By BVS Staff
An online master’s degree in legal studies can offer you great advantages for a future career in law. To be clear, it doesn’t correspond to an advanced law degree (J.D.), and won’t certify you to practice law as an attorney. However, it does provide training in complicated legal topics that prove invaluable to law firms, court systems, government agencies, healthcare organizations, and a whole host of businesses. In particular, graduate degrees in legal studies serve as an indication to potential employers that you have taken your knowledge and skills to the next level.
The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree from Washington University School of Law offers an in-depth perspective of the U.S. legal system and develops practical skill sets used by attorneys – debate, analytical thinking, legal writing, and more. Designed for non-lawyers, the degree provides students with the legal acumen needed to advance their careers in a wide variety of professions. No GRE or LSAT required. For more information, click here.
Pepperdine School of Law is ranked No. 1 in dispute resolution. The new online Master of Legal Studies program helps non-lawyers build essential legal skills needed to work with compliance, contracts, advocacy, and other law-related areas. No LSAT or GRE scores are required to apply. Click here for more information.
Whether you already have a job in a law-related field or are looking to make a career change, you can easily earn a master’s degree through distance education. Online colleges provide the flexibility and convenience that is in high demand by working adults.
The 20 Best Online Legal Studies Master’s Degrees Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer a master of legal studies degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of master’s degrees in legal studies and law available online. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a complex ranking system in which we’d filter out schools based on a list of specific factors.
So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap online master’s degrees in legal studies (and other law-related master’s programs), ranked from most to least expensive.
Top Cheap Master’s Degrees in Legal Studies Ranked
20. Northeastern University
Online Master of Legal Studies
Law is a complex discipline that affects many industries – not just those attached to the criminal justice system. Recognizing this fact, Northeastern University has created an accredited online master’s degree in legal studies to help non-lawyer professionals tackle this difficult subject. The curriculum, therefore, focuses on content that lies at the cross-section of law and specific industries. For example, core classes include “Negotiation and Advocacy,” “The Law of Information and Records,” and “Regulation and Compliance.” You can also tailor your education to your profession through unique elective options. Healthcare workers, for example, might select the courses in “Health Law Survey” and “Patient Records, Privacy, and Security.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $23,688/yr
19. University of Arizona
Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
When it comes to customizability, the University of Arizona has one of the top master of legal studies degrees online. After completing a 17-credit core sequence, students in this program are free to personalize their remaining classes through one of 10 concentrations. These specialized tracks allow you to acquire industry-specific knowledge in fields like Intellectual Property, Environmental Law and Policy, Family and Juvenile Law, and many other areas. And if none of the pre-approved concentrations fit your interests, you can easily design your own. Indeed, UA’s legal studies program offers so many online electives that you’ll have no problem finding classes in niche subjects ranging from immigration to sports and entertainment law.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,736/yr
18. University of Tulsa
Online Master of Jurisprudence (MJ)
At the University of Tulsa, you can earn a Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) in either Energy Law or Indian Law. Note that MJ degrees differ slightly from traditional online master’s degrees in legal studies. In addition to non-lawyer professionals, these programs are also open to attorneys and academic scholars who want to develop additional expertise in their field. As such, the curricula tend not to offer many broad-based classes in law fundamentals. Instead, you’ll get a highly-targeted education focused exclusively on the overlap between law and your profession (i.e., energy or Native American affairs). The Energy Law track, for example, covers energy market regulation and environmental, oil, and gas law all in its core sequence.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,720/yr
17. Seton Hall University
Online MSJ in Health & Hospital Law
For health professionals with interest in law, few schools offer a better option than Seton Hall. The university’s Master of Science in Jurisprudence starts by providing students with a solid background in crucial law concepts. This includes legal writing, constitutional and business law, and torts. But it’s the program’s concentration in Health and Hospital Law that makes it stand out on this online legal studies master’s degrees ranking. To fulfill the curriculum requirements, you can choose from nearly two dozen classes covering a range of health law topics, from compliance to cybersecurity to global corruption.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,468/yr
16. Loyola University Chicago
Online MJ in Children’s Law and Policy
Loyola is one of a handful of schools on this online master’s degrees in legal studies ranking to offer a Master of Jurisprudence. However, it’s the only one of these programs that specializes in child law. As such, it’s best suited for professionals who work in education, advocacy, social work, and other similar fields. Except for two general classes in the “Study of Law and the Legal System” and “Leadership Development,” the curriculum dives straight into children’s law topics. And since most of the coursework is elective-based, you can select these topics yourself from a list that includes unique picks like “Juvenile Justice Law” and “International Children’s Rights.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,458/yr
15. Nova Southeastern University
Online Master of Science In Law & Policy
At Nova Southeastern University, students can choose from a whole host of law-related graduate programs. Each of these programs caters to non-lawyers from a specific professional field. The most general option is the Master of Science in Law and Policy, which provides an overview of the American legal system while familiarizing learners with legal issues they could face in the workplace. If you enroll in this accredited master of legal studies degree online, you’ll also have the option to concentrate in Cybersecurity Law or Sports Regulation and Management. Or if you’d prefer something more narrowly focused, consider NSU’s online master’s degrees in education, health, or employment law.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,175/yr
14. California University of Pennsylvania
Online Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Legal Studies
For a practical degree that offers immediate applications to real-world problems, check out the California University of Pennsylvania. This program combines the fundamental study of jurisprudence with concentrations in targeted, in-demand career fields. For example, the Criminal Justice track covers topics like financial investigations, lie detection, and domestic extremism, making it ideal for everyone from police officers to fraud examiners. Other concentrations within this top cheap online legal studies master’s degree include Homeland Security and Law and Public Policy. The latter option ties in particularly well with careers in the government and non-profit organizations.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,014/yr
13. Florida State University
Online Juris Master of Law
Florida State University’s Juris Master degree provides advanced legal training as it relates to three industries: finance, healthcare, and human resources. In fact, each of these fields forms the basis of a concentration within the program. If you work in finance, for example, the Financial Regulation and Compliance track will bolster your knowledge of consumer lending, money laundering, and market regulation, amongst many other relevant topics. But despite their differences, each track within this accredited online master’s degree in law share several perks. That is, they’re all available 100% online, offer part-time enrollment, and come with access to support services like an online research database.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,769/yr
12. SUNY at Albany
Online Master of Science in Legal Studies
If you work in IT or information security and want to learn more about legal issues in your industry, SUNY’s Albany Law School is the place to go. Here, you can take advantage of a unique program that focuses exclusively on cybersecurity and data privacy. This cheap online master’s degree in legal studies is rife with highly specialized, high-quality coursework in cybercrime, national security, electronic discovery, global privacy law, and more. It even includes an independent study course in which you can earn credit for conducting original research. Another perk? The program’s flexibility allows you to enroll in anywhere from one to four classes per semester.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,402/yr
11. St. Mary’s University
Online Master of Jursiprudence
At St. Mary’s University, you can earn a Master of Jurisprudence that is perfectly tailored to meet your career goals. This 30-credit, affordable online master’s degree in law gives you great flexibility in choosing your coursework, whether you’re looking for a broad-based, versatile education or one that’s aligned with a specific industry. In fact, only two courses are required of all students; the rest is up to you! You can sample classes from a variety of disciplines or orient your choices around a particular concentration. SMU’s program comes with an impressive 11 pre-approved areas of concentration, although not all are available online.
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,890/yr
10. West Virginia University
Online Master of Legal Studies
Of all the places you could earn a cheap master of legal studies degree online, West Virginia University stands out for its functional, well-balanced curriculum. Instead of offering numerous tracks to suit different career types, WVU supports a single, all-encompassing MLS program. The coursework includes a robust core – featuring classes like “The Legislative Process” and “Researching the Law” – to ensure all students acquire a solid understanding of legal system fundamentals. However, the curriculum also incorporates a number of electives. Without the limitations of preset concentrations, you’ll have free range to pick and choose whatever classes interest you, from “Immigration and Border Security” to “Constitutional Law” and “Administrative Ethics.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,119/yr
9. University of Oklahoma
Online Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.)
Sensitive to the needs of local industries, the University of Oklahoma has created a set of MLS programs centered around some of the region’s most in-demand career fields. More specifically, OU offers legal studies degrees in Indigenous Peoples; Healthcare; and Oil, Gas, and Energy Law. All three options are designed specifically for non-lawyer professionals who want to boost their understanding of certain legal issues. In addition, all programs are 32-33 credits in length and take 15 months to complete. Of the three master of legal studies degrees online, the healthcare option is especially popular. This should come as no surprise, considering that OU has more than 4,000 students enrolled in health-related programs across the university!
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,221/yr
8. University of Illinois at Springfield
Online Legal Studies Master’s Degree
The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a no-nonsense, practically minded MLS program for busy professionals. With flexible scheduling, 100% online courses (plus evening and blended options for local students), and small class sizes, this degree makes it easy for you to study and work at the same time. Plus, your coursework will have direct applications to your job. Lessons in legal research, public advocacy, policymaking, and more hold relevance in myriad career fields. But the most unique aspect of this affordable online legal studies master’s degree is its clinical education component. Here, you can earn up to four credits for on-the-job training you complete at a local government agency or other law-related enterprises.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,168/yr
7. Regent University
Online M.A. in Law – General Legal Studies
Working adults who want to expand their job prospects or transition into a new law-related career path will find a clear avenue to do just that at Regent University. The school’s accredited online master’s degree in legal studies provides a general overview of the field, making it suitable for applicants with wide-ranging backgrounds and goals. Coursework aims to help students build a solid understanding of basic legal principles, from the constitution to the legislative process. The 30-credit curriculum consists of 10 required courses and no electives, which is ideal for candidates who want a straightforward path from start to finish.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,226/yr
6. Webster University
Online MA in Legal Studies
Whether you’re a legal assistant that works directly with lawyers, or a business executive trying to understand complex industry regulations, Webster’s program can help you out. The university’s MA in Legal Studies is designed to provide an overarching view of an increasingly complicated field. After studying crucial topics like “American Constitutional Law,” “Civil Actions,” and “Jurisprudence,” you’ll graduate with a solid foundation in law and the skills to quickly understand even more complicated topics you might face on the job. This is also one of the top master of legal studies degrees online for research-oriented occupations; the curriculum incorporates multiple classes in research methods, information acquisition, and professional writing.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,140/yr
5. Hodges University
Online Master of Science in Legal Studies
Intellectual property, regulatory compliance, arbitration – these are all topics you’ll learn about while enrolled in Hodges’ online legal studies master’s degree program. The curriculum also touches upon ethics, governance, international law, and even employment. In other words, this is a great choice for students who want to develop a big-picture understanding of the law and how it affects various industries. You’ll also get up to date on topical issues through a “Legal Environment Seminar” and gain practical experience through a final capstone. In this capstone, you’ll work through simulated legal scenarios and discuss pertinent issues with your classmates as you hone your problem-solving skills.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,380/yr
4. Trinity International University
Online Master of Legal Studies
For Christian students, Trinity International University might have the best cheap master of legal studies degree online. The faculty teaches all classes from a “distinctly Christian worldview,” and the core curriculum even incorporates a required “Philosophy and Theology of Justice” class. Plus, the program offers an optional concentration in Church and Ministry Management. Classes within this track address topics like staffing and compensation, religious liberty, strategic planning, and religious organizations. Of course, TIU has plenty to offer non-Christians as well. In fact, Trinity’s program offers four other concentrations covering unique fields like Bioethics, Nonprofit Organizations, and Human Rights.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,180/yr
3. Liberty University
Online Juris Master in American Legal Studies
Professionals working in business, public administration, and criminal justice will appreciate Liberty’s well-balanced Juris Master program. With its focus on American legal studies, this degree provides an in-depth look at domestic topics like criminal law, contracts, economics, and American business law. These lessons aim to help non-lawyers get ahead in industries that frequently intersect with the legal system. Plus, since the program is 100% online and takes less than two years to complete, you can easily study while continuing to put in hours on the job. And if your current profession is more globally-minded, note that Liberty also offers a separate online master’s degree in law with a focus on International Legal Studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,723/yr
2. Hamline University
Online Master in the Study of Law
Forget trying to memorize a bunch of legal information related to a specific profession. Hamline’s goal for its students is much simpler: to teach them to think like lawyers. This includes immersing program participants in the “culture of law” so that they obtain a “nuanced understanding” of how the legal system affects and connects to other industries. Hamline’s accredited online master’s degree in law also comes with concentrations, although they primarily focus on subdisciplines of law rather than specific occupations. For example, you could concentrate on Conflict Resolution, Social Justice, or Litigation. However, there is also a track in Professional Practice Management for those working in the legal field who want to gain career-oriented skills.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,532/yr
1. Arizona State University
Online Master of Legal Studies
With an average tuition of less than $7,000 a year, Arizona State University easily blows past the competition to offer the most affordable master of legal studies degree online. But low costs are not the end of the story at ASU. This program also stands out for its flexible, accelerated schedule (you can earn the degree in just one year!) and customizable coursework. On the latter point, you can personalize ASU’s curriculum by opting for one of five emphases. These include relatively standard options (e.g., Criminal Law, Intellectual Property Law) as well as more unique tracks like Sports Law, Employment Law, and Law and Sustainability.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,220/yr
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap online master’s degrees in law and legal studies!