If you wish to pursue a law career without sacrificing your current job, you should consider an online law degree. The legal field offers many lucrative career paths; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of over $119,000 for lawyers in 2017.
The BLS projects a steady 8% increase in job opportunities for lawyers and 9% for general legal professions through 2026, meaning the need for these professionals will continue to grow as governments, businesses, and individuals rely on legal services.
Earning a degree from one of the best online law schools in the nation can prepare you to become an attorney or pursue legal careers in other industries, such as healthcare, business, or criminal justice. Many online programs exist for both lawyers and non-lawyers. A graduate law degree can help you specialize in a particular legal topic, advance your career, and increase your earnings potential.
The Best Online Law Schools In America 2019
10.University of Alabama
One of the nation’s best online law schools, UA offers a 24-credit LL.M. with concentrations in taxation and business transactions. The program typically takes one year to complete and offers live classes two nights a week in the evenings to accommodate students with professional obligations.
UA offers start dates each August and follows a cohort model, meaning students progress through the same sequence of courses as a group. Students in the taxation concentration take required courses covering tax procedure and personal income tax. Meanwhile, the business transactions concentration includes required courses in advanced securities regulation and mergers and acquisitions.
9.University of Vermont
Located in Burlington, UVM offers several law degrees entirely online, including a master of energy regulation and law, a master of environmental law and policy, a master of food and agriculture law and policy, and LL.M.
degrees in energy law, environmental law, and food and agriculture law. All of these online law programs consist of 30 credits and can take students anywhere from 1-5 years to complete. UVM offers all of these programs for both full- and part-time learners, though most students choose to study part-time. The LL.M degrees require applicants to hold a JD or its international equivalent.
8.Michigan State University
MSU offers a fully online master’s degree in global food law for both lawyers and non-lawyers alike: a 24-credit LL.M. in food law for lawyers, and a 26-credit master of jurisprudence in food law for non-lawyers.
Core courses in both programs cover topics in international food law, food regulation in the U.S.and food safety and labeling. Non-lawyers must also take a foundational course in law and legal research. Elective courses make up the remainder of the degree, with options like biotechnology law and food products; food regulation in Canada; and wine, beer, and spirits laws and regulations.
7.University of Illinois Springfield
One of the best online law schools, UIS offers both a hybrid and fully online master of arts in legal studies that takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand the American legal system and its role in society.
The 40-credit program includes 24 credits of core courses and 16 elective credits and culminates with either a graduate seminar or a thesis project. Students can choose to use their electives to pursue one of several online concentration options, including regulatory compliance, human rights/social justice, and law and public policy. The school uses the Blackboard platform to deliver a mix of synchronous and asynchronous coursework.
6.University of Tulsa
TU offers two online law degrees for non-lawyers: the 24-credit master of jurisprudence in energy law and the 30-credit master of jurisprudence in Indian law. Designed for legal professionals who do not wish to become lawyers, these programs do not prepare graduates to sit for the bar exam.
Full-time students can complete either program in a year, while part-time students often need 4-6 terms to finish all of the requirements. Both programs require a final capstone project in which students can choose a topic of interest to study in-depth. TU provides all program coursework and exams entirely online, with occasional required live class sessions.
5.George Washington University
GW offers a 30-credit online master of professional studies in law firm management that prepares graduates for leadership positions within legal settings. The program offers start dates each summer and typically takes students 18 months to complete.
While GW offers its coursework online, the program does require five on-campus residencies in Alexandria, Virginia. These mandatory residencies include two nine-day residencies and three four-day residences, placed at intervals throughout the program. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with at least a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate administrative work experience in a legal setting.
One of the nation’s oldest tax LL.M. programs, BU’s 24-credit master of law in taxation program offers students the choice of five concentrations or emphasis areas: transfer pricing, international taxation, estate planning, financial services, or general business taxation. One of the best online law schools, BU offers program start dates in the fall, spring, and summer and accepts applications on a rolling basis.
Part-time students can take up to four years to complete the program, though full-time students often finish the degree in two sessions. The school offers online students a variety of support services, including employee recruitment opportunities during the final year of the program. Applicants must hold a JD or LL.B. degree from an ABA-accredited institution.
3.New York University
NYU has offered a distance executive LL.M program for the past 10 years, earning its spot among the best online law schools. Designed for working professionals, NYU offers the executive LL.M. program in a part-time format only, giving students up to five years to complete the 24 credits.
Though most students earn the degree within three years. The program offers start dates in the fall and spring. Degree seekers can choose from five concentration areas: international taxation, business taxation, tax policy, estate planning, and general taxation. Applicants must hold a bachelor of laws (LL.B) or JD from an ABA-accredited university.
2.Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University offers a master of legal studies (M.L.S.) for professionals who wish to gain deeper legal knowledge but do not plan to work as attorneys. The 24-credit M.L.S. program uses synchronous, live-streamed courses and typically takes students one year to complete.
Required courses build foundational knowledge in legal topics, such as contract writing, international business transactions, and intellectual property. Elective courses allow learners to examine how the legal system interacts with various industries. Students can participate in an optional weekend immersion in St. Louis during which they can meet their professors, network with law firms, attend court hearings, and earn an elective credit. The degree prepares graduates to pursue careers in a variety of fields, including social work, business, and politics.
One of the best online law schools, Villanova offers a 24-credit master of laws (LL.M.) in taxation entirely online. The program examines the intersection of law and accounting, with required courses covering research and writing as well as the taxation of corporations and shareholders. The curriculum includes six required courses and three electives.
Students can opt to use their electives to examine a particular taxation subject in order to earn an additional certificate. The school structures its courses using an eight-week format, meaning students take one course at a time. Most students complete the program within 18 months. Applicants must hold a Juris Doctor (JD) from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).