Lawyers take their lumps in popular culture; for every upstanding prosecutor on Law & Order, there’s six shady Saul Goodmans. And while law school is largely a game of prestige and reputation, for students who have a passion to become a lawyer, it’s important to recognize that the only thing you need to do to become a lawyer is earn a law degree and pass the Bar exam. That law school can come from the most prestigious law school in the world, or from a solid but unpretentious institution that provides a quality education for less.
It’s even harder if you’re a busy working adult and want to earn your law degree online. When it comes to online juris doctorate programs, it’s up to the buyer to beware. There is no shortage of supposed online law degree programs, but anyone who has a serious desire to get a law degree online should be careful – your so-called JD may be convenient and cheap, but it won’t prepare you for the Bar exam. That’s why Criminal Justice Degree Hub has ranked the best accredited, reputable online JD degree programs.
Our Process: Ranking the Best Online Law Degree Programs
Our ranking of the best hybrid and online JD degree programs starts with reputable, accredited institutions. We then ranked them according to their Tuition Cost (current IPEDS data), Student Satisfaction (Niche reviews), and Alumni Salary Expectations (from College Scorecard).
1. Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University in Chicago offers a hybrid JD degree program that helps you focus on obtaining your career goals in the legal field. The hybrid program combines online classes with weekend classes to help you obtain your Juris Doctorate when it fits your schedule. You will need to attend classes on campus every other weekend to complete the course and you need to finish 86 credit hours to finish the program. The degree program offers flexibility with the support of weekend classes to help you focus on your goals.
Loyola University in Chicago differs from other schools by offering the opportunity to obtain a JD conveniently on weekends. You will only need to attend classes at the university for eight weekends per semester and the online classes are interactive to help you understand the material and move forward with your career goals. Students must take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, and provide the score to the school before they are considered for this hybrid program.
Degree: Weekend JD with an online component (hybrid)
2. Syracuse University
An online law degree from Syracuse University offers the opportunity to focus on your goals while working around your current schedule. The interactive degree program is fully online and does not require students to attend classes on campus for the entire degree program. The self-paced curriculum combines with live online classes that give you a feeling of being in the classroom from the comfort of your home or any location.
Syracuse University stands apart from other programs because it is ABA approved and fully online. As an online program, it is interactive and encourages students to stay engaged in the material. The live online classes offer a chance to interact with peers and discuss topics with professors similar to traditional classes. The university offers the flexibility students need to manage their personal and career obligations while obtaining their degree.
Degree: JD – JD Interactive (fully online)
3. University of Denver
The University of Denver offers an online juris doctorate program, and an MS in Healthcare Management, that allows students to focus on their long-term plans. When you want to combine your legal expertise with the challenges of a growing industry and new regulations within the healthcare industry, the combination of an MS in Healthcare Management and a JD program allows you to focus on a career with greater opportunities and unique intersections between the two industries.
The University of Denver differs from other online JD programs by combining the degree program with a master’s degree in the healthcare industry. That combination of skills gives you the versatility to work in a traditional legal firm or to take on unique roles within hospitals, medical facilities, and even corporations. It allows you to focus on a career that fits your interest and your personal plans. The school does not require a GMAT or GRE test score for admission into the online program
Degree: JD and MS in Healthcare Management
4. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton offers a hybrid online JD degree program to prepare students to sit for the bar exam and start working in the legal industry. The degree program takes four years to complete and only requires students to go to the campus once a semester over the course of their degree program. The remaining classes are through live online classes and interactive coursework. The interactive coursework allows students to focus on their degree when it fits a personal schedule, so you have the flexibility to address personal and career obligations while working on your law degree.
The primary way the University of Dayton stands out from other programs is the approval of the American Bar Association. Students qualify for state standards to take the exam and start practicing law upon passing the bar. As a hybrid online program, the University of Dayton’s program also offers flexibility for students with obligations that limit their time for on-campus classes.
Degree: JD – hybrid
5. Touro College
The Flex JD program at Touro College is a hybrid online program that focuses on providing a flexible solution for students with family or work obligations. The online learning environment allows students to work at their own pace and complete classwork when they are available. The program does require students to attend on-campus classes every other Sunday for the first years of the program. By providing the classes on Sundays, the college allows students to manage their obligations and still have the time available for the classes on their weekends.
Touro College differs from other programs by offering a FlexTime program that focuses on providing flexibility to students. The program requires students to provide transcripts of their undergraduate grade point average and their LSAT scores. Students will also need to write a personal statement to provide a sample of their writing style and skills. When students get into the program, they will be able to obtain their degree in four years or less by working at their own pace.
Degree: Flex JD – hybrid
6. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
The Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers a Doctor of Juridical Law degree through their online program. The online post-JD program is the highest level of education available for legal scholars, and it focuses on providing students with the legal research and writing skills they need to reach their career goals. As a post-JD program, students will have the skills and abilities to take on roles as professors or distinguished legal scholars when they finish the degree.
The way the Thomas Jefferson School of Law differs from other schools and programs is their focus on research, writing, and independent study. The online degree is a post-JD program, so it is designed for students who want to work in particular areas of legal studies. The program is ideal for students who want to work as a professor or who are planning to focus on legal research. The program allows students to work at their pace, so it may take three to five years to complete.
Degree: Doctor of Juridical Law (post-JD) online
7. Western Michigan University
When you’re looking for a flexible online law degree program, you may consider the online JD degree at Western Michigan University. The blended weekend program is a hybrid online and in-person degree program with a focus on providing students with the ability to keep up with personal obligations while obtaining a degree. The program requires ten weeks of in-person weekend classes on Saturdays and Sundays. It also has online classes that occur on specific weekends, so students are taking classes online for greater flexibility.
Western Michigan University stands out from other programs by providing a JD degree through a blended or hybrid program. All the in-person classes are on the weekends, which allows students to keep up with job obligations or family concerns. Since the classes on certain weeks are through the online program, it also allows students to work on their classwork from home or any location with an Internet connection. The flexibility works well when you have specific obligations that limit your time during the weekdays.
Degree: JD – Blended Weekend Program (hybrid)
8. Concord Law School – Purdue Global
Concord Law School through Purdue Global offers an online juris doctorate program that does not require students to attend any in-person classes. The fully online program focuses on providing the foundation in legal studies a student needs to succeed when sitting for the Bar Exam in California. The online program is approved by the State Bar of California, which allows students to sit for the exam in California and start working in the legal field within the state.
The way Concord Law School through Purdue Global differs from other programs is their focus on core knowledge and their long history with online courses. The school started allowing students to take online JD programs in 1998 and meets the standards for students to take the Bar Exam in California. While the school is not specifically approved for the Bar Exams in other states, students can obtain their license in California and then sit for exams in a different state if they want to practice law in other locations.
Degree: JD Online
9. Mitchell Hamline School of Law
When you are looking for an online program for your law degree, you want to consider the hybrid JD program at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. The hybrid program focuses on developing real-world skills and understanding of legal theory. The school is recognized as a leader in legal theory studies, and it focuses on ensuring students understand the theories behind laws as the foundation for their degree. It also prepares students to handle the Bar Exam and obtain a license to practice law.
The Mitchell Hamline School of Law was the first law school to offer a hybrid online degree program that was approved by the ABA. The combination of intensive in-person learning with online coursework gives students flexible solutions when managing personal obligations and working on a degree. It allows you to focus on your goals for your career when it fits your schedule.
Degree: JD – hybrid
10. Vermont Law School
The Vermont Law School offers a hybrid online JD program, or a reduced residency Juris doctorate, that allows students to complete a degree without the extensive in-person commitment associated with traditional law school. Students attend classes in-person for a set number of credits with a focus on specific classes. They can also take online classes to complete their credits and their degree.
The way the Vermont Law School differs from other programs is their specialized law degree programs. The school offers the top environmental law program in the country and is ABA approved. The ABA approval allows students to sit for the Bar Exam after completing the degree program. Since it has specialized courses, students can prepare for their career by taking the right classes for their goals.
Degree: JD – hybrid
Where are the ABA Approved Online Law Schools?
This is one of the most popular questions about online JD schools. Is there such a thing as an ABA approved online JD degree? And if there is an ABA approved online JD degree, why is it so hard to find?
Here’s the bad news about your online JD degree: ABA accredited schools haven’t taken off yet. While you can find lots of ABA accredited law schools, ABA accredited law schools online are somewhat harder to find. Syracuse online law school, Mitchell Hamline, and University of Dayton offer flexible online options. All three of these schools offer rigorous JD programs. As online programs gain popularity, you may notice more ABA approved options becoming available in the future.
The ABA does currently approve several hybrid programs. These programs have a mix of online and in-person classes. For these ABA approved online law schools, you may need to take some classes in-person as well. The good news is that many of these classes take place at night. You can still have a day job and pursue a JD.
It’s also important to note that while you won’t find an abundance of ABA approved online law school, you can easily find online law schools that are accredited. In fact, many online law schools are accredited. They’re accredited by organizations other than the ABA. In any case, you will want to look for accredited online law schools as opposed to non-accredited options. When it comes to your online law degree, accredited is best. This way, you know that you’re getting a solid education, and earn the money you’ll make as a lawyer.
What Kinds of Options Do I Have with an Online Law Program?
You have all sorts of options. Obviously, you can go with a semi-traditional program, which will let you graduate in about 3 years.
If you want to move more quickly, look for accelerated JD programs. Accelerated JD programs can help you get your JD degree in 2 years.
Not interested in getting a JD degree in 2 years? Do you need lots of time and flexibility? In that case, part-time programs will be your best option.
What if you don’t want to become an attorney? Then you want an Executive Juris Doctor degree. An Executive Juris Doctor program is for those who want a law degree but don’t want to become a lawyer. You might want legal knowledge to enhance your current career, for example. Or perhaps you want an advanced degree but want to stick with your paralegal job. Some even seek this type of degree for their own mental growth.
You also have plenty of affordable options, too. If you’re looking for the cheapest online law school, you can find lots of programs. Scholarship opportunities and financial aid can help you even more. As long as you study with an accredited program, even the cheapest online law school can give you a great education.
Do I Need a Bachelor’s to Go to Law School Online?
Yes. If any program claims that you can go to law school without a bachelor’s experience, then it’s likely a scam. These programs will take your money without giving you a quality education in return. Of course, even though you can’t go to law school without a bachelor’s experience, you can still get the bachelor’s degree that works best for you. You have lots of pre-law degree options.
The ABA doesn’t require a specific area of study, so choose the major that you find the most interesting or that you think will serve your career best. Political science and economics make great pre-law degrees. They let you dive into legal studies before you get your advanced degree. History provides a great option because it lets you see the background of the law. English majors often do well in law school because their bachelor’s degrees help them grow their communication skills. If you’re a paralegal, you’ve already got a strong ground to go on to law school. All of these options work well as minors, too, so you have some room for customization. As long as you find the subject interesting, you’ll find a way to use it in your law career.