Law firms and businesses rely on paralegals and legal assistants to perform a variety of legal tasks. Students interested in online paralegal programs can earn an online paralegal certificate, an online paralegal associate degree, or an online paralegal bachelor's degree.
Paralegals help lawyers prepare for trials and meetings; they also conduct research on relevant laws and regulations, study legal articles, and create reports. Their responsibilities vary depending on the type of legal practice; some paralegals help prepare mortgages and other financial documents, while others investigate, collect, and organize evidence for court hearings. Paralegals in large firms often specialize in a particular area of law, whereas those in small firms often work on cases from beginning to end.
The paralegal profession has expanded in recent years as public agencies, private law firms, and corporations recognize that employing paralegals increases their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The minimum education required for paralegals is a certificate in paralegal studies. However, employers typically prefer candidates with more education.
Bachelor's programs in paralegal studies are less common than paralegal certificate and associate programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some aspiring paralegals earn a bachelor's degree in another subject, such as criminal justice or law, and then pursue a paralegal certificate.
We provide separate ranking lists for online:
For more degree and career information, skip down to these topics:
- How long does it take to become a Paralegal?
- What is a Paralegal Certificate?
- What is an Associate in Paralegal Degree?
- What do Paralegals do?
- What are ABA Accredited Paralegal Programs?
- Are there certifications for Paralegals?
- How much is a Paralegal salary?
- Are there professional organizations or associations for Paralegals?
The Best Online Paralegal Certificate Programs
Online Paralegal Studies Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following programs based on each program's academic quality and on school's courses, faculty, awards, and reputation. We also considered each school's reputation for providing high-quality online programs.
1. Duke University–Duke Continuing Studies
Durham, North Carolina
Duke University, a private university founded in 1838, enrolls nearly 16,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. With a well-established tradition in American academics, Duke University boasts a recognizable name and recognizable alumni. Initially founded as the Brown School in Trinity, North Carolina, the school moved to its present location of Durham in 1924 and changed its name in honor of the Duke Endowment.
Duke Continuing Studies offers an online Paralegal Certificate program designed for students seeking to enter the paralegal profession. The self-paced program takes one year to complete. Students prepare for paralegal careers through exposure to important aspects of the practice, including legal ethics, pleadings, legal research and writing, and legal technology. The curriculum provides a comprehensive approach to the study and practice of the paralegal profession.
In addition to two elective courses that each focus on a substantive area of the law, students in the online Paralegal Certificate program must complete Essential Skills for Paralegals, which focuses on these concepts:
- Fundamentals of the Profession
- Evidence and Investigation
- Legal Research and Writing I
- Pleadings and Discovery
- Legal Research and Writing II
- Motion Practice
- The Law Office
- Legal Ethics
- State Courts
- Federal Courts
- Legal Technology
Students may qualify for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) examinations.
For admission, students must have a minimum of a two-year associate degree.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
2. University of California Berkeley–UC Berkeley Extension
The University of California Berkeley, a public research university founded in 1868, enrolls over 38,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university also holds the distinction of being a founding member of the Association of American Universities.
The online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program develops important knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the field. The curriculum emphasizes a blend of theoretical and practical knowledge, with plenty of room for customization through electives. Students prepare to pursue paralegal careers through studying fundamental aspects of paralegal practice, including legal research and writing, litigation, and technology in legal practice.
The online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program requires four elective courses in addition to the following two required courses:
- Essential Paralegal Studies Part I: Foundational Skills
- Essential Paralegal Studies Part II: Authority, Research, and Writing
Students may complete the online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program in six months.
The University of California Berkeley is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
3. Boston University–Metropolitan College–Center for Professional Education
Boston University, a private university founded in 1839, enrolls over 32,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Boston University houses the well-regarded School of Management, School of Medicine, and College of Engineering, as well as the Metropolitan College, a division that allows the university to offer quality professional training alongside its academic programs.
The Center for Professional Education in the Boston University Metropolitan College offers an online Paralegal Studies Certificate program. Students in the non-credit program develop a foundation in key knowledge and skills. The program prepares student to serve as effective paralegals in a variety of legal settings.
The online Paralegal Studies Certificate consists of seven two-week modules, allowing students to earn the certificate in 14 weeks. The program consists of the following modules:
- Legal Research
- Legal Writing and Reasoning
- Technology and the Paralegal
- Real Estate Law
- Business Law
- Probate and Family Law
Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
4. George Washington University–College of Professional Studies
George Washington University, a private secular university founded in 1821, enrolls more than 26,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The school originally opened as The Columbian College in the District of Columbia, later renamed in honor of the first president. George Washington University offers a high-quality education with a low student-to-faculty ratio.
The College of Professional Studies at George Washington University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies program, designed with the focus and flexibility necessary for working students to advance professionally.
Students engage in a curriculum which emphasizes important aspects of paralegal practice, including jurisprudence, legal writing, and litigation. The program prepares student to pursue careers in the paralegal field through developing a balanced foundation of knowledge and skills.
The Graduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies online program consists of the following six courses:
- American Jurisprudence
- Legal Research and Writing
- Advanced Legal Writing
- Business Entities
George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Educations (MSCHE). The Paralegal Studies program is an institutional member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.
5. University of California Davis–Continuing and Professional Education
The University of California Davis, a public university founded in 1905, enrolls approximately 35,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The University of California Davis hosts a number of well-regarded graduate programs through its School of Law, School of Medicine, College of Engineering, and School of Veterinary Medicine.
Continuing and Professional Education at University of California Davis offers an online Paralegal Studies Certificate program that prepares students for careers in paralegal practice. Students learn important skills for success in the field, including legal research and writing, client management, and handling litigation procedures. Students gain the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to meet the demands of the paralegal profession.
The online Paralegal Studies Certificate program consists of the following four courses:
- Paralegal Studies Certificate Program Essentials
- Contract Law for Paralegals
- Tort Law for Paralegals
- California Procedures for Paralegals
Students can complete the program in six months or less, utilizing a self-paced format. Students in the program earn academic credit sanctioned by the University of California Davis School of Law.
The University of California Davis is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a public research university founded in 1789, enrolls more than 29,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The oldest public university in the state, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also holds the distinction of being one of the oldest public universities in the United States. The university houses numerous well-regarded schools and colleges, including the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Law.
The Paralegal Certificate online program provides a balanced approach to the study of the profession, covering important subjects such as litigation and legal research and writing. Students develop foundation of knowledge which blends theoretical and practical information and skills. The program also provides career development seminars.
The Paralegal Certificate online program consists of the following seven courses:
- Introduction to Law
- Tort Law and Personal Injury
- Civil Litigation
- Legal Research and Writing
- Family Law
- Contract Law
- Career Preparation
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
7. Rutgers University–Continuing Studies
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, a public university founded in 1766, enrolls nearly 50,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. More commonly (and simply) known as Rutgers University, the institution holds the distinction of being the eighth-oldest college in the US, and one of nine established before the American Revolution.
Continuing Studies at Rutgers University offers an online Paralegal Certificate program which prepares students to pursue entry-level paralegal positions. The non-credit self-paced program engages students in important aspects of the field, including paralegal ethics, legal interviewing, and legal research and writing.
The Paralegal Certificate online program covers the ethics for attorneys and paralegals, the role of the paralegal in the legal system, tort law, product liability and consumer law, laws affecting business, estates and family law, criminal law, and more. Students learn to perform legal analyses.
Students prepare for careers in the field through developing a balanced foundation of practical and theoretical knowledge and skills.
Rutgers University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
8. University of Miami–Continuing and International Education
The University of Miami, a private research university founded in 1925, enrolls more than 16,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.
The Division of Continuing and International Education offers an online Paralegal Certificate program that helps students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the field as paralegals. Students engage in a curriculum that emphasizes key aspects of the profession, including general knowledge of law, legal writing and research, office management, technology and legal practice, and more. Students may complete the asynchronous course of study in as few as four months.
The University of Miami is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Rice University–Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Rice University, a private university founded in 1912, enrolls nearly 7,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Rice University provides a low student-to-faculty ratio. Rice University houses eight schools, including the well-regarded Jesse H. Jones School of Business and George R. Brown School of Engineering.
The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University offers an online Paralegal Graduate Certificate program that prepares students to pursue paralegal careers. Students engage in a curriculum that covers essential skills in the profession.
The program covers subjects such as federal court structure, government structure, stages of litigation, utilization of legal forms, preparing for depositions, arbitration process, interviewing clients, and more. Students develop a balanced foundation of practical and theoretical knowledge.
Rice University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
10. University of Nevada, Las Vegas–UNLV Division of Educational Outreach–Office of Continuing Education
Las Vegas, Nevada
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a public research university, offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The Office of Continuing Education provides programs for personal enrichment and professional advancement.
The Office of Continuing Education offers a Paralegal Certificate online program which provides the investigation, research, writing, and documentation skills paralegals use daily. The program covers subjects such as litigation, legal research and writing, legal terminology, advocacy and motions, Nevada practices and procedures, evidence and investigation, contract law, and tort law.
The Paralegal Certificate online program includes four modules. The core module, Essential Skills, focuses on paralegal specific skills. Students also take three modules to learn specific areas of the law; the areas include Contract Law, Tort Law, and Nevada Practices and Procedures.
11. University of Texas at Austin–Center for Professional Education
The University of Texas at Austin, a public research university founded in 1883, enrolls over 50,000 students across 18 colleges and schools. One of the largest universities in the country, the University of Texas at Austin offers a wide variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.
The Center for Professional Education's online Paralegal Certificate program prepares students for entry into the paralegal profession. Students prepare for paralegal careers through engaging with important aspects of the profession, including legal research and writing, ethics, litigation, and office management. Students can complete the self-paced non-credit program in 12 months or less.
In addition to required coursework, students in the Paralegal Certificate online program choose to complete two of the following elective courses:
- Contract Law
- Tort Law
- Criminal Law
- Family Law
- Business Organizations
The University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
12. James Madison University–JMU Online
James Madison University, a public university founded in 1908, enrolls over 21,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Initially founded as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women, the institution took the name Madison College in 1938 to honor the nation's fourth president. The University first enrolled male students in 1946. After much growth, the institution adopted its current name in 1977.
Through the JMU Online platform, James Madison University offers a Paralegal Certificate online program dedicated to career-readiness. The non-credit program covers important components of paralegal practice, including legal research and writing and litigation, as well as general preparation for the job.
The program prepares students for careers in the field through providing a balanced blend of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills.
The online Paralegal Certificate program consists of the following five courses:
- Career Preparation
- Introduction to Law
- Legal Research and Writing
- Civil Litigation
- Contract Law
James Madison University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
13. University of Massachusetts Lowell–Division of Online and Continuing Education
The University of Massachusetts Lowell, a public university founded in 1894, enrolls approximately 17,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Originally founded as the Lowell Normal School, with the mission of teacher training for women, the institution experienced considerable growth over the next century. The school became a part of the University of Massachusetts system in 1991, under its current name.
The Division of Online and Continuing Education offers an online Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies, which emphasizes a blend of practical and theoretical knowledge and skills. Students learn the fundamental aspects of the profession, including litigation, legal research, office management, and topical subjects in law.
The online Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies requires 18 credit hours, and includes to two electives in addition to the following required courses:
- Introduction to Paralegal Studies
- Real Estate Law
- Legal Research Methods
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
14. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), a public university established in 1906, enrolls more than 16,000 students in an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university offers programs at six branch campuses and online, in addition to those at its main campus in Richmond.
The College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, through the EKU Online platform, provides an online Paralegal Science Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program, which students can complete all but 10 hours of online. The university provides the program to students with a bachelor's degree in an area other than paralegal science. Students can complete the program in 18 months.
The Paralegal Science Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program includes these core classes:
- Introduction to Law
- Litigation: Evidence to Discovery
- Litigation: Trial to Appeal
- Legal Research and Writing I
- Legal Research and Writing II
- Paralegal Seminar
The Eastern Kentucky University Paralegal Studies program has approval from the American Bar Association (ABA).
Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
15. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College–Woods Online
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a private, not-for-profit institution, 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 online platform Woods Online, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers an online Paralegal Certificate program designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and seek to advance their careers. The program provides a balanced approach of theoretical and practical knowledge, emphasizing real-world application and career readiness. The curriculum includes paralegal fundamentals such as legal research and writing and technology in law practice.
The online Paralegal Certificate program requires 33 credit hours, and includes the following core courses:
- Introduction to the Profession
- Law, Ethics, and Society
- Computer Basics in Law
- Legal Research I
- Legal Research II
- Theories of Liability
- Computers in the Law
- Civil Litigation I
- Civil Litigation II
- Contracts and Commercial Transactions
- Advanced Research and Writing
- Legal Practicum
Students in the online program must also complete a practicum.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. Hampton University–Hampton U Online
Hampton University, a private university founded in 1868, enrolls 4,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Hampton University provides a low student-to-faculty ratio.
Through the Hampton U Online platform, Hampton University offers an online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program designed to give students the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue paralegal careers. Through engaging in theoretical and practical concepts relevant to the field, students prepare to assist lawyers and other legal professionals. Students engage in a curriculum that develops a foundation in law, legal research and writing, torts, office management, and more.
The online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program consists of the following nine courses:
- Law in Society
- Legal Research
- Legal Writing
- Torts and Personal Injury
- Criminal Law
- Business Organizations
- Litigation and Trial Practice
- Real Estate
- Domestic Relations
Students in the Certificate in Paralegal Studies online program must also complete an internship.
Taking two nine-week courses at a time, students may complete the program in one year. Students may transfer credits from the online Certificate in Paralegal Studies program into the online Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies degree program.
Hampton University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
17. Liberty University–School of Law–Liberty University Online
Liberty University, a private Christian university affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, enrolls more than 90,000 online students. Jerry Falwell established the school in 1971 as the Lynchburg Baptist College, Liberty University has students in over 500 different undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and serves many non-traditional students through Liberty University Online.
The School of Law's online Certificate in Paralegal Science program focuses on knowledge and skills fundamental to the profession, including concepts of law and legal research and writing. Students graduate with a balanced foundation of theoretical and practical knowledge to pursue paralegal careers.
The online Certificate in Paralegal Science program requires 18 credit hours, and includes the following five classes:
- Introduction to Paralegal Studies
- Legal Research
- Legal Writing
- Foundations of Law
- Civil Practice
Students choose an elective.
Liberty University also offers associate and bachelor degree programs in Paralegal Science.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
18. Pace University–Center for Professional Studies
New York, New York
Pace University, a private university founded in 1906, enrolls over 12,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Initially established as a business school for men and women, the institution grew to offer programs in various other fields, as well as at campuses in major cities across the United States. Pace University has two campuses in New York City, and one in nearby Pleasantville.
The Center for Professional Studies at Pace University offers an online Paralegal Certificate program designed to develop students into career-ready professionals. Through an asynchronous delivery model, students gain working knowledge of important aspects of the paralegal field, including legal research and document preparation, legal process, correspondence, and substantive law topics.
Students prepare to pursue paralegal positions through gaining a balanced foundation of knowledge and skills relevant to paralegal practice.
Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
19. University of Texas at San Antonio–Extended Education
San Antonio, Texas
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a public university founded in 1969, enrolls nearly 29,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university holds membership with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
Extended Education at the University of Texas at San Antonio offers an online Paralegal Certificate program, which provides a thorough approach to the study of the paralegal profession. In three phases lasting a total of 11 months, the non-credit program prepares students to pursue paralegal careers.
The curriculum covers fundamental aspects of paralegal practice, including litigation, legal research, wills and probate, and criminal law and procedure.
The online Paralegal Certificate program consists of the following courses:
- Introduction to Law
- Legal Research
- Civil Litigation I
- Civil Litigation II
- Legal Writing
- Contracts and Business Organizations
- LexisNexis and ProDoc
- Family Law
- Wills and Probate
- Criminal Law and Procedure
The University of Texas at San Antonio is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
20. Franklin Pierce University–College of Graduate and Professional Studies
Rindge, New Hampshire
Franklin Pierce University, a private university founded in 1962, enrolls over 2,000 in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Named after the 14th president of the US, Franklin Pierce University combines a liberal arts foundation with professional education.
The College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Franklin Pierce University provides an online Paralegal Studies Certificate program designed to prepare students for entry into the paralegal profession. Emphasizing theoretical and critical thinking, alongside practical skills and knowledge in the field, the program develops in students a strong foundation to approach the practice of the paralegal profession.
The online Paralegal Studies Certificate program requires 30 credit hours for completion.
Franklin Pierce University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The Best Online Paralegal Associate Programs
Online Paralegal Studies Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following programs based on each program's academic quality and on school's courses, faculty, awards, and reputation. We also considered each school's reputation for providing high-quality online programs.
1. Clovis Community College
Clovis, New Mexico
Founded as a branch campus of Eastern New Mexico University in 1969, CCC first offered classes under its current name in 1980. CCC currently offers degree and certificate programs in more than 20 disciplines, including an online associate of applied science in paralegal and legal assistant studies.
CCC offers an online paralegal associate degree that presents comprehensive knowledge of the legal system. Students gain the competencies to work as legal assistants by studying legal writing and communication alongside specific subsets of the law. Learners complete coursework in criminal law, family law, and real estate law while building research and technical skills. Classes in criminal and civil procedures introduce students to legal processes common to legal professionals.
The online associate degree for legal assistants at CCC includes 66 credits that learners can complete in five semesters. Learners complete 15 credits of general education coursework and 11 credits in accounting, information systems, and government studies. Students also take 27 credits in legal studies and nine elective credits.
CCC’s online associate degree in paralegal studies prepares students for careers with private law firms, corporations, government agencies, and legal aid. The curriculum builds the competencies needed to investigate cases, interview clients, perform research, and draft legal documents. CCC also offers a 30-33 credit online paralegal certificate that learners can complete in two semesters.
Clovis Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Mountain Empire Community College
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
MECC in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, opened its doors in 1972 and currently offers general education, transfer, career, and technical programs to learners throughout Southwest Virginia and online.
MECC’s online paralegal studies associate degree includes 67 credits that learners can complete in two years. The paralegal studies curriculum prepares students for careers in a legal office, a government agency, or corporation by building organizational, analytical, ethical, and research skills.
Students study keyboarding, telephone techniques, and composition to develop communication competencies while learning about legal fundamentals. Coursework in business law, legal terminology, ethics for paralegals, and research accompany classes in real estate law, family law, and criminal law. Notable classes include legal research and writing, legal office procedures, and estate planning and probate.
Students complete coursework in trial preparation and legal transactions to gain an understanding of the legal processes and commercial principles associated with legal documentation. Learners also take classes in business, government studies, and information technology.
During the online associate of applied science degree in paralegal studies, learners earn eligibility to complete examinations for Microsoft Office specialist and legal office assistant certifications. The program also includes a coordinated internship for students to apply degree knowledge and train within a paralegal setting.
Mountain Empire Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Madisonville Community College
MCC provides comprehensive community college programs based on student-centered, innovative learning. A member of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, MCC offers associate degrees and diploma and certificate programs in more than 25 fields.
The online associate of applied science in paralegal technology at MCC includes 66 credits that students can complete in two years. The curriculum adheres to standards established by the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Descriptions of Certified Legal Assistant Exam sections. The program also contains embedded certificates in civil litigation, paralegal technology, and family law.
Students complete 21 credits of general education requirements before taking technical support and legal studies coursework. Technical support classes emphasize computer and digital literacy, criminal justice, and productivity software. Classes in legal studies focus on legal systems, processes, and terminology. Additional courses include law office management, legal writing, and wills and estates.
The online associate in paralegal technology builds competencies applicable to entry-level positions in private law firms, courts, trust departments at banks, corporate entities, and government agencies. The program also prepares learners to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Madisonville Community College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
4. University of Alaska Fairbanks
Founded in 1917, UAF features over 8,000 online and on-campus academic programs. Initially known as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, UAF formally took its current name in 1935. UAF boasts an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio in its 10 colleges and schools.
UAF’s online associate of applied science in paralegal studies program includes 61 credits that students can complete in two years. Approved by the American Bar Association, the degree requires learners to complete 10 credits of in-person coursework. Classes in practical paralegal skills, computers in the law office, advanced legal writing, and a paralegal internship all require on-campus attendance.
The paralegal studies curriculum builds a holistic understanding of the legal profession through courses such as constitutional law for paralegals, civil procedure, and paralegal ethics. Students choose from introductory courses in American government or justice, politics and the judicial process, ethics and society, or ethics and justice. Learners also complete coursework in torts, criminal law, family law, probate law, business organizations, and employment and administrative law.
The online paralegal associate degree prepares students for careers in private law offices; state, local, and federal agencies; and legal offices within large corporations. Learners gain the knowledge and skills required for conducting legal research, drafting legal documents, performing interviews, and investigating legal cases.
University of Alaska Fairbanks is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
5. Atlanta Technical College
ATC is one of 22 institutions within the Technical College System of Georgia. ATC offers associate degrees and diplomas and technical programs through four academic divisions. A member of the American Association for Paralegal Education, ATC offers a 69-credit online associate of applied science degree in paralegal studies.
Students can complete the program in six semesters, gaining competencies in preparing legal documents, applying legal concepts, conducting legal research, and composing legal arguments.
Learners take general education classes alongside 48-51 credits of occupational coursework. Students study computer literacy and law office management to develop organization and technical skills applicable to a legal office setting. Classes in subsets of law include criminal law and criminal procedures; contracts, commercial law, and business organizations; and wills, trusts, probate, and administration.
The program also emphasizes family and real estate law while training learners in legal research and writing. Students choose elective coursework from topics including bankruptcy, constitutional law, legal and policy issues in healthcare, and administrative laws. During a paralegal internship, students gain hands-on experience in a paralegal setting. Learners can complete a second internship as an elective to further enhance their training.
The online paralegal associate degree at ATC holds approval through the American Bar Association. In accordance with this approval, students must complete at least 10 credits of the program on campus.
Atlanta Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6. Community Care College
CCC operates alongside sister institutions, Clary Sage College and Oklahoma Technical College, as a private career college. Clary Sage College emphasizes cosmetology training, while Oklahoma Technical College provides programs in automotive, diesel, welding, and heating and cooling technologies.
Founded in 1995 to train dental assistants and other health-related professionals, CCC now offers degrees and programs in accounting, business and industry management, early childhood education, fitness and health, and paralegal studies.
CCC offers an online paralegal studies program that learners can complete in less than one year. The program trains students to work as paralegals, legal secretaries, and legal assistants through a curriculum that focuses on administrative tasks, research, writing, and client communication. Students learn to investigate and fact-check for legal cases, conduct regulatory and legal research, gather evidence and applicable documentation, and draft legal correspondence and documents. The program also prepares students to work alongside lawyers in a courtroom.
Students study American government and paralegal ethics to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role paralegals play in the legal system. Learners also explore criminal law, family law, real estate, wills, contracts, and torts.
Community Care College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and licensed by the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools (OBPVS).
7. Alexandria Technical & Community College
Located in Alexandria, ATCC is one of 37 institutions within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. ATCC offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs and provides workforce development and continuing education opportunities to businesses, industry professionals, and community members through its Customized Training Center.
The associate of applied science in paralegal studies at ATCC includes 63 credits that learners can complete in five semesters. Students gain fundamental knowledge in communication and legal procedures through coursework in keyboarding and word processing, technical writing, accounting, and legal office procedures and ethics.
Classes in critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and legal research for paralegals provide students with analytical skills. Additional coursework includes evidence and exhibit preparation and criminal procedures, business organization, and family law.
The evidence and exhibit preparation course focuses on investigation, evidence collection and presentation, and witness interviews. Criminal procedure, business organization, and family law coursework covers criminal procedures with a focus on Minnesota family and business law. The online paralegal associate degree also includes an internship that students complete during their final semester.
Alexandria Technical and Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Liberty University Online
Founded to train Champions for Christ in 1971, Liberty hosts more than 100,000 learners on its Liberty, Virginia campus and online. Liberty transitioned from Liberty Baptist College to its current moniker in 1985, the same year the institution began its distance learning program. Through 17 colleges and schools, Liberty offers more than 600 academic programs, 400 of which are online. Online learners benefit from Liberty’s 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Offered through Liberty’s School of Law, the online associate of arts degree in paralegal studies includes 60 credit hours that students can complete in two years. Learners complete 36-39 general education and foundational courses on topics such as communication, technological solutions and qualitative reasoning, and Christianity and its contexts. Major coursework comprises 21 hours and includes legal research, civil practice, and foundations of law.
The program also includes elective hours that students can use to tailor the program to their interests and goals. The associate degree in paralegal studies prepares learners to work alongside lawyers, certified public accountants, mediators, and other professionals within legal and administrative settings. Liberty’s program also builds the knowledge and skills needed for certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants and for continued study.
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Itawamba Community College
Based in Fulton, Mississippi, ICC hosts additional campuses in Tupelo and Beldon and online. ICC offers two degrees in paralegal studies: an online associate of applied science in paralegal technology and an associate of arts in general studies with a paralegal studies emphasis. The two-year associate of applied science degree in paralegal technology includes coursework in legal research, family law, legal writing, and legal communication.
Coursework in wills and estates, torts, real property, and family law introduce students to subsets of the legal field while providing information about legal principles and procedures. Students gain the analytical, communication, research, and technical skills needed to work alongside legal professionals. The program also includes an internship during which students apply learned concepts.
The online paralegal technology program prepares students for entry-level positions as paralegals and legal assistants in law firms, government agencies, and businesses. Students can complete the 61-62 credit program in two years.
ICC’s general studies associate degree with an emphasis in paralegal studies prepares students to pursue a four-year degree. Learners complete 60 credits in general studies coursework and 23-25 credits of major classes.
Itawamba Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
10. Holmes Community College
Holmes Community College began as an agricultural school and became Holmes Junior College in 1925. Holmes Community College provides associate degrees, certificates, workforce training, and high school equivalency preparation to more than 6,000 learners.
The associate in paralegal technology prepares students for careers in law firms, courtrooms, corporations, and government agencies. Students gain fundamental knowledge of laws and the legal system through a curriculum based on standards developed from the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Descriptions of Certified Paralegal Exam sections.
The online associate of applied science degree in paralegal technology introduces learners to legal principles and functions, research and ethics, and legal writing. Students can earn an online paralegal certificate in 30 credits and an online paralegal associate degree in 60-61 credits. Notable classes include civil litigation, contracts and business law, and bankruptcy law.
The civil litigation course emphasizes collecting and organizing materials for civil trials and appeals with a focus on the Mississippi court system. Contract and business law classes teach students to develop and interpret contract documents in accordance with the Uniform Commercial Code, while bankruptcy coursework focuses on federal bankruptcy statutes, chapters, and forms.
Holmes Community College’s online associate degree in paralegal technology includes a supervised internship for students to gain practical experience with a private law office, court, government agency, or business.
Holmes Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Southwestern Community College
Sylva, North Carolina
Based in Sylva, North Carolina, SCC became an independent institution in 1967 and began serving neighboring counties as the Southwestern Technical Institute during the same year. SCC now functions as one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, offering degree, diploma, and certificate programs in arts and sciences, career technologies, and health sciences.
SCC provides learners with more than 30 online associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs. The 67-credit online associate of applied science in paralegal technology prepares students to take the paralegal certification exam offered through the North Carolina State Bar. Learners build proficiencies in assisting other attorneys and lawyers with probate work, investigations, public records searches, legal documents, and office management. Students can complete the program in two years.
The curriculum builds competencies in substantive and procedural law with courses in criminal, civil, and family law and litigation. Learners also take classes in professional development, financial accounting, law office management and technology, and research and writing.
Notable classes include commercial law and elder law. Commercial law focuses on legal agreements and organizations as they relate to the Uniform Commercial Code. Elder law emphasizes legal issues related to older persons, covering healthcare decision-making, wills, powers of attorney, and financial and estate planning.
Southwestern Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
12. Drury University
As a private institution located in Springfield, Missouri, DU traces its origins to 1873. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Drury offers undergraduate, graduate, and continuing professional studies programs to almost 6,000 learners.
DU’s online associate of science in paralegal studies incorporates general education coursework with major classes to prepare students for careers in a variety of legal settings. Students complete 27 credits of general education courses in technology, research, and writing; communication and humanities; mathematics and natural sciences; and social sciences.
Major classes include 21 credits on topics such as interviewing and investigating, litigation, and law and legal reasoning. The interviewing and investigating class emphasizes the communication skills that paralegals need to assist lawyers in matters related to clients and witnesses. Litigation coursework focuses on Missouri and federal civil procedures, trial preparation, and post-trial matters. Law and legal reasoning classes review the roles of judges, juries, plaintiffs, and defendants.
The online paralegal associate degree at DU includes a professional practicum in a law office. Learners work with a practicing attorney to apply legal concepts to real-world legal situations.
Drury University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Hutchinson Community College
Founded in 1928, Hutchinson Community College began as a junior college with fewer than 200 students. After merging with a local vocational school in 1993, HCC grew to an institution that offers more than 75 programs to over 5,000 learners each semester. From its campus in Hutchinson, Kansas; locations in McPherson, Newton, and Fort Riley Air Force Base; and online, HCC boasts an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
HCC offers an online associate of applied science degree in paralegal studies to prepare learners for law-related careers. Students complete 64 credit hours of coursework that incorporates business skills, communication competencies, and legal knowledge. Notable classes include:
- Business law
- Law and the legal assistant
- Personal injury and civil wrongs
- Technical writing
The business law class introduces students to principles and processes of contracts, real and personal property, and sales and secured transactions by emphasizing the Uniform Commercial Code. Learners gain insights into future careers with the law and the legal assistant course which focuses on the tasks, responsibilities, and ethical framework used by legal assistants.
Personal injury and civil wrongs coursework provides knowledge of civil law and writing courses develop skills applicable to organizing, creating, and analyzing business and legal documents. Students also complete classes in business accounting, mathematics, and English grammar to further build skills necessary to thrive in a legal or corporate setting.
The online paralegal certificate at HCC includes 36 credit hours of comparable coursework. Learners study aspects of law, such as family law, criminal law, and business law while building writing, research, and professional skills. Programs include elective classes for students to tailor the curriculum to meet their individual needs and goals. Upon completion of the online paralegal associate degree, students may take the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) certification exam.
Accreditation: Hutchinson Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. Iowa Lakes Community College
Iowa Lakes Community College serves a five-county area in Iowa from its main campus in Estherville. With additional locations in Algona, Emmetsburg, Spencer, Spirit Lake, and online, ILCC grew out of the merger of several junior Iowa colleges in 1970. Currently, ILCC offers certificate, diploma, and associate programs to more than 2,300 learners.
The online associate of applied science paralegal and legal studies degree at ILCC comprises 70 credit hours. Learners complete the program in five semesters, gaining the knowledge and skills applicable to careers in law offices, corporate settings, and government agencies. The curriculum trains students to evaluate cases, perform legal research, prepare and organize legal documents, and assist attorneys as they prepare for trials and hearings.
ILCC's paralegal program includes fundamental classes in criminal law, family law, contract law, and business law. Students also study aspects of legal administration and communication through classes that include:
- Legal office software
- Legal writing
- Fundamentals of oral communication
Classes in the government, critical thinking, and mathematics for the liberal arts build analytical skills applicable to legal settings, while history and forensic chemistry classes offer insights into general and niche aspects of legal procedures and processes. Students complete optional classes in income tax accounting, employment law, and the American trial process to focus the curriculum on their personal and professional interests and goals. At the end of the program, learners complete a legal assistant practicum at a law office, legal services office, or other law-related agencies.
Accreditation: Iowa Lakes Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Keiser University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Established in 1977, Keiser University now offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs from 21 locations around the world, with its main campus in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Keiser emphasizes career-focus education in fields like culinary studies, criminal justice, fire science, and paralegal studies.
Keiser's online associate of arts degree in paralegal studies comprises 60 credit hours. Students complete 36 credit hours of general education courses in behavioral and social science, communications, economics, English, the humanities, mathematics, and natural science, alongside 24 major credit hours. Required classes include:
- Real property
- Civil litigation
Students learn fundamental real property concepts related to estates, concurrent ownership, and eminent domain while exploring legal instruments, such as mortgages, promissory notes, and deeds. Contract classes examine principles and processes related to the contract formation, interpretation, and enforcement, while civil litigation coursework assesses the court system, jurisdiction, motions, and civil trials and hearings. Learners also study criminal law, tort law, and family law. Coursework in legal research and writing trains students to research and analyze judicial opinions, statutory rules, and regulatory content as they apply them to legal facts and scenarios.
Keiser's online paralegal associate degree prepares students to work alongside attorneys in a legal office and in litigation procedures. Learners build communication, analytical, and technical skills appropriate for careers within the legal departments of businesses and corporations. The associate in paralegal studies functions as a terminal degree.
Accreditation: Keiser University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. Nassau Community College
Garden City, New York
From its main 225-acre campus in Garden City, New Jersey, Nassau Community College offers more than 80 degree and certificate programs. Founded in 1959, NCC opened its doors in 1960 as one of the institutions within the State University of New York System. Currently, NCC is the largest single-campus community college in New York.
NCC offers an associate of applied science and a certificate program in paralegal studies. Both programs are approved by the American Bar Association and require students to complete 10 credit hours of on-campus coursework.
The online associate in paralegal studies degree comprises 64-66 credit hours. Students complete the program in four semesters by completing required classes in business law, real property, litigation, and English composition. Additional major classes in law office management and legal research and writing build communication skills applicable to work in a law office, large legal firm, corporate law department, or comparable setting. The program also allows students to choose from several elective classes including:
- Elder law
- Partnerships and corporations
- Estates and administration
- Bankruptcy/debtor and creditor law
Students participate in a supervised practicum at a law firm or law-related entity to apply degree knowledge and gain real-world experience.
The online certificate in paralegal studies, designed for students with an associate or bachelor's degree, incorporates 24 credit hours of coursework in law and the legal system, legal research and writing, litigation, law office management, and real property. Within the curriculum, learners choose 12 credit hours of elective classes to meet their individual interests and goals.
Accreditation: Nassau Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
17. Eastern Kentucky University
Based in Richmond, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University hosts students at regional centers in Lancaster, Corbin, Manchester, and Hazard to fulfill its mission of providing quality instruction throughout the Commonwealth. Founded in 1906, EKU grew from a teaching institution to a school that now offers undergraduate and graduate degrees to almost 17,000 learners.
EKU's online associate degree in paralegal studies includes 64 credit hours. Learners must complete 10 credit hours of on-campus requirements. The curriculum blends academic and professional knowledge applicable to careers within law offices and firms, nonprofit organizations, corporate legal offices, and state and local government agencies. Upon completion of the degree, learners qualify to take the Certified Kentucky Paralegal Exam.
The online paralegal associate degree at EKU meets guidelines approved by the American Bar Association through classes that emphasize legal research and writing, litigation, legal administration, and legal practice and procedures. Students complete 37 credit hours of core coursework in:
- Administrative agency practice
- Paralegal evidence and trial skills
- Probate practice and procedure
Learners complete the 10-credit on-campus requirement in a two-week residency. Students can complete their residency all at once or split it up between two sessions. During residencies, learners apply degree knowledge and skills while networking with fellow students, working paralegals, and faculty. Students also receive career counseling and job search guidance.
Accreditation: Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Eastern Kentucky University's paralegal science program is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a charter member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAFPE).
18. Western Piedmont Community College
Morganton, North Carolina
Chartered by the North Carolina State Board of Education in 1964, Western Piedmont Community College functions as a member of the North Carolina Community College System. From it's 300-acre campus in Morganton, North Carolina, WPCC offers academic, career-technical, and continuing education programs to more than 7,000 students annually.
WPCC's online associate of applied science in paralegal technology includes 67 credit hours that full-time students can complete in two years. The curriculum integrates information on procedural and substantive law while building research, communication, administrative, and analytical skills. Students complete general education classes in writing, the humanities, and social and behavioral sciences with core required coursework in civil injuries, civil litigation, commercial law, family law, and real property. Additional required classes include:
- Criminal law and procedure
- Ethics and professionalism
- Medical evidence analysis
The criminal law and procedure course introduces students to fundamental criminal law while providing comprehensive understanding of trial processes, procedural rights, defenses, and state and federal crimes. Ethics and professionalism coursework emphasize the duties and responsibilities of paralegals in a legal setting, while the medical evidence analysis class builds competencies in reading and analyzing medical records as they relate to bodily injury and disability legal proceedings.
WPCC's online associate degree in paralegal technology prepares students to work within law offices, legal departments of businesses and corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. The paralegal technology associate degree at WPCC is recognized by the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification Board as a Qualified Paralegal Studies Program.
Accreditation: Western Piedmont Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
19. Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Community College, based in Tallahassee, Florida, boasts service centers in Gadsden and Wakulla counties and offers learners more than 70 degree and certificate programs. TCC's online offerings include an associate of applied science in paralegal studies.
Learners can complete the online associate of applied science in paralegal studies program at TCC in five semesters. The 64-credit curriculum builds competencies to enter a paralegal or legal assistant career or continue on toward a bachelor's degree. Students take 18 credit hours of general education requirements before beginning 46 credit hours of program coursework. Major classes include:
- Legal concepts of business
- The law of business
- Applied ethics seminar
- Law office procedures and management
With several classes on legal concepts of business and the law of business, TCC's associate degree in paralegal studies online emphasizes law as it relates to corporations, employment, administrative law, contracts, and ethics. The applied ethics seminar further emphasizes critical-thinking and the moral aspects of the legal profession. Students study daily decisions applicable to legal aspects of the criminal justice system, business, biomedicine, and communication. The law office procedure and management class focuses on the administrative aspects of paralegal duties, including communication, financial management, and organization.
Learners also develop legal research and writing skills as they study litigation procedures, family law, and real estate law. Students choose six credit hours of history classes and complete coursework in criminal law or computer applications for business. The program also includes an optional technology and professional programs internship for learners to gain practical experience in a legal setting through 150 hours of supervised experience.
Accreditation: Tallahassee Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
20. New River Community College
As a comprehensive community college based in Dublin, Virginia, New River Community College is one of the 23 schools in the Virginia Community College System. Established in 1959, NRCC moved from its original location in Radford to its current 100-acre campus in 1969. Currently, NRCC provides associate degree transfer programs, associate degrees in applied science, diplomas, certificates, and career studies certificates to more than 5,000 learners.
NRCC offers an associate of applied science degree in administrative support technology with a specialization in paralegal administrative support to learners seeking careers in the legal field. The online associate degree in paralegal administrative support prepares students to work as legal assistants for judges and attorneys, in courtrooms and corporations, with insurance companies, or with governmental agencies. The curriculum combines legal knowledge and skills with competencies for administrative communication, management, and organization applicable to an office setting. Learners also develop knowledge needed to continue on to a four-year degree.
Students can complete 65 credit hours in two years. Learners study keyboarding, word processing, records management, and computer applications alongside coursework in law office administration and management. Courses in legal topics include:
- Trial preparation and discovery practice
- Legal writing and research
The trial preparation and discovery practice class trains students to prepare trial notebooks, pretrial orders, and gather evidence. Learners also gain insights into using interrogatories, conducting interviews, and working with clients and witnesses. Legal writing and research coursework accompanies classes in business writing to build written communication skills and knowledge of proper legal document preparation.
Accreditation: New River Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
21. University of Northwestern Ohio
Founded as an entrepreneurial, private institution in 1920, the University of Northwestern Ohio houses five academic colleges. From its residential campus in Lima, Ohio, and online, UNOH offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs in business, applied technologies, healthcare administration, and management.
The online associate degree in legal assisting at UNOH includes 108 credit hours. The program incorporates business coursework alongside legal and administrative classes to prepare students for careers in legal, corporate, and government agency settings. Learners build critical thinking, organizational, research, communication, and interpersonal skills applicable to various roles within the field.
Students in UNOH's online legal assisting program complete 32 credit hours of general education coursework in communications, composition, mathematics, and social science. The curriculum includes 73 credit hours of technical and basic requirements. Notable classes include:
- Juvenile law
- Domestic relations
- Probate administration
- Automated research
UNOH's juvenile law class introduces students to legal concepts, such as paternity, parental rights and responsibilities, and juvenile criminal justice. Coursework in domestic relations prepares students to work with legal aspects of marriage, divorce, and family court pleadings and procedures. Probate administration coursework trains learners to plan, complete, and draft forms and documents necessary for wills, trusts, beneficiary, and estate legal matters. The course in automated research introduces students to computerized legal research techniques, emphasizing research in LexisNexis, Casemaker, and data collecting bodies provided through government and regulatory agency websites.
Additional classes in family law, contract law, real estate law, and litigation precede a legal capstone course during which students summarize and synthesize degree knowledge. Students complete the capstone class during their final quarter.
Accreditation: The University of Northwestern Ohio is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
22. Northwest Mississippi Community College
Northwest Mississippi Community College provides academic and career technical programs to an 11-county district of Mississippi from its main campus in Senatobia. Online learners benefit from Northwest's extensive distance learning opportunities. Founded in 1928 and one of 15 community and junior colleges in Mississippi, Northwest reaches more than 7,000 learners annually.
Northwest offers an online associate of applied science in paralegal technology to students looking to become legal assistants within law-related occupations. Students study
- Public and private law practice
- State, local, and federal regulations
- Insurance and corporate practices
- Legal research and writing.
Within the synchronous 61-credit-hour degree, learners earn several certificates. After 15 credit hours of classes in legal research, communication, and business aspects of the law, students can earn a law office assistant certificate. An additional 15 credit hours in family law, civil litigation, real property, legal writing, and wills and estates can result in a paralegal certificate. Students who complete 15 additional credit hours in criminal justice, document preparation and production, and approved electives can earn a technical certificate, while the remaining 15 or 16 hours of general studies classes in public speaking, humanities, natural and social sciences, and mathematics result in an associate degree.
Students complete the online associate degree in paralegal technology in two years, while individual certificates take 1-3 semesters.
Accreditation: Northwest Mississippi Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
23. Southern Utah University
Cedar City, Utah
Known as the University of the Parks due to its proximity to numerous national parks and partnerships with the National Park Service, Southern Utah University sits on a 130-acre campus in Cedar City, Utah. SUU offers over 10,000 students more than 150 degree and certificate programs through its six academic colleges.
As part of SUU's pre-law and paralegal program, the online associate degree in legal studies includes 59 credit hours. Students complete 32 credit hours of general education coursework to build creative and critical thinking, digital and information literacy, and ethical reasoning skills. Twelve hours of core classes introduce learners the procedural and substantive aspects of the law while building research, writing, and ethics competencies.
Learners complete 15 hours of elective classes, choosing from courses in:
- Legal interviewing, investigation, case prep
- Administrative law
- Business and corporate law
Coursework in legal interviewing, investigation, and case prep trains students in the strategies and techniques of interviewing witnesses and clients and explores how to prepare reports and other evidence for litigation. Administrative law introduces learners to statutory and regulatory procedures as they relate to administrative agencies, emphasizing government powers, due process, agency rulemaking, and record keeping. Business and corporate law focuses on state laws regulating corporations and partnerships while assessing distributions, litigations, and transactions related to law.
The program also includes an elective paralegal internship during which learners take part in a supervised practical at a law office or comparable legal facility. SUU's online paralegal associate degree prepares students for voluntary credentialing, such as the Certified Paralegal certification offered through the National Association of Legal Assistants.
Accreditation: Southern Utah University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
24. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Fergus Falls, Minnesota
As one of 37 colleges and universities within the Minnesota State System, Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers more than 80 academic and career technical programs. Based in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, M State boasts locations in Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, Wadena, and online. M State's online offerings include more than 300 courses and 25 degrees and certificates, including an online associate of applied science in paralegal studies.
M State's online paralegal associate degree builds critical thinking, communication, and research skills learners can apply toward careers with law firms, government agencies, court administration, and corporate entities. The 60-credit degree integrates classes in legal research and writing, business practices, and information technology with specific substantive aspects of the law. Required classes include:
- Civil law for paralegals
- Criminal law for paralegals
- Legal ethics for paralegals
Criminal law and civil law for paralegal courses emphasize the work paralegals carry out as it relates to criminal defense and prosecution and civil litigation, respectively. Legal ethics for paralegals covers professional obligations and moral guidelines for the legal field, with attention paid to regulations, ethical codes, and rules as they relate to paralegals.
Students also study human resource management, bookkeeping, public speaking, American government, and psychology to gain a holistic understanding of the legal system while building administrative and organizational skills. During the required paralegal internships, students apply concepts and principles from coursework to a professional setting under the supervision of a practicing lawyer.
M State holds an articulation agreement with Minnesota State University Moorhead for transfer into their four-year paralegal degree upon completion of the associate program.
Accreditation: Minnesota State Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
25. Remington College
Founded in 1987, Remington College boasts 16 campuses across the United States. Tasked with providing hands-on educational opportunities to learners of all kinds, Remington College incorporates practical skills, instructional excellence, and community building into all of its offerings. With no residential campuses, the nonprofit, nontraditional institution meets the needs of commuters and online learners through convenient and flexible healthcare, trade, business, health and beauty, technology, creative arts, and culinary programs.
Online programs at Remington College include diploma programs in medical office administration; associate degrees in database management and administration and restaurant, hospitality, and retail management; bachelor's degree completion programs in criminal justice and organizational management; and a master's degree in health information management.
Remington College also offers an online paralegal associate degree. The program includes 90 credit hours learners can complete in as little as 18 months. Remington College's paralegal curriculum combines introductory coursework in paralegal studies, research, writing, and ethics, with classes in substantive areas of the law, including coursework in:
- Real estate law
- Bankruptcy law
- Legal liability and ethics
The online associate degree in paralegal studies includes classes in computer applications, sociology, mathematics, and communication to build critical thinking and technical skills. Through 66 degree-specific credit hours and 24 hours of general education coursework, the paralegal program prepares students for careers assisting lawyers in legal offices and courtrooms alike. Learners also develop competencies applicable to positions with corporations and government agencies.
Accreditation: Remington College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
What is a Paralegal Certificate?
A paralegal certificate provides the basic qualifications for paralegal positions. These programs focus primarily on core concepts in the field. While some programs confer a non-credit paralegal certificate, others award credit that learners can apply toward an associate or bachelor's degree. Depending on the program, students can earn a paralegal certificate in as few as six months.
What is a Paralegal Associate Degree?
Students earning an associate in paralegal studies online complete major courses and general education requirements. Students in these two-year programs gain more foundational knowledge than learners in paralegal certificate programs. Associate coursework typically covers topics including English, communications, math, and foreign languages. Online paralegal associate degrees may offer concentration options and often include an internship or practicum experience, which may be optional or mandatory.
What Do Paralegals Do?
Paralegals help lawyers prepare solid cases. They gather information, conduct research on relevant laws and legal precedents, write reports, organize documents, and contact clients for interviews. While they assist lawyers, paralegals cannot perform acts that require a legal license, including offering legal advice and setting legal fees.
Generalist paralegals often work in small law firms. They must know about a variety of legal areas and prove adept at performing many tasks. Aspiring paralegals can also specialize in a certain area or pursue certification in a niche. Common specialization areas for paralegals include:
- Criminal defense
- Environmental law
- Estate planning and probate
- Family law
- Intellectual property
- Real estate
Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant
Law offices and professional organizations often use the terms "paralegal" and "legal assistant" interchangeably. Firms may use the term "legal assistant" to describe the nature of a paralegal's job, which includes assisting legal professionals with cases. Legal secretaries, on the other hand, have fewer responsibilities and more limitations than paralegals. Legal secretaries typically answer phone calls, manage front desks at law offices, and forward memos.
Salary Information for Paralegals
The salary of a paralegal depends on the professional's specialization area, experience level, and industry. According to PayScale, senior paralegals earn the highest salaries, averaging $69,485 per year, and litigation paralegals earn the lowest, with an average salary of $53,939 per year.
A paralegal's industry significantly impacts their earning potential. The BLS reports that the highest-paid paralegals work in the federal government, where they earn a median annual salary of $65,970.
(10-19 Years)(20+ years)
|Job Title||Average Salary|
|Intellectual Property Paralegal||$64,896|
|Job Title||Median Salary|
|Finance and Insurance||$60,730|
Becoming a Certified Paralegal
While the profession does not require certification, certification typically leads to more career opportunities for paralegals. Many employers require or prefer paralegals with professional certification. To become a certified paralegal, candidates must meet the educational requirements of the certifying organization and must pass one or more certification exams. Some associate programs feature curricula designed to meet certification standards.
Paralegal Certification Exams
Candidates for paralegal certifications must typically pass an exam, such as:
- The Paralegal Core Competencies Exam
- The Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant Exam
- The Professional Paralegal Exam
Choosing an Online Paralegal Studies Program
Educational outcomes and learning experience vary by program, so students pursuing an online paralegal associate degree should research their options before selecting a school. Because earning a college degree requires significant financial and time commitments, students should choose an accredited online paralegal associate degree that helps them achieve their career goals. Along with tuition rate, prospective students should consider the length, transfer policy, and average class size of each program. The list below includes crucial factors to consider when evaluating prospective schools.
- Program Cost: The cost of earning a degree depends on various factors. In-state learners often pay lower tuition rates than out-of-state students, and online students may save money on tuition, transportation, and housing. Part-time learners typically pay more overall, although their cost per semester may prove lower than that for full-time students.
- Transfer Policies: Regionally accredited institutions rarely accepts credits earned through nationally accredited schools. Learners planning to transfer to a four-year school after earning their associate degree should research prospective schools' transfer agreements and policies before enrolling. Additionally, students with previous academic or professional experience should look for schools with generous transfer policies or options to receive credit for work experience.
- School Size and Type: Some students prefer small class sizes, while others enjoy the resources and extracurricular activities available on larger campuses. Schools generally provide information about average class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios. Private schools typically offer smaller class sizes than public schools. However, private colleges tend to list higher tuition rates than public institutions.
- Program Length: Students planning to earn a certificate or an associate in paralegal studies online should consider each prospective program's length. Paralegal certificate programs generally take about six months to complete, and an online paralegal associate degree typically takes two years. Each student's program completion time depends on their personal situation and enrollment status. Part-time students typically take longer to graduate than full-time students.
- On-Campus Requirements: Students who take classes on campus must regularly commute to school. Learners considering on-campus or hybrid programs should ensure that they can fit these synchronous obligations into their schedule. Students pursuing on-campus learning should also choose a school with a reasonable commute or factor the cost of relocation into their budget.
Accreditation for Online Paralegal Programs
Though paralegals cannot receive certification from the American Bar Association (ABA), they can earn their education from ABA-approved programs. Because ABA requires programs to meet a difficult set of criteria, ABA approval demonstrates high quality. ABA-approved online paralegal programs must include at least 10 on-campus semester hours. Entirely online paralegal programs cannot receive ABA approval.
Based on input from legal professionals, corporations, government agencies, and local bar associations, ABA-approved programs feature curricula designed to prepare paralegals for the workforce. A degree from an ABA-approved program is an attractive credential for job seekers. Only about 25% of the country's paralegal associate and bachelor's programs hold ABA approval.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Paralegal Program Online?
Students can earn an online paralegal certificate in as few as six months. However, professionals with more education generally enjoy increased career opportunities. Completing a two-year associate or four-year bachelor's program can lead to more job options and higher earning potential. Some individuals earn a certificate and work in the field while pursuing a degree.
Courses in an Online Paralegal Certificate Program
- Essential Skills for Paralegals: This course introduces students to the legal field, including legal terminology. Learners study real legal cases and prepare to interview clients and identify different types of evidence. Students also learn how to use legal research tools and prepare summonses.
- The Legal Environment: Students learn basic skills necessary to work in law firms, including how to track billable hours and maintain client files. The course also covers the ABA rules of ethics, to which all attorneys must adhere. Students learn how to access state and federal court files using Lexis and Westlaw.
- Civil Litigation: Students explore legal theory and practical legal skills. The class covers the entire legal process involved in a civil case, including the client interview and the post-judgement. Students learn how to preserve evidence, draft pleadings, draft interrogatories and requests, create digests, and draft motions.
Courses in an Online Paralegal Associate Program
- Legal Systems and Terminology: This introductory course helps students gain basic skills, such as summarizing and analyzing court cases and filing cases in the court system. The class covers legal terms that attorneys and paralegals use every day. Students also learn how to access resources in a law library.
- Legal Ethics: Students learn about the ethical rules that apply to legal professionals. Coursework covers rules of professional conduct, conflicts of interest, and how to protect confidentiality. Students study the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct. They also learn how to appropriately use of electronic communications, including emails and social media.
- Legal Research and Writing: This course teaches students how to research statutes and analyze court decisions. Students learn how to use case digests to find state and federal cases. They also examine the proper format and language for legal documents. Students learn to write citations in accordance with the Washington Style Sheet and Uniform System of Citations.
Paralegals can join professional organizations that offer benefits including resources and networking opportunities. The list below includes some of the most respected professional organizations for paralegals.
- The National Association of Legal Assistants: Formed in 1975, NALA members include more than 18,000 paralegals. NALA offers professional certification exams, career training, networking opportunities, and resources for legal professionals.
- The American Bar Association: The American Bar Association includes more than 400,000 members, many of whom are paralegals. Founded in 1878, the ABA has a strong reputation for providing legal professionals with resources, publications, insurance, networking, and annual events.
- The National Federation of Paralegal Associations: Formed in 1974, NFPA represents more than 50 member associations and 9,000 individual members nationwide. NFPA members receive access to professional development, resources and publications, and networking events.
In addition to national organizations, such as those above, paralegal students and professionals should consider joining local associations. These organizations offer local connections and resources that can help members advance in the profession.