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2020 Legal Professions Degree Guide

Does the idea of defending a citizen in a criminal court make you excited? How about researching laws and regulations to help people start a business, create public policy or defend themselves from illegal actions? All lawyer jokes aside, Lawyers and Legal Professionals offer critical services to every day Americans.

Choosing a major in the field of Legal Professionals will allow you to study many different disciplines and use that knowledge to understand and analyze law and public policy. As you further your education, you will develop your own attitude and opinions towards law and the justice system through critical investigation. You will learn to explore various concepts through a prism of different perspectives.

Students who major in General Legal Studies frequently go to law school and become layers. However, if you are more interested in behind the scenes work you might consider majoring in or Legal Support Services. No matter what field you decide to pursue, you will learn fundamental legal concepts as well as current issues. You will take classes exploring the history of law, researching and writing for legal documents, and how to think critically.

#19 Most Popular Major
61.8k Degrees Awarded
-0.0% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, legal professions was the 19th most popular major nationwide with 61,800 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 61,825 graduates the prior year.

The United States has 359 different schools where you can get a degree in legal professions. Our 2020 Best Colleges for Legal Professions ranking analyzes 27 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for legal professions students. Explore this or one of our many other custom legal professions rankings further below.

A driving interest and passion in law and government will get you far in this field. You will be spending hours of time researching laws, debating their effectiveness and coming up with new solutions to problems. Learn to be a good listener so you can gain new ideas from classmates and peers. Your coursework may seem dry at times, but it will allow you to understand court rulings and legal resources.

Students who excel in this field tend to have very strong communication skills. You will need to read and write critically and clearly articulate your ideas. Engaging in discussion and staying current on the issues is also important in this field. Coursework includes a lot of reading, writing and research, so students need good time management and organization skills in order to stay ahead.

Most schools will require you to join and have an active role in the school government. Also, you should obtain an internship that deals with the legal profession either over the summer or during the school year. This will help you pick up real-life skills to prepare you for graduate school or the work force.

Legal Professions Degree Program Entry Requirements

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. In addition to these basic legal professions program qualifications, to serve in some legal professions careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Legal Professions degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a professional practice doctorate's in legal professions to something that takes less time like a first year certificate. Depending on the legal professions degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A doctor's degree (research / scholarship) is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to legal professions, with approximately 21.0% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for legal professions workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Doctoral Degree 23.0%
First Professional Degree 18.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 12.2%
Bachelor’s Degree 11.3%
High School Diploma 10.2%

60.7% of legal professions workers have at least a bachelor's. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in legal professions have obtained.


The education level required is different depending on the legal professions career you are seeking.

Above Average Number of Jobs
$42.9k Average Starting Salary
5% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Most people who decide to pursue a legal professional degree will continue on to law school to become a lawyer. However, there are many careers in the legal field. These include legal secretaries, court reporters, and paralegals. You may also choose pursue a career in the political science field or public policy.

Want a job when you graduate with your legal professions degree? Legal Professions careers are expected to grow 5.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to legal professions.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Lawyers 857,500 8.2%
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 327,400 14.6%
Legal Secretaries 157,500 -19.1%
Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers 72,000 4.3%
Legal Support Workers 52,800 3.7%

Legal Professions graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $42,882 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $9,700 to as high as $180,300. As you might expect, salaries for legal professions graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Salaries for legal professions graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers legal professions grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Lawyers $144,230
Law Professors $130,710
Judges, and Magistrates $121,130
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers $101,210
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators $72,760

With over 2,748 different legal professions degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased legal professions school rankings to help you with this.

Major Annual Graduates
Law 34,826
Legal Support Services 12,032
Legal Research 9,352
Non-Professional General Legal Studies 3,279
Legal Professions (Other) 2,311

View All Legal Professions Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 150,819
Public Administration & Social Service 97,063
Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies 72,116
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 3,229

View All Legal Professions Related Majors >


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