Online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies provide instruction in U.S. law and judiciary practices. The most common online degrees in this field allow students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, and programs are found at four-year universities and colleges, many of which are private schools. These programs may be offered fully online or in a hybrid format.
It usually takes about four years to complete the general education and legal studies major coursework required in a bachelor's degree program. However, online students who have already completed an associate's program could earn their bachelor's in less time. Some schools also offer accelerated scheduling that allows students to finish their studies in two to three years. Prior to graduation, some programs require students to complete an internship.
In online legal studies programs, students typically access class materials within a school's virtual classroom environment. There they can download assignments, chat with professors and utilize a virtual law library. Lecture materials, assignments, videos, discussion boards and group collaboration tools are often available to allow students to complete their studies and interact with others when it's convenient for them.
Distance learning programs in legal studies are often totally online, but some may recommend or require internships in an approved legal setting. In such cases, students work on a part-time basis in a law office, government agency or other facility for a semester or term.
Like on-campus programs, undergraduate distance learning degree programs in this field of study are designed to provide individuals with an understanding of theories and applications of the law. Courses typically address legal precedents, courtroom procedures, ethics and other law topics. Common coursework offered in online Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree programs include:
- Introduction to Law
- Constitutional Law
- Practices of Law Students
- Law and Society
- Legal Philosophy
- Introduction to Torts
- Legal Research
- Legal Analysis and Writing
- Legal Ethics
Career Information for Graduates
Most students earn an undergraduate degree in legal studies to prepare for law school. Students who complete this form of graduate study earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) - the qualification that allows them to sit for a state's bar exam. Students who pass the bar can practice law in the state they've taken the exam in. Aspiring lawyers typically specialize in one area of law during their graduate study, making their choice based on the type of law they'd like to practice in their careers.
Some individuals completing undergraduate programs in legal studies opt not to attend law school, instead pursuing legal careers that don't require graduate study. These people often become paralegals and legal assistants. In these roles, individuals use what they've learned to support lawyers working cases before a court. This work often entails doing extensive research, preparing court documents and otherwise aiding lawyers with trials. Like lawyers, legal assistants and paralegals may specialize in a certain area of law. Students earning an undergraduate degree in legal studies can go on to successful careers in one of these areas of law:
- Real Estate Law
- Criminal Law
- Family Court Law
- Patent Law
- Personal Injury Law
- Social Security Law
- Software Law
Online bachelor's degree programs in legal studies provide undergraduate students with a broad introduction to the field of law, primarily through virtual lectures, discussions and, in some cases, hands-on experience. These programs are just as comprehensive as their on-campus counterparts, so graduates are ready to pursue entry-level jobs in law offices or apply to law school.