Paralegals and legal assistants are integral members of a law firm. They help research legal precedents and investigate the facts of a case for the attorneys they work with. In many firms, paralegals continue to take on more and more duties to help bring down the cost of legal services and allow attorneys to work more efficiently.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects positions for paralegals and legal assistants to increase 15% through 2026, with 11% growth in employment for other legal support workers. An online legal studies degree provides you with the skills necessary to take on these critical roles while also preparing you for further legal specialization, and a high-paying career with a median salary of $50,410 per year.

For more degree and career information, jump to:

Legal Studies Associate Degree Programs

Note: Because numerous types of degrees fall under the umbrella of “associate in legal studies,” the following sections display top-ranked programs from several related ranking articles on our website. To learn more about these different degrees, follow the link at the end of each section to their corresponding ranking article.

For a specific program type, jump to:

Best Online Associate in Legal Studies Programs Badge
Download this badge

Online Associate in Legal Studies Degree Program Ranking Guidelines: We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

The Best Online Associate in Legal Studies Degree Programs

  1. Tallahassee Community College

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tallahassee Community College in Florida provides career-focused education in more than 70 degree and certificate programs, including an online legal studies degree. The 64-credit program consists of 46 credits in legal instruction. Courses cover ethics, legal procedures, and office management as well as preparation in areas of business, real estate, family, and probate law. The college's general education requirements ensure that graduates of the associate of science in paralegal and legal studies program meet transfer requirements for four-year colleges. More than 76% of the school's graduates continue their education with a bachelor's degree. The school maintains articulation agreements with multiple schools in Florida.

    The online legal studies degree has no on-campus requirements and provides students with flexible course options. Online students can enjoy access to the school's library, tutoring services, and career center job search assistance. The school also awards credits for work experience, military training, and professional certifications, as well as by exam.

  2. Saint Louis Community College

    Saint Louis, MO

    St. Louis Community College offers the oldest paralegal degree program in the county and uses a curriculum developed in cooperation with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. The associate of applied science in legal studies for the paralegal offers a foundation in legal terminology and procedures along with a study of federal and Missouri case law and statutes.

    Students can complete more than half of the 60 required credits online. The degree does have on-campus requirements, with classes meeting at the Meramec or Florissant Valley, Missouri, campuses. Students learn about computer-assisted research, legal writing, and litigation, and may choose electives from a variety of legal specialties. Students also have the option to complete either an on-campus clinical study or off-campus internship to gain real-world experience. Students who already hold a postsecondary degree may select the certificate of proficiency, which includes 33 credits in legal education.

  3. Herkimer College

    Herkimer, NY

    Herkimer College in New York offers the convenience and flexibility of a fully online legal studies associate's degree, which is one of more than 19 online degrees offered. The 62-credit program includes courses in torts, estate administration, and legal research and writing, as well as general education requirements. Students gain experience in drafting legal documents, interviewing clients, and conducting in-depth legal research.

    The legal studies capstone requires 90 hours of practical experience in a law firm and completion of a final paper on a legal topic. Students can also benefit from transfer agreements with State University of New York Institute of Technology, Hilbert College, and Franklin University.

    All online students can access support services, such as academic advising, technical support, library services, and tutoring. The school utilizes asynchronous course delivery through its internet academy and all faculty complete regular training in online course development.

The Best Online Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College

    Wesson, MS



    Founded in 1915, Co-Lin offers 33 fully online associate degree programs across a variety of disciplines.

    Co-Lin offers an online associate of science in criminal justice degree for students interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement. In addition to general education requirements in core areas, students take classes such as introduction to criminal justice, police administration, and juvenile justice.

    To receive their degree, students must complete 63 credits according to the course plan. Students may transfer the entirety of their associate degree to one of Mississippi's public universities to complete their bachelor's degree.

  2. North Central Missouri College

    Trenton, MO



    Founded in 1925, NCMC now offers classes across four physical campuses and online.

    NCMC offers an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice to help students launch their careers in law enforcement. Students take 15 credits in general education followed by 46-58 credits in criminal justice.

    Major courses include criminology, procedural law, and deviant behavior. Students also complete a three-credit practicum before graduation. All coursework takes place entirely online.

  3. Trinity Valley Community College

    Athens, TX



    Founded in 1946, TVCC offers flexible educational and workforce opportunities to students of all backgrounds.

    TVCC's associate of applied science in criminal justice takes place in a fully online format. Courses include court systems and practices, fundamentals of criminal law, and the juvenile justice system. Students may receive 13 credits for completion of an approved law enforcement training program and passing the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement exam.

    To begin the program, students must receive a satisfactory score on the Texas Success Initiative exam.

  4. Dawson Community College

    Glendive, MT



    With origins stretching back to 1940, DCC offers 19 career and technical programs across several disciplines.

    DCC's associate of applied science in criminal justice prepares students to work in law enforcement, corrections, or other criminal justice settings immediately upon graduation. Students choose electives based on their specific interests or follow a plan of study to work as a peace officer or in private security.

    Courses take place fully online and cover topics such as police patrol procedures, criminal investigation, and ethics and leadership in criminal justice.

  5. Pensacola State College

    Pensacola, FL



    The largest and oldest college in the Florida Panhandle, PSC enrolls roughly 26,000 students each year.

    PSC offers a fully online associate of science in criminal justice technology degree program that prepares students for careers as police officers and detectives, criminal investigators, and other occupations.

    Courses include criminal investigation, introduction to criminalistics, and probation and parole. Students may receive up to 15 credits for prior training at an approved program, equivalent to a full semester of the two year program.

  6. Highland Community College

    Highland, KS



    Founded in 1858 as the first college in Kansas, today HCC offers over 60 areas of study to its students.

    HCC's associate in applied science in criminal justice can be completed entirely online. Students take general education courses and criminal justice core courses including corrections, criminal procedures, and first aid and safety.

    To graduate, students must complete 60 credits as well as a practicum in the administration of justice.

    Applicants must submit official high school or GED transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

  7. Northeast Community College

    Norfolk, NE



    Northeast offers over 130 degree programs to just over 13,000 credit and non-credit seeking students.

    Northeast offers both an associate of applied science (AAS) and an associate of arts (AA) in criminal justice in an online format. Students planning to transfer to a bachelor's degree program should choose the AA degree option, with tracks in corrections and law enforcement. AAS students will be prepared to enter the criminal justice workforce right after graduation.

    Courses include police and society, community-based corrections, and security and loss prevention. Students with the Nebraska Jail Management Certification may receive three elective credits for prior training.

    Current law enforcement officers may be eligible for tuition waivers.

  8. Daytona State College

    Daytona Beach, FL



    DSC boasts a range of bachelor, associate, and certificate programs available fully or partially online.

    The associate of science in criminal justice technology provides law enforcement and correctional officer training graduates who have passed the Florida State Officer Certification program. Ideal students include those who are currently working in law enforcement but don't wish to obtain a bachelor's degree.

    Classes take place in seven-week formats and may be taken online or in-person, although one required course is only available on-campus. Up to 24 vocational credits may be awarded for previous training.

  9. Spartanburg Methodist College

    Spartanburg, SC

    Founded in 1911, SMC now enrolls just over 1,000 students from across South Carolina.

    SMC offers a fully online associate degree in criminal justice. Courses include police ethics, criminal evidence and procedures, and community-based corrections. Classes begin every eight weeks.

    Students may transfer up to 30 credits of qualifying post-secondary coursework. The completed associate degree may be transferred to a bachelor degree program at SMC for continued education in criminal justice.

  10. Ulster County Community College

    Stone Ridge, NY



    Founded in 1963, SUNY Ulster boasts a proud tradition of preparing students for career success and further educational opportunities.

    SUNY Ulster offers a fully online associate of science in criminal justice degree for current employees in the criminal justice sector or those looking to enter the field for the first time. The two-year curriculum covers topics like the criminal justice system, constitutional criminal procedure, and corrections and community supervision.

    Students may optionally complete a criminal justice internship, or satisfy the credit requirement through electives.

The Best Online Associate in Homeland Security Degree Programs

  1. Keiser University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    Founded in 1977, Keiser University serves more than 20,000 learners annually through its 21 Florida campuses and its online division. Keiser offers a variety of online degree and certificate programs, including an online associate degree in homeland security.

    The fully online, 60-credit degree examines the mechanisms of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and explores common types of terrorism. In addition to general education classes, learners take courses on domestic and international terrorism, emergency planning and security measures, and organizing the war on terrorism. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions at the DHS.

    Degree candidates take one four-week course at a time. Online learners can access career resources like resume preparation services, mock interviews, job postings, and online professional development workshops. They can also join student groups — like the Student Government Association — and several honor societies. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent.

  2. Campbell University

    Buies Creek, NC



    Established in 1887, Campbell University is a private, Christian institution that serves about 6,800 learners through four physical campuses and an online division. Distance learners at Campbell can pursue an online homeland security associate degree.

    The 64-credit associate of science in homeland security includes 40 general core credits and 24 homeland security credits. Homeland security courses include emergency management, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, and interagency operations.

    The fully online degree uses accelerated, eight-week courses and an asynchronous format, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. The university accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited schools, CLEP/DANTES tests, and ACE-recommended military credit at the lower level.

    The school accepts applications on a rolling basis and recommends that candidates apply at least two weeks before their desired start dates. Campbell considers work experience, high school learning, and standardized test results when evaluating applicants. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA.

  3. White Mountains Community College

    Berlin, NH



    White Mountains Community College offers the most affordable college courses in New Hampshire. Students can choose from a variety of online degrees, including an associate of science in criminal justice and homeland security.

    The 62-credit curriculum covers law enforcement principles at the local, national, and international levels. Students take courses in forensic science, criminal law, terrorism, and criminal procedure. Degree candidates also complete a criminal justice internship at an approved local site. Students can transfer up to 18 credits toward the degree for state or local law enforcement training.

    This hybrid learning program requires students to meet on campus in Berlin, New Hampshire, once every two weeks. They complete all other coursework online. Graduates can transfer to four-year programs, work in local law enforcement, or find entry-level positions at federal agencies. WMCC maintains transfer agreements with several universities.

    Candidates may apply to WMCC for free. They must submit official high school transcripts with proof of graduation or GED/HiSET documentation to qualify for admission.

  4. Hawai'i Pacific University

    Honolulu, HI



    Hawai'i Pacific University is a private, nonprofit institution that boasts one of the most culturally diverse student bodies in the world. Students enjoy small class sizes and innovative programs that meet society's changing needs. HPU offers several associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees online, including a fully online associate of science in homeland security.

    In addition to general education classes, learners take homeland security courses on topics like disaster preparedness and response, dimensions in terrorism, and careers in homeland security. Students can also choose from electives like violence in the American society, cybersecurity, and justice systems.

    Graduates understand homeland security from political, criminal justice, and historical perspectives. They can pursue entry-level employment at local, state, and federal government agencies or transfer to bachelor's programs, such as HPU's undergraduate degrees in diplomacy and military studies or international studies.

    Learners can access free counseling, online library services, and online tutoring for lower-level courses. Candidates must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a personal essay. Members of the military fill out a different application and receive access to a specialized admission counselor.

  5. Central Wyoming College

    Riverton, WY



    In addition to a variety of certificate and degree programs, Central Wyoming College hosts community enrichment courses, Wyoming PBS, and fine arts centers. The school's online associate of arts in criminal justice includes general education, criminal justice, and elective courses.

    Criminal justice classes cover criminal legal procedures, criminology, introduction to corrections, and research in criminal justice. Students build on foundational criminal justice coursework through electives in homeland security. Students should reference each year's academic catalog to determine available homeland security electives.

    Graduates can work in roles like corrections officer or law enforcement officer. They can also pursue entry-level positions at federal agencies or enroll in a bachelor's program. CWC has a transfer agreement with Regis University to facilitate seamless transfers for graduates.

    The fully online program uses flexible, asynchronous courses, and distance learners have online access to the school's library. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit transcripts. CWC uses ACT or SAT scores for class placement but not for admission decisions.

  6. Barton Community College

    Great Bend, KS



    Established in 1969, Barton Community College serves approximately 15,000 learners each year. Barton's Hazardous Materials and Emergency Services Training Institute offers online and on-campus programs, including an online associate degree in emergency management.

    Students in this program examine homeland security topics through an emergency management lens. The fully online, 64-credit program includes 18 general education credits and 46 emergency management and homeland security credits. Required courses include introduction to terrorism, mitigation for emergency managers, and GIS for emergency operations.

    Barton offers 15 online terms per year, spanning four, six, eight, and 16 weeks. Barton accepts transfer credit from standardized tests, accredited institutions, professional certifications, and military experience. Degree candidates must earn at least 15 credits from Barton to graduate.

    Candidates complete admission and scholarship applications online. Once accepted, they can submit ACT or ACCUPLACER scores to determine appropriate placement in general education courses, such as mathematics and English. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

  7. Tidewater Community College

    Norfolk, VA



    Tidewater Community College is the second-largest community college in Virginia, serving more than 34,000 learners every year. The school's online associate of applied science in criminal justice offers specializations in forensic science, homeland security, and public law.

    The 61-credit, online degree in homeland security includes general education, criminal justice, and homeland security courses. Criminal justice courses include introduction to law enforcement, law enforcement organization and administration, and principles in criminal investigation. Students can pursue homeland security electives on topics like homeland security and law, transportation and border security, and terrorism and counter-terrorism.

    Students must take some homeland security courses on campus in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, or Portsmouth. Applicants must have clean driving records and pass a background check. Prospective learners must also prove college readiness through high school coursework, ACT or SAT scores, or the Virginia Placement Test.

  8. Guilford Technical Community College

    Jamestown, NC



    Established in 1958, Guilford Technical Community College educates more than 35,000 learners each year. Online students can choose from several associate degrees, including an associate of applied science in criminal justice technology with a certificate in homeland security.

    The online homeland security degree includes 66 general education and criminal justice technology credits and 14 homeland security certificate credits. Criminal justice technology courses cover topics like civil liability, law enforcement operations, and corrections. Certificate candidates take homeland security courses on topics such as organized crime, threat assessment, and high-risk situations.

    Graduates can work in roles like police officer, Transportation Security Administration officer, and state trooper. They can also transfer to four-year programs. Some learners may apply work credit toward the degree. Learners can earn the degree and certificate entirely online. Candidates must submit official transcripts and standardized test results.

  9. Community College of Allegheny County

    Pittsburgh, PA



    Established in 1966, Community College of Allegheny County now offers more than 160 educational programs, including 17 fully online associate degrees, such as an online degree in homeland security.

    The 61-63-credit associate of science in homeland security includes courses in principles of information security, introduction to homeland security grant writing, principle of emergency services, and perspectives on terrorism. Learners with police academy, Pennsylvania firefighter, or Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Technician certificates may waive some course requirements. Graduates can work in border, seaport, and airport security.

    The fully online program lasts four semesters. CCAC accepts transfer credits from standardized tests, portfolio reviews, and the Pittsburgh Job Corps. CCAC offers an open admission policy, admitting all adults with a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates must submit standardized test results to determine appropriate math and English course placements.

  10. Trident Technical College

    Charleston, SC



    Trident Technical College hosts more than 15,000 students through over 150 academic programs annually. TTC offers accelerated semesters and low tuition rates. The school's online degree in homeland security management teaches students how to protect people and infrastructure during emergencies.

    The 60-credit associate of applied science in homeland security management includes 15 general education credits, 36 major credits, and nine elective credits. Required homeland security classes include terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, constitutional law, ethics in criminal justice, and critical incident management.

    The fully online degree uses a flexible, asynchronous format. Graduates can work in roles such as information technology specialist, program analyst, and mission support specialist.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Best Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs

1. Eastern Kentucky University–EKU Online

Richmond, Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky University, a public university founded in 1906, enrolls over 16,000 students in variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university provides programs at the main campus in Richmond and at six branch campuses. The university also provides online programs.

Through the EKU Online platform, the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences provides an online Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree program, approved by the ABA. Students develop knowledge and skills foundational to the practice, including legal research and writing and litigation. The program provides students with real-world experience through an internship.

The program holds the status of being a charter member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.

The online Paralegal Associate Degree program utilizes a unique combination of online and on-campus coursework. The program requires 64 credit hours total; students must complete 10 of these credit hours during an intensive two-week residency program.

The online Associate degree in Paralegal Studies program includes the following required courses:

In addition to the required and elective courses, students must complete an internship.

All full-time paralegal faculty members hold a JD (Juris Doctor) or Ph.D. degree, and part-time faculty members include practicing attorneys, judges, and elected officials.


Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


2. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College–Woods Online

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana

A private, not-for-profit institution, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College began serving students in 1840 and holds the distinction of being the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in the state of Indiana. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College enrolls a student population of fewer than 1,000 (95% female) in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The small size of the university provides students with a low student-faculty ratio, and plenty of opportunities for a personalized academic experience.

Through the Woods Online platform, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers an online Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies, approved by the ABA. Students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as a paralegal, including organizational and technological skills and methods for researching and writing.

Emphasizing a liberal arts foundation, the online Paralegal Associate degree program encourages students to think about law in larger contexts, including society, history, and morality.

Since 1989, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College paralegal studies program has been a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.

The online Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies requires 41 credit hours total; students must complete 10 of these through face-to-face instruction. The program includes the following core courses:

Students in this online paralegal degree program must complete a legal practicum.

Students may continue their studies through an online Bachelor in Paralegal Studies degree program.


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. University of Providence

Great Falls, Montana

The University of Providence, a private Roman Catholic university founded in 1932, enrolls a little over 1,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. Known as the University of Great Falls until 2017, the University of Providence was originally formed as a women's college, and became coeducational in 1937.

The University of Providence offers an online Associate in Paralegal Studies degree program, approved by the ABA. Balancing legal theory and practice with a liberal arts foundation, the program engages students with coursework in fundamental aspects of paralegal practice.

Students prepare for paralegal careers through developing a thorough understanding of research and writing, litigation, case procedure, and more.

Following ABA guidelines, students must complete 10 credits from legal specialty courses on campus. Students can complete the rest of the required and elective coursework entirely online.

This online Paralegal Associate degree program requires 60 credit hours total, and includes the following required courses:

In addition to the required and elective courses, students must complete an internship and capstone project.

The University of Providence also offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal and Paralegal Studies program. In partnership with the US Army and Air Force, the University of Providence offers an ABA-approved online Bachelor of Science in Legal and Paralegal Studies to prepare students for Army and Air Force paralegal careers.


The University of Providence is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

See more of the Best Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs.

Educational Paths

If you’re interested in earning an associate legal studies degree, online schools offer multiple options that can prepare you for the workforce. Also, attending an accredited school ensures you’ll be able to continue your education with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Additional training may allow you to move into new career fields, such as mediation.

Return to the top

Careers with an Associate in Legal Studies

The research, communication, and legal specialty courses in an online legal studies degree not only prepare you for a career as a paralegal or legal assistant but a few other professions in the legal field as well. Many graduates may find their skills and interests lead them to work in law enforcement, either as a police officer or in a managerial role, or to continue their studies with an academic law degree.

  1. Paralegal:
    Law firms are the largest employers of paralegals and legal assistants. Paralegals may also work in corporate law offices preparing legal documents for financial disclosures or regulatory compliance. You’ll need top-notch skills in research, including computer-assisted legal research, as well as organizational ability and interpersonal skills to work effectively with clients and supervising attorneys.
    • Median Annual Salary: $50,410
  2. Probation Officer:
    Probation officers assist individuals trying to rehabilitate their lives after being found guilty of a crime. They ensure their clients comply with all court-mandated provisions, such as job training or employment and substance abuse counseling. Educational requirements vary, but many jurisdictions seek applicants with a bachelor’s degree in a field related to criminal justice or social work.
    • Median Annual Salary: $51,410
  3. Administrative Assistant:
    Legal secretaries perform a variety of administrative tasks, such as or data entry or setting appointments. They often work under the direction of a paralegal or attorney and provide quality assurance to legal briefs or assist with legal research. They have an understanding of legal terminology and processes and often prepare routine legal documents.
    • Median Annual Salary: $37,870

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Return to the top

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office