The legal system plays an interesting and vital role in American society. Studying the laws’ continuous change and adaptation is central to the discipline of legal studies. At the master’s level, this subject matter examines law as a social phenomenon, often examining how the law affects public policy and current social issues.
A master’s in legal studies can be useful to someone who intends to practice law (those who seek eventual juris doctor status), and for those seeking specified knowledge of the American legal system and how it operates without becoming a lawyer. A master’s degree in legal studies is particularly useful in careers requiring detailed, yet practical knowledge of the law. These professions can include investigators, professional witnesses, or legal compliance enforcement. You can also pursue a career as an undergraduate professor of legal studies with a master’s degree, and pass on your knowledge of the inner workings of the American legal system.
Jobs & Salaries
If you have a master’s degree in legal studies, you can find a job nearly anywhere in the country. With a background in legal studies, you can make between $37,880 and $62,590 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Paralegals with the reported highest employment level (BLS) are in cities like New York City, Arlington, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
You can pursue either a master of arts or master of science in legal studies. You must have completed your bachelor’s degree prior to entering a master’s degree program. If you did not get your bachelor’s in legal studies, then you will likely be required to take additional classes about legal research and writing to ensure that you will be able to keep up with the master’s level program. Any of these reference books can help you prepare for and succeed in a master’s program.
Most master’s level legal studies programs require (or at least strongly recommend) that you have experience as a legal professional prior to beginning your masters. Your real-world experience will enhance your understanding of the material that will be taught in the classroom. Many master’s degree programs offer classes similar to:
- Applied Research in Legal Studies
- Constitutional Law
- Intellectual Property
- Auditing, Investigation & Reporting
In addition to those courses, you can tailor your studies to criminal law, health care and human resources compliance, and more. In a graduate program, the learning possibilities are virtually endless.
Master’s Degrees in Legal Studies
- Boston University — Master of Criminal Justice
- Grand Canyon University — MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
- Purdue University — MS in Legal Studies
- Northcentral University — MBA in Criminal Justice
- Saint Leo University — MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
How to Get Started as a Paralegal
The first step in becoming a paralegal is to find an accredited paralegal studies program. Most paralegals have an associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies, while some earn a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in paralegal studies. The following programs fulfill these criteria and might make excellent options:
Miller-Motte Technical College