Best Online Paralegal Studies Programs of 2021

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September 21, 2021

Edited by Rebecca Long
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Paralegals and legal assistants work under the supervision of lawyers, performing legal research, organizing files, and drafting documents. They help lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, and corporate meetings.

Earning a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies requires four years of full-time study. During this time, students prepare to work as paralegals or legal assistants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the demand for paralegals and legal assistants will grow 12% between 2020 and 2030. Paralegals and legal assistants earned a median salary of $52,920 per year as of May 2020.

This guide covers what to expect from an online bachelor's program in paralegal studies, as well as what you can do with the degree after graduation. Read on to learn more about the best online paralegal studies programs and find out what makes different programs unique.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Program?

An online bachelor's in paralegal studies usually requires 120 credits. Both online and on-campus programs take about four years to complete for full-time learners. However, some schools offer accelerated or self-paced online programs that can be completed in as little as three years.

A good bachelor's in paralegal studies program produces graduates who are highly organized and possess effective communication skills. Other useful strengths include the ability to multitask, reading and research skills, strong attention to detail, and familiarity with computers.

In many cases, schools offer a bachelor's degree in legal studies with a concentration in paralegal studies rather than a bachelor's in paralegal studies. It can be difficult to find schools that offer concentrations within paralegal studies, although the University of Miami offers 14 paralegal concentration certificate programs in areas like immigration law, real estate law, business law, and intellectual property law.

Some schools award graduates a bachelor of science (BS) in legal studies or paralegal studies, while others offer a bachelor of arts (BA). A BS degree usually requires more math and science courses, while a BA requires more courses in the arts and humanities.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Program?

Introduction to Paralegal Studies

This course provides an introduction to United States law and the role of paralegals in the U.S. legal system. Covered topics include civil and criminal law systems, research and writing skills, and the organization of the state and federal courts.

Legal Ethics

In this course, students typically learn about the professional responsibilities for paralegals and lawyers. Covered topics include pro bono service, access to justice, lawyer-client relationships, conflicts of interest, and confidentiality.

Civil Litigation

This course covers civil procedure, appeals, pleadings, and evidence. Students learn how to perform legal research and other legal processes that are required by law offices and government employers.

Contracts

This course examines contract law, helping students understand what promises are enforceable under the law and why they are enforced. Coursework covers the basic doctrines, principles, and concepts of contract law.

Torts

This course examines the policies and methods used to recoup losses from harm to an individual's property, person, and other interests. Students learn the principles of tort claims and the defenses that can be used against them.

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What are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Program?

Admission requirements to a college or university are typically the same whether you plan to attend in person or online. However, these requirements vary by school. Some colleges may require you to have taken certain courses during high school, while others may only require a minimum GPA.

Application

While many colleges have their own applications, many also accept the Common Application. The Common App, as it is usually called, allows students to fill out one document and send it to multiple schools. It keeps track of what each school requires and helps students meet requirements for each institution.

Test Scores

Many schools require students to submit official test scores from college entrance exams like the ACT or SAT as part of the application. In addition to maintaining a score cutoff, many colleges use ACT and SAT scores for placement purposes.

Letters of Recommendation

Depending on the school, you may need to submit letters of recommendation when applying for admission to a bachelor's program in paralegal studies. You can ask your favorite high school teacher, your counselor, or your principal to write letters of recommendation if you are a current high school student or recent graduate. If you have been out of school for a while, you might want to ask your supervisor at work.

Essays

You may be required to write an essay as part of the college admissions process. Usually, this essay is around 500 words long and describes something you have overcome or accomplished. Although this essay is short, take your time and write the best essay you can. You may be able to reuse or repurpose your essay at multiple schools if they don't require an essay about a specific topic.

Official Transcripts

You must submit official transcripts from your high school as well as any colleges you have attended. If you are transferring from a community college or other school, your new school will evaluate your transcripts to see if you can receive credit for any of the classes you took previously.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Degree?

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, there were 345,600 jobs for paralegals and legal assistants in 2020. The BLS projects that the number of paralegal and legal assistant jobs will grow by 41,400 between 2020 and 2030. As such, paralegals should be in high demand.

Depending on your area and employer, the paralegal profession can be highly competitive. Candidates can improve their chances by taking the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam (PCCE) or the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) to become registered paralegals.

See where a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies can take you. Learn more about legal studies careers.

Career Paths

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants answer phones, perform basic bookkeeping, maintain files and databases, edit documents, and arrange staff meetings. They prepare invoices, memos, and reports. They also keep track of schedules and make appointments. They may manage the stockroom and order supplies.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $40,990


Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegals and legal assistants work under the supervision of lawyers. They investigate the facts of cases, conduct research on relevant laws, organize documents, gather evidence, and write reports. While only California regulates paralegals, paralegals in any state can take a test to become registered paralegals.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $52,920


Legal Analyst

A legal analyst assists a lawyer or legal team. Legal analysts typically hold bachelor's degrees and perform research related to the cases their firms handle. They may be required to travel, and they sometimes work long hours when assisting with big cases. They must have a good understanding of the law and the processes and procedures of the legal system.

Average Annual Salary (September 2021): $59,080


Office Manager

These professionals oversee various projects and employees and help make sure that operations in an office run efficiently. The communication, problem-solving, and organizational skills that individuals develop while earning a bachelor's in paralegal studies can prepare them for success as an office manager.

Average Annual Salary (September 2021): $49,350


Court, Municipal, or License Clerk

Court, municipal, or license clerks typically work for the government. They usually work for a court in the judicial branch and often need 1-3 years of clerical experience. They typically use word processing software and must be able to type quickly. Court clerks answer phones, receive mail and faxes, maintain files, and order supplies.

Average Annual Salary (September 2021): $44,600


Paralegal Studies Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

According to the BLS, 30% of professionals with a degree in law and legal studies went on to earn an advanced degree in 2018. Eleven percent of degree-holders in the field worked as lawyers, which requires a law degree. To practice law, professionals must also pass the bar exam.

Those who don't plan to practice law may pursue a master's degree in legal studies. This degree can prepare students for careers as financial examiners, emergency management directors, and forensic science technicians.

Individuals with bachelor's degrees in paralegal studies may opt to become registered paralegals to advance their careers. To do this, they can take either the PCCE or PACE.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Program?

Cost

When considering the price of an online bachelor's program in paralegal studies, you should keep the true cost of an online program in mind. This includes not just tuition, but also your housing costs and the cost of lost wages if you are unable to work while attending school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average total cost of one year at a four-year institution averaged $28,120 during the 2018-2019 academic year. However, some schools charge online students in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live, which can help them reduce costs.

Program Format

You should also consider whether the program delivers coursework synchronously or asynchronously. Some online programs require you to log in at specific times. If you want to keep working while you go to school, look for a part-time program that allows you to do your schoolwork in the evenings and on weekends. Accelerated programs allow you to finish your studies in less time than the typical four years required to complete a bachelor's degree.

Location

When choosing an online program, check to see if there are any on-campus requirements. If so, the school's location may be very important. Some programs may require in-person orientation, labs, or other in-person experiences. If there are no on-campus requirements, you will have a lot more flexibility.

Accreditation

College accreditation is the process by which institutions are evaluated by an accrediting organization to ensure that their instruction meets certain standards. When looking at schools, check to see whether they hold regional accreditation. Most colleges and universities accept transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. If you ever need to transfer to a different school, you may be able to get credit for classes you've already taken.

Student Support

Many schools offer tutoring, college mentorships, career services, alumni organizations, and internship services to online learners. Check to see what type of student services are available at the school you're planning to attend and think about whether they will meet your needs.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Programs

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Liberty University true View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers an online bachelor's in paralegal studies. Many paralegal roles only require applicants to hold an associate degree or professional certification. However, earning a bachelor's in paralegal studies has the potential to expand a graduate's career options.

Full-time degree-seekers can complete this online bachelor's in paralegal studies in less than four years. Alongside standard general education requirements, students complete paralegal courses such as foundations of law, criminal practice and procedures, and constitutional government.

Applicants to this online paralegal studies degree must have a high school or college GPA of at least 2.0 to gain unrestricted admission. Prospective learners must also submit all academic transcripts and provide proof of English proficiency. Liberty University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida Gulf Coast University true View School Profile Fort Myers, FL

Designed for students interested in various careers in the legal field, Florida Gulf Coast University offers a bachelor's in legal studies both in person and online. FGCU's bachelor's in legal studies is a practical choice for students pursuing an advanced law degree or a paralegal career.

This online program prioritizes soft skills like critical thinking and communication. It also offers foundational courses in torts, professional ethics, legal research, and writing. Degree-seekers must complete 48 credits of upper-level coursework, including constitutional criminal procedure, courtroom techniques, and introduction to law.

Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship experience. This program also prepares graduates to sit for paralegal studies and professional legal assisting certifications. Florida Gulf Coast University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Roger Williams University true View School Profile Bristol, RI

Based in Bristol, Rhode Island, Roger Williams University offers an American Bar Association-approved bachelor's in professional legal studies that students can complete entirely online. This online degree prepares students for various careers, including pharmaceutical paralegal, title examiner, and hospital legal support worker.

Students must complete 121 credits to graduate. The program uses both synchronous and asynchronous coursework. Required classes include introduction to law and legal studies, law in contemporary society, and criminal law for the paralegal. Online bachelor's in paralegal studies students also complete a semester-long internship and a justice studies capstone course.

Roger Williams University holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education.

William Woods University true View School Profile Fulton, MO

A Christian university founded in 1870, William Woods University is based in Fulton, Missouri. William Woods offers a 100% online bachelor's in paralegal studies backed by the American Association for Paralegal Education. Students complete their degrees via eight-week classes using a collaborative academic framework.

In addition to general education requirements, degree-seekers complete a 42-credit, 14-course academic sequence. Paralegal studies requirements include electronic legal research, probate and estate planning, and administrative and federal procedure. Before graduating, students also complete a hands-on capstone experience in a digital legal environment.

Prospective students must complete an online application and submit ACT or SAT scores. Additionally, applicants typically graduate from the top 50% of their high school class and hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. William Woods University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Mississippi College true View School Profile Clinton, MS

A Christian school based in Canton, Mississippi College delivers both an online and on-campus bachelor's in paralegal studies.

The online bachelor's program includes both general education requirements and major core classes. Major course requirements include introduction to law, law office management, and civil litigation. While online learners are exempt from college chapel requirements, all students complete at least six credits of Bible-focused coursework.

Program applicants must submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. To receive unrestricted admission, prospective students must have an ACT score of 18 or higher. Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Bay Path University View School Profile Longmeadow, MA

Bay Path University is based in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and offers a 100% online bachelor's in paralegal studies. This online program focuses on legal knowledge while also prioritizing technology, leadership, and communication skills to prepare students for various legal careers.

Through a partnership with the Western New England University School of Law, students interested in pursuing their law degree can apply to a program to begin law school during their senior year. Alongside general education requirements, degree-seekers complete core paralegal studies classes, including principles of litigation, computer-assisted legal research, and introduction to the American legal system.

In addition to institutional accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education, Bay Path's online bachelor's in paralegal studies holds programmatic accreditation from the American Bar Association.

Eastern Kentucky University View School Profile Richmond, KY

Richmond's Eastern Kentucky University offers an American Bar Association-approved bachelor's in paralegal science that students can earn entirely online. Students complete academic requirements both synchronously and asynchronously.

Degree-seekers complete a total of 120 credits of coursework. Core paralegal studies requirements include family law practice, criminal law practice and procedure, and legal administration and computer applications. Students with previous college experience can transfer in up to 90 credits.

First-year applicants must have a cumulative high school GPA of at least 2.5. EKU does not require standardized test scores but encourages prospective students to submit them to ensure appropriate placement in general education courses. EKU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College View School Profile Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College oversees a flexible, 100% online bachelor's in paralegal studies program. The college has been a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education since 1989. SMWC's liberal arts curriculum places paralegal studies within a larger academic framework, pulling from areas like history and political science.

Online students complete 120 credits before graduation, with 51 dedicated to paralegal studies. Required paralegal coursework includes topics such as introduction to professional legal studies, legal communication, and contracts and commercial transactions. In addition to online classes, students complete a hands-on, experiential legal practicum during their final year.

Applicants to this online bachelor's in paralegal studies program must submit official high school or college transcripts. SMWC reviews applications holistically, considering academic performance alongside extracurricular activities. Additionally, SMWC does not require standardized test scores. The college is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Providence View School Profile Great Falls, MT

The University of Providence — based in Great Falls, Montana — offers a flexible online bachelor's in legal studies prioritizing analytical thinking, communication skills, and legal research and writing. In addition to online coursework, some students take advantage of internship opportunities in professional legal settings.

Students complete a Christian-informed general education curriculum alongside major requirements. Standard paralegal coursework includes introduction to legal analysis, introduction to law, and litigation and trial practice. Degree-seekers choose between completing a legal capstone project or a legal assistance field experience.

The University of Providence has military partnerships with the Air Force and Army. Enlisted personnel have access to reduced tuition rates. The legal studies program holds accreditation from the American Bar Association and the university is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Stevenson University View School Profile Stevenson, MD

Stevenson University is a Maryland-based institution that offers a bachelor's in legal studies designed for students interested in paralegal or legal assistant careers. Degree-seekers complete coursework synchronously and asynchronously in eight-week sessions entirely online.

Students gain experience with legal research and writing, trial preparation, and litigation support. Learners can shape their elective courses to reflect academic specializations in legal areas like corporate law, litigation, and law office technology. Standard major requirements include classes such as torts, contract law, and estates and trusts.

Stevenson University's bachelor's in legal studies holds programmatic accreditation from the American Bar Association, and the school holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA

Regent University is home to an online undergraduate degree program in paralegal studies that combines practical and theoretical legal knowledge with a Christ-centered curriculum.

Of the 120 credits required for graduation, paralegal studies majors complete 36 credits of core requirements. Online students take various legal classes, including foundations of paralegal studies, introduction to judicial systems, and investigation in litigation. Students also gain experience in specific legal areas like contract, real estate, and family law.

Applicants to this online program must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective students should complete an online application and submit unofficial transcripts and proof of a government-issued ID. Regent University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Hampton University View School Profile Hampton, VA

Located in coastal Virginia, Hampton University is a historically Black university that offers an online bachelor's in paralegal studies. This program provides students with a solid liberal arts education while preparing them for careers in the legal field. It is structured for working adult learners.

Core major requirements include contemporary legal ethics, torts and personal injury, and litigation and trial practice. Before graduation, students complete a degree-culminating paralegal capstone internship at an approved location.

Prospective students must submit official high school and college transcripts along with a short essay outlining why they want to enroll. The university does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores. HU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

SUNY College of Technology at Canton View School Profile Canton, NY

Located in upstate New York, SUNY Canton is home to a 126-credit, 100% online bachelor's degree in legal studies. Designed for working students, this flexible degree allows participants to manage personal and professional obligations while completing their degree.

Core academic requirements include the American legal system, business law, professional legal writing, and communication. Students must either complete a legal studies internship or complete a senior capstone project during their last semester. Online learners can also take advantage of personal tutors and 24/7 academic and technical support.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit previous academic transcripts. Additionally, transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA to gain admission into the legal studies program. SUNY Canton holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Brandman University View School Profile Irvine, CA

Now known as Brandman University, Students in UMass Global's BA in legal studies, paralegal profession program can choose to study entirely online or follow a hybrid format. The program prepares learners to take the Paralegal CORE Competencies Exam and the NALA Certified Paralegal exam.

The program requires students to complete 42 general education credits, 45 core credits in legal topics, and 12 paralegal concentration credits. Students learn about contemporary legal issues, law practice management, and electronic discovery and legal technology.

Applicants must submit previous academic transcripts and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Applicants also need at least 12 transferable college credits. UMass Global holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Grand View University View School Profile Des Moines, IA

Grand View University — a Christian school based in Des Moines, Iowa — offers an online paralegal studies program. The flexible online format allows students to continue working while they pursue their degree. Students can also choose to take the program at an accelerated pace with classes meeting in the evenings and on weekends.

Concentrations within the paralegal studies program include criminal justice and business and human resource management. Students can also complete an internship in Des Moines; Washington, D.C.; or other locations as part of the program.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and college entrance exam scores are optional. GV holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Programs

Is a bachelor's in paralegal studies worth it? true

As reported by NCES, the average cost of attending one year at a four-year college was $28,120 during the 2018-2019 academic year. However, tuition and fees vary considerably among schools. Whether an online degree is worth it depends largely on the cost of your program and the salary you expect to earn after graduating. However, many graduates who earn a bachelor's in paralegal studies go on to find lucrative and fulfilling careers in the legal field.

What can I do with a bachelor's in paralegal studies? true

With a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies, you can become a corporate paralegal, discovery paralegal, or litigation paralegal. You can also become a legal analyst, legal assistant, or legal support specialist. You can also return to school and further your education. You could obtain a master's degree in legal studies or go to law school to become a lawyer.

Are paralegal studies majors in high demand? true

The demand for paralegals and legal assistants is growing. The BLS projects these jobs will grow 12% between 2020 and 2030, which would add more than 41,000 additional positions. Overall, legal occupations are projected to grow by 9%, which is on par with the average projected growth for all occupations in the U.S.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in paralegal studies?

Salaries for professionals with bachelor's degrees in paralegal studies vary depending on a person's career path. According to the BLS, the median salary for secretaries and administrative assistants was $40,990 as of May 2020. PayScale reports that legal analysts made an annual salary of about $59,000, as of September 2021. Graduates with degrees in paralegal studies who want to earn higher wages can consider going to law school and becoming lawyers.

What are the highest-paying jobs for individuals with a bachelor's in paralegal studies?

According to the BLS, paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $52,920 as of May 2020. However, paralegals working for the federal government tend to make more, with a median salary of $69,490.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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