Online Paralegal Degrees and Careers

THE DEGREE FINDER
Sponsored Schools

According to the BLS, job growth for paralegals continues to grow as fast as the average of all occupations.

Earning Your Paralegal Degree Online

Paralegals play a crucial role in supporting lawyers in a broad variety of tasks. Professionals trained in paralegal studies are responsible for conducting legal research, drafting documents, and organizing and filing briefs, appeals, and other case materials. According to the BLS, job growth for paralegals continues to grow as fast as the average of all occupations, as they take on “hybrid” roles previously filled by various law firm staff members. In some cases, paralegals can also be an affordable alternative to costly high-end legal services, performing entry-level legal services in place of lawyers whenever possible.

Earning an online paralegal degree can often help aspiring professionals earn job skills and enter this growing field quicker than through a traditional degree. Most paralegal jobs have minimal education requirements and optional certification, which means there are a large variety of online paralegal programs available to distance learners. Many schools offer online paralegal degree programs in an accelerated format and with no campus visits required, allowing students to complete their degree in less time and at a lower cost than traditional options.

The Best Online Paralegal Degree Programs

Rank School Student to
Faculty
Grad
Rate
Retention
Rate
Accept
Rate
Enroll
Rate
School
Aid Rate
Default
Rate
Description Cost Address School Logo Websites  
1

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

12 to 1 44% 75% 48% 68% 69% 17.8%

Keiser University, located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, offers an online paralegal associate degree that teaches students about legal practices in the United States. To earn an associate of arts in paralegal studies, students complete a 60-credit curriculum. The program helps develop writing and speaking, analytical, and technical skills. Coursework covers a variety of topics including legal research and writing, real property, family law, civil litigation, criminal law, torts law, contracts, and wills, trusts, and estates.

Coursework is divided into two sections: 36 credit hours of general education courses and 24 credit hours of paralegal courses. The program prepares students to work in law firms, businesses, corporations, civil and criminal practices, and for lawyers as a paralegal. Prospective students can opt to meet with an admissions advisor in person and make a campus visit.

N/A
1500 NW 49th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Program Page
2

Liberty University

18 to 1 24% 69% 22% 46% 66% 7.5%

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia offers an associate degree in paralegal studies that can be completed entirely online. The program teaches students the foundations of law and is comprised of 60 credits. Students take coursework related to communication; math, science, and technology; information literacy; critical thinking; Christian life and thought; and paralegal studies. Distance learners can take up to three credits of electives in addition to their required coursework. Paralegal courses cover topics that include legal research, legal writing, criminal practice and procedures, civil practice, and foundations of law.

Graduates of this program can go on to work as paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, and government workers. In order to gain admittance, applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and submit their high school diploma or GED certificate. Students in the program are able to transfer 45 credits from another institution, but at least 15 credits must be completed at Liberty University to graduate with an associate degree in paralegal studies.

N/A
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
Program Page
3

Drury University

19 to 1 31% 85% 74% 50% 58% 16%

Drury University in Springfield, Missouri has a paralegal associate degree program that is fully online and teaches students the fundamentals of American law. The program is comprised of 21 credits of paralegal courses and 41 credits of general education courses. Classes cover many topics, including legal writing, investigating and interviewing, constitutional law, litigation, and the American court systems.

The program has an internship requirement that gives students experience and exposure before they begin their career. For example, students can participate in a legal practicum where they work with a practicing attorney to learn how to apply legal concepts in a real-world law practice. Graduates of this program are qualified to work as paralegals in a wide range of legal practices and companies. To be admitted to online programs at Drury University, applicants must provide their high school transcripts or GED certificate.

N/A
900 N.Benton
Springfield, MO 65802-3791
Program Page
4

Eastern Kentucky University

15 to 1 13% 72% 73% 36% 58% 13.1%

Eastern Kentucky University in the city of Richmond has a program that offers an online associate degree in paralegal studies. This program teaches students how to understand law and legal practices in the United States. Coursework is completed entirely online, with the exception of 10 credit hours of an in-depth on-campus residency. Coursework covers a wide range of topics, including probate practice, computer applications, criminal law, legal administration, legal research and writing, and litigation.

The 64-credit curriculum is made up of 25 hours of general education requirements, 37 hours of core courses, and two hours of elective courses. The residency requirement connects students with practicing attorneys, judges, and paralegals. Students in the residency program also have access to the law library and courthouse vault. To gain admittance to Eastern Kentucky University, applicants must provide their high school transcripts (with a minimum 2.5 GPA) and ACT (with a minimum score of 20) or SAT (a minimum combined math and verbal score of 950) scores. Graduates can pursue employment at insurance companies, law offices and firms, nonprofit organizations, banks, and state and local government agencies.

N/A
521 Lancaster Ave
Richmond, KY 40475-3102
Program Page
5

Hodges University

15 to 1 14% 60% 74% 90% 76% 13.7%

Hodges University in Naples, Florida offers an associate degree in paralegal studies online that prepares students to work for a variety of law firms. Students in this program learn to conduct legal research, collect evidence, and prepare litigation. The curriculum covers a variety of courses, including civil procedure, legal ethics, legal research and writing, contracts, and criminal law and procedure.

Students can enroll and begin taking classes before any semester. Full-time students typically take three courses per term and complete the degree program in about two years. Graduates go on to gain employment at insurance companies; state, local, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and private law offices. Students also learn about the different specialties available to paralegals, including real estate, immigration, family law, bankruptcy, and intellectual property. To gain admittance to Hodges University, potential students must complete an interview and take a placement test.

N/A
2655 Northbrooke Drive
Naples, FL 34119-7932
Program Page
6

Alexandria Technical & Community College

23 to 1 55% 72% 100% N/A 41% 11.5%

Alexandria Technical & Community College in Alexandria, Minnesota offers a paralegal online associate degree that prepares students to perform legal work under an attorney’s direct supervision. This program provides students with extensive training in preparing and handling legal documents and legal correspondence, legal ethics, and trial preparation. Coursework covers a variety of topics, including criminal procedures, family law, estates and probate, and bankruptcy.

Students in the program learn about relevant computer applications, such as how to use databases, word processing software, spreadsheets, and presentation software. Advanced paralegal courses are available to students with an overall GPA of 2.5 or higher. Graduates can pursue work as paralegals, legal assistants, bankruptcy analysts, title company closers, credit investigators, property specialists, or senior court clerks. The college also offers job searching resources to distance learners. Transfer students are widely accepted at Alexandria Technical & Community College; Minnesota Transfer Curriculum classes transfer over immediately, while other classes are evaluated on an individual basis.

N/A
1601 Jefferson Streeet
Alexandria, MN 56308
Program Page
7

Calumet College of Saint Joseph

11 to 1 23% 58% 34% 70% 57% 16.3%

Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Whiting, Indiana offers an online criminal justice associate program for students interested in pursuing work as a paralegal. The program has concentrations in probation, parole, and courts; forensic science; and pre-law or professional studies. Students interested in a paralegal career should enroll in the pre-law or professional studies concentration. Curriculum covers a variety of topics, such as deviant behavior, interviewing techniques, criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminology.

To graduate from this program, students must complete an internship and a senior seminar in criminal justice. The internship lets students see first-hand what it is like to work in local, state, and federal law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. The senior seminar is a capstone course where students create a presentation, highlighting what they learned during the program. To be admitted, potential students must provide their high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

N/A
2400 New York Ave
Whiting, IN 46394
Program Page
8

Hutchinson Community College

15 to 1 29% 60% 100% N/A 22% 7%

Students enrolled at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas can pursue a paralegal associate degree online. This 64-credit program includes general education requirements that cover fundamental topics such as word processing, business mathematics, technical writing, microcomputer applications, and small business accounting. The curriculum also teaches paralegal-specific topics, such as litigation, family law, personal injury and civil wrongs, human relations, law and the legal assistant, and legal research and writing.

Graduates can find employment in private law firms, public institutions, the government, and corporations. The program ensures students can perform legal research, review and produce legal documents, and meet with company executives. There are also some scholarship opportunities for paralegal students at Hutchinson Community College; an advisor can help individuals identify and apply for these awards.

N/A
1300 N Plum St
Hutchinson, KS 67501
Program Page
9

Southern Utah University

18 to 1 20% 66% 61% 23% 34% 6.3%

Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah has an online paralegal associate degree program for students that prepares them for careers in the legal system. The program teaches distance learners how to conduct client interviews; locate and interview witnesses; conduct and complete legal research; create legal documents, pleadings, and correspondence; and summarize testimonies and depositions. The curriculum covers a range of topics, including criminal law and procedure, torts law, real estate and property law, and case preparation.

To graduate from this program, students must also complete a paralegal internship. During this internship, students learn directly from professional paralegals and licensed attorneys in a multitude of settings, including government agencies, law firms, and/or corporations. This internship experience boosts a student’s academic and professional resume, helping to set them apart from their peers.

N/A
351 West University Blvd
Cedar City, UT 84720
Program Page
10

Madisonville Community College

14 to 1 30% 70% 100% N/A 21% 18%

Madisonville Community College in Kentucky offers students an associate degree in paralegal studies, preparing individuals for entry-level paralegal careers at corporations, law firms, courts, and government agencies. The curriculum is comprised of 66 credits, including 21 credits of general education requirements, nine credits of technical support courses, and 36 credits of paralegal courses. The program is typically completed in two years by full-time students.

Graduates can find employment as paralegals in a variety of settings. Additionally, students interested in continuing their education beyond an associate degree can transfer their degree and completed credits to a number of universities. The career services center at the college is available to distance learners and offers job placement assistance. The paralegal studies program is fully online and completed through the Blackboard learning management system. To successfully graduate, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

N/A
2000 College Drive
Madisonville, KY 42431
Program Page
11

Southwestern Community College

15 to 1 32% 65% 100% N/A 12% 14.9%

Southwestern Community College in Sylva, North Carolina has an associate degree in paralegal studies online program that prepares students to perform legal tasks and assist with legal work. Students learn the fundamentals of law to understand the United States legal system. The 71-credit curriculum covers a variety of topics, including legal research and writing, case analysis and reasoning, professional research and reporting, criminal law and procedure, and administrative law.

The program is completed mostly online, with the exception of a work-based learning requirement that provides students with exposure to work in the field at a college-approved location. Graduates typically seek employment as paralegals and legal assistants where they help attorneys with investigations, public record searches, creating and filing legal documents, probate work, and office management. Graduates are also eligible to take the paralegal certification exam.

N/A
447 College Dr
Sylva, NC 28779
Program Page
12

Atlanta Technical College

16 to 1 24% 56% 100% N/A 60% N/A

Atlanta Technical College offers an online associate degree in paralegal studies that prepares students for successful paralegal careers in a variety of settings. Students learn to conduct legal research, deliver legal arguments, produce legal documents, and use appropriate and proper legal terminology during written and verbal communication. The 69-credit hour curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including computer literacy, law office management, law and ethics, legal and policy issues in health care, and constitutional law.

The program also requires students to complete an internship as part of their graduation requirements. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with hands-on experience, enabling them to apply the information they learned in their courses and see how these skills translate into the field. The program length is six semesters, which is typically completed within two years by full-time students. To graduate, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

N/A
1560 Metropolitan Pkwy SW
Atlanta, GA 30310-4446
Program Page
13

Community Care College

30 to 1 65% 71% 100% N/A 73% 17.6%

Community Care College in Tulsa, Oklahoma offers students a paralegal associate degree that is 100% online. Students can access their instructors by phone, text, email, chat, Skype, and in-person. The curriculum for this program is created and taught by a licensed attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School. Coursework encompasses a variety of topics, including real estate law, family law, paralegal ethics, American government, and legal writing and research.

The program is accelerated and can be completed in less than a year. Students learn to research laws, regulations, and legal articles; organize legal documents; use electronic filing systems; prepare cases and evidence for attorneys to review; help lawyers prepare for trials by writing summaries and reports; collect affidavits and statements to be used in court; and conduct client interviews. Graduates can pursue employment as paralegals and legal assistants who help and support lawyers.

N/A
4242 South Sheridan
Tulsa, OK 74145
Program Page
14

Kansas City Kansas Community College

13 to 1 20% 57% 100% N/A 27% 13.5%

Kansas City Kansas Community College offers students a paralegal online associate degree that teaches learners how to perform detailed legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. This program can be completed entirely online, except for an internship requirement; however, the college also offers on-campus and hybrid options to students. Distance learners must complete 69 credits to graduate from the program, including 25 general education credits and 44 technical credits. The curriculum covers a range of topics, including criminal law for the paralegal, litigation, legal interviewing and investigation, and microcomputer business software.

The internship required for graduation provides students with exposure to their field and gives them hands-on experience. Students interested in getting more experience in the form of administrative work also have access to career training at the school’s technical education center.

N/A
7250 State Ave
Kansas City, KS 66112
Program Page
15

University of Northwestern Ohio

26 to 1 26% 62% 100% 35% 76% 16.4%

The University of Northwestern Ohio in the city of Lima offers a legal assistant associate degree online to students interested in learning about American law and procedures. The university boasts an impressive employment rate for its students, with 96% of legal assistant graduates going on to find employment or continue their education. The curriculum covers a variety of legal topics including juvenile law, real estate law, criminal law, legal ethics, and legal research and writing. In addition to coursework, students attend criminal court and participate in hearings. Students can also access the law library to better understand legal research and procedures.

The legal assistant program at the University of Northwestern Ohio is part of the university's occupational professions division and places a strong focus on the employment students gain after graduation. Graduates can begin careers as legal assistants, paralegals, and legal secretaries in local, state, and federal government agencies; corporations; private law firms; and insurance companies.

N/A
1441 N Cable Rd
Lima, OH 45805
Program Page
16

Mountain Empire Community College

24 to 1 29% 62% 100% N/A N/A N/A

Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia offers a paralegal associate degree online to distance learners interested in finding work as paralegals or legal assistants. The courses in this program prepare students to produce and organize legal documents, conduct legal research and writing, collect and organize evidence, prepare summaries and reports for attorneys before court, and take notes during court hearings. The curriculum covers a range of topics, including legal terminology, ethics for the paralegal, U.S. government, and customer service.

The courses in this program also offer certification options for students. Individuals who complete the word processing course are eligible to take the Microsoft Office Specialist Word Core Exam. Additionally, students who complete all of the coursework in this program can earn a legal office assisting certificate, and students enrolled in the legal internship course are eligible for career readiness certifications.

N/A
3441 Mountain Empire Road
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
Program Page
17

Lake Superior College

22 to 1 29% 57% 100% N/A 44% 14.7%

Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota has an online paralegal associate degree. Graduates of this program are prepared to work as paralegals or legal assistants, preparing documents, collecting evidence, and conducting legal research for licensed attorneys. Students learn about proper legal terminology, the American legal system, methods for conducting interviews and investigations with clients and witnesses, state and federal court procedures and rules, and ethical obligations for attorneys and paralegals. The program is comprised of 60 credits, which cover a variety of topics including business communications, civil litigation, legal document processing, and computers in the law office.

The program also has a paralegal capstone component, which requires students to put together a presentation to demonstrate their learned skills. This program is typically completed in two years. Graduates are prepared for careers as judicial assistants, probate paralegals, legal assistants, and real estate paralegals.

N/A
2101 Trinity Rd
Duluth, MN 55811-3399
Program Page
18

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

21 to 1 32% 57% 100% N/A 51% 16.7%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, located in the city of Fergus Falls, has a paralegal associate degree program for students interested in learning the fundamentals of American law. The program is offered online and trains students about different facets of law and legal research and writing. The 60-credit curriculum covers an array of topics, including family law, legal research and writing, civil law for paralegals, criminal law for paralegals, legal ethics for the paralegal, and wills, trusts, and probate.

The program focuses on communication and critical thinking skills, teaching students to apply their coursework to real-world situations. Graduates are prepared to find work in nonprofit organizations, legal firms, corporate offices, and government organizations. Minnesota State Community and Technical College also has an articulation agreement with Minnesota State University Moorhead, allowing students to easily transfer into Moorhead’s four-year paralegal degree program.

N/A
1414 College Way
Fergus Falls, MN 56537-1000
Program Page
19

Massachusetts Bay Community College

18 to 1 14% 62% 100% N/A 19% 12.2%

Massachusetts Bay Community College in the city of Wellesley Hills offers an online associate degree in paralegal studies. The curriculum is comprised of 63 credits with business, liberal arts, and legal course requirements. Students also engage in hands-on experience at a law firm. Courses cover a variety of topics, including microcomputer applications, critical thinking, principles of business law, litigation for paralegals, legal research and writing, financial accounting, and statistics.

The coursework includes a number of elective options, allowing students to tailor their degree program to better fit their interests. Students also gain hands-on training with the online research methods used by attorneys in law offices around the country. The required law firm experience shows students what types of legal issues they will encounter after graduation and what is expected of paralegals

N/A
50 Oakland St
Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-5399
Program Page
20

Laramie County Community College

15 to 1 14% 57% 100% N/A 41% 16.2%

Students attending Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming can pursue an associate degree in paralegal studies online. This program teaches distance learners how to perform legal research and writing, interview clients and witnesses, and utilize the computer for research. Students develop their technical, analytical, communication, and critical thinking skills as they complete coursework. The 64-credit curriculum encompasses a number of topics, including law office management, business law, family law, real estate and property law, computer applications in the law, and probate practices and procedures.

The paralegal program also requires students to complete a paralegal internship. This internship provides students with real-world experience in their chosen field, allowing them to see first-hand how the skills they learn at school are used by paralegals.

N/A
1400 E College Dr
Cheyenne, WY 82007-3299
Program Page
21

Prince George's Community College

15 to 1 6% 60% 100% N/A 21% 14.7%

Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland offers a paralegal online associate degree to students interested in pursuing work as a paralegal or legal assistant. This is a career degree that allows distance learners to enter the workforce directly after graduation. Students learn to conduct legal research, interview clients and witnesses, work on alternative dispute resolution, and draft interrogatories, pleadings, and motions. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, including contracts, civil litigation, techniques of legal research, criminal and family law, criminal evidence and procedure, and state and local government.

Graduates can find work at corporations, government agencies, and private law firms. They can also do freelance work or work with an in-house attorney who needs assistance. Students interested in continuing their education can transfer credits earned at Prince George's Community College to a number of four-year universities.

N/A
301 Largo Rd
Largo, MD 20774-2199
Program Page
22

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

22 to 1 25% 63% 100% N/A 25% 20.2%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, in the community of Perkinston, offers a paralegal associate degree online to students interested in learning about legal research and writing, legal terminology, and American law. Graduates are prepared for employment as a paralegal or legal assistant. The 61-credit curriculum is comprised of a number of topics, including legal research, torts law, civil litigation, contracts and business law, criminal law and procedure, and public speaking. Students in this program can also pursue a concentration in gaming, which covers the gaming and hospitality industries.

Graduates are prepared to work at courts, corporations, private law firms, government agencies, and trust departments at banks. The program typically takes full-time students two years to complete. Some learners opt to transfer to a four-year university upon completion of this associate degree program; an academic advisor is available to help individuals determine which credits are eligible for transfer.

N/A
51 Main Street
Perkinston, MS 39573
Program Page
23

Holmes Community College

18 to 1 25% 58% 100% N/A 21% 21.6%

Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi offers an associate degree in paralegal studies for individuals interested in working with licensed attorneys as a paralegal or legal assistant. The 61-credit curriculum is comprised of general education requirements and paralegal courses. Students learn the skills and knowledge needed to succeed, including how to interview clients and witnesses, create legal documents, and organize evidence. Course material covers a range of topics, including family law, contracts, law office management, wills and estates, legal writing, and bankruptcy. All of the courses provide abbreviated lectures in the form of podcasts. Upon completion of the program, students earn a technical certificate and can pursue work as paralegals. Graduates of the program can gain employment at nonprofit organizations, private law offices, public institutions, corporations, insurance agencies, financial institutions, or government agencies.

N/A
#1 Hill St
Goodman, MS 39079
Program Page
24

Tallahassee Community College

24 to 1 33% 60% 100% N/A 40% 24.6%

Tallahassee Community College in Florida offers an online paralegal associate degree to students who want to pursue work as a paralegal or legal assistant. This program prepares students to either directly enter the workforce or continue their education and transfer to a bachelor's track in paralegal studies. The 64-credit curriculum at TCC covers a variety of topics, including legal concepts of business, legal research, litigation procedures, law office procedures and management, microcomputer applications for business, and applied ethics.

The program also requires students to complete a technology and professional programs internship, which provides students with hands-on learning in the field. In addition to gaining valuable insight and skills, this internship experience boosts a student’s professional resume and sets them apart from their peers after they enter the workforce.

N/A
444 Appleyard Dr
Tallahassee, FL 32304-2895
Program Page
25

Georgia Military College

25 to 1 27% 54% 100% N/A 75% 19.8%

Georgia Military College in the city of Milledgeville offers an online associate degree in paralegal studies to students interested in learning about American law, legal research and writing, and legal terminology. Courses help students develop their research, communication, computer, critical thinking, and organizational skills. The curriculum includes a variety of topics, such as law and ethics, family law, legal research and writing, torts and remedies, and alternative dispute resolution.

Students in this program learn to understand, prepare, and organize legal documents; develop plans for legal research; evaluate case law, statutory law, and constitutional law; and articulate philosophical principles involving jurisprudence. The program typically takes full-time students two years to complete. Graduates can gain employment as paralegals, legal assistants, or legal secretaries for nonprofit organizations, corporations, private law firms, and government agencies.

N/A
201 E Greene St
Milledgeville, GA 31061
Program Page

paralegal1

Job Outlook for Paralegal Graduates

Associate degrees in paralegal studies are the most common online degrees offered in this discipline; likewise this is typically the minimum education requirement for most jobs. While not mandatory, some employers may require or prefer additional certification–also available online at some schools. An online paralegal degree program or online paralegal certificate may offer intensive study in particular specialty, such as corporate or litigation paralegal studies. Students in this major may also focus on another particular area of concentration in this field, including personal injury, criminal law, bankruptcy, immigration law, or real estate, among many options. The majority of paralegals are employed by law firms, though many corporations are also expanding their paralegal teams to help cut costs. In any work environment, paralegal graduates with strong computer and database management skills should have the greatest job prospects in coming years.

Salaries for Paralegals, By Degree Type

Years of Experience Associate Bachelor’s
0-5 $32,000 $35,000
5-10 $40,000 $44,000
10-20 $46,000 $54,000
20+ $53,000 $63,000

Source: Payscale.com

Types of Paralegal Careers

Generally, all paralegals perform the same set of straightforward duties on the job, though there are a variety of legal settings in which paralegals operate. Qualified paralegals assisting lawyers in a particular concentration, such as corporate, criminal, or immigration law, are more desirable in that sector for their specialized skills. Professionals in these areas and many others are responsible for having a thorough understanding of their area of expertise for greater timeliness and efficiency when conducting research, filing documents, and interacting with clients. Most employers prefer at least one year of experience, either in a law firm or office setting or in the technical field of their choice. For example, a personal injury law firm may welcome paralegals with experience in the healthcare industry. Below are just some of the most common paralegal specializations:

Corporate

Corporate paralegals assist lawyers in preparing and maintaining legal documents, stock options, and financial reports on behalf of a company or corporation. They also keep corporate clients informed of current government regulations and legal requirements, as needed.

Litigation

Litigation paralegals assist attorneys in preparing for litigation, which can include maintaining and organization evidence for use at trial, drafting settlements, and more. They may also be responsible for coordinating logistics of the trial itself, including transportation of materials to and from the courtroom, reserving space for participants, and securing computers and/or presentation materials.

Personal Injury

Personal injury paralegals assist lawyers throughout the entire process of personal injury litigation, from the moment a client brings a case to the conclusion of a potential appeal. The most unique aspect of this specialization is the medical analysis, which requires lawyers and paralegals to be well-versed in medical terminology, medical billing practices, and characteristics of various common injuries.

Criminal

Paralegals working in criminal law may assist criminal defense attorneys or prosecutors in criminal cases. These professionals typically perform a wide variety of duties, from interviewing witnesses to filing and drafting paperwork to interacting with clients. Criminal law paralegals with advanced experience may seek an administrative or managerial role as opposed to providing entry-level case support.

Employee Benefits

Paralegals specializing in employee benefits are responsible for understanding labor laws, employer contracts, and benefits agreements. They typically assist lawyers in representing clients interested in investigating a possible labor-rights-violation or who may feel they were wrongfully terminated because of a benefits breach.

Immigration

Many immigration paralegals assist lawyers in government agencies, armed with a thorough understanding of immigration laws to help clients through both the citizenship and deportation processes. By law, immigration paralegals cannot “give advice,” but are needed to help research and obtain foreign documents, update clients on case progress, and even potentially translate numerous languages.

Family

Family law paralegals assist lawyers in matters involving families and the law, including child custody, divorce, adoption, social services, and tax and finance cases. Research for this specialty may include investigating income and lifestyles, or state adoption laws, as well as preparing petitions and other legal documents.

Real Estate

Real estate paralegals assist lawyers and may also work with real estate agents in participating in real estate cases, often including purchases, sales or short-sales, foreclosures, leases, and more. These professionals should be well-versed in taxes, titles, and real estate codes.

Types of Paralegal Degrees

Earning an online paralegal degree can help the right candidate to go far in this field. While a bachelor’s is typically considered the terminal degree for paralegals, some master’s degrees do exist, and there are a variety of specializations and job options available to students with any combination of education and legal experience. The table below lists the most common types of paralegal degree programs:

Degree Level Definition Possible Concentrations Median Annual Salary
Associate Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies General Paralegal Studies $28,750
Bachelor’s Bachelor of Science (BS) in Paralegal Studies General Paralegal Studies $66,250
Master’s Master of Science (MS) in Legal Studies or (MA) in Legal Studies Personal Injury, Litigation, Criminal Law, Corporate Law, Intellectual Property, Family Law, Immigration, Bankruptcy, Real Estate $32,681 – $66,553

Source: Payscale.com

Paralegal Certifications and Licensing

Certification is not required for paralegals in the workplace, though some employers may prefer or require it of their employees. Students who have completed an online paralegal program and who are seeking voluntary Certified Legal Assistant certification, for example, can obtain information about how to become certified in their state through The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS), or the National Federation of Paralegal Associates. In most cases, certification is pursued by professionals who also hold a degree in the field. The process requires students to pass a comprehensive competency exam in their state of practice.

Paralegal Scholarships

As a popular field of study among undergraduate students, a variety of paralegal scholarships are commonly offered at many schools that offer online paralegal certificates, and associate and master’s degrees in this discipline. With so many job possibilities available to qualified graduates of a paralegal program, there is no shortage of prospective employers, including law firms and government agencies, looking to support up-and-coming professionals in the field. Because the majority of associate and bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies provide broad, foundational curriculum, most scholarships for paralegal programs do not specify a concentration or area of specialization among the terms of the award. Below are just some of the scholarships available to students pursuing a traditional or paralegal online degree or online paralegal certificate:

GRCF Warner Norcross & Judd Law School Scholarship

See Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to students of color who are attending or planning to attend a paralegal or legal studies program. Applicants must be either a permanent resident of Michigan or attending a law school in the state.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 1
LivSecure Scholarship

See Scholarship
Each year, the LivSecure Scholarship awards two $500 (runners-up) scholarships and one $1000 scholarship to students in programs in law enforcement, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Applicants must submit an essay based on pointed question posed by LivSecure, as well as be a graduating high school senior or freshman/sophomore in college at the time of application.

  • Amount: $500 or $1000
  • Deadline: July 1
Thomson/Reuters Scholarship

See Scholarship
Awarded by the NFPA, this scholarship provides two scholarships in the amount of $2,000 and $3,000 for students pursuing an education in paralegal studies. Scholarships are awarded at the the NFPA Annual Convention in October each year. Applicants are not required to be a member of NFPA to apply.

  • Amount: $2,000 or $3,000
  • Deadline: July 1
LEX Scholarships

See Scholarship
This essay-based scholarship is awarded to as many as five students in a paralegal program, to be used for either part-time or full-time study in this field. Scholarships may be transferred from one school to another, and the program allows past recipients to re-apply for the award.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: January 15
Joy King Memorial Scholarship

See Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in a paralegal program (does not have to be ABA-approved) who has at least a 3.0 GPA and sufficiently answers all questions posed in the required “statement of interest” part of the application process.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: January 27
State Bar of Michigan – Paralegal/Legal Assistant Section Scholarship

See Scholarship
The composition-heavy application process for this award relies on both an essay and autobiographical statement, as well as submission of official transcripts and letters of recommendation. Awards are given to recipients who are Michigan residents or who are attending a Michigan school.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: June 1
North Carolina Paralegal Association Scholarships

See Scholarship
The North Carolina Paralegal Association offers two scholarships paralegal students each year; though the total amount of the award varies, recipients receive the full cost of tuition, fees, and books, or the cost of fees needed to take the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Certified Legal Assistant and Advanced Paralegal Certification exams.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies
Camille Stell Scholarship

See Scholarship
The Camille Stell Scholarship, awarded by North Carolina’s Raleigh-Wake Paralegal Association, goes to a recipient who is enrolled in a paralegal program in Wake County. The award is announced at the RWPA’s annual meeting in April of each year.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: February 28
Nancy McLaughlin Scholarship

See Scholarship
Sponsored by the Capital Area Paralegal Association in Texas, this scholarship is offered to two students per year and must be used within 12 months of the date of award. Recipients may apply funds toward a paralegal program at a Texas university, certification exam fees, paralegal courses and/or training fees (continuing education), or membership CAPA fees.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies
PACE and PCCE Scholarships

See Scholarship
Made possible by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, these scholarships are awarded to students who are members of the NFPA and are eligible to take the PACE or PCCE exam, and cover all costs related to taking the test in pursuit of professional certification.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: July 1

Paralegal Internships

Internships and externships are common for students in all sectors of paralegal studies, offering a way to gain invaluable industry experience, learn “real world” skills while immersed in a work environment, and make themselves indispensable to a potential employer. As with all internships, while both paid and unpaid paralegal internships are available, paid internship opportunities tend to be the most competitive.

Generally, internships do offer academic credit to paralegal students. Internships are available in a variety of specialized opportunities, including legal clinics, summer sessions, and pro bono projects, in an array of professional settings like courts, law offices, and community organizations, though the most popular type of internship is a judicial clerkship, which offers paralegal students the opportunity to experience the inner workings of trial and appellate courts. As a general rule of thumb, one can never have too much experience when it comes to applying for a job as a paralegal. A good online paralegal program will recommend that each student pursues their own internship experience. Below are some quick tips for choosing, landing, and maximizing an internship:

Professional Organizations

In a field that values practical experience and professional insight, paralegals stand to obtain unlimited benefits from joining a professional organization. The industry offers several governing organizations for professionals at every level, providing resources for entry-level job seekers, mid-career professionals, and others looking to continue to advance their legal skills as veterans in the industry. Professional organizations can offer internship opportunities, job referrals, networking events, certification opportunities, and continuing education coursework. Below are some of the most prominent professional organizations for aspiring and practicing paralegals:

Open Courseware

Open courseware can be especially beneficial to a paralegal student looking to gain experience from a variety of sources while earning an online paralegal certificate or completing an online paralegal program. Open courseware is often ideal for high school seniors looking to complete college-level prerequisites before enrolling in a higher learning program. The flexibility and affordability of open courseware also allows more experienced students to expand their scope of knowledge or explore a different course of paralegal studies. Additionally, a student in an entirely different area of academia who is interested in entering the world of legal studies can try out a course with no financial or professional obligation. Below are just some of the most notable open courseware options for paralegal students:

View Other Degree Rankings