2020 Best Online Colleges for Paralegal Associate Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 1/29/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Certificate
Average Tuition: $22,979
Average Salary: $77,752

Paralegals are responsible for supporting lawyers by drafting legal documents, conducting research, completing administrative tasks, and preparing cases for trial. They have a deep understanding of the law, computer and database management, and administrative procedures. Paralegals are typically employed by corporate law firms or governmental law offices and have at least an associate’s degree or certificate in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in 2019, paralegals earned a median salary of $51,740 and employment is expected to grow faster than average. Paralegals are not required to be certified in any state; however, employer requirements may vary. Individuals can pursue an optional paralegal certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

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2020 Most Affordable Online Paralegal Associate Degrees

2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges Offering Associate Paralegal Degrees Badge

These 24 colleges offer the most affordable online paralegal associate degrees with tuitions under $11,000 per year. View our methodology for more details.

Eligibility for Paralegal Certification Exams:

  • NALA Certified Paralegal Exam: you are eligible if you have an associate degree in paralegal studies.
  • NFPA Paralegal Core Competency Exam: you are eligible if you have an associate degree in paralegal studies.
RankSchool Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Clovis Community College - NM $2,664
# 2 #2 Albany State University $3,255
# 3 #3 Hutchinson Community College $4,640
# 4 #4 Fox Valley Technical College $5,104
# 5 #5 Holmes Community College $5,180
# 6 #6 Northwest Mississippi Community College $5,400
# 7 #7 Lake Superior College $5,653
# 8 #8 Minnesota State Community and Technical College $5,968
# 9 #9 Iowa Lakes Community College $6,014
# 10 #10 Hinds Community College $6,250
# 11 #11 Alexandria Technical & Community College $6,368
# 12 #12 Rio Salado College $6,880
# 13 #13 University of Alaska Fairbanks $6,913
# 14 #14 Georgia Military College $7,110
# 15 #15 Kirkwood Community College $7,328
# 16 #16 Abraham Lincoln University $7,500
# 17 #17 American Public University System $8,100
# 18 #18 Cerro Coso Community College $8,250
# 19 #19 Western Piedmont Community College $8,576
# 20 #20 Mountain Empire Community College $8,823
# 21 #21 Grantham University $8,850
# 22 #22 Prince George's Community College $9,120
# 23 #23 Drury University $9,920
# 24 #24 Tompkins Cortland Community College $10,500

2020 Online Colleges Offering Paralegal Associate Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Clovis Community College - NM

  • Annual Tuition: $2,664
  • Locations: Clovis (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Students at Clovis Community College can complete an online Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assistant Studies that is designed to provide students a broad foundation in the fundamentals of a career in law. Areas of the discipline studied in the program include criminal law, real estate law, family law, and wills and estates. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the role of the paralegal in assisting attorneys and other legal professionals, including investigating facts and cases, performing legal research, interviewing witnesses and clients, and drafting pleas, motions, subpoenas, briefs, deposition notices, and other legal documents. The curriculum of the online paralegal associate degree program includes coursework in tort practice and procedure, criminal procedure, law office practice and procedure, bankruptcy, and litigation. The associate degree consists of 66 credit hours and can be completed in five semesters. Clovis Community College is an open admission institution that immediately admits applicants to the college upon completion of the application. Students are then assigned the appropriate academic level through their SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer scores, or by using their transcripts if they have previously studied at the college level. Interested students must have received their high school diploma or GED. Graduates of the program can go on to establish or advance a career in a law firm, private corporation, government agency, or legal aid service.

#2 Albany State University

  • Annual Tuition: $3,255
  • Locations: Albany (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assistant/Paralegal at Albany State University can be adapted to best meet each student’s educational and professional interests and goals. Students complete a minimum of 62 credit hours in core coursework and electives chosen from a diverse range of offerings in the discipline. The curriculum includes coursework in tort law, contract law, bankruptcy law, employment law, and criminal law and procedure. Albany State University does not require SAT or ACT stores or an application fee for admission consideration. Once accepted, students submit all academic transcripts to document an earned high school diploma or GED in addition to any college-level coursework previously completed. Students can begin their degree program in the spring, summer, or fall semesters. Online students are given access to resources that will aid them in their studies, including the online bookstore, the online writing center, study guide and research databases, and an online citation machine. Students are also given access to university career and development services for assistance and support in finding employment following completion of the program. Graduates of the online paralegal program leave well prepared and ready for a career as a legal secretary, court clerk, paralegal, or legal assistant in private and public law firms or government agencies.

#3 Hutchinson Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,640
  • Locations: Hutchinson (KS) (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal at Hutchinson Community College provides students the education, resources, and qualifications necessary to enter the paralegal profession. Through this 64-credit hour, fully online program, students learn how to most effectively assist attorneys in the role of the paralegal by gaining skills in office organization, legal research, file and record maintenance, and legal document preparation. The online paralegal program curriculum includes coursework in family law, legal ethics, litigation, technical writing, business law, and personal injury and civil wrongs. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and must provide transcripts of all secondary and post-secondary school work completed. Hutchinson provides online students with access to the college’s online library catalog and the many resources, academic and legal journals, and databases it houses. Graduates of the online paralegal associate degree are prepared and qualified to take the National Association of Legal Assistants examination to become a certified paralegal.

#4 Fox Valley Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,104
  • Locations: Appleton (WI) (and 5 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fox Valley Technical College offers an online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal that is designed to be accessible to all students with flexible admission requirements and transfer credit guidelines. Students completing the online paralegal program gain skillfulness in understanding and utilizing technical legal information, drafting and interpreting legal documents, and analyzing and resolving legal procedural problems. The curriculum of the online paralegal associate degree includes coursework in civil litigation procedures, legal research and writing, paralegal criminal procedures, and family law. Students also complete a paralegal internship during their program to gain the experience and understanding provided by working in a real law office setting. Students are eligible to enroll in the online paralegal associate degree program at Fox Valley through the completion of another associate or higher degree, a high school diploma with a GPA of 2.9 or higher, a score of 165 or higher on a GED, or the completion of the college’s Accuplacer assessment. The college accepts transfer credit from other colleges and also grants credit for knowledge and skills gained through related experience or employment. Students may enroll in the fall, spring, or summer and can choose to complete the program part- or full-time.

#5 Holmes Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,180
  • Locations: Goodman (MS)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology available at Holmes Community College offers a curriculum developed according to the National Association of Legal Assistants' Descriptions of Certified Paralegal Exam Sections. Students completing the 60-credit hour online associate paralegal degree program are instructed in legal research, torts, criminal procedure, and law office management. Students also gain practical experience in the legal profession through a paralegal internship completed at the end of the program. Once the online paralegal program is completed, graduates are prepared to become certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants and enter a career as a paralegal. Holmes Community College has an open admissions policy and requires only a high school diploma or GED for admission. Once students have provided all necessary academic transcripts, they may register for classes in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Both synchronous and asynchronous coursework is offered, providing students the level of flexibility best suited to their time and commitments. Online students have access to 24-hour technical support to assist with any issues for classes, exams, or assignments.

#6 Northwest Mississippi Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,400
  • Locations: Senatobia (MS)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology program at Northwest Mississippi Community College is a 60-credit program that can be completed fully online in two years. Students will learn the skills to begin careers as legal assistants or paralegals in law offices, corporations, or government agencies. This online paralegal associate degree program was created by local practicing legal professionals and attorneys. It is offered in an asynchronous online format for flexible study, though an internship is required in the final semester. Students can take electives in paralegal studies or criminal justice. Graduates of this online paralegal associate degree program can enter the job market in employment opportunities such as law firms, legal departments, insurance companies, title insurance firms, banks, and real estate development corporations. Students also can look in nonprofit organizations as well as federal state and local government agencies related to the legal field. Students fill out an online form, and a counselor will reach out with assistance in completing the application. Online students at Northwest Mississippi Community College have access to campus services, including tech support, academic advising, and academic support.

#7 Lake Superior College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,653
  • Locations: Duluth (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Lake Superior College offers both the Associate of Applied Science and the Associate of Science in paralegal studies. Both programs are offered online in an asynchronous format for flexible study. The curriculum covers the skills to pursue the field of law as a legal assistant or paralegal. Students will learn legal terminology, the principles and practices of the American legal system, state and federal court procedures, witness and client interview techniques, and research and legal writing. Both programs can be completed in two years; academic advising is available along the way. The Associate of Applied Science teaches students to be legal assistants, while the Associate of Science teaches students to become paralegals. To determine which program to apply to, students can talk to an online enrollment counselor. To apply to this online paralegal associate degree program, students can fill out an online application and submit their high school transcripts or proof of GED. Students can apply up to one year in advance of their start; sessions begin in fall, spring, and summer.

#8 Minnesota State Community and Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,968
  • Locations: Fergus Falls (MN) (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal program at Minnesota State Community and Technical College equips students with the skills necessary to pursue various jobs in the law profession. Students in this asynchronous online program will improve their critical thinking, analysis, writing, and research skills. Graduates pursue work as paralegals in a variety of settings, including law firms, government agencies, corporate law offices, and more. This program is 60 credits with courses in legal research and writing, civil and criminal law, wills and property law, and legal ethics. Students will also learn skills in accounting, computer technology, communications, and more. Student support services at Minnesota State include academic advising, disability services, online library resources, veteran services, and career development. This online paralegal associate degree program can be completed in two years or four semesters. To apply to this program, students must fill out an online application, submit an application fee, and send high school or college transcripts.

#9 Iowa Lakes Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $6,014
  • Locations: Estherville (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal/Legal Studies program at Iowa Lakes Community College teaches students the skills necessary to work as paralegals and legal assistants. It is a practical program that combines coursework with hands-on training in the legal field. Students will learn how to evaluate cases, conduct interviews with witnesses and clients, draft court pleadings and other legal documents, research legal documents, organize files, and complete other tasks to help attorneys in their preparation for cases. Students will have an internship in a law office where they will gain skills in drafting wills and lawsuits. This program can be completed in five terms with the fifth term dedicated to a two-credit practicum. Classes are online in an asynchronous format via Canvas, but there are strict deadlines for assignment and homework submissions, as well as quizzes, tests, and other assessments. Discussion boards take the place of live class discussion, and students have access to their instructors via email, as well as academic advisors and other on-campus services. To apply to this online paralegal associate degree program, students should fill out an online application and submit their high school transcript; an enrollment coach is available to discuss admission requirements.

#10 Hinds Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $6,250
  • Locations: Raymond (MS) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology program at Hinds Community College helps prepare students for entry-level positions as legal assistants or paralegals in a variety of legal settings. This two-year online program is taught in an asynchronous format for flexible study. It covers courses in the career and technical field as well as having an academic core and areas of concentration. Students who graduate this online paralegal associate degree program will be able to sit for national certification exams; transfer credit from other colleges may be accepted. Legal research and legal writing are the only two classes that are not offered online, though they are offered in the evening to make it convenient for working adults. Courses are taught by experienced faculty members, and students have access to a free job placement service. An online orientation gets students acclimated to the online classroom. Most classes are offered in an asynchronous format, although some live chat discussions may be available. To enroll, students should fill out the online application and submit their high school transcript or GED.

#11 Alexandria Technical & Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $6,368
  • Locations: Alexandria (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal program at Alexandria Technical and Community College is a practical program that prepares students to become legal assistants and paralegals working with attorneys in a variety of legal environments. Students will build skills in legal procedures and government policy. The online curriculum has a focus on civil litigation, criminal law, family law, business, real estate, estates and probates, intellectual property, and bankruptcy. Students will improve their skills in writing, research, communication, and more. The 63-credit program may be completed in four semesters; a fifth semester is required solely for a summer internship that provides valuable hands-on experience in the legal field. Online courses are offered in an asynchronous format. Scholarships are available to those students who qualify. Students have access to academic advisors as well as career services. To apply to this online paralegal associate degree program, students must submit an online application and send their transcripts from high school or college.

#12 Rio Salado College

  • Annual Tuition: $6,880
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Program at Rio Salado College is an online program that offers over 40 start dates, so students have control over when they begin their learning. The program is 64 credits and can be completed in five semesters by full-time students or in nine semesters by part-time students, offering even more flexibility for adult learners who are balancing work and other responsibilities with their career training. The online classes in this online paralegal associate degree program are flexible; Rio Salado uses a block calendar system, so students have flexibility in scheduling their courses each term. Classes are eight weeks long. Students have access to a variety of helpful campus resources, including success coaches, career and counseling services, disability services, technical support, library resources, and more. To apply to Rio Salado College, students must fill out an online application and have proof of high school graduation or GED.

#13 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Annual Tuition: $6,913
  • Locations: Fairbanks (AK) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a two-year program that is approved by the American Bar Association to prepare graduates for entry-level careers in legal services. The curriculum in this online paralegal associate degree program covers topics in legal research and writing, contracts, law and civil procedures, and legal ethics. Students will learn about criminal law, family law, employment law, probate law, torts, real estate law, as well as how technology is used in the law. The delivery of this program is both online and in class. Students can begin their programs in the fall, spring, or summer; they must connect with a program advisor so that they are taking the correct classes in the correct sequence. Students have access to services such as academic advising, tutoring and academic support, text support, and military and veteran services. To apply, students should visit the website to complete an online application form and upload transcripts from high school or college as applicable.

#14 Georgia Military College

  • Annual Tuition: $7,110
  • Locations: Milledgeville (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

At Georgia Military College, individuals seeking entry-level opportunities as legal assistants can get an education with the Associate of Arts or the Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. Graduates of both programs pursue work in law offices and government agencies in both the public and private sectors. Students will learn and practice their skills and critical thinking, research, writing, communication, and technology. The core curriculum of both online paralegal associate degree programs focuses on communication and quantitative skills and offers classes in the humanities, fine arts, natural sciences, math and technology, and in the social sciences; the paralegal studies concentration is 25 credits. The Associate of Arts core is 72-73 credits while the core for the Associate of Science is 65-69; admissions staff can help students know which option is right for them. Classes are taught in an asynchronous format so students can study wherever and whenever they please. Online students at Georgia Military College have staff members in admissions, academic advisement, and financial aid, as well as other campus resources, including library databases. To apply, students must submit an online application form with their high school transcripts or college transcripts if a transfer student.

#15 Kirkwood Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $7,328
  • Locations: Cedar Rapids (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies at Kirkwood Community College is an online program that can be completed in two years. While the AAS degree prepares students for entry-level positions in the legal services field, they may also transfer this credit into a four-year program if they complete the liberal arts program core at Kirkwood. Graduates of this online paralegal associate degree program have gone on to work as paralegals as well as continued on to law school. Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer and complete the program in four terms or two years; up to 12 credits of previously completed courses may be transferred. Classes are taught in an asynchronous self-paced format, so students have the flexibility for when and how they study. Students may take a three-credit internship as an elective for valuable hands-on experience in their fields. Academic advisors will help students ensure that they are taking the classes that will best fit their professional and academic interests; students have access to career advising and other services as well. Students may be eligible for the Kibbie Grant, which can pay half of their tuition. Applicants must fill out an online form and submit their high school or college transcripts.

#16 Abraham Lincoln University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: DEAC

The Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program at Abraham Lincoln University is suited for full-time working adults who need the flexibility to balance both professional and educational responsibilities. This online paralegal associate degree program focuses on the skills needed for entry-level jobs and career advancement in the fields of legal services. The AS is a 60-credit asynchronous online program that can be completed in two years. Graduates of the program have the credentials needed to sit for the National Association for Legal Assistants (NALA) certificate exam. Students have access to a variety of student services, including online legal databases and other research tools. In addition to the core in general education classes for this program, students can take electives in family law, office technology, immigration law, environmental law, intellectual property law, bankruptcy law, employment law, and education law. Students will increase their skills and written and oral communication as well as research, analysis, and computer skills. To apply, students must submit an online application along with their transcripts. Military and veteran support is available.

#17 American Public University System

  • Annual Tuition: $8,100
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program at the American Public University is a 60-credit program with monthly opportunities to begin classes. The online classes are offered an eight-week asynchronous program format for flexible study options. Students may transfer in up to 45 of the 60 credits needed for graduation. Students can complete the program in two years; a seminar in paralegal studies is required in the second year to complete the program. Graduates of the online paralegal associate degree program will have the necessary analytical, communication, and technical skills needed to pursue legal assistant and paralegal work in a variety of settings. Students will have the opportunity to gain a firm grasp of principles and litigation, ethics, real estate law, criminal law, and civil law; they will improve their legal research and writing skills for drafting legal documents and lawsuits. To apply to the American Public University System, students must submit an online application (there is no fee) along with their transcripts from high school or college.

#18 Cerro Coso Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,250
  • Locations: Ridgecrest (CA) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

The Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program at Cerro Coso Community College allows individuals to prepare for roles as legal assistants, paralegals, document preparers, and more. This program does not fulfill any certification requirements, but it can be used toward eventual certification. Students will gain the skills needed to work in specialty fields such as real estate, Social Security, criminal law, and constitutional law. The 60-credit program can be finished in four semesters. The program covers practical and theoretical education in the legal system as well as a liberal arts core. All classes are completed online in an asynchronous format. Students admitted to the online paralegal associate degree program at Cerro Coso will connect with an admissions counselor to determine which classes should be taken. Student services available to online students at Cerro Coso include counseling, military and veteran support, tutoring, career development, and library resources. Applicants should complete an online form and submit their application and transcript.

#19 Western Piedmont Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,576
  • Locations: Morganton (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Associate in Applied Sciences Paralegal Technology program at Western Piedmont Community College is offered online to allow for flexibility for adult learners. Students who graduate from this program will be prepared to enter the legal services field in private law firms, government agencies, insurance and finance firms, and other organizations in both the public and private sectors. Paralegal course work will include topics in civil litigation, research and writing, family law, wills, estates and trusts, commercial law, and real estate. A program advisor can help a student determine which classes in this online paralegal associate degree program to take each semester. The 67-credit program is offered in an asynchronous format and can be completed within two years. Online students at Western Piedmont have access to numerous campus services, including the academic success center, academic advising, library resources, tech support, and more. To apply, students must submit an online form and submit their high school or college transcripts; if a transfer student, placement tests may be required.

#20 Mountain Empire Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,823
  • Locations: Big Stone Gap (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies program at Mountain Empire Community College combines both the practical and theoretical aspects of the legal profession for those wishing to enter as paralegals or legal assistants. Students will be able to sit for the certification exams in the paralegal field. Graduates of the program will learn basic skills in communication, written correspondence, and computer proficiency and will be prepared to work in legal offices and government agencies. Students will learn the ethical principles of legal issues needed to work in law firms, banks and mortgage companies, and title insurance companies, as well as private and public corporations. Students can complete the 67-credit online program in two years. An internship opportunity is available to give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field. Online students at Mountain Empire Community College have access to student services, including academic advising. The distance learning courses are facilitated through the asynchronous platform Canvas, though some classes may require live online meetings. Prospective applicants must complete the Virginia Community College system online application to be considered for this online paralegal associate degree program. Students must be high school graduates or have GED. Assessments in reading, writing, and math may be required.

#21 Grantham University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,850
  • Locations: Kansas City (KS)
  • Accreditation: DEAC

The Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies at Grantham University prepares students to assist legal teams in corporate, government, and nonprofit legal settings. Students will learn how to research, analyze, interview, and investigate, as well as draft documents for attorneys. Students will study civil litigation, wills and trusts, and other topics in legal studies. The 60-credit program can be completed in two years by a full-time student. Courses begin monthly, so the program is ready for students to start whenever they are. Student support at Grantham University is available through career services, academic advising, and veteran and military support. A 24/7 virtual profile keeps students connected to their account information and coursework. The curriculum is offered an asynchronous format to offer flexibility; a capstone class is required for graduation. To apply to this online paralegal associate degree program at Grantham University, students must submit an online application along with official transcripts.

#22 Prince George's Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $9,120
  • Locations: Largo (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal/Legal Studies at Prince George's Community College provides students with the educational foundation to become legal assistants in a variety of settings. Students will learn the investigative and research techniques that are needed to gather information for court cases; they will learn how to use a law library for research, which includes both manual and digital methods, and they will improve their skills in writing, critical thinking, and analysis. Students will take classes in business law, mediation, civil litigation, employment law, and criminal evidence and procedure, among others. There is an opportunity to complete an internship for essential hands-on learning. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format allowing for the ultimate flexibility for study. Students have access to a career coach for helping them make a successful transition from program to employment. To apply, students must submit an online application along with their transcripts.

#23 Drury University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,920
  • Locations: Springfield (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies at Drury University is a 62-credit online program that can be completed within two years. This asynchronous online program is offered through the College of Continuing Professional Studies; students have a choice between five start dates. Students will learn the principles and practices of the law so they can pursue legal services firms as legal assistants and paralegals. The program has a general education core plus 21 credits, or seven classes, in paralegal studies. Topics in this online paralegal associate degree program include law and legal reasoning, legal research and writing, interviewing and investigating, litigation, tort law, and family law. A professional practicum is required to graduate and give students valuable hands-on experience to build their resumes. To apply, there is a simple online form, and students must submit transcripts from high school and college. Advisors are available by email and phone for support during the program.

#24 Tompkins Cortland Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Locations: Dryden (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal at Tompkins Cortland Community College is a 63-credit program offered in an asynchronous online format so that working students have the flexibility to complete their studies. The AAS has a vocational concentration allowing for students to get the practical experience as well as the classroom experience they need to enter the field of legal services. All classes are online except for an internship in a law office that will provide practical experience so they can pursue entry-level jobs in legal services. Students will study a variety of topics in the liberal arts and legal studies as well as legal research, drafting, real estate law, wills and estate planning, family law, civil litigation, and legal ethics and principles. Students may further specialize in their study by taking electives in criminal law, evidence, constitutional law, and bankruptcy law. Motivated students can accelerate their progress and graduate in fewer than two years. Students have access to tutoring and academic support during the program, as well as other services. To apply, students must have their high school diploma or GED and submit an online form.

Online Associate Degrees in Paralegal Overview

Online associate degrees in paralegal studies are great options for students looking to develop writing, research, and critical thinking skills which they can utilize in support roles at law firms and legal departments.

Program Requirements

Paralegal associate degrees offered by online schools usually take two years to complete and require 20 to 30 courses. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED and may need to provide high school transcripts for admission.

Curriculum

The paralegal studies curriculum at the associate level covers particular skills of the legal assistant, as well as the ins and outs of different applications of the law. Courses in legal terminology and legal research and writing teach students how to investigate pertinent laws and regulations; students also learn how to write legal correspondence and other documents. Litigation classes focus on the process of going to court and the paralegal’s role in preparing a case for the courtroom. Other common courses in the online paralegal associate degree cover particular areas of law, such as commercial law and real estate law. Business communication and legal office administration are other typical electives in these programs.

Many online associate programs will also include at least one course in English composition due to the writing-intensive nature of the paralegal profession. These classes focus on teaching students how to write clearly and effectively with correct grammar. Prospective students can also expect to take a class that is dedicated to legal research. Much of a paralegal's job will revolve around conducting research for attorneys, and associate degree courses in research will focus on navigating Internet resources and other legal databases.

Additionally, paralegal students are usually required to take a class in civil law, as this is one of the most common legal areas addressed in large law firms and corporations. Civil law courses include study of consumer rights and contracts, and knowledge of criminal law is also often beneficial to the work of legal assistants.

Beyond the traditional classes, some programs will offer students the opportunity to participate in an internship to gain practical experience in the legal field.

What Kind of Degree Do You Need to Become a Paralegal?

The minimum requirement for an entry-level paralegal job is typically a two-year associate degree. This is a great option for students ready to launch into the legal workforce. An associate degree gives students a basic foundation of paralegal skills including legal practices and research.

However, some law firms require a bachelor's degree for upper-level paralegal positions. A four-year bachelor's degree builds upon foundational knowledge with an emphasis on complex courtroom procedures and litigation and more opportunities to explore specializations and niche aspects of the field. A bachelor's degree can allow more time for students to recognize their specific legal interests.

Those who already have an undergraduate degree might decide to earn a certificate instead of an additional bachelor's degree. Certificates are specialized training that take anywhere from 6 months to a year to complete. While not required for employment, students who earn a certificate might be more appealing to prospective employers. Certificates can be obtained at any level of the educational process, whether students are pursuing graduate study or are starting out in the legal field. While not as common, there are also master's degrees offered for those who want to further advance their career. These degrees serve those working in highly targeted legal fields or for those who ultimately desire to teach paralegal studies.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.