The highest-paid career choice on average for history graduates is legal work, and it’s not hard to see why. More students enter law school with a history degree than any other undergraduate degree, and the median earnings for attorneys are nearly $150,000 per year; those who work hard enough to become a partner at established firms will earn several times that in just a single year. If you’re thinking about an online history degree with a focus on attending law school, here’s a few online schools that stand out above the rest.
American Public University
While they’re more famous for their online Legal Studies degree as a pathway to law school, their history department deserves its share of accolades for preparing students for the rigors of law school as well. APU makes it easy to transfer credits to and from their university so that students who have attended either online or in-person classes at another school will quickly be able to drop into a new program; 50% of APU students have transferred credits from other universities. APU tailors their online courses to working professionals and non-traditional students, featuring 40,000 undergraduates taking classes through the Internet each year. With a very low tuition rate (just $270 per credit, almost half that of some other online schools), it’s both affordable and practical to get a history degree at APU if you’re interested in law school.
Traditionally a Catholic religious school, DU has opened up their (digital) gates to welcome in a new generation of students interested in taking coursework. While the curriculum still includes religious studies, the varied coursework of a DU history degree makes it tremendously valuable: students can choose elective courses in addition to history that includes public administration, law and social justice, criminal justice, and labor relations. With an advanced-track degree option, furthermore, dedicated online students can earn their history degree in just two years (although they emphasize that this is not for all students). If you’ve already earned a degree and are thinking about going back to school, DU has another advantage because they waive the general core programs needed for students who already have a BA or BS, making it possible to complete just ten courses to receive a history degree and go on to law school.
No school on this list has a more favorable system for transferring credits that Liberty University, which allows their online students to transfer up to 90 credits from previous schools, making it possible to complete your history degree in a single year if you’ve got the general education credits from another school. Liberty’s degree has 15 credits’ worth of electives that allow history students to branch out into legal studies like civil practice, legal research and writing, or corporate organization law. Their focus on practical skills — persuasive writing, research and data analysis, understanding and identifying bias, and argumentative speaking — makes it possible for graduates to get a leg up on their first day of law school by displaying the tools that lawyers use on a daily basis.
At first blush, Baker might not be an attractive option for students because their credit load is higher than other schools, requiring 172 in total rather than the traditional 120. Where Baker pulls its weight, however, lies in their extremely affordable tuition (just $240 per credit), and their ability to create a customized degree plan. While you’ll still get history coursework, students pursuing a degree will be able to load up their schedule with law-related classes like law ethics, contract law, family law, and administrative law — not as electives, as other schools do, but as the primary credits for the completion of the degree program. What’s more, Baker helps non-traditional students to understand their methods with a three-week introduction seminar to online higher education and how to get the most out of your time with the school.
Southern New Hampshire University
One of the great pioneers of online education, Southern New Hampshire University has a lot to offer their students each day. With a rigorous history program that includes a 51-credit major sequence, students aren’t required to fill up on as many electives as other schools, making it possible to narrow down their study interests and not take classes they don’t feel are relevant. Even so, law-related history courses like American politics and international criminal justice offer a fascinating insight into the overlap between history coursework and the areas that law students will focus on as they study at the next level. What’s more, SUNY has a number of tuition discounts and reimbursement options, including a 30% discount for active military members and their spouses.
Another school that prides itself on its fast-track opportunities, Rowan has eight-week course formats that allow students to be able to complete their degree in as little as four semesters, making it the quickest degree program on the list. Rowan’s not just for the fastest-learning students, but also those who want the resources and different learning options of larger schools. While Rowan has a lot to offer for future law students, including coursework in juvenile justice and theories of crime, they also come in at a heavy cost: students can complete a degree fast, but at $455 per credit, they’ll pay a premium for their speed, and those who cannot complete it quickly may find that they’ve invested more in the education that they hoped for.