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Online Masters Degree in Legal Studies

Does your profession require a high degree of familiarity with the law? Legal studies can provide valuable knowledge of legal doctrine and concepts that you can use in your current position. Legal studies are also an option for college graduates who are fascinated by the relationship between law and society and exploring different career opportunities.

Master's degrees in legal studies are typically designed for students who are not interested in practicing law. Studies can help prepare you for a career that intersects with the law, including government and business occupations. You can gain the skills to identify and analyze legal issues in the workplace in various fields.

Earning master's degrees in legal studies

The typical scholar in these programs is an independent learner who enjoys studying social, political, philosophical and historical issues. While legal studies curricula may provide for some customization, required subjects generally include these:

  1. Constitutional law
  2. Criminal law
  3. Philosophy of law
  4. Property
  5. Social science research methods
  6. Torts

If this list looks like the schedule of a law student, that's because master's degrees in legal studies cover many of the same topics as first-year J.D. (juris doctor) programs.

Job outlook and salary information

Legal studies incorporate knowledge and analytical skills that could be useful in diverse careers, for example, legal business counseling. If you are looking to explore the legal profession before you decide on law school, legal assisting is one option. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants earned a median wage of $46,680 in 2010. The BLS anticipates an increase in employment of 18 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Other professionals who might have an interest in deepening their knowledge of the law are college professors and social workers. Post-secondary teachers earned a 2010 mean annual wage of $62,050. The BLS expects the field to grow by 17 percent during the 2010-2020 decade. Social workers are in even higher demand: during the same 2010-2020 decade, the BLS predicts 25 percent growth for this profession. As of May 2010, social workers earned a mean annual wage of $42,480.

Master's degrees in legal studies offer versatility: You're not locked into a single, specialized career path, but instead enjoy opportunities to explore a variety of professions where knowledge of the law is an asset.

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