Legal issues affect the most prominent modern industries. The 20 Best Online Master's in Legal Studies are designed to enrich students' legal understanding to boost their credibility and capability in the workplace.
Laws and regulations are significant across numerous industries. A legal understanding can be invaluable in industries including but not limited to business, education, healthcare, human resources, and financial services.
The following legal studies degrees are not suitable for those seeking to become practicing attorneys. Instead, they are designed for working professionals seeking convenient, relevant legal training for their existing careers. Online delivery allows students to study when and where they choose and to tailor their program to suit their personal and professional obligations.
Many of the programs listed below offer specialization and concentration areas so students can take courses most relevant to their careers and goals. An MLS degree may be an asset to those working in human resource management, for example. The treatment of employees in organizations should align with ethical regulations and employment laws, and legal concerns often arise in many workplaces.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources specialists earned an annual salary of $60,880 in 2018. However, a Legal Studies degree can enrich a wide range of positions and industries as they intersect with areas such as education law, health law, intellectual property, and taxation.
The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 20 Best Online Masters' in Legal Studies for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:
- Alumni Feedback: 20%
- Continued Enrollment: 20%
- Degree Selectivity: 10%
- Graduate Expenses: 25%
- Projected Annual Salary: 25%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.
Here are the 20 Best Online Masters' in Legal Studies for 2019 – 2020!
#20 – Nova Southeastern University
Master of Science in Law
Nova Southeastern University awards a Master of Science in Law through its Shepard Broad College of Law. It designed for working professionals, offering maximum flexibility and self-paced learning. Students can choose to specialize in Education Law, Employment Law, Health Law, and Law and Policy. While the MSL program is open to any student with a bachelor's degree, admission to the Employment and Health Law programs require at least two years of relevant professional experience. The curriculum culminates in a four-credit capstone project. Students also have the option to complete an Honors Thesis. Students can obtain a degree in as few as two years.
Nova was chartered by Florida state legislature in 1964. The school was founded as the Nova University of Advanced Technology on a former World War II naval landing field. It became Nova Southeastern following a 1994 merger with the Southeastern University of Health Sciences. Today, Nova is a private university with a main campus in Davie, Florida. The university's Shepard Broad College of Law was founded in 1974 and named after Shepard Broad, one of the university's founders. U.S. News & World Report ranks Nova at No. 191 in National Universities and in the nation's top 200 graduate law schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,131
#19 – Samford University
Master of Studies in Law
Samford University offers a Master of Studies in Law through its Cumberland School of Law. The flexible degree program is designed primarily for non-lawyers seeking advancement in their current field. Students can choose to pursue an area of expertise in health law and policy, higher education law and compliance, financial services regulatory compliance, or legal project management. The curriculum consists of 36 credit hours, delivered entirely online. Students complete two courses per term for six consecutive terms. The degree program takes 24 months to complete.
Samford University was founded in 1841 as Howard College. Originally located in Marion, Alabama, the school is now located in Homewood. It has become the state's top-ranked private university. The campus is primarily built in a Georgian Colonial architectural style based on Colonial Williamsburg. U.S. Supreme Court justices Howell Edmunds Jackson and Horace Harmon Lurton graduated from the university, as well as Janie Shores, the first woman on the Alabama Supreme Court. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford at No. 25 in Best Value Schools, No. 7 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 4 in Regional Universities South.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,255
#18 – Hodges University
Master of Science in Legal Studies
Hodges University offers an online program leading to a Master of Science in Legal Studies. Qualified applicants should hold a Bachelor of Science degree. Designed for working adults, the MS degree program emphasizes local community engagement and individualized attention. Each student's program of study differs depending on their prior experience, education, and goals. The program is ideal for those seeking paralegal certification, foundations for law school, or a legal studies master's degree. It is designed particularly for students who do not aim to practice as attorneys, but whose careers could benefit from legal training. The curriculum builds skills applicable to careers in business, communications, healthcare, political science, and more.
Hodges University was founded as International College in 1990. Though based in Naples, Florida, the private university also operates a campus in Fort Myers. The university's academic facilities include the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency; the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning; and the Identity Fraud Institute. The school's Terry P. McMahan Library is one of two U.S. federal depository libraries in Southwest Florida. Many Hodges programs can be completed entirely online, and the university serves a largely Hispanic and adult student body.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,780
#17 – Wake Forest University
Master of Studies in Law
Wake Forest University offers a Master of Studies in Law through its School of Law. Designed for working professionals, the degree program can be completed entirely online on a part-time basis. Students can pursue a professional track in Business Law & Compliance, Health Law & Policy, and Human Resources. The 30-credit curriculum includes core courses in Business Law and Literacy, Legal Foundations, and The Unauthorized Practice of Law. Elective offerings vary by track, but offerings include Bioethics and the Law, International Compliance, and Telemedicine. Students have the option to pursue an experiential capstone project, which involves solving a real-world workplace challenge. Students can earn a master's degree in as few as 21 months or up to four years.
Wake Forest was founded in 1834 and named for its original location in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The private university is now located in Winston-Salem. It operates the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, which has a campus at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter downtown. In 2017, the university opened a new downtown campus in a former tobacco plant. Wake Forest also has lab space at Biotech Plaza and the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 45 in Most Innovative Schools, 27 in National Universities, and No. 24 in Best Value Schools. The Wake Forest School of Law ranks at No. 31 in Best Law Schools at the graduate level.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $38,650
#16 – Seton Hall University
Master of Science in Jurisprudence
South Orange, NJ
Seton Hall University offers a Master of Science in Jurisprudence through its Division of Online Learning. The degree program is designed for non-lawyers working in fields such as biotechnology, information technology, financial services, and healthcare. Students can concentrate in Financial Services Compliance; Health and Hospital Law; Intellectual Property Law, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Law & Compliance, or Privacy Law and Cyber Security. The 31-credit curriculum can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. The degree can be completed in two years of full-time study.
Seton Hall was founded in 1856 by a Roman Catholic bishop. It is a private, Roman Catholic, sea-grant research university. Located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, the campus is located near the historic Montrose Park district. Seton Hall Law specializes in health and intellectual property law. The school produced the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Manual, which was published by the American Health Lawyers Association and the Food and Drug Law Institute. U.S. News & World Report ranks Seton Hall at No. 119 in National Universities, No. 59 in Best Law Schools, and No. 11 in Health Care Law.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,662
#15 – Regent University
Master of Arts in Law – General Legal Studies
Virginia Beach, VA
Regent University offers a Master of Arts in Law with a concentration in General Legal Studies. Offered through the university's School of Law, the program is designed for working professionals. Though it can be completed entirely online, select on-campus course options are available. A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the degree. Core courses include American Legal Thought, American Legal System & Writing, Constitutional Law & Policy, and Legislation & Regulation. General Legal Studies concentrated courses include Business Entities, Criminal Law, and Property Law & Policy. The degree can be completed in just five semesters.
Regent University was founded in 1977 by televangelist Pat Robertson. The school was originally called Christian Broadcasting Network University but was renamed in 1990. It is a private interdenominational evangelical Christian university. It offers traditional programs on its neo-Georgian main campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as well as distance education. The university also owns the Founders Inn & Spa. The Regent University School of Law has been successful in several regional and national moot court competitions. U.S. News & World Report ranks Regent at No. 201 in National Universities.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,929
#14 – Washington University in St. Louis
Master of Legal Studies
St. Louis, MO
Washington University in St. Louis awards a Master of Legal Studies through its School of Law. Designed for working professionals, the online degree program builds a foundational understanding of the U.S. legal system. The curriculum explores topics including contracts, corporate compliance, health law, and intellectual property. Classes make use of the Socratic method, encouraging discussion and debate. Students explore subjects such as civil procedure, constitutional law, and negotiations. The 24-credit curriculum consists of one required course and seven elective courses. Students have the option to attend a weekend learning experience on campus each spring and fall. The degree takes one year to complete.
WashU has conducted pioneering research in fields such as chemistry, economics, medicine, and physics. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the elevated main Danforth campus has been compared to Athens' Acropolis and has been nicknamed the Hilltop campus. The Danforth campus includes the Edison Theater, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, and The Teaching Center. The university also operates a Medical Center in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood. U.S. News & World Report ranks WashU at No. 20 in Best Value Schools, No. 19 in National Universities, and No. 18 in Best Law Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $52,400
#13 – Saint Leo University
Master of Science in Criminal Justice, specialization in Legal Studies
St. Louis, MO
Saint Leo University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Legal Studies. Offered through the university's College of Education & Social Services, the specialized online program is ideal for correctional officers, criminal justice administrators, first responders, and government officials. It addresses the management of critical incidents, hazard mitigation, the psychological aspects of disasters, and risk identification. The 36-credit program includes core courses in Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Administration and Leadership Applications in Criminal Justice. Elective offerings include Advanced Forensic Science, Criminal Sexual Behaviors, and Terrorism in Israel.
Saint Leo University was established in 1889 as the first Roman Catholic college in Florida. The private Roman Catholic university is one of the five largest Catholic colleges in the United States. The university and the abbey are both named after Pope Leo the Great, former bishop of Rome. Saint Leo was one of the nation's first universities to offer distance education. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 47 in Regional Universities South and No. 14 in Best Value Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,498
#12 – New York University
Master of Studies in Law in Taxation
New York, NY
New York University offers a Master of Studies in Law in Taxation. The program is designed to be completed entirely online on a part-time basis. The 24- to 30-credit curriculum focuses on the judicial, policy, and regulatory foundations of tax law. It includes only one required course: Survey of Tax Procedure. Students can customize the remainder of their plans of study by choosing from courses such as Estate and Gift Taxation, International Tax, and Tax Fraud and Technology. Faculty members have expertise in areas such as complex partnership transactions, corporate mergers, and tax policy. The degree can be completed in as few as two years or up to five years.
NYU was founded in 1831 in Greenwich Village, New York City. The private university is now a global institution, with locations throughout the world. It operates campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, as well as learning locations in cities including Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, and Sydney. The university manages one of the nation's largest collegiate research budgets and owns the fastest supercomputer in New York City. It receives research grants from institutions including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and Google. U.S. News & World Report ranks NYU at No. 6 in Best Law Schools and No. 1 in graduate Tax Law.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $42,888
#11 – University of Arizona
Master of Legal Studies
The University of Arizona awards a Master of Legal Studies through its James E. Rogers College of Law. The online degree program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Students can choose from 11 concentrations, including but not limited to Criminal Law and Policy, Human Rights, and Intellectual Property. The 30-credit curriculum includes core courses in The American Common Law System; The American Public Law System; Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research; and Procedure. Courses are seven and a half or 16 weeks in length.
U of A was established as a teacher training school in 1885. Today, it is a public research university. It has a main campus in Tucson, Arizona, and additional locations throughout both Tucson and Phoenix. The University is a member of the Association of American Universities and a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, pursuing research in the astronomy field. U of A is also the fourth-most-awarded public university for NASA research funding. It operates the Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside of Tucson. The university is currently working on building the world's most advanced telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of A at No. 106 in National Universities, No. 97 in Best Value Schools, and No. 46 in Top Public Schools. Its James E. Rogers College of Law ranks at No. 39 in graduate legal studies.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,716 in-state; $32,065 out-of-state
#10 – University of Southern California
Master of Studies in Law
Los Angeles, CA
The University of Southern California offers a Master of Studies in Law through its Gould School of Law. The degree program is designed for both experienced and entry-level non-lawyer professionals. It can be completed entirely online on a part-time basis. The 21-unit curriculum includes one required course, Introduction to the U.S. Legal System. Elective offerings include Dealmaking, Negotiation Skills, and Regulatory Compliance. Students can complete the degree in as few as 16 months. At no additional cost, students may choose to pursue an additional certificate in Business Law; Entertainment Law and Industry; Financial Compliance, Health Care Compliance, or Human Resources Law and Compliance.
Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in the state of California. It is also the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles. A sea- and space-grant institution, USC is a member of the Association of American Universities. The university's technological innovations and advancements include antivirus software, DNA computing, and the Domain Name System. Located in Los Angeles' University Park district, the main campus includes features primarily Romanesque Revival architecture and a historic portion listed on the National Register of Historic Places. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC at No. 37 in Best Value Schools, No. 28 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities. The Gould School of Law ranks at No. 17 in Best Law Schools at the graduate level.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $44,712
#9 – Drexel University
Master of Legal Studies
Drexel University awards a Master of Legal Studies through its Thomas R. Kline School of Law. Designed for working professionals, the online degree program builds a general understanding of the law that can be applied to almost any industry. Students may pursue a general legal studies degree or choose from eight concentrations, including criminal law, health care compliance, higher education compliance, and sports law. The curriculum covers areas such as compliance, ethics, legal research and analysis, professional standards, and risk management. Core courses include Compliance Skills, Ethics and Professional Standards, Legal Research and Analysis, and Risk Assessment and Management. The curriculum culminates in a capstone research project. The program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.
Drexel was founded in 1891 by financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel. It was originally an institute of art, science, and industry, and later an institute of technology, before becoming a private research university. The main campus is located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Bloomberg Business ranked the university's Kline School of Law as the nation's second most underrated law school. Drexel has also been awarded for its excellence in online education and distance learning. U.S. News & World Report ranks Drexel at No. 102 in National Universities, No. 67 in Best Value Schools, and No. 13 in Most Innovative Schools. The Kline School of Law ranks at No. 100 in the nation for its graduate studies.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $34,155
#8 – Webster University
Master of Arts in Legal Studies
Webster Groves, MO
Webster University offers an entirely online Master of Arts in Legal Studies through its College of Arts & Sciences. The 39-credit curriculum includes required courses in Anglo-American Legal History, Computerized Legal Research, Criminal Actions, Ethics for the Legal Professional, Jurisprudence, and more. All students must also complete a master's Research and Writing Projects. Students also have the option to complete a Legal Studies internship or pursue a concurrent certificate in paralegal studies.
Webster University was founded in 1915 by the Sisters of Loretto as a Catholic women's college. Today, it is a private, independent, non-denominational university. It has a main campus in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The university also operates branch locations throughout the United States and international campuses in countries including Austria, Ghana, and Thailand. The university is noted for its chess team, which has won multiple state, national, and world championships. U.S. News & World Report ranks Webster at No. 56 in Best Value Schools and No. 23 in Regional Universities Midwest.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,500
#7 – Arizona State University
Master of Legal Studies
Arizona State University awards a Master of Legal Studies through its Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. The online degree program offers five emphasis options: Corporate and Health Care Compliance, Criminal Law, HR & Employment Law, Intellectual Property Law, Sports Law & Business, and Sustainability Law. The 30-credit curriculum explores the intersections of law and the fields it influences, such as banking, engineering, entrepreneurship, sports, and sustainability. It consists of 10 total classes, each spanning seven and a half weeks. U.S. Law and Legal Analysis is a required course for all students.
ASU was established in 1885 as a teacher training school. It has since grown into one of the largest public universities in the United States in terms of student enrollment. It operates five campuses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, as well as learning centers throughout the state of Arizona. A significant portion of the student population is enrolled online. The space-grant university ranks highly for research efforts and is a Carnegie-classified top-tier research university. U.S. News & World Report ranks ASU at No. 115 in National Universities, No. 52 in Top Public Schools, and first nationally in Most Innovative Schools. The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ranks at No. 27 in Best Law Schools for its graduate-level studies.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,406 in-state; $25,160 out-of-state
#6 – Pepperdine University
Master of Legal Studies
Pepperdine University offers a Master of Legal Studies through Pepperdine Law. The online degree program offers students the option to concentrate in dispute resolution or human resources. The 32-credit curriculum covers legal areas such as litigation, negotiation, regulatory compliance, research, and torts. Core courses include Constitutional Law, Contracts, and Legal Writing. Elective offerings include Business Organizations, Health Law, and Intellectual Property. Students will have the opportunity to engage in case studies and mock trials during two on-campus residencies.
Pepperdine was founded in 1937 by Christian philanthropist and entrepreneur George Pepperdine. Originally a liberal arts college in Los Angeles, it is now a private research university in Malibu, California. The university operates multiple campuses in southern California, a center in Washington, D.C., and international campuses in six countries. The university is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. U.S. News & World Report ranks Pepperdine at No. 46 in National Universities and No. 39 in Best Value Schools. Pepperdine Law is ranked at No. 51 in Best Law Schools at the graduate level.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $33,700
#5 – Georgetown University
Master of Studies in Law in Taxation
Georgetown University offers a Master of Studies in Law in Taxation. The online degree program is offered through the Georgetown University Law Center, which has the largest tax curriculum of any school in the country. Georgetown students can also pursue an additional certificate in International Taxation or State and Local Taxation. All MSL in Taxation must take three courses: Corporate Income Tax Law, Income Tax Accounting, and Introduction to Federal Income Tax, Research & Writing. The Research & Writing course must be taken in real-time online through video conferencing. The curriculum totals 24 credits. It can be completed on a full-time basis within one academic year, or part-time within three years.
Georgetown was founded by Jesuits in 1789 as Georgetown College. It has since grown into a private research university comprised of nine schools. It is the oldest Catholic-affiliated institution of higher education in the nation, though most of its students are not Catholic. Established in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the main campus sits on a hill overlooking the Potomac River and features Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark. Celebrated alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgetown at No. 32 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 25 in Best Value Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $49,560
#4 – University of Illinois at Springfield
Master of Arts in Legal Studies
The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a 40-credit Master of Arts in Legal Studies. Designed for working professionals, the degree program can be completed entirely online. Some online courses are taught in real-time through computer conferencing software, while others can be accessed at students' own convenience. It addresses the world of law within the framework of an interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum. Core courses include Public Advocacy, a Seminar in Politics and Law, and Theories of Justice. Students must culminate the program by completing a graduate seminar or master's thesis. Students also have the option to complete up to four clinical education credits, which can be completed through internships in government agencies or other public interest groups.
UIS became a part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. It is a liberal arts college and public land-grant university. The campus is located in Springfield, the capital city of Illinois. It has been recognized by the Sloan Consortium for its excellence in online education. U.S. News & World Report ranks UIS at No. 55 in Best Value Schools, No. 50 in Regional Universities Midwest, and No. 9 in Top Public Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,550 in-state; $15,247 out-of-state
#3 – West Virginia University
Master of Legal Studies
West Virginia University offers a Master of Legal Studies. The online degree program offers three areas of emphasis: healthcare, homeland security, and justice systems. It is ideal for working professionals in fields such as healthcare, immigration, and law enforcement. The 30-credit curriculum includes 10 required courses, including Administrative Ethics, Dispute Resolution Process, and Researching the Law. Students must also take two of three Legal Process courses: Administrative, Judicial, and Legislative. The curriculum culminates in a three-credit Research Capstone.
WVU was established in 1867 as an agricultural college. Today, it is a public research-intensive university. Along with its main campus in Morgantown, the university operates additional West Virginia campuses in Beckley, Charleston, and Keyser. A land- and space-grant institution, WVU is classified in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. The university is affiliated with the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and is a leader in biometrics in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. News & World Report ranks WVU at No. 205 in National Universities and No. 112 in Top Public Schools. The university is also ranked at No. 100 in Best Law Schools at the graduate level.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990 in-state; $25,776 out-of-state
#2 – University of Oklahoma
Master of Legal Studies
The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Legal Studies through its College of Law. The online degree program offers four focus areas: Healthcare Law; Indigenous Peoples Law; International Business Law; and Oil, Gas, and Energy Law. The 32- to 33-credit MLS curriculum is flexible, allowing students to study when and where they choose. It follows a cohort-based model with small class sizes, meaning students will move through the material at similar paces and receive personal attention. The accelerated degree program can be completed in 15 months.
OU was established in 1890 as Normal Territorial University. It received its current name when Oklahoma gained statehood 17 years later. OU is the state's flagship university. In addition to its main campus in Norman, the school operates campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and one in Arezzo, Italy. The Norman campus is home to two prominent museums: the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The space-grant institution is classified in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. U.S. News & World Report ranks OU at No. 157 in National Universities and No. 80 in Top Public Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,683 in-state; $20,342 out-of-state
#1 – Northeastern University
Master of Legal Studies
Northeastern University offers GSH's top-ranked Master of Legal Studies. The online degree program is offered through the university's School of Law. The core MLS curriculum builds a broad, foundational understanding of U.S. law. Core courses include Data Regulation and Compliance, Law of Information and Records, and Negotiation and Advocacy. Students can then customize their plan of study through electives covering legal issues relating to specific industries. Elective offerings include Antidiscrimination Law, Regulation and Global Business Strategies, and Wages and Benefits. Students can choose to concentrate in Business Law, Health Law, or Human Resources Law. The degree can be completed on a full- or part-time basis within two years.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern began as the Evening Institute for Younger Men in Boston's Huntington Avenue YMCA. Today, it is a private research university with a main campus that spreads through Boston's Back Bay, Fenway-Kenmore, Roxbury, and South End neighborhoods. The university also operates satellite campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; and Toronto, Canada. The university is noted for its cooperative education program and consistently ranks highly on The Princeton Review's list of "Best Schools for Internships." The university ranks in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. U.S. News & World Report ranks NU at No. 72 in Best Value Schools, No. 44 in National Universities, and No. 8 in Most Innovative Schools. The university's School of Law ranks at No. 64 for its graduate studies and No. 9 for graduate Health Care Law.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,027