How is an Online Law School Different?
Legitimate law schools have to be accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). There are no ABA-acreddited fully online law schools. However, students can now attend law school mostly online, with on-campus residencies required a few times per year. Threre 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.
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 strenous 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 2020
1. 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 to offer classes online in 2019. The online law degree at UNH prepares graduates for a career in intellectual property law, a lucrative and fast-growing area of practice. Graduates can still go into another area of the law if they choose. However, the UNH law school has long been known for its specialization in intellectual property law, and graduates may find more career opportunities in this area of practice. Students take classes online but are required to attend four four-day residencies per year.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,300 in-state; $1,500 non-resident
- Bar pass rate: 91.9%
2. 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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,500
- Bar pass rate: 89%
3. Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago offers a law degree through hybrid online-traditional instructional methods. Students attend most of their classes online and complete their coursework primarily over the Internet, but they must attend on-campus classes every other weekend. This part-time program takes four years to complete. As with the other programs on this list, the same faculty who teach traditional law classes at LUC also teach in the hybrid law program. The admission requirements are also the same for the traditional program and the hybrid program.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,550
- Bar pass rate: 85%
4. Syracuse University
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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,925
- Bar pass rate: 88%
If you need to find the right online law school, we can help you find the perfect program for your situation.
5. 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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,796
- Bar pass rate: 76.8%
6. Touro College
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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,820
- Bar pass rate: 63.4%
7. 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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $2,095
- Bar pass rate: 80.9%
8. 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.
- Tuition per credit hour: $2,354
- Bar pass rate: 90.4%
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.
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