Online degrees are increasing in popularity as working people make the decision to improve their careers by attending college. Online schools provide flexibility and offer additional accommodations that many traditional schools do not.
Obtaining a law degree online is slightly different than other degrees, in that there are fewer of them available, and some states may require additional coursework to take the bar examination. It is also important to understand that online colleges are often more expensive than traditional colleges, and online law degree programs are no exception. However, there are affordable online colleges that offer online degrees for those seeking to earn their Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
Featured Law Programs
- Juris Doctor (JD) Law Degree: Concord Law School
- MS in Criminal Justice – Law: Kaplan University
- Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies: Keiser University
Founded over 31 years ago, Northwestern California University School of Law is now the oldest continuously operating online law degree granting school in the country. With a proven success rate for distance learning, it was the first school to offer internet-based instruction to students seeking a Bachelor of Science in Law, as well as a JD degree. Obtaining an online law degree at Northwestern California University is cheap, with a tuition rate of only $2,850, which can be paid in monthly installments of $237.50. There are also materials fees, which range from $825 to $1,325, and a registration fee of $100. Financial aid and scholarships are available as well. The school offers an online practicum for the California First-Year Law Students’ Examination.
Upon passing the Baby Bar and the California General Bar Exam, students are eligible to practice law in California. Students may be eligible to take the bar in other states, along with the District of Columbia, pursuant to special eligibility rules. Graduates from Northwestern California University School of Law have been admitted to the bar in Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the United States Territory of Puerto Rico.
The school does not require LSAT scores for enrollment. There is no English as a Second Language instruction, so all enrolling students must be able to speak, write and comprehend the English language fluently in order to enroll at Northwestern California University School of Law. According to the California State Bar Association, 29.3 percent of students from Northwestern California University Law School who took the First-Year Law students Examination Examination in June 2013, passed the test, and 35.3 percent passed the test on the first attempt. As for the California State Bar, in February 2013, 31 percent of graduates passed the examination on the first attempt, while 19 percent passed on subsequent attempts.
American International School of Law offers an affordable law degree online based on the founder’s belief that online schools offered better flexibility to students who were unable to attend brick-and-mortar classes. The program is delivered via independent study through online classes and chat sessions with a dashboard the delivers examinations, homework, grades and other communications. Students who graduate from the program are permitted to take the California State Bar.
Tuition at the completely online school is $2,900 for first year students and $2,000 for second through fourth year students who have passed the First Year Law Students Examination. Compared to other online law schools, American International School of Law offers one of the most affordable online degrees in the country. The California State Bar Association reported that, in June 2013, 75 percent of the students from the university passed the first-year examination, and all of them passed on the first attempt.
To be admitted to the university, students must pass a 25-question assessment test, available online. Students are admitted on a rolling basis for the online courses, and it takes one to two weeks for the student to be notified if they are accepted into the program. Although not required for admission, it is recommended that students take the LSAT prior to applying to the university to determine aptitude for the law. Transfer students are accepted into the university as well.
Despite the name of the affordable online college, University of Honolulu School of Law is located in Modesto, California. The school was founded as a private correspondence law school offering JD programs that prepare students for the California General Bar Examination, and, eventually, the California State Bar Examination. Annual tuition at the University of Honolulu is $3,000 per year, with a $45 application and $75 registration fee, both of which are non-refundable. For those seeking affordable online colleges to obtain a law degree, the University of Honolulu offers an excellent education at cheap costs. As with other online law schools, graduating students who do not plan to practice law in California must contact their own state to see what additional requirements are necessary to take the bar examination.
Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy
Oak Brook College of Law offers online degrees for those seeking to obtain a JD degree. The college is a Christian school, and their curriculum includes information about government policy in the context of Biblical and historical framework. The school focuses on the foundations of truth, righteousness, justice, mercy, equity, integrity and the fear of God in legal education. The college uses a combination of distance learning, seminars and on-line instruction to prepare students for a career in law. Annual tuition is $3,250, with a $100 registration and $150 technology fee, both of which are non-refundable. A payment plan is available, allowing students to pay $590 for the first installment, and $340 per month for nine months. This brings the total tuition cost to $3,650, as there are additional fees included in the installment plan.
In February 2013, 67 percent of Oak Brook College graduates passed the California State Bar the first time they attempted, and 19 percent passed on subsequent attempts. Oak Brook College requires that all applicants to the law school have completed at least two years of college work, or successfully pass the College-Level Examination Program examinations administered by the college boards. It is not a prerequisite for students to take the LSAT, although it is strongly recommended in order to determine if the student has an aptitude for the study of law.
In addition, because the college has a strong focus in faith, attendance in a Basic Life Principles Seminar is required. The seminar may be completed online or the student may choose to attend those offered live by contacting the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Students must also read the book “Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law” and provide a five to seven page writing sample discussing their understanding of the concepts discussed in the book. Three personal references are also required.
American Heritage University of Southern California is also one of the most affordable online colleges in the country. With a low tuition rate of only $4,000 per year, which may be paid in $268 installments with no interest or credit check, earning a law degree online is affordable. Located in San Bernardino, California, the school was founded in December 2003 to address the needs of career-minded, low-income adult learners who were not receiving the attention they needed at other universities. The school prepares students for a professional degree in law and trains them to take the California Bar Examination in order to practice the law in California and Federal courts. To apply, students must have an Associate’s Degree or higher, and the degree must be from an accredited United States college. Students must pass the College-Level Examination Program requirements with a 50 or greater if they do not have a qualifying degree.
St. Francis Law School, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, offers students live, interactive classes online, combining traditional law school techniques with modern convenience. According to the school website, the cost to attend a traditional law school can total more than $150,000, and many of the instructors are life-long academics who have never actually practiced law. Traditional law schools often teach theoretical concepts that often have no bearing on the actual practice of law.
All professors at St. Francis are practicing attorneys, which means they understand how the legal field works in the real world. In addition, tuition at St. Francis Law School is cheap, despite the fact that the education received there is invaluable. Annual tuition at St. Francis Law School is $6,500, unless the student chooses to pay in three installments, in which case the cost rises to $7,000. There are no administrative, library or graduation fees added to the tuition. Scholarships and financial aid are available as well. At the end of the first year, students are required to take the First Year Law Student’s Examination in California.
In June 2013, almost 67 percent of students from St. Francis who took the first-year examination passed on their first attempt, while 100 percent passed on subsequent attempts. St. Francis does not use specific formulas nor do they assign weights to portions of applications. Instead, they review the entire application to determine the qualifications to practice law, including scholarly achievements, professional experience and character development. LSAT scores are not required, and students must have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Those who have been employed in the legal field for more than three years may apply if they have obtained an Associate’s degree. The average candidate at St. Francis has ten or more years work experience, shows consistent career growth and has a college degree.
Taft Law School has offered distance learning law programs throughout the world, and is America’s oldest nationally accredited distance learning law school. Using a combination of telecommunications and independent study, Taft Law School offers online degrees for JD, Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programs. The JD program qualifies students to take the California Bar Examination. In addition to the traditional JD degree, Taft Law School also offers specialty online degrees, including a JD Executive Track Program, designed for company executives who must have an in-depth understanding of the law as part of their employment.
This could include financial, human service or operational managers in many different industries. Tuition for Taft Law School is $330 per unit, bringing the annual average tuition cost to $7,920 per year. Tuition costs increase for years two and three to $8,415.50. Financial aid and scholarships are also available for attendance at Taft Law School. In February 2013, 29 percent of Taft Law School graduates passed the California Bar Examination on the first attempt, while 21 percent passed on subsequent attempts.
In June 2013, almost 21 percent of Taft students who took the first-year examination passed on the first attempt, while 24 percent passed on subsequent attempts. Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in order to apply to Taft Law School, although those who do not may apply as a special applicant. In order to do so, the special applicant must be interviewed by faculty and provide additional application information.
The Abraham Lincoln School of Law is a nationally accredited law school with a curriculum that focuses on legal learning from many levels. In addition to JD degrees, the school offers online degrees for paralegal, legal, criminal justice, business, information technology and general studies to help students prepare for various legal careers. Tuition at the Abraham Lincoln School of Law is $8,000 per year, while financial aid and scholarships are available. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee and a $100 non-refundable registration fee. The average cost for textbooks is between $750 and $3,000 per year.
Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the California State Bar Examination. In June 2013, 20 percent of Abraham Lincoln School of Law students passed the first-year test, with just over 26 percent passing the first time they took the examination. In February 2013, 43 percent of Abraham Lincoln graduates passed the California Bar Examination on the first attempt, with four percent passing on subsequent attempts. To apply, students must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. In addition, students must complete a California State Bar Evaluation in order to be accepted to the college.
The California School of Law was created for those students who were unable to attend traditional law school classes due to work or family commitments. Classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings using live video conferences, which provide interaction between students and professors as if they were attending a lecture in a classroom. Technology allows students to submit examinations, essays and other documents for professors to review and grade. The technology also allows students to form study groups to aid in their knowledge of the law. Tuition to attend the California School of Law is $9,000 per year, and tuition is charged at $3,000 per trimester. There is also a $200 registration fee and a $200 library fee. Books cost an estimated $100 to $400 annually, and other fees include:
- ExamSoft – $25 per year
- FYLSE Review – $700 to $1,000
Special equipment that a student must purchase include a video camera and headset. In June 2013, over 29 percent of California School of Law students passed the first-time examination, with almost 13 percent passing on the first attempt. California School of Law does not require applicants to take the LSAT, but students must have an Associate’s degree or higher in order to be accepted into the program. In some cases, pre-legal education may be accepted for enrollment on a case-by-case basis.
Concord Law School which is a subsidiary of Kaplan University is one of the most well-established online law schools in the country. Like most online programs, Concord uses state-of-the-art technology to deliver quality legal education for those seeking a law degree online. In addition, the school works to keep tuition affordable for all who wish to obtain their JD online, offering scholarships and other financial aid. The cost to attend Concord Law School is $9,984 per year, with a cost per credit of $900. Textbooks cost an additional $1,000 per year, and students must have a computer, internet access, and Microsoft Word compatible word processing programs.
A Personal Digital Certificate is also required at a cost of $20 per year. Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the State Bar of California, while other states may require additional studies or an internship period with an accredited attorney in that state. In June 2013, almost 26 percent of students taking the first-year examination passed, and 25.5 percent of those passed on the first attempt. In February 2013, 29 percent of Concord students passed the California State Bar Examination on the first attempt, while 14 percent passed on subsequent attempts. In order to be admitted to Concord Law School, students must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and take an online admissions test. The LSAT is not required but may be submitted to the college. A telephone interview is also required prior to admission. The school does not provide English as a Second Language services, so students must be fluent in the English language for writing, speaking and comprehension.
Currently, there are no online law degrees that automatically allow a student to sit for the bar in all states. However, many states allow students who obtain online degrees to take the bar examination in their state after providing additional information or taking one or two local classes in order to prepare them for legal matters in their state. For those looking for a cheap law degree online, these colleges offer the best options financially while still providing a quality legal education that could further a career.