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Online Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies

The legal system touches the lives of many, whether those running a business, buying a home, or availing of public services. Thus, knowledge and skills in legal matters remain highly coveted, and legal studies graduates enjoy many different avenues of employment.

A bachelor’s degree in legal studies offers students an opportunity to explore legal processes and systems and develop essential skills such as written communication and critical thinking. Even if one does not wish to pursue a career in law, he or she can use the skills developed across various fields, including banking, real estate, healthcare, and business. A bachelor’s degree in legal studies also prepares students to pursue a master’s or associate degree in law, or a professional certification.

A bachelor’s degree in legal studies helps students explore the American legal system, legal processes, criminal justice, politics, psychology, and sociology. Students can also learn how to analyze evidence, present arguments, conduct legal research, draft legal documents, think innovatively, and interpret facts critically. Some bachelor’s programs include an internship, promoting hands-on law experience for students.

The versatile skill set developed in a legal studies program allows students to pursue opportunities in various organizations, including hospitals, banks, real estate agencies, government organizations, small businesses, regulatory agencies, and nonprofits. They can also choose to work in law firms or within legal departments as legal assistants, paralegal assistants, court officials, title examiners, or legal secretaries.

The following guide covers six reputable online legal studies bachelor’s programs, as well as three faculty members that teach these programs.

Professors to Know in Online Bachelor’s Programs in Legal Studies

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Patrick Bradley, JD, University Of Maryland University College

Patrick Bradley is vice dean and chair of the criminal justice program at the University of Maryland. Before Maryland, he spent several years in law enforcement education.

He has served as the director of the Baltimore City Police Academy, as well as the executive director of Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission. Additionally, he was an assistant director at the Maryland Department of Public Safety Division of Correction. He is a member of several professional organizations and has presided over the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

Professor Bradley has a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, a master’s from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s in law enforcement and corrections from Pennsylvania State University. He also holds a graduate certificate in teaching from Johns Hopkins.

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Diana Gruendler, Penn State World Campus

Diana Gruendler is the faculty in-charge for the College of Liberal Arts interdisciplinary programs and a senior lecturer of English at Penn State University. She has extensive online teaching experience and makes use of technology to build communities within her classes. Her research focuses on the use of electronic readers and online communities. Her commitment towards her students has won her several teaching awards. Before joining Penn State, professor Gruendler worked in private and public institutions, in academic as well as student services administrative posts. Professor Grunedler earned her master’s from Pepperdine University.

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Melissa Meyer, JD, Brandman University

Melissa Meyer is a lead faculty member of the legal studies program at Brandman University. She has worked in private and government agencies, handling civil and criminal law.

She previously worked as a litigation attorney and an assistant public defender. She also served as an appellate court attorney at the New York Appellate Division. Professor Meyer has taught courses in legal studies and criminal justice at Brandman as well as other colleges. Outside of her teaching duties, she volunteers at the Nexos Voluntarios Business and Development Project and the Young Parenting Support Services Program.

Professor Meyer is also a member of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. She completed her Juris Doctor from the State University of New York, University at Buffalo, and her bachelor’s degree in political science from Old Dominion University.

Featured Online Bachelor’s Programs in Legal Studies

Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU offers an online bachelor of science (BS) degree in criminal justice with a concentration in legal studies and advocacy. As part of the program, students get a chance to explore various aspects of the American legal system. They gain an understanding of legal procedures, intervention, and other topics related to criminal justice.

The 120-credit program explores topics such as American politics, psychology, sociology, and victim advocacy. Students also delve into criminal justice, criminal law, administrative law, the juvenile justice system, and forensic psychology. They learn how to analyze the causes of crime by studying human behavior and evaluating the impact of new technologies and globalization on the surge of crime in the U.S.

After completion of the degree, students can work in human services, victim rights, courts, and as parole and probation officers.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $320 per credit
  • Program length: Four years

Purdue University

Purdue University’s online bachelor of science in legal support and services provides students with a strong foundation in legal theory and principles. It includes a concentration in paralegal studies, where students study criminal law, litigation, and administrative law.

This 180-credit program is designed to help students develop analytical, communication, and reading skills, as well as professional research and investigation skills. Some courses include legal philosophy, business law, ethics, legal research and writing, legal environment, and alternative dispute resolution. The program is taught by expert faculty, with years of experience in law and legal services. It also provides students with an opportunity to interact with classmates and faculty members through discussions and live seminars.

Upon completion of the program, students can pursue opportunities in government offices, law firms, consulting firms, healthcare institutes, corporations, banking, real estate, as well as insurance companies as paralegals, legal assistants, title examiners, and legal secretaries.

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $371 per credit
  • Program length: Four to five years

Brandman University

Brandman University offers an online bachelor of arts in legal studies program, which also has a concentration in the paralegal profession. The program consists of 120 credits and provides students with the knowledge they need to conduct legal research, prepare materials for court presentations, and draft legal documents.

This program includes general courses in written communication, liberal arts, and social sciences. With respect to legal studies, students gain a deeper understanding of negotiation and alternative dispute, litigation, and trial advocacy, interviewing methods, victim advocacy, law practice management, the role of electronic discovery in law, and contemporary legal issues. Additionally, they develop an ability to think critically and conduct research.

Upon completion of the program, graduates can work as paralegal assistants at law firms or government agencies.

  • Location: Irvine, CA
  • Accreditation: WSCUC Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $500 per credit
  • Program length: Four years

University of Maryland University College

The online bachelor’s program in legal studies at UMUC provides students with an overview of the legal system. UMUC recommends that applicants to the program have at least some professional experience in a law firm or court.

The 120-credit program introduces students to core law subjects such as criminal law and procedures, contract law, advanced legal practices, the role of the paralegal in the legal system, as well as the functions of lawmaking in the American legal system. Students also develop many practical skills such as conducting legal analysis, writing and drafting legal documents, conducting research, assessing fact patterns, and analyzing information. The entirely online curriculum has been designed with the help of legal scholars and industry experts.

The program helps students develop foundational skills in law and legal procedures. It prepares them for opportunities in legal research, legal case review and support, legal advocacy, and legal writing. Some of the roles graduates can pursue include title examiner, legal advocate, legal secretary, and legal case reviewer.

  • Location: Adelphi, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $294 per credit
  • Program length: Four years

Canton State University of New York

Canton State offers a bachelor’s in legal studies with an internship option, providing students with valuable real-world experience to enter the workforce. The program introduces students to various aspects of legal research, legal writing, civil litigation, constitutional law, real property law, wills, trusts and estates, and criminal practice. Students are also exposed to the business aspects of a career in law. The program is perfect for criminal justice transfer students, working professionals, and paralegal transfer students.

The curriculum covers the American legal system, legal writing and research, family law, negligence and international torts, immigration law and border control, and trial courts and rules of evidence. Students can also take courses in accounting, business, or law enforcement leadership. The instructors of the program are currently practicing or retired attorneys. Thus, students get the opportunity to learn from law professionals with experience across the government and private sectors. The program also helps students learn how to produce well-researched documents that can be used for a client, with the help of case studies and examples.

Upon completion of the program, students can look forward to work in paralegal positions in legal, corporate, or federal settings. They can find positions as occupational health specialists, paralegals, legal assistants, real estate mortgage agents, district attorneys, freelance paralegals, and contract administrators.

  • Location: Canton, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $3,435 per semester
  • Program length: Four years

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University offers a bachelor of arts in law and society, where students get a primer to legal practices and procedures. The program teaches students practical skills in legal brief writing and analyzing arguments. The degree is ideal for those who have an associate degree in legal studies, are part of law enforcement, or own a business and wish to handle its legal matters.

The program comprises 123 credits and consists of 18 core courses and 24 law classes and electives. Students explore topics such as American civilization, contemporary legal issues, American national government, the American legal process, and rights in America. Some of the law courses include an introduction to criminal justice, introduction to law, law and society, and fundraising leadership. Students learn about the process of formulating laws, criminal procedures, and the origins of legal systems. They also undertake legal writing and research and learn how to analyze a case logically.

The skills developed in the program propel students into careers in non-profit organizations, public offices, regulatory agencies, and small businesses. They can also choose to work as legal assistants, contract negotiators, mediators, and arbitrators.

  • Location: State College, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $596 per credit
  • Program length: Four years