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Best Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degrees

Oct 20, 2021

Legal Studies Degrees

A degree in legal studies prepares students with the skills necessary for work in the legal field. Students learn to communicate effectively through writing and speaking, analyze different aspects of law critically and ethically, and live in a diverse society. A degree in legal studies will equip graduates for careers in law and beyond.

Best Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degrees

Having looked at colleges and universities all across the country, and measured different programs among a wide variety of factors, Study.com has arrived at the following list of the best bachelor's degree programs in the field of legal studies. In determining and ranking these top legal studies bachelor's programs, we looked at factors like academic focus, internship and research opportunities, extracurricular activities, online and non-traditional study options, and specialization options - as well as looked at stats from the United States Department of Education. Many of the programs on our list have invested specific resources into preparing students for future careers as paralegals or law clerks or to help prepare students for law school. For prospective undergraduate students interested in a future career in the legal field, the following list is an excellent resource to narrow down your college search.

1. University of Wisconsin-Superior

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8132 82% 48% 76% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

We open our list with the outstanding legal studies bachelor's degree program offered by the University of Wisconsin-Superior. This school earns the number one spot on our list with its advanced and comprehensive offerings of different degree paths from which students can chose. In addition to both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree, legal studies undergraduates can also elect to add a criminal justice specialization or earn a paralegal certificate, a criminal justice paralegal certificate, or a mediation certificate alongside their degree. The legal studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior also has the distinction of guaranteeing students internship placement at locations like local law firms and public defender or district attorney offices, and it offers mock trial and pre-paw student organizations as extracurricular activities.

2. University of California-Santa Cruz

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13991 51% 75% 70% Yes Yes AP Credits

The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program at the University of California-Santa Cruz earns the number two spot on our list through its interdisciplinary focus and significant resources offerings for students. For instance, its excellent internship and experiential learning opportunities include options for legal studies students to spend time with the UCDC Program in Washington DC, complete legislative and governmental internships in Sacramento, secure legal internships in the Monterrey Bay area, and do independent field studies.

3. Culver-Stockton College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27205 52% 52% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Culver-Stockton College of Canton, Missouri, offers a highly acclaimed Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program that provides a dual focus on both the academic and professional elements of a legal career. In fact, it prides itself on providing a firm foundation for future careers in law, business, and government, as well as is a jumping-off point for subsequent acceptance into law school. In addition to its academic excellence, this bachelor's program does a wonderful job providing students with plenty of opportunities for field work and extracurricular activities. Alongside a well-established internship program, the college features terrific student-run activities, such as the Legal Studies Student Association.

4. Goldey-Beacom College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$24780 57% 58% 100% No Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Delaware, offers students two separate tracks to achieve a legal studies bachelor's degree: a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in legal studies and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in legal studies. The B.A. program with a legal studies concentration has an emphasis on academic and professional writing, communications, and media, while the B.S. program with a legal studies concentration focuses on business law, constitutional law, international law, and politics. Both programs are offered in partnership with the Delaware Law School of Widener University and were developed with the intended goal of providing an expedited pathway to law school through the college's 3+3 Early Admissions Program and the Express or Guaranteed Admission Program.

5. University of Central Florida

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6368 44% 72% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

Up next is Orlando's University of Central Florida, which offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree program in legal studies. This legal studies program does an excellent job preparing undergraduate students for future legal careers and for law schools, with all faculty members having graduated from accredited law schools and have practiced law. The program also earns its spot on our list by providing significant opportunities for students outside of the classroom, with numerous offerings for internships or final capstone projects. The legal studies program is offered entirely online, which serves as a helpful convenience for distance-learning and non-traditional students.

6. University of California-Berkeley

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14253 16% 93% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of California at Berkeley earns its top-ten spot on our list due to the wide range of impressive resources offered to legal studies students. This renowned Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program provides students with a comprehensive curriculum that prepares them for future legal careers. Outside of the classroom, legal studies students can participate in impressive organizations and extracurricular opportunities, such as the Berkeley Legal Studies Association and the Undergraduate Legal Studies Research Conference. Students with high academic achievement can also enroll in the university's legal studies Honors Program.

7. University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16389 64% 82% 90% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst comes up next with its Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program. In addition to its great liberal arts and legal curriculum, this program features numerous additional academic opportunities for legal studies students, including independent study courses, internships, and an excellent Honors Program where legal studies students with high academic achievement can engage in independent honors study and access additional, comprehensive courses. The program also allows legal studies students to attain additional letters of specialization during the course of their degree program in areas such as comparative and international law, constitutional law, and conflict resolution.

8. Morehead State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9290 78% 46% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

Morehead State University's Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree earns our ranking for its blend of academic excellence and diverse opportunities for students outside of the classroom. Offered at the university's main campus in Morehead, Kentucky, the legal studies program is fully approved by the American Bar Association and allows students to engage in a variety of community projects and professional staffing roles, usually with law offices, clinics, and other relevant programs. Morehead State has also done an excellent job setting its students up for future academic and professional success, as 100% of its graduates who applied to law school were accepted (2010-2015).

9. SUNY College of Technology at Canton

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8650 85% 47% 95% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Technology campus in Canton, NY, offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program that boasts a comprehensive program that is exemplary in educating students in the business aspects of law as well as several specialized areas of the law, such as constitutional, criminal, and family law. SUNY Canton's legal studies program also affords students numerous opportunities for semester-long internships with highly ranked law firms. The college allows students interested in pursuing further legal studies to achieve both a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and a law degree in six year through its 3+3 program, in association with the University at Buffalo School of Law.

10. Faulkner University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22310 78% 33% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

At Montgomery, Alabama's, Faulkner University, undergraduate students who are interested in the legal field can enroll in the university's Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program. The program, which is approved by the American Bar Association, also allows students to receive hands-on practice with writing legal briefs, researching legal issues, and doing other crucial work within the legal field. Faulkner's legal studies program also receives high marks for its convenience and flexibility, allowing students to take part-time and evening classes in accordance with their scheduling needs.

11. Southeastern University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26620 48% 45% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

Lakeland, Florida's, Southeastern University offers a top-notch Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program that is particularly notable for the different pathways of study that it offers, as students choose a concentration in either pre-law or paralegal studies, depending on their career goals. The program also allows students to take part in moot courts to provide them with beneficial experiential learning in courtroom settings.

12. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10725 54% 88% 61% Yes Yes AP Credits

Up next is the fantastic Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, which offers a holistic education in law and legal institutions through the university's Center for Law, Society, and Justice. This legal studies program is designed around five distinct themes: legal institutions, law and social forces, processes of legal order and disorder, law and theory, and law and culture. The university has also devised a wonderful mentoring program that includes peer mentoring, one-on-one mentoring, and a speed mentoring program that allows legal studies students to speak and work directly with law firms, police departments, and other relevant organizations at campus events.

13. University of Illinois at Springfield

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11928 77% 54% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The University of Illinois in Springfield, comes up next on our list for its Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies. Due to the campus's location in the Illinois capital city, the program affords students ample opportunities for interning with state and federal courts and major law offices. The university also provides all legal studies students with a faculty advisor who provides crucial assistance from their initial admittance to their final thesis work.

14. Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21008 No Available Data (2019-2020) 69% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

Students at Keiser University's campus in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, can choose between the school's standard Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies or add a concentration in law office management. This legal studies program has earned acclaim for its comprehensive curriculum, with students having the option of taking courses from the accounting and business departments in addition to standard law courses. Additionally, the program also allows students to pursue excellent internship opportunities with law offices and other relevant organizations.

15. Mercy College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19594 82% 44% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

New York's Mercy College offers a well-regarded Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies program at its Dobbs Ferry campus that has three tracks for students, depending on their legal goals and interests. Students can choose the general BS in Legal Studies program, or they could choose a focus in paralegal studies or political science. The college also features several beneficial and exciting extracurricular academic organizations for undergraduate legal studies students, including chapters of Pi Gamma Mu (the national social sciences honors society) and Lambda Epsilon Chi (the national paralegal honors society).

16. William Paterson University of New Jersey

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13370 75% 55% 91% No Yes AP / ACE Credits

William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, earns our next spot for to its Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies. Offered through the university's Department of Political Science, Legal, and Urban Studies, this B.A. program provides students numerous resources to find internship opportunities that will expand and complement their academic studies. William Paterson University also offers several organizations where students can expand upon their legal and political science studies and network and connect with their peers, including the Mock Trial Team, Model United Nations,

17. Brandman University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12440 89% 60% 89% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

Next on our list is the Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program from Brandman University. With a main campus in Irvine, California, this school allows students to complete their legal studies degree on campus (with 18 locations to choose from!), online, or in a hybrid on-campus/online format. Brandman's legal studies program also has a competency path, allowing students with previous legal experience or knowledge to earn their degree quicker. Legal studies students can also add a paralegal profession or business law concentration to their bachelor's studies, opening up further opportunities for future careers in the legal field.

18. Webster University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28700 57% 58% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program at Webster University is the only ABA- approved program in the St. Louis, MO, area. The program includes both coursework in the foundations of law and the legal system as well as those that prepare one to become a paralegal. Students are taught by current attorneys and judges from a variety of legal backgrounds, including corporate lawyers and judges from the Missouri Court of Appeals!

19. University of Mississippi

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8828 88% 66% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits

The Department of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies at the University of Mississippi -headquartered in the town of University, MS - offers prospective legal students multiple degree options to choose from. The Bachelor of Science of Legal Studies - Law Studies program is available with an optional paralegal emphasis for those seeking that career path. The department has also teamed up with the University of Mississippi's School of Law to offer the 3+3 Accelerated Law path, allowing students to achieve both a BSLS degree and a Juris Doctor in six years. The university's Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department offers students numerous internship opportunities, including many within the state of Mississippi itself, as well as has connections to internship programs in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, DC.

20. University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19718 57% 83% 77% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

The University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania comes up next on our list with its intricate and interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies program. The program achieves high marks for the convenience afforded to its students, allowing legal studies undergraduates to take courses both in campus and in an online setting. Legal studies students may also take advantage of numerous opportunities with many of Pitt's excellent extracurricular organizations, including the Student Legal Activist Network, the Pitt Police Citizens Academy, and the Pitt Law Women's Association.

21. Northeastern State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6915 100% 33% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

Oklahoma's Northeastern State University comes up next on our list, featuring an interdisciplinary and professionally focused Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree program that is offered at two locations: Tahlequah and Broken Arrow, OK. This legal studies program does an excellent job preparing students for a wide variety of exciting career paths in law firms, courts, government agencies, and many other areas. The university also houses the nationally-recognized Institute of Global Security & Comparative Justice Systems, affording legal studies students a wide variety of resources and research opportunities for an even more well-rounded education.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.


What Kinds of Legal Studies Degrees Are There?

There are many different kinds of legal studies degrees, including associate, bachelor's master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as different certificates and concentrations in legal studies. Read on to see the difference between these degrees and which would be the best one for you to pursue.

Associate Degrees in Legal Studies

Associate degrees in legal studies offer students the chance to learn the ins and outs of the legal system and prepares them for careers in law offices, nonprofits, or governments. While there are a few universities that offer associate degrees in legal studies, many offer associate degrees in paralegal studies, which prepares students to work as a paralegal under an attorney, preparing documents and researching.

An associate degree in legal studies typically takes 60 credit hours, or two years, to complete. They are offered synchronously and in a cohort style, meaning students will take all of their classes with the same set of peers for all 60 credit hours. Students will learn about different types of law, how to write and research in a legal setting, and how to use technology to succeed in their future careers. Aside from being a paralegal, students who graduate with an associate degree in legal studies have the opportunity to be a legal assistant, law enforcement officer, or probation officer.

Bachelor's Degrees in Legal Studies

Bachelor's degrees in legal studies provide students the understanding of and skills in law and legal system, preparing them for a plethora of careers in law and law related fields. Many universities offer a bachelor's in legal studies, but some universities offer degrees in jurisprudence or pre-law instead. While a bachelor's of legal studies focuses on the ins and outs of the legal system, a bachelor's of jurisprudence concentrates on critically thinking and engaging with the legal system and the changes that have taken place within it over time. A bachelor's of pre-law will prepare students with the foundation they need to pursue an advanced degree in law.

A bachelor's degree in legal studies usually takes four years to complete. The classes are offered synchronously, although students are typically not placed in a cohort. Students with this degree may choose a career as a paralegal, legal assistant, law enforcement agent, or as a federal employee in federal and state government agencies, among others. Students with this degree may also opt to go to graduate school and become a lawyer or professor of law.

Master's Degrees in Legal Studies

A master's degree in legal studies (MLS) provides students with a deeper understanding of law and policy in America and how these topics shape society. While a master's degree in legal studies is usually not taken by students who are hoping to become a lawyer, this degree is valuable to those who work in a setting where an in-depth knowledge of law and policy is beneficial. Many universities offer a master's degree in legal studies, as well as different specializations depending on students' interest and career goals. Some of these may include specializations in business, health, technology, or environmental law.

Depending on the program, students will expect to complete between 30 and 40 credit hours of courses, which equates to one to two years of study. Classes are typically set up synchronously and students will be placed in a cohort. Students will take classes that focus on legal theory, research, and public policy, as well as classes focused on their specialization. Graduates with a master's degree in legal studies will be prepared to work as policy makers, legal consultants, or court administrators, among others.

Doctoral Degrees in Legal Studies

There are many different kinds of doctoral degrees in legal studies, all providing students with a thorough understanding of the legal system and society. Some of these degrees provide students with the opportunity to become lawyers and practice law, while others prepare students to become professors or researchers of law. Doctoral degrees in legal studies that are offered to students who wish to practice law include a Juris Doctor degree (or JD degree) and an LLM degree (which stands for Legum Magister).

The JD degree is a broad law degree that prepares a student to take the bar exam, allowing them to become a lawyer. Requirements for this degree include the completion of a bachelor's degree, typically with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. This degree takes three years to complete and classes are offered synchronously in a cohort. After the student finishes this degree and passes the bar exam, they can begin a career as a lawyer.

The LLM degree is typically studied after a student finishes their JD degree. It is specialized to accommodate the students' career goals in a particular kind of law, such as environmental, international, or healthcare. A JD degree and license to practice law are required before studying the LLM. This degree takes one to two years to complete, and classes are offered synchronously in a cohort. LLM degree holders can expect to further their careers as a lawyer, and practice more specialized law topics.

A PhD in law is designed for students who have completed their JD degree and are preparing to work in the academic field as a professor researcher. This degree takes around four years to complete. Classes are offered synchronously and, depending on the program, are offered in a cohort.

Certificates in Legal Studies

Legal studies certificates are offered at a number of different levels and in many different areas of specialization. Some of these include a paralegal certificate, a certificate in specific areas of law, or a general legal studies certificate. The length of the certificates varies, and can take students anywhere from 15 to 40 credit hours to complete.

A certificate in legal studies can prepare you to work in many different fields. It can certify you to be a paralegal or legal assistant in a law office, or it can hone your skills as a lawyer by offering specialized training.

Legal Studies Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Students may choose to concentrate their bachelor's degree in legal studies. This concentration usually compliments a bachelor's degree in pre-law or jurisprudence. Classes focus on interpreting and analyzing different legal information, conducting research, and how law and society influence each other. This concentration will prepare students for a number of different careers, including a paralegal, lawyer, real estate agent, or business manager.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies

A bachelor's degree in legal studies requires courses that teach students how to study and analyze law and its relation to society. There are core classes, general education classes, and elective classes that are required. Here is an overview of classes a student might take.

Core Classes

  • Introduction to Law
  • Legal Ethics
  • Legal Research and Writing

General Education Classes

  • Statistics
  • Public Speaking
  • Political Science

Elective Classes

  • Environmental Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business Law

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Legal Studies?

A bachelor's in legal studies typically takes 120 credit hours, or 4 years, to complete. These credits include 20 to 30 credits of core classes, 30 credits of general education, and 60 credits of electives. Some programs may require an internship at a law office or policy center in order to graduate.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degrees

While bachelor's degrees in legal studies are not specifically accredited, the schools that offer the degrees are usually accredited. An accredited bachelor's degree means that it meets educational standards set forth by the accrediting agency. These agencies include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, to name a few. It is important to choose a bachelor's degree that is accredited by an agency as it will ensure you are receiving the best education, will be able to transfer credits between universities easier, and be eligible for federal financial aid.

Legal Studies Licensure & Certification

There are many different licenses and certifications that professions in legal studies require. Two of the most popular certifications include a paralegal certification and a law license.

Paralegal Certification

A paralegal certification is dependent on each state. Some states require every paralegal to be certified, while other states do not require this certification. A few law firms or companies may individually require it, though, so it may be a good idea to obtain the certification if you wish to work as a paralegal. This certification requires that you pass a paralegal certification exam, such as the PCCE or PACE.

Law License

A law license is required to become a lawyer, and is given out by individual states. A law license typically requires completing a JD degree and passing the Bar Exam, as well as passing state-specific professional responsibility exams.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies?

There are many different careers you can have with a bachelor's degree in legal studies. Two of these degrees include a paralegal and criminal defense lawyer. While they differ from each other in many ways, both require a background in legal studies.

How to Become a Paralegal

A paralegal collects, researches, and writes to help prepare lawyers to give their case in court. This job requires a background in legal studies and possibly a paralegal certification, as well as excellent communication, writing and researching skills.

According to the BLS, job growth for a paralegal is expected to jump 10% between 2019 and 2020, and the mean salary for this job is $51,740. The highest paying states for this job include Washington, D.C., Colorado, and California, according to the BLS.

How to Become a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense lawyer represents those who have been accused of a crime by defending them in court. This job typically requires research and writing in preparation to create a strong case in court. Criminal defense lawyers have many different work settings, including their office, the courtroom, prisons, or their clients' homes. Strong communication, writing, research, and analytical skills are required for this job.

According to the BLS the mean salary for a lawyer is $122,960 and this job is expected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. The states with the highest paying salaries for lawyers include Washington, D.C., California, and New York, as per the BLS.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Legal Studies Degrees

There are many different kinds of financial aid that bachelor's students studying legal studies may be eligible for, including federal, state, and local aid. In order to receive financial aid, you must meet all of the requirements for a FAFSA. These include creating a Federal Student Aid (FSA) account, reporting your social security number, reporting your income and tax information, and listing the schools that you are interested in attending. To meet the requirements for student aid, you must be in financial need, be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen, be in good standing with other federal student loans you may have, be in or accepted to a program, and maintain proper academic progress.

There are also scholarships that you may be eligible to apply for that are specific to a bachelor's degree in legal studies.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program is designed for undergraduate students with a background in the legal field and social science. Priority is given to students who are from underrepresented backgrounds. Sophomores and juniors are allowed to apply. Requirements include having at least a 3.0 grade point average, and submitting a resume, an unofficial transcript, a letter of recommendation, an optional writing sample, and a personal statement in response to a prompt.

The Warner Nocross+Judd Diversity Law Scholarship provides aid to paralegal and legal assistant students who reside and attend school in the state of Michigan. Requirements for this scholarship include a resume, an essay, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

The Emery Reddy Legal Studies Scholarship provides aid to selected undergraduate students with a dedication to the study of law. Requirements include the submission of a 500 word essay explaining why the candidate is interested in the study of law.

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