10 Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Legal Studies in 2023

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Many universities and colleges offer online Master’s in Legal Studies programs for students seeking a deeper understanding of the law and legal issues without necessarily earning a Juris Doctor program or practicing law.

The online master’s in legal studies program features a curriculum that tackles legal issues for careers that require an understanding of legal principles. Students will be able to specialize if they choose an area in addition to core courses, such as intellectual property, human rights, compliance and risk management, sports law, and regulatory law, among others.

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Earning an online master’s in legal studies helps graduate students advance their careers and increase their earning potential. If you have a passion for understanding the law and aim to help your organization with legal matters, then this master’s degree is for you.


Looking for the best, advanced degrees that help develop their legal knowledge to inform and guide your professional practice? We’ve got you covered! We’ve put together 10 graduate schools that offer the best Online Master’s in Legal Studies degrees, selected based on the following characteristics:

  • Offers their coursework entirely or primarily online, ideal for working professionals who need the least amount of disruption to their careers and commitments,
  • Feature up-to-date and continually developed curriculums that prepare students for careers that support the work of attorneys, or develop students’ knowledge of the law that they can apply to their particular disciplines,
  • Taught by expert faculty who have extensive experience in the field as legal experts and practitioners,
  • Feature a range of financial aid options that let students reduce and manage their education costs,
  • Hold the relevant accreditation credentials.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Tucson, AZ

Committed to transforming student lives through quality education, the University of Arizona serves more than 46,000 students across more than 150 majors. It holds the distinction of keeping the student-to-faculty ratio small at 17:1.

This means every student will receive equal attention, guidance, and support from the faculty. The university is also known to offer online programs in various disciplines, making it an ideal choice for working legal professionals.

  • The University of Arizona offers the online Master of Legal Studies (MLS), helping students enhance their knowledge and effectiveness when it comes to legal aspects.
  • Students are expected to gain a better understanding of laws and regulations while advancing their careers through obtaining critical thinking and legal skills.
  • To earn the program, students must complete a total of 30 credit units, either part-time or full-time.
  • This legal studies program does not require the completion of a capstone project or thesis. Students, however, have a choice whether to take on a research project or independent study.

Students may choose to concentrate on relevant areas of study, including Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, International Trade and Business Law, Health Law and Policy, and Compliance and Legal Risk Management, among others.

Did You Know?

This land-grant university boasts of globally renowned faculty who are recognized for their leadership, scholarship, and service. Some of the awards they were conferred include fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Guggenheim Fellowship Award Winners. There are numerous awards from other bodies as well, including the National Academy of Sciences, the Nobel Prize, and Pulitzer Prize, among others.

Drexel University

Drexel University - Online

Philadelphia, PA

A comprehensive global research university, Drexel University features an experiential learning model that brings together academic rigor and cooperative education programs. Since its foundation in 1891, the university has remained committed to providing top-quality higher education. It is also one of the pioneers of online education.  

  • The Master of Legal Studies offered at Drexel University is designed to help prospective students maximize their career potential and become a valuable part of their organization.
  • The program equips them with a solid foundation in the different aspects of law, all without having to earn a law degree.
  • Students will tackle risk management, human resources compliance, legal research and analysis, ethics, and professional standards.
  • The degree focuses on how laws and regulations work and how businesses can be properly conducted.

The program allows students to customize their online education to better align with their professional goals and needs. They can choose among eight specialized concentrations, including Criminal Law, Entrepreneurship and Law, Financial Regulatory Compliance, Cybersecurity and Information Privacy Compliance, and so much more.

Did You Know?

Drexel University allows online students to build an impressive network of colleagues, contacts, and friends through the Digital Dragon community. This connects them with a diverse group of talented adults from whom they can gain professional insights, life experience, and practical advice.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University - Online

Tempe, AZ

Known for its innovation efforts, Arizona State University has drawn pioneering researchers to its faculty while also attracting highly qualified students from all over the country and beyond. It is a member of the Association of American Universities, alongside Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. The university has more than 10 years of experience in providing high-quality online programs to accelerate career growth.

  • Arizona State University is home to a Master of Legal Studies degree program that is fully available online.
  • This master’s degree features a 30-credit-hour curriculum designed to help students understand law without having to practice it.
  • The online program allows them to build a foundation in U.S. law while also having the opportunity to customize their online learning according to their career goals by choosing electives.
  • Students who successfully earn this program will be able to gain knowledge of concepts that range from conflict resolution to employment law, helping them make informed decisions.
  • To tailor the degree to their interests in mind, students may choose among 12 potential focus areas, including business law, conflict resolution, contract management, construction law, and criminal law, among others.

In this MLS program, students will need to complete one required course and one program core course. Some of the courses they can expect to cover include US Law and Legal Analysis, Administrative Agencies and Regulations, Criminal Procedure, Fundamentals of Contract Law, Intellectual Property, and Tort Law, among others. 

Did You Know?

ASU is a Higher Learning Commission-accredited school, allowing it to offer all of the online degree programs under ASU Online. Around 94% of alumni online graduates reported that they found a new job or promotion through their degree at Arizona State University.

Meanwhile, around 87% of online graduates received a promotion or an increase in salary upon graduation.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University - Law

Newark, NJ

Considered the best among Catholic Universities, Seton Hall University has been committed to providing top-notch higher education since 1856. Currently, it is home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled across over 90 rigorous majors. It also houses the Seton Hall Law School, established in 1951.

  • Designed for nonlawyers who want to develop their legal knowledge and advanced problem-solving skills, the online Master of Legal Studies degree program offered at Seton Hall provides the practical and theoretical foundation.
  • Students are taught to understand and interpret laws that can help them evaluate business situations in an objective way, thus making better decisions.
  • The curriculum also provides knowledge that can be readily applied to changing environments, giving online students the edge when facing potential challenges and opportunities.

The online Master of Legal Studies program allows students to customize their learning experience to better align with their career goals and interests. They can expect to cover foundational courses such as workplace law, contracts, legal procedure, negligence, legal writing, and business law fundamentals.

They can select a concentration from areas like:

  • Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Law & Compliance
  • Health and Hospital Law
  • Law and the Creative Industries
  • Financial Services Compliance
  • Privacy Law and Cyber Security.
Did You Know?

Widely known and respected in the country and abroad, the Seton Hall Law School offers pro bono initiatives under the Center for Social Justice. This provides legal services to more than a thousand Newark citizens every year.

The school is also a participant in the Dean Acheson Legal Stage Program at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Communities. It is home to four centers that focus on intellectual property law, health law, public interest law, public policy, and social justice.

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati - Online

Cincinnati, OH

Finding the balance between academic excellence and real-world experience, the University of Cincinnati is home to nearly 48,000 students. Since its foundation in 1819, the university has been providing quality education to the immediate community and beyond. To date, it features 426 degree programs and 205 certificates.

  • The University of Cincinnati offers a Master of Legal Studies program for students who want to acquire a working knowledge of the law that is easily applicable in an industry or career that interacts with the law.
  • This program provides an alternative to those who want to increase their legal knowledge but who do not want to attend law school.
  • The degree is asynchronous, helping working professionals understand laws and regulations to help them perform better in leadership roles.
  • The university partners with businesses to create pathways for their employees to earn an MLS degree online, participating in a capstone related to their field of interest.

To earn the degree program, students must complete a total of 30 semester hours, covering courses such as Legal Research and Communication, Introduction to Law, Business Law, Compliance, and Risk Management, among others.

Did You Know?

The University of Cincinnati ranks among 130 institutions classified as having the highest activity when it comes to research, as vetted by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The university has produced countless notable individuals, including the inventor of the steam-powered fire engine, Alexander Latta, and electronic organ inventor Winston Kock.

American University

American University - Washington College of Law

Washington, DC

American University is a private research university located in Washington DC. It has affiliations with the United Methodist Church but was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1893, making it one of only 6 universities in the country to be created through such.

At present, American University is composed of 8 colleges & schools, which together host a total population of over 14,000 students. It is also classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”.

  • The web-based Master of Legal Studies offered by American University is designed for those working in positions that have law-related responsibilities but are not practicing attorneys.
  • The program consists of 30 credit hours in total and can be completed on either a part-time or full-time enrollment.
  • Coursework is online, however, there is a single in-person immersion at the Washington DC campus.
  • The program features the following specialization tracks: Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, Cybersecurity, US Legislation, and General MLS.

American University’s MLS Curriculum features an interdisciplinary design for many professional fields and includes courses from the fields of Business and International Relations. Students who take any of the non-General MLS specialization tracks will also earn the corresponding graduate certificate in addition to their degree.

Did You Know?

Five of all six Congressionally-Chartered universities in the country are in Washington DC and are all private institutions, with the exception of the Institute for American Indian Art (IAIA), 1962 which is in Santa Fe, NM. Public, tribal, land grant college.

Purdue University

Purdue University - Global

West Lafayette, IN

Purdue University is a public, land-grant, research university in the city of West Lafayette, Indiana. It was established in 1869, and the first classes were held in 1874 with 39 students. At present, Purdue University is composed of 10 colleges and schools hosting a population of over 50,800 students.

It is a member of the Association of American Universities, and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high Research Activity”.

  • Purdue University offers an online Master of Legal Studies degree, designed to develop a deep knowledge of the law, legal terminology, and legal procedure of students coming from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. 
  • The program contains a total of 55 credit hours, which includes room for up to 15 credits of electives.
  • The program’s curriculum focuses on the legal system, legal history, and key areas of law, as well as developing skills in legal research and writing, dispute resolution, legal reasoning and analysis, and jurisprudence, among others.

On top of the training on specific skills in legal research & dispute resolution, this program is designed with an emphasis on ethics, leadership, and reflective practice, with the goal of developing well-rounded professionals in mind. Also, students in the program can also apply some of their courses should they decide to go for Purdue’s Executive Juris Doctor degree.

Did You Know?

Purdue University is named after John Purdue, a businessman, and industrialist who donated the land and financial resources to establish a College of Science, Technology, and Agriculture in the city of Lafayette.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University - Online

Morgantown, WV

West Virginia University was established in 1867 as the Agricultural College of West Virginia and immediately renamed West Virginia University the following year. West Virginia University is the state’s top-tier university, and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

It is composed of 15 colleges and schools and has a population of around 30,000 students across all its campuses.

  • West Virginia University’s Online Master of Legal Studies is designed for non-attorneys who require a thorough knowledge of the law in their fields, and who may be working with attorneys or dealing with various legal issues.
  • The program is part of WVU’s Department of Public Administration, and as such, is designed to build a greater public knowledge and understanding of the law and legal system in the United States.
  • The program is designed to let non-attorney professionals more effectively make use of a deeper knowledge of the law and the legal system in their professional practice. It is not structured as a pre-law or a paralegal program.
  • The program contains a total of 30 credit hours, with a curriculum that is focused on the key areas of policy, regulation, and compliance. The program also features two emphasis areas: Healthcare and Justice System.

The program is designed for working professionals, so it can be earned in as little as 18 months. It is designed primarily for those who work with or within the legal system, such as those working in the court system, in criminal and juvenile justice, journalism, social work, in governments and regulatory agencies, in business, the military, and more.

Did You Know?

Aside from the main campus at Morgantown, WVU also runs three other divisional campuses in the cities of Beckley, Keyser, and Charleston. 

Florida State University

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Juris Master Online

Florida State University (FSU) is a public research university located in Tallahassee, Florida. It is one of 12 institutions that form the State University System of Florida. FSU is currently composed of 16 colleges and schools and has a population of over 45,000 students. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

  • Florida State University’s Online Juris Master program is designed to develop and deepen students’ working knowledge and understanding of the law, particularly with regard to the areas of regulations and compliance. 
  • The program contains a total of 30 credit hours, which can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Courses are primarily offered in an asynchronous format.  
  • The program has a choice of 5 concentration areas: Cybersecurity & Privacy, Employment Law & HR, Financial Regulation and Compliance, Health Care Regulation, and Legal Risk Management & Contracting.
  • The program’s range of foundational courses covers the areas of Legal Research, Contracts, Torts, Legislation & Regulation, and Regulatory Compliance.  
Standout Features of Florida State University’s Online Juris Master Program:

Florida State University’s Online Juris Master program consistently makes the top tier of rankings for quality, innovation, and relevance. This is paired with one of the most competitive tuition rates in the country. Online students are likewise given full access to the same range of academic resources available to their on-campus counterparts, as well as opportunities for professional networking with faculty and peers.

Did You Know?

The Florida State University campus houses the state’s oldest continuously used higher education site. The present-day location of the campus’ Westcott Building was the location of the West Florida Seminary. The Westcott Building itself is over 100 years old, having been built in 1910.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University

Malibu, CA

Pepperdine University is a private research university located near Malibu, a city in LA County. It is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and was originally founded in South Los Angeles in 1937 before moving to Malibu in 1972. It was founded by and named after George Pepperdine, an entrepreneur and Christian philanthropist. Pepperdine University is composed of an undergraduate school and four graduate schools, which host a population of over 10,000 students. Pepperdine University also has satellite campuses in 5 other countries.

  • Pepperdine University’s Online Master of Legal Studies program is designed to develop students’ legal expertise which helps elevate their own professional practice.
  • The program contains a total of 32 credit hours and includes coverage of contracts, legal writing, constitutional law, criminal law, and civil procedure & litigation.
  • The program can be completed in 16 months on a full-time enrollment, or within 28 months part-time.
  • The program also offers a choice of three concentration areas: Dispute Resolution, Human Resources, or Litigation.
  • There are two required in-person residencies at the Malibu campus, where students engage in mock trials, case studies, and get to connect and network with their peers. 

Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law, which offers the Master of Legal Studies, is recognized as one of the country’s top law schools for online education. It is also accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). 

Did You Know?

Students can also opt to add an additional 18-22 units to complete the optional Master of Dispute Resolution Dual Degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, the legal studies online program can be completed in two years, especially if students take the coursework at their own pace. However, for graduate programs in legal studies that offer multiple start dates and accelerated options, the MLS program can be earned in just one year.

The learning and training provided in Master of Legal Studies degrees can be taken into Law School, although many students planning to become practicing attorneys also enter law school directly after finishing their bachelor’s degree and passing the LSAT.

Master of Legal Studies degrees are designed more for those working in non-attorney careers that require them to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the law. In any case, the added years of professional practice and education will translate to experience and insight that help students once they decide to enter law school.

Online Master's in Legal Studies - fact

Key Takeaways

  • Online Master’s in Legal Studies degree programs are designed primarily for professionals who need a thorough knowledge of the law (especially as it applies to their respective fields) but who are not necessarily aiming to practice law. These fields can be varied, ranging from legal support to business, cybersecurity, and medical device regulatory compliance in health care.
  • The core of most Online Master’s in Legal Studies curricula typically covers the key concepts of the country’s laws and legal systems, as well as a number of relevant practical legal skills, which include legal research, legal interpretation/analysis, dispute/conflict resolution, legal writing, and more.  
  • The typical Master’s in Legal Studies degree program is designed to add a crucial set of law-related skills to non-lawyers coming from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, and as such, isn’t meant to replace the standard law degree curriculum for those planning to become attorneys.

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor