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Best Online Degrees in: Legal Studies

 

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Legal Studies

Value
The award for best value for an online legal studies degree goes to Pennsylvania State University’s online World Campus. The school has an annual return on investment of 8.8%, with the number going up to 10% for graduates who received some sort of financial aid. Adding to the value is the fact that students of Penn State’s online World Campus have access to the exact same curriculum as traditional students.

Flexibility
The award for flexibility in an online legal studies bachelor’s degree goes to Kaplan University. The student ratings website CliffNotes.com awarded the school with an A+ in academic flexibility. Kaplan strives to provide all of its students with the support needed to pursue a degree program that suits their existing schedules and time constraints.

Career Support
Herzing University Online wins our award for best career support for providing students with exceptional career services from enrollment, to graduation and beyond. The school earned an A+ rating from the student review website CollegeProwler.com. The school’s student services department offers career counseling, resume writing help, career research, and even specific job leads.

Financial Support
The award for best financial support goes to Herzing University Online. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the school is able to offer some form of financial aid to 100% of its freshman class during the 2010-2011 school year. The NCES also reports that 80% of Herzing’s student body received grant or scholarship aid, while 83% were able to receive federal student loans, during the same school year.

Technology Support
The award for best technology support goes to Arizona State University Online for providing an unprecedented level of support to its online student body. The school is one of U.S. News & World Report’s top-ranked online universities for technology support. The school provides tech support through the Help Center via phone or live chat 24/7.

Student Engagement
Fort Hays State University Online wins our award for best student engagement for providing online students with a number of ways to interact with faculty and fellow students. The school is also ranked No. 6 by U.S. News & World Report in student engagement and assessment in their Top Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings. Students can find a variety of regularly updated course content through iTunes as well.

Disability Support
Arizona State University online wins our award for best disability support for its recognition of online learners with disabilities. Prospective students with disabilities, whether physical or learning, can contact the disability resource center to make any arrangements necessary.

Library and Research Support
Arizona State University Online also wins our award for best library and research support. The school makes its entire physical library’s resources available online, and also provides a librarian to work with specific academic disciplines to better help students find resources for their particular area of study. Students also have access to the school’s Ask a Librarian feature, which provides 24/7 assistance through email or live chat for general library resources.

Learning Support
Arizona State University Online also wins our award for best learning support. The school earned a No. 1 ranking in student services and technology from U.S. News & World Report. The school provides live tutoring and streaming video of actual ASU course to all of its online students.

Faculty Credentials
The award for best faculty credentials among institutions offering an online bachelor’s degree in legal studies goes to Post University Online. The school is ranked at No. 12 by U.S. News & World Report in faculty credentials and training. According to the publication, 75% of the school’s faculty have at least two years of online teaching experience, and the school requires all faculty members to receive specific online instruction training before they are eligible to teach online courses.

Faculty Accessibility
The award for best faculty accessibility goes to the Arizona State University Online for providing all of its online students with the same curriculum as those enrolled in its traditional programs. The school’s online courses and programs are administered by 320 online specific instructors, according to U.S. News & World Report, and also has an online student to faculty ratio of just 5-to-1.

Alumni Engagement
Kaplan University Online wins our award for best alumni engagement for offering a number of ways for graduates to stay in touch. All Kaplan graduates can access the school’s dedicated alumni webpage, where they can connect with fellow graduates and also enroll in a number of benefits offered by the institution. The school provides graduates access to its Career Network website, where students can use career tools like personal branding, resume coaching, and an online job posting board specific to Kaplan alums.

New Online Student Orientation
The award for best new online student orientation goes to Arizona State University Online for offering a dedicated online student orientation website that provides students with several tutorial videos designed to help familiarize students with all of the school’s online learning capabilities. The orientation concludes by helping students set up their Spark online community account, which allows new students to connect with fellow students and alumni in their area.

Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies

If you’re curious about the legal system and want to learn about court proceedings, gathering evidence, the judicial process, and legislation, you may want to consider earning a bachelor’s degree in legal studies online. Online education will allow you to earn your degree without having to attend a physical classroom, and it provides flexibility that will allow you to attend class around your schedule. In most cases, an online bachelor’s degree can be earned in around four years. However, the amount of time it takes you will depend on several factors, including your program’s specific requirements, how many transferable credits you have earned and are able to use toward your degree, if you’re able to successfully complete each class, and whether you’re a full-time or part-time student.

Class Curriculum

Legal studies majors will learn all about the judicial and court systems, legislation, and penalties that apply to those who violate the law. Each program will vary and have slightly different curriculum, but the following are some of the more common courses found in a legal studies program:

  • The U.S. Legal System and Judicial Process. This class will focus on the history and structure of the judicial and court systems in America. Students will learn about what influences have shaped this country’s judicial and court systems, as well as compare the U.S. systems to those in other countries.
  • Constitutional Law. This class will consist of an in-depth study of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Students will learn about the history of these documents and how they apply to judicial decision-making today.
  • Civil and Criminal Procedure. This class will focus on the procedures used by the court system when handling civil and criminal cases. Students will learn about topics including using evidence, search and seizure regulations, disclosure, sentencing and penalties, and court proceedings.

While pursuing your online bachelor’s degree in legal studies, many of your assignments may consist of researching and writing papers. You can expect to study and research topics such as previous court cases, past and current legislation, the structure of the U.S. court system, criminal trial proceedings, and due process. Some programs may incorporate mock trials and require you to essentially prepare for trial by conducting research and gathering all necessary information.

Building a Career

Many people use their bachelor’s degrees in legal studies to get into law school and pursue a higher degree, while many others use their bachelor’s degree to begin a career as a paralegal. Law firms, major corporations with legal departments, and government offices hire paralegals to assist lawyers prepare for trials. A paralegal’s duties include gathering information and evidence, finding and interviewing witnesses, drafting legal documents, and researching past cases and any information relevant to their current case.

Earning an online bachelor’s degree in legal studies doesn’t guarantee you’ll be hired after graduation, but more and more paralegal positions are projected to become available. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows an expected 18% increase in employment for paralegals through the year 2020. The BLS also shows that the average salary for paralegals is $46,680 a year. However, your income may vary based on several factors, including the industry you work in, who you work for, what city and state you work in, and your level of experience.

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