Best Online Paralegal Programs
Our higher education experts at BestColleges have ranked the best online paralegal studies out there. Continue reading to check out our list and learn more about what you can do with a bachelor's in paralegal studies.
Updated July 29, 2022
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.
www.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.
Ready to start your journey?
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.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Related Paralegal Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Programs
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Programs
Is a bachelor's in paralegal studies worth it?
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?
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?
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.
Feature Image: Tanya Constantine / Getty Images
Your Guide to Researching Online Programs
How to Save for College: 10 Essential Tips
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.
Compare your school options.
View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.