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Best Online Degrees in: Legal Studies

criminaljusticeandlaw degree

Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Legal Studies

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.

The award for flexibility in an online legal studies bachelor's degree goes to Kaplan University. The student ratings website 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 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 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
College Prowler ranks the University of Phoenix number one for "Best Tech Support." This service is available 24/7, including select hours on major holidays. Students can email or call tech support staff if they need assistance.

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
Northeastern University was recognized by the Huffington Post as a college having one of the top learning disability programs in the nation. The college's Disability Resources Center serves students with a variety of conditions, including ADHD, Asperger's, hearing/vision loss, limited mobility, psychiatric problems, and more. Northeastern also provides comprehensive services to students with learning disabilities through the Learning Disabilities Program.

Library and Research Support
Northeastern University's libraries are home to approximately 933,000 printed volumes, 206,500 e-books, and 59,900 licensed electronic journals, according to the NU Libraries website. Online students have access to these resources as well as interlibrary loan privileges, and they can download digital resources to their iPad, Kindle, or Nook. Students can also access Northeastern's librarians via email, phone, text message, or 24/7 live chat, the website explains.

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 winner of the award for faculty accessibility in a school offering an online degree is the University of Phoenix. Students are given contact information for each of their instructors and are encouraged to email or call with any questions or concerns. The discussion forums in the virtual classrooms also allow students to communicate with their instructors. Students have ranked the University of Phoenix Online No. 15 out of 1,146 colleges on College Prowler for faculty accessibility.

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
Southern New Hampshire University's online orientation course ensures students are prepared for online learning with academic policies, advising, and student support tutorials. Southern New Hampshire University works to ensure all technical requirements and specific student concerns are addressed before the start of a degree program with FAQs, course demonstrations, and Blackboard familiarization tutorials.

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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