What Are the Highest Reviewed Online Law Degrees?

By Alexander MiradorLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:26 PM ET
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If you want to expand your areas of expertise as an attorney, a number of highly esteemed institutions offer online law programs for distance learners who aspire to take their legal careers to the next level. The catch is that only the state of California permits graduates from online law schools to take the bar exam. That means that those who have not yet passed the exam can only practice in California if they use one of these programs to start a new legal career.

With a recent median income of nearly $130,000 annually, lawyers often find their careers to be financially rewarding as well as intellectually challenging, which makes this limitation still very inviting for some newcomers. Whether you plan to practice in California or you just want to expand your legal expertise with a new degree, these highly rated online law schools can get you started with a Master of Laws degree.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California's (USC's) Gould School of Law is one of the most highly esteemed law programs in the United States and internationally. The school boasts approximately 10,000 law school alumni globally, and online law students now have a chance to be in this exclusive group of lawyers. With accreditation for the American Bar Institution, it ranks 17th among the best law schools in the U.S.

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USC makes even more sense for online law students who are planning to practice in California, as joining the university’s online law program can help jump-start their future legal careers in the state. Even an online degree at this school does not come cheap, and prospective online law students should expect to shell out about $53,000 per semester. Apart from the prestige that comes with the degree, USC's online law program has a 93% passing rate that also makes it worth the cost.

Villanova University

Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law is one of the highest rated law schools in the U.S. Maintaining a maximum of just 565 law students annually helps the school consistently rank among the best law schools in the country. Villanova’s online law program is of particular advantage to students who want to specialize in tax law.

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The university’s online law program offers three graduate degrees and the same number of certificate programs in taxation. Those who are already working in the legal field can specifically earn a Master of Laws in Taxation degree. Non-lawyers can also earn a Master of Taxation, which is a degree that will serve them well if they choose to become accountants. Online students should expect to shell out around $41,000 as a student in Villanova's online law program.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University offers several online law programs for practicing lawyers who want to earn master's degrees in law to expand their areas of expertise. The options include the Master of Science in Jurisprudence and the online Master of Laws degree.

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One of the reasons Seton Hall's online law program made this list is the flexibility that comes with its online program that allows students — who are also working legal professionals — to complete courses without taking a break from their practice. Distance learners also have full access to the same faculty as the students who attend the classes on campus. The university's online law program is also one of the most affordable at approximately $27,000 per year.

University of Tulsa

The University of Tulsa's College of Law maintains just 255 students per semester in its programs. Law students who attend classes on campus can complete their Juris Doctor (J.D.) in three years. Online students can complete their Master of Jurisprudence degree in 18 to 24 months, depending on the pace of the student. The school’s online law program is also one of the most affordable at about $24,000 per year.

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Washington University (St. Louis)

Washington University's on-campus law program is one of the most comprehensive, offering degrees in various legal fields. Options include constitutional law and civil rights, labor and employment law, and criminal law. Online students can work on their Master of Legal Studies, Master of Taxation as well as other law degrees. Online classes are interactive and conducted in a streaming format, which enables distance students to interact with their on-campus counterparts. Students should expect to pay around $28,000 per semester for this school.

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Another catch that goes with earning an online legal degree is that the American Bar Association (ABA) doesn’t currently accredit any online degree programs. That means that students who earn online degrees won't be able to take the bar — outside California — to receive a legal license to practice. They can expand their fields of expertise with online degrees, but they must earn the right to take the bar exam by attending law school in the traditional way.