25 Best Value Schools for Pre-Law 2021

Updated November 22, 2022

Looking for a pre-law degree that will set you up for law school success? Earn an online bachelor's and get educated without steep tuition costs.

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Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government organizations on legal issues and disputes. A good lawyer needs knowledge of the law, strong writing ability, and an ability to work with a variety of clients.

Aspiring lawyers should earn a juris doctor (JD) after completing a bachelor's. Many who pursue a JD choose a pre-law major. This major fits with skills and background knowledge necessary for success in law school. Other common pre-law majors include English, history, and political science. However, law students come from a multitude of backgrounds.

Full-time students can complete most law programs in three years. Lawyers typically enjoy good job security and strong professional networks.

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Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.


What is pre-law?Pre-law focuses on topics related to law studies. Pre-law majors include the humanities, rhetoric, public policy, and sociology.
Can I study pre-law online?Yes. Since no specific pre-law degree is required for admission to law school, learners can study various pre-law subjects online.
What majors are good pre-law majors?The following majors are considered good general preparation because they emphasize critical thinking, reading/writing, and research: English, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, and economics.
Is there a difference between law and legal studies?Yes. Learners who pursue degrees in legal studies do not become lawyers. They prepare to work in areas of legal support, such as paralegal, legal assistant, or legal administrator.

25 Best Value Schools for Pre-Law 2021

The right online bachelor's in pre-law program can provide a solid base of knowledge in a related field. It can also allow you to hone critical thinking, writing, and research skills, preparing you for a profession that serves people and institutions.

The list below includes schools offering the most affordable pre-law bachelor's online degrees.

  1. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI



    Let's cut to the chase: Michigan State University offers the best pre-law degree in the U.S. because its program is affordable, comprehensive, and part of one of the largest and most established universities in the country. MSU's large size - the school is home to over 50,000 students and 5,300 faculty - means it can offer an interdisciplinary pre-law education that includes high-quality and resource-laden courses in nearly every field. The top pre-law program at MSU is a part of the school's Political Science Department and receives support from Phi Alpha Delpta and the school's Pre-Law Society, a student organization that hosts bi-weekly meetings with working professionals, provides LSAT prep and law school application assistance, and more.

  2. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    The Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies at Nova Southeastern University is a rare bird — a true undergraduate degree specifically for pre-law. Although graduates of this top pre-law program are well-prepared for higher-level learning across many fields, the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum is ideal for future law students. NSU also offers a 12-credit Pre-Law Track within the Legal Studies major that includes coursework in American history and government. What's more, students can access a range of law school prep resources through the curriculum, including an annual three-part seminar about how to apply - and get accepted - to law schools.

  3. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ



    Like its neighbor in this pre-law degree ranking, Northern Arizona University provides designated pre-law advisors who have expertise across nearly a dozen different departments. These advisors - most of whom are also lawyers - help students choose relevant, useful courses in fields ranging from philosophy to hotel and restaurant management. This wealth of academic support means students in this top pre-law program have access to mentoring and professional guidance in almost any field, ensuring they find the best coursework and extracurricular opportunities for graduate work in law. On top of this, NAU students can join the campus chapter of Phi Alpha Delta to take advantage of peer networking opportunities. And although NAU's degree is already one of the least expensive on this list, the school has cut costs even further by establishing two exclusive scholarships for pre-law students.

  4. University of Maryland

    Princess Anne, MD



    At the University of Maryland, pre-law students won't find a specific major by which to identify themselves. Instead, UMD has established a dedicated Pre-Law Advising Office within the Letters & Sciences Department, which acts as the academic core and home base for all pre-law activities. Advisors are experts on all things pre-law and can provide information on recommended courses (which span 14 departments across the university), access to on-campus resources like the Phi Alpha Delta Professional Pre-Law Fraternity, connections to local internships, and of course one-on-one academic and career advising. For exceptional students, Maryland offers a three-year Arts/Law Degree Program that allows high-achieving undergraduates to apply to law schools in their third year of college and, if accepted, enter law school prior to receiving their undergraduate degree.

  5. CUNY City College

    New York, NY



    CUNY City College's Pre-Law Program is the most affordable in this pre-law degree ranking, and yet the school hasn't cut any corners in building its curriculum. Above all, this university emphasizes the need for lawyers with sharp critical thinking, decision-making, and analytical skills. As such, the curriculum focuses on developing these strengths rather than sticking to a single academic subject. Required pre-law coursework includes economics, English, philosophy, and political science, and students can choose from electives from nearly any department on campus (with the approval of a pre-law advisor). In fact, pre-law students aren't permitted to take more than two courses from any single department, ensuring they receive a truly interdisciplinary pre-law education.

  6. Utah State University

    Logan, UT



    Like Campbell University, Utah State's top pre-law degree is a part of the school's Economics major. Students can choose a concentration in Prelaw Economics and design a program of study that fits with their interests; for example, many students at Utah who concentrate in Prelaw Economics also choose to add a second major in Political Science, providing an advantageous balance of topics that will serve them well on the LSAT and beyond. Utah State's curriculum is also the most math-heavy in this pre-law degree ranking, with required courses in calculus, algebra, and statistics in addition to the expected economics courses. But considering the high scores that physics and math majors earn on the LSAT, this approach could be just what pre-law students need to set themselves apart from the competition.

  7. University of Utah

    Salt Lake City, UT



    The University of Utah distinguishes itself from other affordable pre-law degree programs through its innovative living learning community for future lawyers, known as "LEAP." LEAP students kick-off their education by taking a sequence of courses with the same professor and classmates, providing an early opportunity for students to meet fellow pre-law majors and get to know the faculty. After the first year, students can continue to take advantage of LEAP by enrolling in a number of one-credit courses to learn more about the legal profession. Rounding out this comprehensive experience is a third-year Pre-Law Writing course, which assists students in developing their law school application essays and studying for the LSAT.

  8. Ball State University

    Muncie, IN



    Students at Ball State University can choose one of two specialized tracks within the school's Legal Studies program — Business law or Public law. The former is ideal for students who hope eventually to work in a corporate environment or manage a law office, and the latter is more suitable for those interested in public policy, government, and politics. Both provide a strong foundation in legal studies with courses like Family Law, Litigation, and a Professional Experience component that make Ball State's one of the best pre-law degrees in the country.

  9. Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE



    The Legal Studies program at Wilmington includes an unusually robust set of core electives. Courses include Cyberlaw, Delaware Practice, Food & Drug Law and Policy, Environmental Law, and even an LSAT Preparation course. This wide range of subjects may be due in part to Wilmington's Legal Studies Advisory board, a body made up of attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals who help guide and improve the school's top pre-law degree. This advisory board participates in special events in the program and also develops internship and job opportunities for pre-law students at Wilmington.

  10. Hamline University

    Saint Paul, MN



    When it comes to flexibility and breadth of study, Hamline University undoubtedly has one of the best pre-law programs in the country. In addition to a major and minor in Legal Studies, Hamline also offers a unique dual-major for pre-law students in the form of a Legal Studies and Women's Studies degree. This interdisciplinary program integrates courses in gender, sexuality, and race with a legal foundation in litigation, research, and specialty coursework. The school also has an active Phi Alpha Delta chapter and a strong partnership with the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, which grants pre-law students access to a law library, court visits, and special conferences.

Career and Salary Outlook in Law Careers

Pre-law students often benefit from various job prospects. English majors may obtain teaching certification along with their degree and go on to teach in secondary schools. Those who study history may become archivists, curators, or museum workers. Social science majors often work for nonprofits and other organizations as social and human service assistants and managers. The pre-law field is broad, however, and graduates are certainly not limited to these paths.

Law school graduates typically experience a promising career and salary outlook. Lawyers earn a median salary of $122,960 per year, with an annual growth rate of 4% according to the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS). This is as fast as the average growth of all occupations.

Lawyers typically work in private or corporate offices or for federal, state, and local governments. Since lawyers can choose their focus area, such as immigration or civil rights, they often enjoy meaningful and fulfilling work.

Arbitrators, Mediators, Conciliators

These professionals facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system. Many arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work for state or local governments or in the legal services industry. They typically learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.

Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators

These professionals evaluate insurance claims. They often work outside the office, inspecting properties on which insurance claims have been made, such as damaged buildings and automobiles. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry-level roles. However, some positions may require a bachelor's degree or insurance-related work experience.

Court Reporters

These professionals create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Most court reporters work in courts or legislatures. However, some work from their home or a central office providing broadcast captioning for television stations or for hard-of-hearing individuals. Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters.


Lawyers are certified professionals who advise and represent individuals and organizations on legal matters. They interpret laws, rulings, and regulations. Lawyers also advise clients, perform legal research, and prepare legal documents. They may also represent clients in criminal and civil court proceedings. In offices, they manage and oversee paralegals and legal assistants.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators $63,930 8%
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators $66,540 -6%
Court Reporters $60,130 9%
Lawyers $122,960 4%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Pre-Law Programs

In choosing an online bachelor's in pre-law, prospective students should consider accreditation. Accreditation refers to a quality review of higher education institutions and programs.

In the U.S., approximately 19 recognized institution accrediting organizations and 60 recognized programmatic accrediting organizations function through procured private, nonprofit organizations to conduct the review. The schools and programs under review are typically evaluated in part through self-study. Accreditors also visit sites, making judgements about accreditation based on a set of standards developed beforehand in consultation with the higher education community.

Generally, regional accreditation suggests higher quality than national accreditation. Be sure the online pre-law bachelor's program you choose is regionally accredited by one of these accrediting organizations.

Courses in Online Pre-Law Programs

An online bachelor's in pre-law requires 120 credits. Many programs offer accelerated formats, allowing students to complete the degree in 3.5 years. Other programs offer a three-year pre-law bachelor's degree that transfers seamlessly to a JD program. Learners' course loads depend on how quickly they want to finish the degree.

Some pre-law programs offer specialty courses such as introduction to law, American government, and legal research. While exact offerings vary by school, many pre-law programs feature the courses below. In their courses, pre-law enrollees learn research, writing, and analysis as part of the preparation for law school.

Women in U.S. History
This course familiarizes learners with some of the most impactful women in the past 2.5 centuries, including Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, and Rosa Parks. Many women in U.S. history were organizers in movements for women's rights or civil rights. As such, numerous legal precedents are based on their involvements and work.
Undergraduate Torts
This course examines the parameters of tort law and how to analyze and apply its principles. Students analyze how American jurisprudence assigns social duties, assesses damages, and determines the distribution of burdens for the risk of harm. Enrollees explore when a court should award money from one party to another for intentional acts, for negligent acts, and for certain non-negligent acts.
Introduction to Constitutional Law
Commonly offered in online bachelor's in pre-law programs, this course explores the freedoms and rights that the U.S. Constitution guarantees American citizens. The course focuses on the powers and limitations of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government. Learners consider important Supreme Court rulings of the past and ask explorative questions regarding the Constitution.
Rhetoric and Persuasion
Students in online bachelor's in pre-law programs may take courses that verse them in the strategies that underlie effective persuasion. They may also examine other elements of texts, such as diction, organization, and sentence structure. Since so much legal work includes persuading others, lawyers need to know how to convince others of their arguments.
The American Legal Tradition
Enrollees gain knowledge of the function, structure, and daily operations of American courts. They may learn about the process of judicial selection, the legal profession in general, and nuances of legal education. They may also receive hypothetical clients and situations, and be asked to apply reason and draw conclusions while writing a judicial opinion.

Aspiring lawyers can explore a variety of grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities to help afford their education. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not require repayment. Students enrolled in even the most affordable pre-law bachelor's online programs can benefit from scholarships. See below for a few of the many scholarships available for pre-law students.

Goodwin & Scieszka Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Goodwin & Scieszka, which handles personal injury cases in Birmingham, Michigan, offers $2,000 in scholarships to pre-law and law students. Students are judged on their academic merit and essay-writing skills. Applicants write on topics such as identity law and social media's role in legal marketing.
Amount: $2,000

Avvo Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students who intend to pursue a law degree at any U.S. accredited institution may apply. Full-time students may use it toward tuition and books. Learners enrolled in an official pre-law program or those studying common pre-law majors, such as political science, English, criminal justice, or philosophy may qualify. Avvo awards the scholarship based on essay merit.
Amount: $5,000

Bady Scott Injury Lawyers Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Bady Scott Injury Lawyers encourages students from financially disadvantaged families to apply. Students who convey special passion for the law receive the award. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA and must be admitted to an accredited university. The scholarship is awarded based on essay merit.
Amount: $2,500

Augustana College Fryxell Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Undergraduates majoring in English or journalism may apply. Applicants submit a recommendation, an official high school transcript, a comprehensive list of professional goals, and a 700-word analysis on an assigned poem.
Amount: $1,000 annually

Captain James J. Reagan Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: High school seniors or undergraduates in law enforcement or criminal justice may apply. The program offers two merit-based scholarships per year. Students seeking an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and those interested in working with private investigators and homicide detectives receive priority. The scholarship allows undergraduates to offset the cost of tuition and books.
Amount: $2,500

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