies, procedures, and contracts, and negotiation and communication. To ensure academic rigor, the curriculum has been developed jointly by the American University Washington College of Law and the university's Kogod School of Business. To apply, applicants must submit two letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. International applicants are asked to verify English language proficiency prior to admission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $30,744


#20 – New York University

Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

New York, New York

Financial and accounting professionals can accelerate their careers with the Master of Studies in Law in Taxation from New York University. The online, part-time degree program is aimed at professionals involved in tax aspects of high-level business transactions. The faculty consists of practicing tax lawyers from the university's School of Law, whose areas of expertise include corporate mergers, complex partnership transactions, tax policy, and transfer price planning. Only one course, Survey of Tax Procedure, is required. The balance of the curriculum is designed by the student to match career and academic goals. The two-year program ranges from 24 to 30 credits and includes a final written project that addresses a tax law or policy topic. To be admitted to the program, applicants will need graduate-level education in accounting, business administration, economics, finance, or taxation. A Certified Public Accountant license can be used in place of graduate education.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $42,888


#19 – Wake Forest University

Master of Studies in Law

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Master of Studies in Law from Wake Forest University gives you the skills to succeed in a changing legal environment. The fully-online program can be completed in as few as 21 months and no longer than four years. The degree features tracks in workplace legal fundamentals, business law and compliance, health law and policy, and human resources. Students may also earn a graduate certificate in each of these areas, and graduate certificate credits can be applied toward the master's degree requirements. To complete the degree, students will earn 31 total credits, including 12 core credits and nine elective credits. Students may elect to take the optional experiential capstone course where students use legal theory and practice to solve a real-world workplace issue. Capstones are completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor and must be approved prior to beginning.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $38,650


#18 – Albany Law School

Master of Science in Legal Studies

Albany, New York

Gain cutting-edge knowledge of legal issues to boost your career with the Master of Science in Legal Studies from the Albany Law School. The degree program was developed to help students understand the complexities of the law without requiring the technical knowledge to become a practicing attorney. The program includes 30 credit hours and can be completed on a part-time basis. The school offers several concentrations, including government affairs and advocacy, healthcare law and healthcare compliance, social entrepreneurship, and cybersecurity and data privacy. Students will take two required courses, Introduction to Law and Legal Methods, along with an additional 18 credits in the student's concentration. Certificates and a Juris Doctor program are also available.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $47,260


#17 – University of St. Thomas

Master of Legal Studies

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Gain in-depth knowledge of the U.S. legal system with the Master of Legal Studies from the University of St. Thomas. The fully-online program can be completed as quickly as 21 months. Students will study legal foundations to support the program's focus on ethics and compliance. The curriculum covers topics in risk management, compliance programming, white-collar crime, ethical culture and decision making, cybersecurity, and project management. The program includes synchronous online meetings that help students connect in real time. A residential variant of the degree is also available at the university's Minneapolis, Minn., campus. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,954


#16 – Texas A&M University School of Law

Masters of Jurisprudence

Fort Worth, Texas

The Masters of Jurisprudence from the Texas A&M University School of Law will accelerate your career with a state-of-the-art approach to teaching. Degree programs in wealth management and risk management are available, with both requiring six semesters to complete. Courses are delivered in an asynchronous format, allowing students to study at their convenience. Qualified applicants will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, or a foreign equivalent if applying internationally. Applicants who currently hold a Juris Doctor from an accredited law school can earn the degree as a Master of Laws. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has obtained acquiescence from the American Bar Association.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,350 / $10,820


#15 – Regent University

Master of Arts in Law – General Legal

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Accelerate your career and enhance your knowledge of legal issues with the Master of Arts in Law – General Legal from Regent University. Students will learn to evaluate legal issues, analyze the philosophical and theological structures of the U.S. legal system while becoming a competent legal researcher. The 30-credit program can be completed entirely online and includes select opportunities to attend on-campus courses. The program begins with a required foundational course for graduate students before proceeding to the required core curriculum. Students will study topics in American legal thought, the legal system and writing, legislation and regulation, and constitutional law. Concentration courses include subjects ranging from contract law to criminal law and the American tort system. Applicants are not required to submit a Law School Admission Test or Graduate Record Examination scores.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,929


#14 – Hodges University

Master's in Legal Studies

Naples, Florida

Sharpen your legal skills with the Master's in Legal Studies from Hodges University. Students will gain skills in legal research, communication, negotiation, and advocacy. The curriculum provides in-depth exposure to legal theory and the role of law in society. Offered by the university's Nichols School of Professional Studies, the program covers topics in employment and human resources, regulatory compliance, international law, ethics and law, intellectual property, and more. Students also complete a Master of Legal Studies Capstone course worth three semester hours – a total of 30 semester hours are required to graduate. To apply, candidates will need a bachelor of science degree from an accredited institution.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,780


#13 – University of Arizona

Master of Legal Studies Online

Tucson, Arizona

The Master of Legal Studies Online from the University of Arizona gives you a competitive advantage for professional advancement. Offered by the university's James E. Rogers College of Law, the degree is aimed at professionals whose careers include regulation, compliance, negotiations, human resources, and law enforcement. The 30-unit program can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis and allows students to choose from concentrations ranging from compliance and legal risk management to mining law, tax law, human rights, and intellectual property. Students will take a 15-unit required core that includes topics in the procedure, the American common law system, the American public law system, legal analysis, writing, and research. The program is offered completely online with no visits to campus required, and courses last between seven and a half and 16 weeks.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,716 / $32,065


#12 – Pepperdine University

Master of Legal Studies

Malibu, California

Develop your legal and analytical skills with the Master of Legal Studies from Pepperdine University. Full-time students can complete the 32-unit program in as little as 16 months, while part-time students can expect to earn their degree in 28 months. The program includes an 18-unit core component, consisting of topics in legal concepts and procedures, contracts, legal writing, civil procedure and litigation, constitutional law, and criminal law. Students can further customize their education with up to 12 elective courses, including intellectual property, business organizations, health law, and educational law. Students have opportunities for networking with peers and faculty while earning one credit toward graduation with the program's two-weekend residencies. An optional dual-degree pathway that includes a Master of Dispute Resolution is also available by completing an additional 18 to 22 units.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $33,700


#11 – Webster University

Master of Arts in Legal Studies

St. Louis, Missouri

Build your legal skills to advance in your field with the Master of Arts in Legal Studies from Webster University. In the program, students will acquire a broad understanding of the legal environment and be able to evaluate legal information and understand legal issues. The 39-credit hour curriculum surveys topics in legal studies, jurisprudence, ethics, legal research methods, civil and criminal actions, and Anglo-American legal history. Students complete the program's elective requirements through an Advanced Legal Writing course, and Advanced Topics in Law course, or a legal studies internship. Students also have the opportunity to concurrently earn a certificate in paralegal studies.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,500


#10 – Arizona State University

Master of Legal Studies

Phoenix, Arizona

The Master of Legal Studies from Arizona State University helps non-lawyers develop advanced legal expertise. Professionals seeking a foundational understanding of legal concepts without pursuing a full-law degree can earn a 30-credit degree in one year. Students can customize their educational plan by selecting an area of emphasis in corporate and health care compliance, criminal law, human resources and employment law, intellectual property law, sports law and business, or sustainability law. Each emphasis includes four courses in that particular topic. Students seeking admission will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or an international equivalent. Graduate school entrance test scores are not required.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,406 / $25,160


#9 – Saint Leo University

Criminal Justice, Master of Science – Legal Studies

Saint Leo, Florida

Enhance your understanding of complex legal concepts with the Criminal Justice, Master of Science – Legal Studies from Saint Leo University. The degree, aimed at first responders, government officials, correctional officers, criminal justice administrators, probation and parole officers, provides a comprehensive understanding of legal procedures. Coursework includes five core criminal justice courses along with three courses in legal studies. Students can customize the degree by selecting up to three elective courses. The required core covers topics in criminal justice administration, public policy making, and an applied project in criminal justice. As a military school with a Catholic spirit, Saint Leo University offers a wide range of electives. Topics range from Terrorism in Israel to Hostage Negotiations, Advanced Forensic Science, Risk Identification and Assessment, and more.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,498


#8 – University of Southern California

Master of Studies in Law

Los Angeles, California

The Master of Studies in Law from the University of Southern California will give you key insights into important legal issues. The completely online program delivers an advanced legal education designed for non-lawyers. The program features synchronous and asynchronous class sessions and a Wednesday-through-Tuesday academic week. Students also have access to academic advisors who can help design the program to meet individual career and academic goals. Students are required to complete 21 credit units to earn the degree. The required core courses include an Introduction to the U.S. Legal System and a one unit legal research course. Students select the remaining 18 credits from electives including U.S. law, health care compliance, entertainment law and industry, business law and compliance, financial compliance, or human resources law and compliance. An on-campus version of the degree is also available along with several online graduate certificates.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $44,712


#7 – Washington University in St Louis

Online Master of Legal Studies

St. Louis, Missouri

The Online Master of Legal Studies from Washington University in St. Louis gives you the tools to take your career to the next level. Students will gain the skills to draft legal documents, conduct legal research, and provide analysis into new laws and regulations. The one-year program includes 24 total credits, including one required course and a selection of seven electives. Electives cover topics in contracts, civil procedure, legal writing, negotiation, health law, and more. Students can also participate in an optional on-campus weekend learning experience that includes networking opportunities with local professional law firms. To qualify for the program, students will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or equivalent. Graduate entrance exams are not required for admission. The program has received acquiescence by the American Bar Association, and the university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $52,400


#6 – Drexel University

Master of Legal Studies

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

With a Master of Legal Studies from Drexel University, you'll gain valuable insights into today's legal landscape. The degree is designed to train students in complex legal areas, including compliance, legal research, risk management, as well as ethics and professional standards. Students choose from concentration areas in criminal law, cybersecurity and information privacy, financial regulatory compliance, health care compliance, higher education compliance, human resources compliance, NCAA compliance and sports law, and pharmaceutical and medical device regulatory compliance. The program's concentration in health care compliance has been accredited by the Compliance Certification Board. The university's Thomas R. Kline School of Law also offers certificates and non-matriculated options.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $34,155


#5 – West Virginia University

Master of Legal Studies

Morgantown, West Virginia

The Master of Legal Studies from West Virginia University delivers the latest legal education to give you a competitive edge. The degree is directed at professionals working in human resources, criminal justice, social work, and beyond, who need a legal background but are seeking neither a law degree nor a paralegal program. Professionals with a law enforcement background can take advantage of the degrees justice system area of emphasis, while the homeland security emphasis is designed for professionals involved in transportation security and immigration, along with law enforcement. The health care area of emphasis provides guidance in the modern health care regulatory environment. To apply, students will need a minimum 2.75 GPA and a score on a graduate entrance exam. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990 / $25,776


#4 – University of Illinois at Springfield

Master of Arts in Legal Studies

Springfield, Illinois

The Master of Arts in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield gives working professionals a broad understanding of the legal system. Students will gain professional skills while studying legal theory and building an understanding of the American legal system. The 40- semester hour degree can be completed entirely online and can be tailored to meet each student's individual goals. The degree's curriculum includes a required course in legal research and citation and core coursework in theories of justice and public advocacy, along with a seminar in politics and law, and either a graduate seminar or a thesis project. Students may earn up to four hours of clinical education by working in a legal environment. To qualify for admission, students will need a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a personal statement.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,550 / $15,247


#3 – University of Oklahoma

Master of Legal Studies

Norman, Oklahoma

The Master of Legal Studies program from the University of Oklahoma will give you the tools to succeed in the modern workplace. Offered by the university's College of Law, the program recognizes the growing need for legal expertise beyond the scope of lawyers. Students can select from one of four concentrations in health care law; oil, gas, end energy law; indigenous peoples law; and international business law. Coursework is completed entirely online with a five-day on-campus module. Oil, Gas, and Energy students will get in-person instruction in negotiation and communications, and complete a project in economics and finance. Each program consists of 32 credits and can typically be completed in 15 months. Students studying the indigenous peoples concentration will complete 33 credits. Standardized graduate admissions tests are not required to gain admission to the program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,683 / $20,342


#2 – Georgetown University

Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

Washington, D.C.

Gain mastery of tax laws through the Master of Studies in Law in Taxation from Georgetown University. Aimed at tax professionals who are not attorneys, the degree program draws on the largest tax curriculum in the U.S. To qualify for the program students must complete prerequisite coursework in federal income tax, which can be taken through the university's Foundations of Federal Income Taxation course. In addition to federal income tax, students will take required courses in corporate income tax, income tax accounting, and an introduction to federal income tax, research, and writing. Beyond the required courses, students select electives to customize the degree to meet their academic and career goals. Electives include topics in advanced international taxation, comparative tax law, ethics in tax law, and more. Students may also earn certificates in International Taxation or State and Local Taxation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $49,560


#1 – Northeastern University

Master of Legal Studies

Boston, Massachusetts

Build a legal background that can accelerate your career with the Master of Legal Studies from Northeastern University. The online program can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, and students can expect to earn their degrees in less than two years. The program's core courses deliver a broad foundational understanding of the law, and electives allow students to customize their degrees for various industries. Elective topics include financial transactions, global business strategies healthcare regulation, anti-discrimination law, intellectual property, and more. Students will earn a total of 30 to 33 units. The university offers students the Experiential Network, which aims to help students add to their online education through real-world projects. To gain admission, applicants will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited undergraduate institution and two letters of recommendation. Graduate entrance examination scores are optional.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,027