Law school can be a daunting time commitment and a massive lifestyle change.
In light of new technology and a renewed interest from law schools in students who already have a working background, the American Bar Association (ABA) now grants approval requests from law schools for programs that conduct at least some of their requirements online. This makes law school an option for parents, professionals, and anyone who can’t relocate to campus.
Most online Juris Doctor (JD) degrees take a little over three years to complete. Many programs require some time on campus, so prospective students should take care to be certain of each program’s requirements—since online law degrees pose a relatively new set of questions, each program establishes its own expectations. Many programs offer wide flexibility.
An online law student might have a schedule in which they visit campus only a few times during the program. Others require weekly on-campus attendance. Some coursework can be completed entirely independently; other classes take place in real-time with virtual attendance and participation. Programs can be as interactive or as independent as each student prefers.
Every online law student should be sure to consult the bar requirements in his or her home state. Several programs can customize their curriculum to fit any state’s bar exam; others focus on their own location.
Here are 9 online law schools that are ABA-approved, according to the website onlinemasteroflegalstudies.com.
All online law schools are actually hybrid programs with both online and in-person classes.
This unranked list offers programs with their own particular strengths. The quality of instruction at these schools matches the strongest on-campus programs. These days, there’s an online degree program to fit almost anyone.
University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Denver, CO)
The University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law offers online post-JD programs in legal administration (MSLA or Certificate) and in taxation (MT and LLM). Students who have completed a JD may apply to these specialized degree programs.
Denver Law’s campus houses multiple programs for specific types of practice, as well as centers for legal assistance and social justice.
The Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place & Law works on behalf of marginalized communities worldwide; other areas of focus include International Law, Animal Law, and Homelessness Advocacy.
Committed to student success, Denver Law offers writing assistance and study support through its Academic Achievement Program. The school’s Bar Success training program increases a candidate’s likelihood of passing the bar from 65.2% to 92.5%.
One of the oldest graduate degree programs of its kind, the taxation LLM at Denver Law trains law students in the legal process and accounting practices. With an LLM from Denver Law, students can move on to careers as private tax attorneys or as corporate tax experts.
Students in the taxation program get practical experience working with the school’s Low-Income Tax Payer Clinic. Teams from Denver Law do exceptionally well each year at the ABA Tax Challenge competition.
Like the Taxation’s program that blends law and accounting coursework, the MSLA in legal administration offers a hybrid business, legal, and technology training curriculum. Students in the program choose from three concentration areas: Court Administration, International Court Administration, or Law Firm Administration.
University of Dayton School of Law (Dayton, OH)
This year, the University of Dayton School of Law moved up 22 spots on the 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools list, tying for the biggest jump among law schools nationwide. Dayton’s hybrid JD program includes live sessions, independent online coursework, and 10 in-person sessions on campus during the span of the degree program.
Dayton’s online program requires a similar commitment and focus to any in-person JD program. The estimated time dedicated per week to live classes and study time reaches up to 30 hours. After coursework, students spend a semester working in person at a law office in their area, supervised by a representative from the school’s field office.
The online program coursework matches the on-campus program in content; only the method of delivery differs. Online students earn the same diplomas as on-campus students. Online students enjoy the same opportunities to contribute to the Law Review and to participate in Mock Trial and Moot Court activities.
Dayton law students passed the Ohio state bar at a strong 89% success rate on the first attempt. Students graduating from Dayton’s online program join a national alumni network over 100,000, and several major cities offer career support and special events for Dayton Law alumni. Applicants may submit GRE or LSAT scores.
Syracuse University College of Law (Syracuse, NY)
Syracuse University College of Law developed its JDinteractive program as a way for students to complete the same quality Syracuse law degree program without having to relocate.
The first of its kind, Syracuse’s fully-interactive program blends real-time online class sessions with self-paced virtual classes. In-person campus intensive sessions round out the experience.
The curriculum at Syracuse spans all areas of legal expertise, from taxation to advocacy, family and environmental law, corporate and labor law. Business and corporate law students may choose to pursue Syracuse’s Online Joint JD/MBA, a collective offering from the College of Law and the Whitman School of Business Management.
Students in the online program can work on the school’s law review, as well as join student organizations based on interest, area of specialty, or any number of topics like Women’s Law, Veterans’ Issues, Food & Beverage Law, or Disability Law.
The school’s Supreme Court Preview series is live streamed, available for access by online students.
Online students also participate in the program’s externships and clinics. Real-world experience through working with the school’s pro bono program or placement in a practicum in cities across the country allows Syracuse students to build a resume and to get a sense of life as a working attorney.
With high percentages for bar success and post-graduate employment, Syracuse offers a strong history and reputation backing its online program. Having created the first fully-interactive JD program, Syracuse continues to look for ways to enhance online student experience.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law (Saint Paul, MN)
Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Mitchell Hamline School of Law pioneered online legal study as one of the first hybrid JD programs in the country. Mitchell Hamline’s “blended learning” approach carries its campus-based experiential learning model to its online students.
For candidates completing law school while continuing a career, Mitchell Hamline’s use of asynchronous coursework allows students the flexibility to make their own schedules. No synchronous classes are required. The program can be customized toward the bar exam in any state.
For the first four semesters, students attend on-campus intensive sessions twice a semester. For the rest of the time, students meet weekly progress deadlines rather than attending daily classes or meetings. The school’s learn-by-doing model features coursework and projects focused on real case studies.
In semesters 5-8, students come to campus once a semester for Capstone Weeks, where case simulations help candidates hone their practical skills. Students complete two semesters of externships in their hometowns under the guidance of practicing professionals.
The school publishes several law journals in specialty areas, including public policy and intellectual property. Online students can work on and contribute to these publications.
Mitchell Hamline also ranks as a global leader in dispute resolution, with an on-campus mediation center and opportunities for study at partner institutions in London and Jerusalem.
Southwestern Law School (Los Angeles, CA)
Southwestern Law School provides another excellent part-time JD program for working candidates. Students come to campus two nights a week for in-person classes and make use of distance education technology to help fulfill requirements.
Students in the Los Angeles area can manage on this four-year plan of study to maintain a full-time work schedule while making steady progress toward their JD degree. Evening school students attend classes with the same professors and have access to the same resources as the day students at Southwestern.
Southwestern has a history of creating innovative programs for completing a JD; its SCALE program provides an accelerated timeline toward the degree. The PLEAS program, a part-time day program, addresses the needs of students with children or other care responsibilities.
With its Los Angeles location, the program offers excellent coursework in entertainment law, as well as a specialized graduate degree in that area. The Hollywood Reporter ranks the school as #6 nationally for entertainment law. The Biederman Entertainment & Media Law Institute is located on campus.
Seton Hall University School of Law (Newark, NJ)
Private law school Seton Hall offers a part-time JD and fully online graduate programs for practicing lawyers and non-legal professionals in various industries.
An MSJ in general legal studies or in one of five focus areas tailored to specific professional roles can help non-legal professionals expand their existing work roles or prepare themselves for new and greater career challenges. A Master of Laws allows attorneys to specialize in their practice.
Seton Hall’s hybrid JD provides a path to a legal degree for working students. The program mandates on-campus attendance every other weekend during the first two years. Later semesters involve some weekday or weeknight classes. For working students in the New York/New Jersey area, this plan presents a practical alternative to full-time on-campus classes.
Candidates in the Seton Hall online MSJ program acquire enhanced writing skills, critical thinking skills, and legal knowledge relevant to their fields. Professionals in healthcare, financial services, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, IT, security, and other fields can gain industry-specific legal expertise, giving them a valuable skill set to market.
Practicing lawyers planning to specialize in health law, financial services compliance, or intellectual property law can acquire the necessary skills, experience, and credentials through Seton Hall’s online LLM program.
The program’s module-based content delivery allows students to work at their own pace. Though coursework remains entirely asynchronous throughout the program, Seton Hall students get one-on-one guidance from professors each week, along with group interactions and discussions.
A diverse array of coursework gives Master’s students at Seton Hall flexibility to tailor their study to their industry. From workplace compliance to cybersecurity, professionals can find the specific training they need to enhance their career options. The MSJ program does not require a GRE or LSAT to apply.
Loyola University Chicago School of Law (Chicago, IL)
Loyola University Chicago School of Law offers a JD program with a blended curriculum of online and classroom instruction, requiring attendance on campus every other weekend. Flexible options include some fully online classes and possibilities for summer coursework.
The Weekend JD program provides the same level of coursework and faculty as on-campus classes. Part-time students complete the same credit hours, including six hours of experiential learning work.
Loyola Chicago’s on-campus legal centers include the Civitas Childlaw Center, a national leader in child advocacy. The Rodin Center for Social Justice and the Webb Center for Advocacy demonstrate the school’s commitment to community service and ethical legal practice.
Students in the program participate in Mock Trial, Moot Court, and Dispute Resolution Teams. The Office of Career Services provides support as students prepare for the job search or look for clerkships. Almost 90% of Loyola graduate find employment within 10 months of graduation.
For students in the Chicago area looking for a program to balance with work or other obligations, Loyola’s highly-ranked part-time program can be the answer.
University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law (Durham, NH)
UNH Franklin Pierce is a unique figure in the new world of online law degrees with its Intellectual Property, Technology and Information Law program. This specifically-tailored JD speaks directly to 21st century legal needs in a technologically-minded delivery platform.
Students in this hybrid program can continue to work while gaining professional expertise in an area with increasing value. Online students have access to the same student services, such as academic support, on-campus academic clinics and workshops, and bar exam preparation.
Class format includes live and recorded lectures, reading and writing assignments, and discussion board contributions. Online students can apply for the same legal residency programs as on-campus students; Franklin Pierce’s past residencies represent various industries, government-related assignments, and social justice work.
Franklin Pierce leads the field in intellectual property law. Its Summer Institute draws professionals and law students from across the country.
Students should check their state’s bar requirements, as the program specifically prepares students for the New Hampshire exam.
Touro College of Law (Long Island, New York)
Touro Law Center in Long Island offers the FlexTIme program, requiring campus attendance only every other Sunday. Almost all students at Touro receive scholarship support, and the school’s robust career services arm helps graduates secure positions as they complete their degrees.
As a stand-alone law school, Touro can provide specific focus and attention on its law degree candidates. Touro’s admissions requirements for the FlexTime program indicate that participants in this program must demonstrate strong writing skills and a capability for independent work.
Touro’s on-campus centers include the Jewish law Institute, dedicated to the Jewish legal tradition and home to an extensive collection of Judaica. The Institute for Land Use and Sustainable Development Law provides a place for the study of natural resource management and urban planning.
Touro’s location, proximate to state and federal courthouses, helps students interested in clerkships and externships through the court system.
Students pursuing a career in advocacy can gain experience and earn pro bono hours through the school’s Hearst Public Advocacy Center. The center provides legal support for dozens of advocacy organizations helping underserved communities.