The following is a list of the best online paralegal programs and schools and that we have researched and compiled:
Program: associate; bachelor
Tuition: $33,390 (associate); $55,780 (bachelor); $13,356 (certificate)
At Kaplan University, students can choose to earn either an Associate of Applied Science or a Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies, or can choose an Online Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate. The associate and bachelor programs include in-depth focus on legal terminology, research, legal writing, and law office management in order to prepare graduates to become vital members of a legal team. Students in these programs must complete 90 hours for an associate’s degree, 180 hours for a bachelor’s degree, or 36 hours for the postbaccalaureate certificate program, which is designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree. Students who choose to earn their paralegal degrees from Kaplan will receive instruction that includes individualized feedback, live seminars, and participation in discussion boards as well as valuable internship experience.
George Mason University
At George Mason University, students can complete an Online Paralegal Certificate program in only 14 weeks. This program is practice-oriented with a focus on areas in which paralegals are in the highest demand. Students who choose this program will benefit from guided instruction coupled with online interaction with professors and peers via discussion boards and email. The program is ideal for beginner and advanced paralegals alike and is based on the on-campus version of the program, which has been offered for over 27 years.
Students who choose to earn their education through Duke University can earn a certificate with only 156 hours of study. The program is self-paced and includes writing labs, using reference materials from all 50 states, studying texts and notes, and taking mock examinations. Each student at Duke is assigned an instructor who is an attorney in the United States. Students will work with the same instruction for the entire program. In addition, Duke Students have access to Westlaw and LexisNexis for legal research.
Eastern Kentucky University
Program: certificate; associate; bachelor
Tuition: $395/credit hour
Eastern Kentucky University offers students the chance to earn a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. The certificate program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field and can be completed in around 9 months of full-time study. Students who do not already hold a degree can choose to complete the associate’s degree program in around 21 months or a bachelor’s degree in 4 years of full-time study. All programs are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and are great choices for entry-level positions or for those wishing to pursue higher degrees in business or law.
Globe University/ Minnesota School of Business
Program: certificate; associate; bachelor
Tuition: $325/credit hour (full-time)
At Globe University, students have the choice between three levels of paralegal training. Classes are taught by experienced paralegals and attorneys and prepare students to meet the demands of an ever-changing legal environment. Depending upon the program chosen, students may choose from a variety of electives in such fields as accounting, medical terminology, cyber forensics, fraud examination, and more. Students may also receive real-world experience via an externship. Students who choose Globe University will receive exceptional support that includes job seeking support after graduation.
Why Become a Paralegal?
Getting paralegal training opens doors to multiple career fields. No matter how large or small your community is, there is a constant need for paralegal services in law firms, non-profit groups, and companies. This need also means that no matter where you wish to live, there will be job opportunities in this field.
Paralegals also can choose from multiple work environments. These specialized services are in demand in law offices, insurance companies, non-profit organizations, large corporations, educational facilities, and more. In addition, paralegals who have the proper credentials and certification can become self-employed, working as freelance service providers. One benefit of this option is that you are free to accept only assignment that fit your personal interests.
Paralegal training also offers other benefits. Since there are so many aspects to the legal field, the job is different nearly every day. This offers variety and high interest. Finally, those who plan to enter law school and become attorneys often choose to work as paralegals first to lay the foundation for their future career goals. Since paralegals are immersed in all aspects of the law, this experience can greatly help to ease the transition to law school at a later time.
How Do Online Paralegal Programs Work?
Students choosing online paralegal programs will receive the same content and experience as those in a traditional setting. Unlike traditional programs, however, online programs offer students the chance to complete studies and work on their own schedules, allowing students to work their current jobs and take care of family and responsibilities while earning an education. Most online programs include traditional textbook study along with online lectures and presentations and discussion board participation. In addition, many online programs provide ample opportunities for students to interact with peers and professors as well as access to online support services and resources.
How to Choose an Online Paralegal Program
There are many schools offering online paralegal programs, so how do you choose the one that is right for you? As with any decision, there are some guidelines to consider that will make the choice easier. First, look at specialization. The legal field is so broad that many firms choose to specialize and hire paralegals that have specialized training. If you have a particular area of the legal field in which you are strongly interested, look for a program that will offer training in that area by way of electives or additional degree paths.
It is also important to consider time and cost. Many students who choose online studies have busy schedules and limited budgets. Look for a school that will allow you to complete your training at a pace that fits your life and that allows you to complete your studies and enter the workforce as quickly as possible. It is also important to compare costs to find the best value for your tuition dollars. However, do not let time or cost be your only determining factor. When you have narrowed your choices, compare the content of the programs to ensure that you are receiving a full education that will prepare you fully for your new career.
Since you will be completing your program entirely online, research the technology used by your potential schools before making a decision. Do you have the requirements to access and use the program? Does the school make full use of technology to provide you with adequate resources and support? Is the format easy to understand and navigate? All of these factors can make a tremendous difference in the experience you will have in your online program.
Finally, consider the qualifications and reputation of the program. Are classes taught by instructors with real-world experience? Are the class sizes small enough to offer individualized attention? You may also wish to contact several attorneys to ask if they recognize the credentials offered by various schools to gauge the level of respectability your degree will hold.
Typical Courses in an Online Paralegal Program
Depending upon the school and the level of study, the courses you will take in an online paralegal program can vary greatly. At all levels, you can expect to study professional ethics, ethics in law, legal research, intellectual property, personal injury law, business law, family law, and legal writing and research. You may also take courses in business and law office management. In addition, you may be required to take basic education classes in English, mathematics, science, social studies, and more for many degrees. Finally, if you are taking a specialized path, you may be required to complete associate courses such as medical terminology, copyrights, and many others.