How is an Online Law School Different?
Legitimate law schools have to be accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). There are no ABA-accredited fully online law schools. However, students can now attend law school mostly online, with on-campus residencies required a few times per year. There are also some law schools that require students to be on campus every other weekend, but offer most of their instruction online. Besides the instructional method, online law school is the same as traditional law school. Students take the same classes from the same faculty and receive the same degree. Most importantly, online students also have the same right to take the bar exam, which they have to pass to get their law license. In the end, online law school is only different in that it offers students a more flexible and convenient instructional method.
Online law programs have been increasingly gaining a lot of popularity, which can be attributed to the fact that they have more flexible schedules than in-class law programs. A student taking an online law program can easily balance their daily commitments and school life. Another reason why online law programs have become more preferred than traditional law programs is that they are much cheaper. Before online programs were available, many individuals who wanted to pursue law programs but had no financial resources usually opted to settle for more affordable courses. However, that is no longer the case.
Top 5 Online Law Schools
|1||University of New Hampshire||Concord, New Hampshire|
|2||University of Dayton||Dayton, Ohio|
|3||Loyola University Chicago||Chicago, Illinois|
|4||Syracuse University||Syracuse, New York|
|5||University of Denver||Denver, Colorado|
Attending an online law school tends to accords one a lot of benefits. One key benefit is that online law schools provide their students with the opportunity to network with peers from different states, countries, and even continents. By attending an online law school, another benefit you’ll enjoy is increased instructor-student time. Unlike most traditional universities and colleges, the classes at online law schools are small. Given that their classes are smaller, their students often pass more as they receive personalized attention.
What are the Requirements for an Online Law Degree?
The requirements for an online law degree are the same as the requirements for a traditional law degree. Students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with an excellent GPA (usually a 3.5 or better) and good LSAT scores to be admitted. Once admitted, students must complete three years of strenuous schooling in all areas of the law. Part-time students may need four years to complete their degrees. When students have completed their schooling, they still need to pass the bar exam to receive their license to practice law.
What Can I Do With an Online Law Degree?
An online law degree is effectively the same as a law degree earned through traditional education. Graduates can go onto practice any area of law they choose, from criminal defense to estate law to intellectual property law and more. Most attorneys fresh out of law school join a law firm, but they can work as sole practitioners if they choose. The bottom line is that graduates from an online law school can do anything with their education that graduates of a traditional law school can do.
8 Best Online Law Schools in 2021
University of New Hampshire
The Franklin Pierce School of Law at the University of New Hampshire takes top spot on our list. It received ABA approval in 2019 to offer a mostly online Hybrid JD, becoming the only Hybrid JD with a focus in Intellectual Property, Technology, and Information Law. The 3.5-year mostly online law degree at UNH prepares graduates for a career in intellectual property law, a lucrative and fast-growing area of practice. UNH has been ranked in the Top 10 for intellectual property law schools for three decades and has graduates in IP leadership positions across the globe.
In the Hybrid JD program, students take the majority of their classes online on their schedule from wherever they live and are only required to attend four residency periods of four-five days each per year. The Hybrid JD allows students to maintain their commitments to their professional and personal lives while pursuing their law degree. UNH accepts both GRE and LSAT scores.
The school’s LL.M. in Intellectual Property also ranks in the top 10 of intellectual property LL.M. programs. The degree can be completed in-person, online, or through a combination of in-person and online learning. Residential students complete the program in just 9 months (August-May) and online students can take courses on a part-time schedule, completing the program in 1-3 years. Additional programs offered include a residential LL.M. in Commerce & Technology Law and a fully online LL.M. in International Criminal Law & Justice. Residential students can create a curriculum plan that supports Bar exam eligibility.
School Overview-Hybrid JD
University of Dayton
The University of Dayton‘s law school has also received ABA approval to offer classes online. Their hybrid online program can be completed in three years and eight months, only a little longer than the standard three years. Online classes are taught by the same highly accomplished faculty members who teach the traditional law courses. Students must attend the online classes live. The program requires 10 on-campus residencies throughout the degree track. Students must also complete a semester-long externship. Applicants can submit GRE scores instead of LSAT scores.
Loyola University Chicago
In 2016, Loyola University Chicago School of Law reimagined their traditional, part-time JD program to create the Weekend JD Program. As a hybrid online/in-person program the Weekend JD Program blends face-to-face classroom instruction (approximately every other weekend) with weekly, asynchronous, online learning modules. This program can be completed in 3 ½ years, with the addition of summer courses, or 4-years if limited to the Spring and Fall academic terms. As with the other programs on this list, the same faculty who teach traditional law classes at LUC also teach in the Weekend JD Program. The admission requirements are also the same for both the traditional program and the Weekend JD Program.
Syracuse University is undoubtedly the most prestigious law school on this list. Syracuse was the second program to get ABA approval to offer a hybrid online-traditional law program. SU started this program in January 2019. 241 people applied to be part of the first class, and 32 were accepted. The admissions requirements are the same as the traditional law program’s requirements, and the online students actually had slightly higher average LSAT scores.
SU’s online law program is every bit as demanding and rewarding as their traditional law program. Online students even have the opportunity to work on the prestigious Syracuse Law Review. Instruction is offered via live online classes, learning modules that students complete on their own time, and on-campus residencies. This allows students who are employed full-time or who have family obligations to get a legal education. The program takes three years and three months to finish.
University of Denver
The Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver offers online instruction for their part-time law school program. UD’s part-time J.D. program is the oldest and one of the most well-regarded in the entire country. It was previously offered through traditional instruction, but UD recently changed to a hybrid instructional method. Students do have to attend classes on campus for eight weekends every semester. They also have to take final exams on campus during two weekends each semester. The rest of the program can be completed over the Internet according to each student’s schedule. They do not have to attend live online classes. This program can be completed in four years of part-time schooling. The same faculty teach in both the hybrid law program and the traditional law program.
Touro College‘s Jacob D. Fuchsberg started a hybrid law program in 2018. This program allows students to take classes on a part-time basis. Like all part-time law schools, it is aimed at students who work full-time or have significant family obligations. This program can be completed in four years of part-time study. Students must attend classes on Touro’s Long Island campus every other Sunday during the fall, spring, and summer semesters of their first two years of study. Their last two years of school can be completed almost entirely over the Internet.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
The Mitchell Hamline School of Law is the only standalone law school on our list. Mitchell Hamline was actually the first law school to get ABA approval to offer online law classes. They received this approval in 2015, and the first class of students in their hybrid program graduated in 2018. This program can be taken on either a full-time or part-time schedule. Full-time students can graduate in three years, while part-time students can graduate in four years. Students must attend 10 on-campus residencies during their time in the law school. They do not have to attend live online classes, but they do need to participate in weekly online discussions with their professors and classmates.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University offers a hybrid law program that combines online instruction and residencies on their campus in Newark, New Jersey. This program is dedicated both to the traditional Socratic method of legal education and to giving students more flexibility in their legal educations. Students must spend eight weekends per semester on campus during their first two years of the degree. Otherwise, coursework and instruction is offered online. Students must complete activities at their own pace and take part in regular discussions with both classmates and professors. Once students complete the first two years of the program successfully, they have two choices for their next two years of instruction. They can continue to come to campus every other weekend. Alternatively, they can take up to 15 credits per semester entirely over the Internet.
How We Calculated These Rankings
We took two factors into consideration when calculating these rankings. Firstly, we looked at the tuition that each school charges per credit hour. Secondly, we looked at the bar passage rate for each of these institutions. To come up with a final ranking, we took the tuition per credit hour and added a multiplier equivalent to the percentage of graduates who did not pass the bar. For example, Law School A has a tuition per credit of $2,000. Their bar passage rate is 80%. Law School A’s rating would be 2,400 (2,000 x 120%). Lower ratings are better than higher ratings.
If you work for one of the institutions mentioned in this article and you need to ask a question or make a correction, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Are you looking for the best online law school? We can help you find the right program for your needs.
Benefits of Enrolling in An Online Law School
Technological advancement across the globe has significantly revolutionized the education sector. With our lives becoming increasingly internet-based, the education sector has also adopted the use of the internet to provide education to students without physically being present in lecture halls. To this effect, several law schools have embraced online learning to impart knowledge to students from diverse regions across the globe. Just as you can do your shopping, watch movies, and attend meetings in the comfort of your home, online education allows you to get a decent education from home.
Most individuals are yet to embrace distance learning, with most people arguing that online education produces half-baked students into the job industry. However, most individuals, especially working professionals, prefer online classes to traditional in-person education. Is an online law school the right choice for obtaining your law degree? This article provides an overview of how law programs look like, the benefits of attending online law school, and the flexibilities of online law school compared to in-person programs.
What Are Online Law Programs Like?
Earning a law degree is usually considered to be the first step towards a career in law. You can either choose to earn your degree from an in-person law school or online law schools. Whichever choice you make, you are poised for success in your degree program. Online law programs have become more common among law schools. So, what does a typical law program look like?
Online law programs allow students to earn their law degrees through internet devices without classroom participation. Law professors and their students interact through internet devices, through which they administered classes. Unlike in-person learning, where students acquire notes directly during lectures, class resources in online law schools are sent to students via mail that school e-learning platforms. Besides, online students also undertake exams online, unlike traditional learning, where students undertake bar exams in exam rooms.
What Are the Benefits of Online Law School?
Recent surveys have shown that students are increasingly adopting online law programs due to the increased number of affordable online degrees offered by various law schools. Law schools continue to witness an upward trend in the admissions of students to online law schools. What could be the reason for the upsurge in the admission of students into online law school?
- Increased Flexibility: Online law schools allow you to attend classes at your own convenient time. The flexible schedules make it easier for individuals to work while at the same time studying for their law programs. The flexibility of online law classes allows you to advance in your career since you will have gained significant experience by the time you are graduating. Besides, it also gives you ample time to spend with your families and enjoys your treasured hobbies.
- Lower Education Costs: Online law school costs less compared to in-person programs. Online courses charge fewer tuition fees compared to traditional law classes. Besides, most students always opt to attend online courses at their home’s comfort, thus reducing living expenses associated with attending physical classes. Additionally, just like in-person students, online law students have several financial aid opportunities such as scholarships, grants, and student loans.
- Flexible Learning Environment: Online law schools allow you to choose your learning environment that best fits your schedule. You might decide to attend online classes from home, public libraries, or your workplace. Besides, you don’t have to commute daily to class, giving you more time to study. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about missing classes, as courses are administered according to your schedule.
Are Online Law Schools More Flexible?
In most cases, online law school’s flexibility is why most students prefer online classes to in-person classes. For instance, online students have the option to select a best-fit learning program. This mainly depends on their working schedules, unlike in-person students who stick to learning schedules pre-determined by the law school. Online students might attend classes from any part of the world. However, in-person students must be physically available and attend classes in law schools. Unfortunately, unaccredited law schools have taken advantage of online classes to conduct online classes for unsuspecting law students.
With current and future technological trends, law schools should adopt online law degree programs, which will help attract students from diverse regions. Besides, online programs are quite affordable compared to in-person learning. The flexibility of online classes allows students to study law remotely, from work, restaurants, homes, or even public libraries. Additionally, online courses allow working professionals to gain the experience and capabilities needed to advance in their careers.
Cost of Attending an Online Law School
Obtaining a law degree is an investment in your career. Therefore, the decision to attend a school of law should be well thought out due to the sizable financial resources law education requires. As a student, you need to evaluate the economic cost of the degree program. Remember, each law school has its unique tuition costs, depending on the program and the period the law degree takes.
With the technological trends in the education sector, several approved law schools have embraced online learning to cut law school costs. Several studies have indicated that degree programs in online law schools are relatively cheaper compared to in-person programs. Nonetheless, students should be wary of the numerous unaccredited law schools operating illegally.
So, what are the cost implications of obtaining your law degree from an online law school contrary to an in-person program? This article gives an overview of the cost of traditional law school programs, how the cost differs from online programs, and what goes into the costs of online law school programs.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Traditional Law School?
Traditional law school, which entails in-person programs, has been the learning norm for most law schools. The cost of traditional law school has steadily increased in the past few years, making it expensive for most students to consider pursuing law degrees. Besides, advances in technology have also impacted traditional law schools leading to a low enrolment of students. A recent survey shows that the average annual tuition fees for public law schools stand at $27 160, while private law schools stand at $47,754. However, tuition fees aren’t the only financial costs associated with traditional law school. There are other expenses that law students have to incur. They include:
- Housing: Most traditional law schools offer on-campus housing. The costs of these houses typically vary from one city to another. Hence, when choosing a law school, you must consider the cost of housing.
- Personal Expenses: Personal expenses such as transportation, food, and up-keep are among the living expenses that law students incur.
- Books and Stationery: Even most law school’s libraries are well equipped with books, law students are always required to purchase additional learning materials.
All these costs, together with the tuition fees, bar exam charges, among other expenses, increase the cost of obtaining your degree from traditional law schools. However, there are several financial aid opportunities that law students might take advantage of to help reduce the cost of learning.
How Does the Cost of an Online Program Differ from an In-Person Program?
The cost of an online program and in-person programs differs in subtle ways. For instance, working professionals might lose income if they enroll in in-person programs. On the contrary, online programs allow students to attend classes conveniently, allowing them to work and study simultaneously. In some cases, especially for starters, online programs’ costs might be high compared to the in-person program. Online students might be forced to acquire technological devices such as laptops that aid in learning.
Additionally, learners with family responsibilities might forgo the cost of hiring professional caregivers if they choose to pursue their degree through an online program. However, in-person students might have to incur such additional costs. Besides, in-person programs students have to incur several other charges to access various on-campus resources, such as recreational facilities, healthcare services, and library services. However, distance learners might not have to pay for such services, leading to reduced fees. In-person students incur living expenses such as housing and transportation, unlike online students.
What Goes into The Cost of an Online Law School?
When considering the cost of online law school programs, most students tend to focus on direct costs and ignore indirect costs. Indirect costs have a significant impact on the overall cost of online law programs. Hence, students must weigh in on all the likely expenses.
Here is a breakdown of the direct and indirect costs of online law school:
- Tuition: These are the law school costs for learning. Usually, they are considered to be the net cost of online education.
- Fees: These are usually the charges that students pay in addition to tuition. Unlike in-person students who pay for meal plans and parking fees, online law students might pay technology fees.
- Books: Like on-campus students, online students have to buy books at the beginning of each semester. However, most online students prefer paying the fee to virtually access course materials online.
Online law schools have become quite common due to their flexibility. Online programs offer new learning experiences compared to in-person programs. However, the debate on whether online law degrees are worth the cost still rages on. In some cases, especially in public colleges, online degree programs are relatively cheaper. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a background check on law schools’ online law programs and their overall costs before seeking admission.
Job Opportunities Available for Online Law School Graduates
Are you there wondering what you can do with your law degree? If you have obtained your Juris Doctor online degree, you can choose to go straight to bar school, and if you pass the bar exam, you can look for a job as an attorney. If not, many jobs are still waiting for you. This section reviews the job opportunities for online law students, the different legal field positions that require a law degree, and how having a law degree prepares you for the corporate world. Read on.
What Job Opportunities Are There For Online Law School Graduates?
An online law degree is reputable as the traditional law degree program. Therefore, it is paramount that you take your law programs from reputable and accredited online law schools because you will be competing for the same jobs as those who have gone through the traditional law school systems.
In a legal career, you can enroll in the J.D or non-J.D online graduate programs. J.D law school graduates are open to jobs in the legal field, where the most obvious job choice is becoming a lawyer.
On average, lawyers in the US make an average of $119,998 per year.
As a lawyer, you can practice as:
- Administrative or regulatory attorney
- Antitrust lawyer
- Arbitration, mediation, and dispute resolution attorney
- Compliance attorney
- Appellate lawyer
- Banking lawyer
- Maritime lawyer
- Education lawyer.
According to BLS data, the future is bright for lawyers as 32,300 new jobs will open in the field by 2029.
Non-JD online law school programs can prepare you for careers in the legal and outside of the legal profession. There are several not traditional jobs that you can do with an online law degree.
- Political risk analyst
- External auditor
- Chartered accountant
- Civil service administrator
- Human resources officer
- Broadcast journalism
- Tax consultants
- Management consultant
What Are Some Different Jobs In The Legal Field That Require A Law Degree?
The following jobs in the legal field require that you have a law degree to get employed. For instance, to become a legal instructor to teach graduate programs in most criminal justice schools, a law degree is required.
- Probation Officer: National average salary: $ 32,526
- Lawyer: National average salary: $119,998
- Paralegal: National average salary: $ 58,036.
- Legislative Assistant: National average salary: $ 41,133
- Judge: National average salary: $ 216,400
- Legal Instructor: National average salary: $75,498
- FBI Agent: National average salary: $51,921
- Compliance Officer: National average salary: $ 72,850
How Can Having A Law Degree Advance Your Career In The Corporate World?
If you chose to obtain your law degree with a business law focus, you would open yourself to many corporate world opportunities.
The Business law degree majorly focuses on two key areas:
- The regulation of businesses through laws of partnership, bankruptcy, agency
- The regulation of commercial transactions involves handling legal issues, including property fraud, illegal trading.
There are many places you can work, ranging from law firms to private and public companies. Some of the places where you can get opportunities in the corporate world include:
- Working as an in-house counsel for private banking, insurance, and accounting firms.
- Federal government agencies
- State agencies:
- Workers compensation departments
- Department of insurance and Finance
- Bureau of labor
- International business law opens you for corporate opportunities in areas such as:
- Trade regulation
- Human rights regulation
- Environment regulation
- Employment law
An international lawyer earns as high as $ 173,500 annually doing the following jobs for global companies:
- Researching business laws and policies for different countries
- Mediating conflicts and negotiating deals
- Drafting trade agreements and other legal documents touching the business
Similarly, on average, a corporate lawyer earns an annual salary of $114 075 doing the following jobs for private and public companies:
- Representing the business in court
- Initiating legal actions on behalf of the business
- Offering advice during business transactions and operations.
It is easy to switch to corporate careers, like becoming a human resources officer with a law degree. Having a law degree qualifies you for some credit exemptions for your online MBA in HRM; hence, you will graduate faster and switch to your fancy career. Besides, having done your law degree online, you already know that the tuition fee is low and costs related to campus living expenses are not applicable.
Having an online law degree opens you to many opportunities in both legal and non-legal fields. As a law student, it is essential to know this from the beginning of your studies. When bar school is out of the question for you, you can still make a living out of your law degree.
Best Online Law Schools
Have you finished your bachelor’s degree in law and are looking forward to applying for law school? This section will guide you on the best online law schools, what constitutes an excellent online law program, and the criteria to use to determine the online law program that is best for you.
Which Are the Best Online Law Schools?
Before I delve into the best schools offering online law studies, I would like to inform you that in the USA, not all states agree that you do your entire law school programs online but in California. Most California law schools allow those students doing their program online to sit for the bar exam directly.
The core courses offered in law school include:
- Administrative law
- Legal theory
- Business law and ethics
- Civil rights
- Constitutional law
If you want to chart a particular path in law that will define your future career, you can specialize in the following law field:
- Public law
- Patent law
- Criminal law
- Public law
- Business law
What Makes A Good Online Law Program?
Most students choose to study law online because it is a flexible way to raise a family or work as you study.
If you want to become a lawyer, you must earn your Juris Doctorate and then sit for your bar exams. Obtaining your law degree from a reputable online law school recognized by the ABA is necessary.
As mentioned earlier, only in California are online law school attendees allowed to sit for their bar exams. Nevertheless, you can complete most courses required for a JD program online.
A reputable institution will most likely offer an excellent online law program. A course in law from an unaccredited institution is worthless in the job market. Most employers will only employ those students who obtained their bachelor’s degree, JD, or LLM from an accredited university.
A good online law program offers asynchronous courses. This should allow you to study when your schedule allows.
For most students, an excellent online law program is determined by three key things:
- The Return on investment
- The Reputation
- The annual cost
Data collected from the PayScale and the National Center for Education Statistics prove that students will go for those institutions whose online law programs are the most sought in the job market. Some students will also look at the graduation rate for previous students who have undertaken those programs in the various universities before even looking at the program’s cost.
How Do You Know Which Online Law Program Is Best For You?
The best way to know the online law program that is best for you is to establish your future career goals.
On average, from the latest data on salaries, the annual wage for lawyers is $167,059, with the most popular taking home as much as $249,453 annually.
If your goal is to practice law, choose to do your program from online universities with quality courses that will make it easy for you to pass your bar exams.
If you aim to study law but don’t care about being a practicing attorney, then most reputable schools offering online law programs will be sufficient for you.
As a law student, you can take very many non-JD online law programs at the university. Some of them include:
- Academic bachelor’s degree for prelaw students
- Certificate programs for legal assistants
- Masters in law for non-lawyers
The following are some of the well-paying jobs for those law students whose interest is not to become attorneys.
- Forensic scientists
- Arbitrators, mediators, or conciliators
- Paralegal or Legal Assistant
- Cybersecurity specialists
- Legal researchers
It would be best if you also looked at the law program’s marketability before you decide on it.
Doing an online degree in law is possible not only for JD students but also for general law students. Before deciding where to study law, you should be aware of what makes a good online law program. You should also consider your future career goals and the reputation of the institution.
The cost of pursuing an online degree often differs remarkably from the cost of an in-person program. For example, in-person programs demand your presence. Thus, by enrolling in one, you may be forced to quit your job or even take fewer shifts. This might result in a decrease in your income. However, as online degrees are flexible, you can easily maintain your full-time job while also completing your degree. In terms of direct costs, online degree students tend to pay lower tuition fees and purchase study resources at cheaper rates than in-person program students. Deciding whether to enroll in an online law program is a pretty vital decision. If contemplating between choosing between an online program and an in-person program, cost-wise, choosing the online program would be wiser.
Most lawyers often possess excellent writing, problem-solving, analytical thinking, and communication skills. They also have excellent negotiation and presentation skills. For a business to prosper, it must be led by an individual that possesses all the skills mentioned above. If you look at most international organizations’ boards, you will find that at least two members have a law degree. All in all, by getting a law degree, you’ll be doing yourself great favor as you’ll be increasing your importance in your place-of-work.
If you’re looking for an online law program to major in, you should go for one that suits your taste. Law programs are notoriously difficult. If you choose one that doesn’t interest you, you’ll likely fail it as you’ll have no motivation to read it. It’s also essential to ensure that the program you choose is recognized. Many individuals have had their job applications turned down as their degrees were not recognized on numerous occasions. To avoid such a fate, ensure that the relevant authorities accredit the law program-of-your-choice.
Take your time. Enroll in an online law program that you’re passionate about.