The Ph.D. is the penultimate degree for legal studies. Students interested in teaching legal studies in higher education and conducting research would want to consider earning a PhD legal studies online. They would also have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area or facet of law, such as ethics, business law, or intellectual property, depending on their interests. Programs prepare students for teaching and research in business school, law schools, and more.
Why a Ph.D.?
There are many reasons why someone would decide to pursue a Ph.D. It might be a personal challenge or goal, for the singular love of learning and pursuit of higher education, to master a particular discipline, or all of the above. For legal studies professionals interested in teaching, a Ph.D. would also likely be a necessity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers commonly must have a Ph.D. So for graduates of bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in legal studies or a related field wanting to teach at a college or university, it would be a necessary step.
Getting Into a Ph.D. Program
Admission requirements to online masters programs in legal studies vary by school. But here’s what you can generally expect to need:
- Bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited program
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose
- Professional resume
- Prior coursework in law, ethics, social sciences, or philosophy
Inside a Legal Studies Ph.D. Program
A Ph.D. in legal studies can take anywhere from three to five years to complete, depending on the program. Topics covered might include ethics in business and economics, corporate governance, environmental law, negotiation, sports law, corporate criminal law, and securities. Students typically choose a concentration, too, such as business, ethics, management, finance, marketing, or accounting, which would further influence the types of courses they take.
In addition to their courses, Ph.D. students may be required to teach on campus. They also must complete a dissertation to graduate. This research paper must be of publishable quality, and the student would have to defend it before a dissertation committee to successfully graduate.
What’s Next for Legal Studies Ph.D. Degree Holders?
Most Ph.D. programs prepare students to become teachers in law schools, business schools, or other relevant programs. There is a growing demand for Ph.D. earners, too. According to the BLS, employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow by 17% from 2010 to 2020, with the strongest growth occurring at for-profit institutions. This growth is anticipated as enrollments at postsecondary institutions continue to rise. At the same time, the BLS notes that there is a lot of competition for tenure-track positions as colleges and universities move more towards adjunct and part-time positions.