This is a list of the Best Online Master’s in Legal Studies. If you are interested in this career follow along!
A Master of Legal Studies is a degree program offered to students by some law schools. It supports the pursuit of students who want to work in the legal field at a higher level than paralegals, but not necessarily become attorneys. These MSL online programs are beneficial to students who are looking for more flexible academic situations. MSL online, or Master of Studies in Law online, is not a paralegal degree, nor is it a terminal degree like Juris Doctorate, but it’s an important way for students to access the online Master of Law degree.
Students can access a range of career paths and opportunities for advancements with a Masters of Law, including a Legal Consultant, Private Investigator, Compliance Director, Court Administrator, or other popular career options. The online Master of Legal Studies can be completed in one-to-two years, with a total of 30-40 credits required on average and some flexibility as to where and when needed to accommodate the students work-and-life schedule.
Our Method: How We Ranked the Best Master of Legal Studies Online Programs
Criminal Justice Degree Hub has a mission to point prospective students and criminal justice professionals to programs that will really help them. For working adults in the field who want to advance, we’ve ranked the best online Master of Legal Studies programs according to three relevant factors: Tuition Cost, Student Satisfaction, and Alumni Salary, using data from Niche, College Scorecard, and IPEDS. All are fully accredited.
1. Washington University in St. Louis
Topping the list of the best master of legal studies online is the Master of Legal Studies from the Washington University School of Law. The program is designed for students who do not want to become lawyers but whose work would benefit from an understanding of the law. Students who must deal with government regulations at work, such as human resource managers, can help improve their companies’ compliance by learning more about the legal requirements imposed by the government. US News & World Report ranked the Washington University School of Law among the top 20 law schools in the country in 2018.
The Washington University School of Law is older than any other law school in the West. Its mission is to teach students to pursue justice and practice law effectively and ethically. The school provides a supportive and collaborative environment where students can exchange ideas and build relationships with their peers.
2. Georgetown University
Georgetown University Law Center offers a Master of Studies in Law with a concentration in taxation. One of the best master of legal studies online, this program is designed for tax professionals who are not lawyers. Students gain advanced knowledge of the law regarding taxation. The curriculum includes Income Tax Accounting, Corporate Income Tax Law I, and Introduction to Federal Income Tax, Research and Writing. Students in the MSL in Taxation program take the same final exam as the Tax LL.M. students.
Since Georgetown Law is located in Washington, DC, students can experience law where the laws are written and passed. Georgetown is a place where Supreme Court cases are often up for debate and hundreds of students participate in clinics. The school values tradition, but is not so mired in the past that it can’t innovate and try new things. Students from all over the world come to Georgetown to study law.
3. Northeastern University
The Master of Legal Studies offered by the Northeastern University School of Law is another of the best master of legal studies online. The program is designed for professionals who want to gain a deeper understanding of the law to help with compliance to government regulations. Courses are taught by industry experts and law school faculty who provide students with industry-specific knowledge to help them understand how the law applies to their jobs. Each student participates in the Experiential Network program, which pairs students up with employers for real-life projects.
The Northeastern University School of Law seeks to change the way people think about law. The school believes that real-world experience transforms students. NUSL is constantly innovating and searching for new and better ways to do things. Northeastern dreams of a better world, which it hopes to help bring about by offering pro bono services to organizations all over the world.
4. Arizona State University
Arizona State University also offers one of the best master of legal studies online. The program consists of 10 classes and can be completed in one year. Students come from varied backgrounds to gain a broader understanding of the law in a specific area. There are eight concentrations to choose from: construction law, conflict resolution, criminal law, corporate and health care compliance, intellectual property law, HR and employment law, sports law and business, and law and sustainability.
The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is dedicated to advancing justice to bring honor to the Supreme Court justice the school is named after. The school offers hundreds of unique courses that allow students to adapt their curriculum to fit their goals and interests. The school believes that a personalized education is essential to students’ success. ASU is #1 in the state of Arizona for bar passage and is one of the top law schools in the nation.
5. University of Southern California
The online MSL offered by the University of Southern California is another of the best master of legal studies online. Students can attend part-time, and the program is flexible enough to accommodate working professionals. The faculty is dedicated and highly-qualified. Students in the MSL program can also receive a certificate in privacy law and cybersecurity, compliance, human resources law, health care compliance, financial compliance, entertainment law and industry, or business law. The compliance certificates are accredited by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB) and are included in the cost of the program.
USC Gould is dedicated to excellence in academics. The faculty is outstanding and the student body is close-knit. Gould has an interdisciplinary focus and small class sizes. Diversity has always been important to Gould. The school has enrolled students of color and women from the beginning. Gould enrolls more international students than any other law school, creating a cross-cultural environment that encourages collaboration between students with different perspectives.
6. University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Legal Studies program that is one of the best master of legal studies online. The school offers four concentrations: indigenous peoples law; oil, gas, and energy law; international business law, and healthcare law. Students who work in these areas will benefit from understanding the laws and regulations that apply to their jobs. The programs help graduates guide their organizations to stay in compliance with the law. There are merit-based scholarships available for the MLS program.
The University of Oklahoma College of Law uses small class sizes to give students a sense of community. The school’s faculty are highly-skilled and the school makes use of the latest technology to provide a modern educational experience. OU Law is the only public law school in Oklahoma. The school’s mission is to pursue justice by training students for leadership positions in law and judicial service.
7. New York University
The Master of Studies in Law from New York University has an emphasis in taxation and is one of the best master of legal studies online for financial professionals. The program is intended to give a deeper understanding of tax law to those who offer tax advice and services. Students benefit from having a master’s degree from a top-ranked law school. Not only does that look good on the resume, but graduates will be better prepared to deal with the complexities of tax law. The program is cohort-based, which gives students a chance to network with other tax professionals.
NYU Law is a leader in innovation and legal education. Students who attend NYU Law have the opportunity to participate in clinics and graduates are prepared to take on the legal challenges they will face in the real world. The school offers international opportunities through the Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies and the Hauser Global Law School Program.
8. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University offers a Master of Studies in Law that is one of the best masters of legal studies online. The program addresses the complex regulatory environment facing many businesspeople and other professionals. There are three concentrations to choose from: health law and policy, business law and compliance, and human resources. The program is cohort-based and is made up of courses that are specific to the MSL program, not JD courses. This program is designed to be flexible and can be completed 100% online.
Wake Forest School of Law believes that service and community are the foundation for producing graduates who will become supporters of the rule of law. The school is committed to educating the whole person and creating citizen lawyers who will be able to successfully navigate the regulations and legal situations they encounter. Wake Forest Law produces graduates with the intellect, professionalism, and integrity to make the world a better place
9. University of Arizona
With 11 concentrations to choose from, the MSL offered by the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona is certainly one of the best masters of legal studies online. Students can choose from criminal law and policy, compliance and legal risk management, environmental law and policy, health law and policy, family and juvenile law, human rights, intellectual property, indigenous peoples law and policy, international trade and business law, tax law and policy, and mining law and policy. Students in the MSL program can advance their careers by gaining the ability to think like a lawyer and avoid problems caused by compliance issues.
The James E. Rogers College of Law has been producing successful leaders and attorneys for 100 years. The school offers degrees at every level and is constantly striving to improve its educational offerings. The College of Law values diversity and offers a supportive environment for its students.
10. American University
American University offers a Master of Studies in Law that is among the best master of legal studies online. There are five concentrations to choose from: certified compliance and ethics professional, certified in healthcare compliance, certified compliance and ethics professional—international, certified in healthcare privacy compliance, and certified in healthcare research compliance. Students gain an understanding of the law that improves their credibility within their organizations. Students also receive a compliance certificate in the area of their concentration.
Washington College of Law was founded by two women, Emma Gillett and Ellen Spencer Mussey, who were determined to open the legal professional to women. The first graduating class was made up entirely of female students. Washington honors its history by advocating for gender equality. The school values experiential learning, inclusivity, diversity, and equality for all students, regardless of gender, race, age, or ethnic background.
11. Pepperdine University
The online Master of Legal Studies from Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law is also one of the best master of legal studies online. There are two optional concentrations that students can choose from. They are human resources and dispute resolution. The MSL program trains nonlawyers to understand the law well enough to navigate the legal environment of their chosen field. Students enhance their credibility at work by learning important legal concepts that can help their companies avoid compliance issues. Students participate in two on-campus residencies in Malibu during the course of the program.
Pepperdine Caruso School of Law is growing quickly. The school offers challenging legal training and excellence in academics that are guided by its Christian values. Pepperdine offers a unique experience that teaches students to think like a lawyer and includes hands-on, practical experiences from the beginning. The student to faculty ratio is 7.1 to 1, resulting in a close-knit community atmosphere.
12. Seton Hall University
Students searching for the best master of legal studies online may be interested in the Master of Science in Jurisprudence from Seton Hall University. Students can choose from five concentrations: financial services compliance, health and hospital law, intellectual property law, pharmaceutical and medical device law and compliance, or privacy law and cyber security. Graduates often work as financial analysts, supervisors, lobbyists, nurse managers, risk managers, compliance officers, quality assurance managers, and consultants. All courses are taught by law school professors in 8-week online courses.
Seton Hall Law values engagement, loyalty, and integrity. The school provides support to help each student find the right career path and follows through to make sure that students achieve their desired outcome. Seton empowers students to reach their goals, regardless of what they are. The Law School provides pro bono legal services to Newark citizens through its Center for Social Justice, where it offers juvenile justice clinics, family law, civil litigation, and immigration/human rights services.
13. West Virginia University
West Virginia University offers one of the best master of legal studies online through WVU Online. This program is designed for students who want to advance their careers by developing a deeper understanding of the law as it relates to their careers. Students learn legal procedures and terminology as they study the law. They also learn legal reasoning. Students can choose from three areas of emphasis: justice systems, healthcare, and homeland security. This program is beneficial for professionals who work in law enforcement, national security, social work, journalism, juvenile justice, human relations, and more.
The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences provides a strong liberal arts education that includes courses in social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, literature, and the humanities. The school strives to enhance the well-being of everyone in the regions by strengthening its academic programs. Eberly College plans to increase its multidisciplinary programs and emphasize communication and critical thinking skills.
14. University of St. Thomas
The Master of Studies in Law from the University of St. Thomas is one of the best master of legal studies online for students who want to specialize in compliance and ethics. The program starts by teaching students how lawyers think and how doctrine is created. Students also learn about the structure and importance of law, as well as the challenges companies and other organizations face as they strive to be in compliance with the law. This program is the only compliance and ethics Master of Studies in Law program in the US that is AACSB-accredited.
The University of St. Thomas is a leader in ethics and compliance education. St. Thomas is a Catholic university with an enrollment of more than 10,000. The school is a designated “Changemaker Campus” and is the largest private university in the state of Minnesota. Entrepreneurship, social innovation, and a desire to serve the common good are embedded into everything St. Thomas does.
15. University of Illinois at Springfield
The Master of Arts in Legal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield is one of the best master of legal studies online. The program is grounded in the liberal arts and gives students a solid understanding of how the legal system works. The program can be tailored to suit the interests of the student. Students learn how regulations affect businesses and gain a practical understanding of the legal system that helps graduates fill out legal forms and ensure their companies’ compliance with employment and other laws. Students benefit from small class sizes and flexible online classes.
The Department of Legal Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield helps students understand individual rights and complex regulations. The department blends practice and theory through an interdisciplinary curriculum. There is an emphasis on experiential learning, community engagement, and social action. Students work in internships with organizations in the state capital and throughout Illinois.
16. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
The Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers three of the best master of legal studies online. The school offers an LLM or MSL in financial compliance and risk management, taxation, and financial services and wealth management. Students in the financial services and wealth management concentration can earn certifications as Chartered Portfolio Manager, Chartered Wealth Manager, and Certified Asset Manager. Students take one 8-week course at a time and learn on their own schedules.
The Thomas Jefferson School of Law is focused on its students. The school strives to gives its students everything they need to succeed, even beyond graduation. Thomas Jefferson is technologically advanced and has a rigorous curriculum that challenges its students. The faculty is very accessible, and there are plenty of hands-on opportunities that allow students to experience what they are learning. Thomas Jefferson is the first step to a fulfilling legal career.
17. Drexel University
Next on the list of the best master of legal studies online is Drexel University with eight different concentrations to choose from. Students can specialize in cybersecurity and information privacy compliance, criminal law, financial regulatory compliance, higher education compliance, health care compliance, human resources compliance, pharmaceutical and medical device regulatory compliance, or NCAA compliance and sports law. Students can tailor their programs to fit their own interests and needs.
The Thomas R. Kline School of Law immerses students in the practice of law while providing academic skills and training. Students gain extensive experience while still pursuing their degrees and gain a thorough understanding of what will be expected of them in the workplace. The school’s faculty is comprised of experienced practitioners and scholars who are dedicated to advising and mentoring their students to success. Kline graduates are in demand because they exceed the expectations of their employers.
18. Webster University
The College of Arts & Sciences at Webster University has another of the best master of legal studies online. The program gives students a broad working knowledge of the legal system and is useful to professionals who need a better understanding of the law in their professions. Legal assistants, government employers, teachers, and managers are among those who benefit from understanding law, regulations, and compliance. Students may opt to pursue a certificate in paralegal studies while pursuing their MA in legal studies.
The College of Arts & Sciences at Webster University fosters an environment that respects everyone regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds. The school values diversity, openness, and democracy and encourages students to actively contribute to society. Webster is an international university and seeks to expose students to diverse cultures, worldviews, and languages. The school fosters collaboration between students of different backgrounds and encourages students to create lasting relationships with their peers.
19. Samford University
The Master of Studies in Law offered by the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University is also one of the best master of legal studies online. This program is intended for non-lawyers who desire a broader understanding of law to help them in their careers. There are four concentrations to choose from: financial services regulatory compliance, higher education law and compliance, health law and compliance, and legal operations. There is also a custom option. The faculty is made up of practicing attorneys and industry experts. This online program takes 24 months to complete.
In addition to providing high-quality education, Cumberland School of Law enables connections between students, faculty members, practicing attorneys, and internships. The school is known for its high-quality education and trial advocacy. The school trains lawyers in public interest law, environmental law, health law, trial advocacy, corporate law, and more.
20. Hamline University
With four concentrations available, Hamline University also has one of the best master of legal studies online. The Master in the Study of Law (MSL) is designed to help professionals who have to deal with laws and regulations in the course of doing their jobs. Students receive a foundation of knowledge about the legal system and gain an understanding of how to handle various legal situation. Students can choose to specialize in conflict resolution, professional practice management, litigation support, or social justice. Students can earn their paralegal certificates while earning their MSL degrees.
Hamline University was the first university in the state of Minnesota. The school prides itself on its pioneering spirit and strives to produce leaders, innovators, difference makers, and champions of justice. Hamline is a leader in liberal arts and is grounded in Methodist values. The school believes in civic responsibility and justice and strives to give its students a global perspective.
21. Saint Leo University
Students looking for the best master of legal studies online might also want to consider Saint Leo University’s MS in Criminal Justice – Legal Studies with emphasis. Students learn law enforcement skills while learning more about the legal system, laws, and regulations. This program is perfect for government officials, probation officers, and first responders who want to advance their careers. Students receive a solid understanding of how the judicial system operates in both criminal and civil law.
Saint Leo University is a Catholic school that welcomes students of all faiths. The school is a liberal arts university that is highly-ranked in the state of Florida and listed among the top schools in the South by US News & World Report. Saint Leo is one of the most diverse schools in the US. The school encourages its staff, faculty, and students to regularly participate in community service.
22. Nova Southeastern University
Another option for students seeking the best master of legal studies online is the online Master of Science in Law from Nova Southeastern University. The program is intended for professionals who have busy home and work lives. Students can earn their master’s degrees in as little as two years. There are four concentrations to choose from: employment law, education law, law and policy, and health law. Because Nova Southeastern wants to make it as easy as possible for students to earn their degrees, there is no GRE or LSAT required for admission.
The Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University is a professional community that is dedicated to innovation and to the success of its students. The school’s programs focus on real-world skills and include extra-curricular activities that enhance the educational experience. The Shepard Broad College offers international opportunities, clinical education, and dual degree programs that make it a good value for its students.
23. Regent University
The MA in Law from Regent University is another good choice for students who are looking for the best master of legal studies online. The program is designed to enhance the resumes of professionals who work in positions that would benefit from a knowledge of law. The MA in law prepares students to be able to navigate the intricacies of government rules and regulations in a professional capacity, not to practice law. Students gain an understanding of law and learn how compliance issues affect their organizations. Regent University claims to be one of the most affordable ABA schools around.
Regent University is a Christian school with a simple motto: to change the world through Christian leadership. The school’s name is a reflection that Christians represent their king in every area of their lives. Regent University has been granted a top rating of “A” by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for its strong liberal arts curriculum.
24. Hodges University
The MS in Legal Studies from Hodges University is another of the best master of legal studies online. This program gives students an edge and helps them propel their careers ahead of the competition. Students learn to navigate the complex regulatory environment faced by many different types of businesses. This program is for nonlawyers who need legal skills to help their companies get through regulatory challenges. All of the professors who teach in the legal studies program are lawyers.
Hodges University is a University in Diversity. The school is proud of its multicultural student body, faculty, and staff. Students benefit from experiencing a wide number of perspectives and viewpoints from others who are different from themselves. Hodges is dedicated to promoting mutual respect, understanding, sensitivity, and tolerance.
Degree: MS in Legal Studies
25. Albany Law School
Last on the list of the best master of legal studies online is the MS in Legal Studies from Albany Law School. There are three concentrations available: cybersecurity and data privacy, health law and compliance, and financial compliance and risk management. This program is not a law degree. It is designed to teach students how to help their organizations comply with the various rules and regulations that are imposed on them by the government. The program takes a little over a year to complete.
Albany Law School provides knowledge of the law and how it is applied to its students. The school has an ultimate bar passage rate of 93% and a first-time pass rate of 72%. The school is an independent law school that strives to be known for excellence. It was established in 1851 and is the oldest independent law school in the US.
Should I Look for an ABA Approved Legal Studies Program?
The Council for the American Bar Association (ABA) approves law programs for accreditation. It is possible to earn credits toward a Master of Legal Studies Program, but the ABA doesn’t approve online in every instance. Since 1958, it has reviewed standards to determine whether to make the program one of the ABA accredited law schools. In order to be considered an accredited online law school by the ABA, it must meet even more stringent standards. To be in compliance with the requirements of ABA approved law schools, the students in the Masters in MLS program must complete at least four General Legal Studies courses via live, in-person or synchronous transmission class format.
Any Legal Studies program that wishes to seek approval as an ABA law schools must complete an approval process, with self-evaluation and onsite evaluation. The goal of approving an ABA online law school is to confirm that the program complies with the ABA guidelines and requirements. While it may be challenging to pursue an MLS with an online law degree accredited program, the ABA seeks to attain the most consistently high standard of excellence in learning in Legal Studies. Ultimately, the students benefit by attending an ABA approved online law school. The ABA accreditation means more than just a piece of paper; the program is designed to prepare students for the real world.
Can I Be a Lawyer with a Master of Legal Studies?
While a student must have a Juris Doctorate (JD), the Master of Legal Studies is an appropriate preparatory path for the eventual pursuit of further legal studies at law school. A Masters of Jurisprudence (JM) or Juris Masters is a master’s degree for students studying law. When a student is trying to determine “is Juris master worth it,” the answer really depends on whether becoming an attorney was the final goal.
A Master’s in Law for non-lawyers is a way for a professional to reorient his/her career. Consider the Master of Legal Studies vs JD. The JD is the most common law degree type, with 14% of students pursuing other non-JD programs. The MLS supports career choices that involve finance, corporate compliance, risk mitigation, healthcare, and human resources. The MLS allows professionals to gain knowledge and hone their skills in documentation, research, and/or communication, with the various technological tools at their disposal. The educational experience also allows for specialization in areas of employment law, consultancy, library science, copyright and patents, health, or other fields.
How Much Can I Make with an Online Master of Legal Studies?
The Master of Jurisprudence salary can range in the median pay of $68,000/year, whereas a candidate with a bachelor’s degree might earn $50,000. The question is whether the Master of Legal Studies salary increase is really worth the greater responsibilities. For most professionals, a graduate degree allows them to advance within an organization or company and gain greater job security. For those reasons alone, the return on investment in terms of time and resources is clear. The increase in the Legal Studies jobs salary or the Juris Master salary is just part of the overall motivation for pursuing a degree and further credentials.
The Legal Studies job salary averages $50,940 for positions that include paralegals and legal assistants. The job outlook is 12%, which demonstrates faster growth than average. An MLS salary earns $80,080 on average. The Master of Science in law salary can range from around $65,000/year for a Management Analyst, $66,000/year for an Operations Manager position, or even to $113,000/year for a Human Resources Manager. The Masters’s in Paralegal Studies salary can range from ~$54,802-$58,622. Paralegals and legal assistants with a strong background and experience in database management and computer programming have been especially in demand.