With a paralegal bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue careers in the legal field without attending law school.
An online paralegal bachelor's degree introduces students to the legal system and provides career-ready training for paralegal jobs. Paralegals with a bachelor's degree stand out on the job market compared to those with a paralegal studies certificate or associate degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average growth in paralegal and legal assistant jobs between 2019-2029. Paralegals earn a median pay of around $25 per hour, with paralegals who work in finance, insurance, or federal jobs earning a median salary of over $64,000 per year.
Our list ranks the best online paralegal bachelor's programs to help prospective students find the right fit to help them reach their career goals. This page also introduces the earning potential and career outlook for different careers you can pursue with a paralegal studies degree.
|#1||Regent University Virginia Beach, VA|
|#2||Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN|
|#3||University of Providence Great Falls, MT|
|#4||William Woods University Fulton, MO|
|#5||Hampton University Hampton, VA|
Featured Online Schools
Best Online Paralegal Bachelor’s Programs
Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent offers a 100% online bachelor of science in paralegal studies. Regent's program positions students for competence and professionalism in the field of law within the framework of a Christian, ethical worldview.
The paralegal studies program prepares graduates for roles as paraprofessionals in law offices, government units, and other law settings including as a legal aid advocate, court or judiciary clerk, or litigation support analyst. Key topics focus on the most common practice areas of law, including marriage and family, real estate, contracts, and personal injury. The program is integrated with Regent's ABA-approved School of Law. Admission requirements vary based on where an applicant is in their academic or professional career.
Based in West Terre Haute, Indiana, and founded in 1840, the private SMWC offers students small classes with a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
SMWC provides students the opportunity to explore the legal realm with its online bachelor of arts in paralegal studies program. A member of the American Association for Paralegal Education and housed in the Woods Online school, the program focuses on the study of law as it relates to politics, society, and history within the context of a liberal arts education. The paralegal studies degree goes beyond law and explores its impacts in society through areas such as investigation, wills, contracts, briefs, and legal research.
Based in Great Falls, Montana, the private UP offers paralegal studies degrees both on campus and through distance learning. The bachelor's level paralegal degree is provided through a partnership with the United States Army and Air Force. Students take innovative, integrated learning classes, where professors from diverse fields teach courses together. Admissions require high school transcripts and strongly recommend ACT or SAT scores for undergraduate applicants.
The Air Force paralegal program is part of a program to support service members with associate degrees from the Community College of the Airforce. The Army program works closely with The Judge Advocate General's Learning Center and School to help students receive an online associate or bachelor of science in legal and paralegal studies. These programs maximize military career education and training and provide online academic and support services.
Based in Fulton, Missouri, WWU boasts a learning community of more than 3,500 students and faculty, including 1,100 undergraduate students on its 225-acre campus.
WWU offers several online programs including an online bachelor of science in paralegal studies. The coursework involves a student-centered curriculum with flexible and affordable tuition. The paralegal studies program is a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.
Applicants must have a high school transcript with a 2.50 GPA and be in the top 50% of the class as well as met certain ACT or SAT score requirements. Provisional and conditional acceptance is possible.
A Historically Black College and University based in Hampton, Virginia, HU enrolls nearly 4,000 students annually.
HU provides many online learning opportunities for students through the Hampton U Online platform, and offers an online bachelor of arts in paralegal studies, as well as an online certificate in paralegal studies, for students interesting in pursuing paralegal careers.
Both programs prepare students to assist lawyers and legal professionals by providing foundations in legal research and writing, torts, and verbal and written communication, and the certificate program can be applied toward the bachelor's degree. Taking two eight-week courses at a time, students may complete the certificate program in one year and the bachelor's program in four years.
Online Paralegal Bachelor's Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Is an Online Paralegal Bachelor's Degree?
A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies trains undergraduates in the legal system, civil procedure, contracts, and legal research and writing. Paralegal studies majors also strengthen their analytical skills.
A paralegal degree emphasizes career-ready skills and practical training. Prospective students should also consider a legal studies degree, which provides a broader foundation in the law and more general courses, with less focus on career-specific skills. A legal studies degree is best for students interested in pursuing further study, while a paralegal program is better for students seeking entry-level paralegal jobs.
While many graduates from a paralegal bachelor's program work as legal assistants or paralegals, graduates with paralegal training can work as compliance officers, arbitrators, claims adjusters, or mediators. A bachelor's degree in paralegal or legal studies can also help graduates apply to law school and become a lawyer.
Choosing an Online Program
Prospective online learners should consider several factors when choosing a program. For example, students should look at the school's accreditation status, graduation requirements, and program format, including whether the program is synchronous or asynchronous. The resources below can help students learn more about choosing an online degree.
What Else Can I Expect From a Paralegal Bachelor's Program?
During a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies, undergraduates take courses on the legal system, civil law, legal writing, and torts. These courses provide foundational training for legal careers. Some programs also offer electives in areas like corporate law, bankruptcy, and family law, allowing students to specialize their degrees.
Paralegal Bachelor's Curriculum
- Introduction to Law: Introduction to law courses offer an overview of the legal system and the role of courts. Coursework covers things like the attorney-client relationship, constitutional law, contract law, and administrative law. Students also learn about civil vs. criminal law. The course lays the groundwork for advanced classes.
- Legal Research and Writing: Paralegals can strengthen their legal research and writing skills in this course. Learners also gain practical skills in legal analysis, research, reasoning, and writing. The course covers topics like argumentation, investigation, statutory interpretation, and negotiation.
- Torts: Classes on torts examine personal injury law, including the legal definition of negligence and its application in the court system. Students learn about liability rules, the theoretical foundation of torts law, and victim compensation. The class prepares paralegals for careers in personal injury law and civil law.
A bachelor's degree in paralegal studies prepares graduates for careers that require legal training. While many graduates become paralegals, the degree can also lead to opportunities as an arbitrator, mediator, or claims adjuster. Graduates can also pursue law school and a later career as a lawyer or judge.
This section introduces the job responsibilities, earning potential, and job outlook for careers related to a paralegal studies degree.
|Median Salary: $51,740||Projected Job Growth: 10%|
Paralegals support lawyers by conducting legal research, drafting documents, and gathering evidence for cases. They write reports to help attorneys prepare for trial, draft legal documents like contracts or mortgages, and file briefs and appeals with the court.
Paralegals usually specialize in a particular area of the law, like those listed below.
- Corporate law
- Personal injury
- Estate planning and probate
- Family law
In these areas, paralegals have specialized tasks. Corporate paralegals may prepare contracts, monitor government regulations, and create financial reports. Litigation paralegals manage documents from clients, conduct research, and organize evidence for trials.
During a bachelor's program, paralegals may specialize their training by choosing electives in a specific field of law. Most paralegals hold at least an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies, though some employers prefer to hire paralegals with a bachelor's degree.
|Median Salary: $63,930||Projected Job Growth: 8%|
Arbitrators oversee negotiations between two parties to help them reach a resolution outside of the court system. They meet with disputants to discuss their issue, conduct research into the matter, and oversee negotiations between the two parties. Arbitrators may also interpret legal or regulatory matters in the conflict and prepare settlement agreements. Essentially, they act as impartial third parties to help resolve conflicts.
Some arbitrators hold a law degree and are practicing attorneys. However, many positions require only a bachelor's degree with some legal training. While arbitrators do not need a national license, some states require training and certification to work as an arbitrator or mediator.
|Median Salary: $66,540||Projected Job Growth: -6%|
Claims adjusters evaluate insurance claims to decide whether insurance companies must pay them. They inspect properties to evaluate the extent of the damage, determine whether a policy covers the loss, and decide how much the insurer should pay. Adjusters also interview witnesses, contact doctors to discuss personal injury claims, and create reports on their findings.
While many claims adjusters work for insurance companies, others work as public adjusters. These adjusters work for claimants to provide an independent evaluation of the insurance claim. They may receive a percentage of the claim as payment. Claims adjusters typically must hold a bachelor's degree, and legal training can help candidates find opportunities in this field.
Paralegal Professional Organizations
Professional organizations help paralegal studies graduates transition into the workforce. These organizations offer networking opportunities, conferences and events, professional development support, webinars, career resources, and certifications that demonstrate mastery of paralegal skills. Students can often benefit from membership discounts.
Founded in 1974, NFPA is the oldest national paralegal association. Representing over 9,000 members, the federation offers professional development tools, publications covering developments in the field, and events where professionals can network. NFPA also offers certifications for paralegals who pass the CORE competency exam or the advanced competency exam.
AAPI represents paralegals and sets professional standards and a code of ethics for the field. It hosts events with networking opportunities, posts job openings, and provides information on legal topics. AAPI also offers webinars, a national summit, and other professional development resources.
AAfPE was founded in 1981. Through AAfPE, prospective paralegal students can learn about evaluating paralegal programs and finding the right program. The association also provides educational standards and information on paralegal core competencies for students and professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Paralegals earn a median pay of around $25 per hour, with much faster than average projected job growth. The field also offers career advancement opportunities, especially for paralegals who specialize in particular subfields.
A paralegal degree prepares graduates for careers as paralegals, legal assistants, claims adjusters, arbitrators, or mediators. Graduates can also return to school to pursue a law degree or a doctorate.
The highest median wages for paralegals are in federal government roles, closely followed by those working in finance and insurance. The highest 10% of wage earners made over $82,500 in 2019, according to BLS data.
Both a paralegal certificate and a paralegal degree prepare graduates for careers in the legal field. However, some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree, particularly for positions with management responsibilities.
No, paralegals do not always become lawyers. While some paralegals use their legal training to pursue a JD and become lawyers, they more commonly pursue careers that do not require passing the bar exam, like arbitrator or mediator.
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