Online Degree Options
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are no online ABA-accredited Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs that prepare students to take a bar exam. There are some schools that offer non-accredited J.D. programs, and students in these programs are typically able to take the bar exam in the same state where the school operates.
Online degrees in law-related fields are available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. These degree programs in legal studies, law and society, or related fields are appropriate for students who are interested in learning about legal theory and application.
There are a few online Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs open to lawyers who have already earned a Juris Doctor degree and have been admitted to the bar.
Online Degree Characteristics
Most schools offer their online law degree programs with the full-time working adult student in mind. Admissions decisions are made on a case-by-case basis for students with varying levels of academic or professional experience who demonstrate that they may be able to benefit from the program. Some schools do not require common standardized test scores as part of the application process.
In many cases, an online law degree can be completed without any visits to campus. In cases where periodic short-term residencies are required, the timeframe is less than a week. Students may have a choice of start dates, but the classes often run for a set period of time with firm start and end dates.
Schools that offer online law degrees use an electronic course delivery system, which usually means one-stop access for things like course materials, assignments, class message boards, and instructor and student communications. Some lectures take place in real-time, while others are recorded and made available for students to access at different times. Teachers and students may interact by chat, e-mail, or telephone.
Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society
This online degree program covers the law, legal system and law principles in the United States. It also aims to provide a firm foundation in logic, legal writing and rhetoric. The degree can be applied to a wide variety of careers, including law enforcement, non-profit organizations, regulatory agencies, government organizations or public offices. The 4-year program offers coursework in early American civilization, government, conflict resolution and criminal justice, among other areas.
Master of Arts in Legal Studies
This online, interdisciplinary degree program focuses on current social issues and public policy along with the study of law in American society. The program is designed to help students prepare for further studies, or to provide them with a larger skillset in their law-related careers. Students learn about legal research, public advocacy, and theories of justice. A major portion of the degree consists of electives in topics like human rights, criminal justice and public policy, and completing an internship is optional.
Master of Laws
The LL.M. is an advanced degree for lawyers, usually in a focused area of the law, and courses vary depending on the area of focus. For example, an LL.M. in taxation will focus on taxation and business, while a degree in American law offers coursework in contracts, civil procedure and international business transactions. The program takes 1-2 years to complete, and students in an LL.M. program can complete an optional internship while taking courses.