The Legalities of Online Classes: Understanding Online Classes Law

The prevalence of technology has led to changes in various aspects of our lives, and education is not an exception. In recent years, online classes have become increasingly popular, offering students an alternative education method. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for distance learning has further increased the demand for online classes.

With the rise of online classes, the law governing their operation has become a significant concern. While there are general laws that apply to all forms of education, online classes require specific regulations. The regulation of online classes aims to protect students’ rights and ensure that they receive quality education. Additionally, the laws regulating online classes also protect the instructors and educational institutions from any legal liabilities that may arise from providing online classes.

Online Classes Law: What Is It?

Online classes law refers to the rules and regulations surrounding the delivery of online courses and programs.

Why It Matters

Understanding online classes law is critical for online educators, students and institutions to ensure compliance, protect the rights of parties involved, and maintain quality education standards.

Key Components of Online Classes Law

Some of the key components of online classes law include online privacy, accessibility for students with disabilities, intellectual property rights, and accreditation standards.


The world is changing fast and with it, education is following suit. Education has taken a significant shift from traditional classrooms to online classes. In the past decade, online education has grown in popularity and has become a norm for most universities and colleges. Online classes provide flexibility, convenience, and affordability to students worldwide. However, there are laws governing online classes that both the students and instructors need to adhere to. In this article, we will discuss the online classes laws that have been put in place and their importance in the world of online education.


FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. These records include academic grades, personal information, and financial records. This law applies to all schools that receive funds from the Department of Education. Online schools and universities are also subject to FERPA laws. All students are entitled to know what is in their academic records, who has access to their records, and how their records are used. Under FERPA, students can also prevent their academic records from being released to third parties. Due to this law, online schools and universities must secure student’s personal information and academic records to avoid any breaches of privacy.

ADA and Section 504

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that ensures that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is another federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities in all programs, including online classes. Under this law, online classes must be accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Online classes must be designed to cater to the needs of students with disabilities, such as deaf students, blind students, and students with mobility issues. Online classes should have editing options and closed-captioning tools to help students with hearing impairments to understand the lectures. All online educational materials such as text, images, and videos must be accessible to students with disabilities.


The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a federal law that protects children under the age of thirteen from unauthorized collection, use, and sharing of their personal information online. This law applies to online classes since children under thirteen can enroll in these classes. Online schools and universities that have children under thirteen should ensure that they have obtained a parent’s consent before collecting any personal information about the child. COPPA also requires online schools and universities to secure children’s personal information from unauthorized access.


E-Sign is a federal law that recognizes electronic signatures as valid as handwritten signatures in online transactions. Online classes require students to sign various documents, such as enrollment agreements, grade sheets, and financial aid forms. Under the ESIGN Act, online schools and universities must ensure that they obtain the student’s electronic signature and that the signature is legally valid. Additionally, online schools and universities should ensure that they have a comprehensive electronic signature policy to protect the student’s electronic signature.


Online classes have become more prevalent, and it is essential to know the laws that govern them. The laws mentioned above are critical in ensuring that students’ privacy is protected, students with disabilities are not discriminated against, and children’s personal information is not shared with unauthorized parties. As online education continues to grow, it is essential to adhere to these laws to provide quality online education to all students.


Question 1: Are online classes for law degrees just as legitimate as traditional law degrees?

Answer: Yes, online law degrees are just as legitimate as traditional law degrees. Online law schools must be accredited by the American Bar Association to ensure that the curriculum meets the same standards as traditional law schools. Online law courses and programs offer flexibility, making them a popular choice for those who are unable to attend traditional law schools due to work or family commitments. However, it is important to note that passing the bar exam is necessary to practice law, regardless of whether the degree was earned online or at a traditional law school.

Question 2: Can I complete an online law degree outside of the United States?

Answer: Yes, you can complete an online law degree outside of the United States. Many accredited online law schools accept international students. However, it is important to note that the curriculum may be geared towards U.S. law, and there may be additional requirements to practice law in a specific country. It is recommended that you research the country-specific requirements before enrolling in an online law degree program.

Question 3: Will online law classes be easier than traditional law classes?

Answer: No, online law classes will not be easier than traditional law classes. The coursework is just as challenging as traditional law classes, and the material covered is the same. However, online law classes offer more flexibility in terms of when and where students can complete coursework, which can make it easier for students who have other commitments to balance their educational goals with their personal and professional lives.

Question 4: What technology do I need to take online law classes?

Answer: To take online law classes, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access and software that can access the online course materials. This includes a web browser, document readers, and video conferencing software. You may also need a webcam and microphone for online discussions and virtual classes. It is important to review the course requirements before enrolling in an online law course or program to ensure that you have the necessary technology.

Question 5: How long does it take to complete an online law degree?

Answer: The time it takes to complete an online law degree varies based on the program and pace at which the student completes coursework. Generally, online law degree programs take the same amount of time as traditional law degree programs, which is typically three years for full-time students. Part-time students may take between four and six years to complete the program. Accelerated programs may be available which can lead to a law degree in less than three years.

Question 6: How much does an online law degree cost?

Answer: The cost of an online law degree varies depending on the school and the program. On average, tuition for an online law degree is comparable to that of a traditional law degree, and can range from $20,000 to $60,000 per year. Other costs, such as books and materials, may also need to be considered. It is important to review the full cost of a program before enrolling, as some online law schools may have additional fees or charges.

Question 7: Can I transfer credits from an online law program to a traditional law program?

Answer: It is possible to transfer credits from an online law program to a traditional law program, but it will depend on the policies of the school. Each school has its own policy regarding transfer credits, and it is recommended that you speak with the admissions department of your preferred law school to determine if credits earned from an online law program will be accepted.

Question 8: Will I have access to student services and resources with an online law program?

Answer: Yes, online law programs typically provide access to student services and resources, such as academic counseling, career services, and library resources. This may include virtual tutoring, writing centers, and online research tools. Many online law schools also offer networking opportunities to help students establish connections within the legal profession.

Question 9: Are there any requirements for online law students to attend campus?

Answer: Some online law programs may have residency requirements, which means that students may be required to attend on-campus classes or workshops at some point during their program. However, many online law programs do not have this requirement and students can complete the entire program online from anywhere in the world.

Question 10: Will an online law degree help me get a job as a lawyer?

Answer: Yes, earning an online law degree can help you get a job as a lawyer, but it is not a guarantee. Similar to traditional law degrees, earning an online law degree does not guarantee employment or success in the legal field. However, earning a law degree can provide a strong foundation for a career in law and can demonstrate a commitment to the profession and an ability to manage the demands of a rigorous educational program.

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