Do you want to be a paralegal? Well, you have certainly picked a profession that is very rewarding and pays quite well to boot! Basically, being a paralegal means that you are the lawyer’s right-hand man (or woman). You will research and prepare cases for the lawyer who will present the facts in court, prepare documents and draft correspondence.
According to the BLS, as of May 2017, the average salary for a paralegal was approximately $50,410 annually, while the top 10 percent earned an average of $81,180 per year. On the low end, the bottom 10 percent earned an average of $31,130 annually.
When choosing a quality online paralegal program, look for an option that has been approved by the American Bar Association. This important accreditation means that the school has met the guidelines set forth by the ABA. There are many programs ABA approved and there is a list of these on their website at ABA Approved Law Schools, but the trick is to find an online option that is high ranking and is approved by the ABA.
OnlineSchoolsCenter.com chose not to list the schools in any particular order but instead chose to highlight the schools who offer the top Unrivaled Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs based on their outstanding introductory legal programs, all of which have their own unique qualities and strengths. Choosing the perfect online school to become a paralegal is tricky though… Our extensive research in paralegal studies will make the decision much easier on you!
This ranking was written according to the following points:
- Accreditation from the American Bar Association,
- 100% online or Hybrid program availability, offering flexibility and convenience,
- Transfer of credits into an online Bachelor’s degree program,
- Blends academic and professional coursework to prepare each student for an entry-level position as a Paralegal,
- Job placement services as a Paralegal,
- Hands-on practical applications as a Paralegal
- Prepares students for the Paralegal certification examination,
- Financial Aid options through Grants, Scholarships and Military Discounts, Tuition Work Programs,
- Online Support Systems and Learning Management Systems for Paralegals.
For more information, please see our Methodology page.
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
Online Associate of Paralegal Studies
About the program: The majority of the program is completed online but you will be required to visit the campus to complete a minimum of 10 credit hours which consists of two weeks of on-campus instruction. All of their full-time teaching staff is either Ph.D. or Juris Doctor and their part-time faculty are practicing judges, elected officials, and attorneys. In addition, the EKU’s paralegal program is a charter member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.
Campus Location: Richmond, KY
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education (USDE). Eastern Kentucky’s paralegal program is approved by the American Bar Association.
Program Standouts: Offers undergraduate certifications to complement your degree in specialty areas of law, focuses on legal research, writing, computer applications, family and criminal law, litigation and probate practices.
Degree Outcome: Eastern Kentucky’s paralegal program will prepare students for work as a legal assistant or a paralegal in a legal firm, state and local government office, non-profit organization, insurance agency, bank, or a legal consulting firm.
Learn more about Eastern Kentucky University’s ONLINE ASSOCIATE OF PARALEGAL STUDIES DEGREE PROGRAM
SAINT MARY OF THE WOODS COLLEGE
Online Associate of Paralegal Studies
About the Program: Setting a standard of excellence, Saint Mary of the Woods College’s paralegal program is one of the best! Through their flexible distance education program called Woods Online, you may have the flexibility of taking your courses online but, it is not completely online. Saint Mary of the Woods requires that ten hours of courses in legal specialties be taken on-campus as required by the American Bar Association.
Campus Location: Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Paralegal program is approved by the American Bar Association.
Program Standouts: Computer Basics in Law, Legal Research, Legal Law and Ethics, Criminal and Family Law, Crime Scene Investigation, Death and Taxes, an many more.
Degree Outcome: Graduation from Saint Mary’s paralegal program will prepare students for an entry-level position assisting lawyers; through preparing cases, using investigation techniques, conducting research and interviews, writing reports, preparing contracts, and preparing briefs and wills.
Learn more about Saint Mary of the Woods College’s ONLINE ASSOCIATE OF PARALEGAL STUDIES
Online of Justice Studies/Paralegals
About the Program: Rasmussen College consistently ranks highly with other rankings sites and offers an extensive curriculum including courses in Family Law, Legal Research, and Cyberspace and the Paralegal Profession. Their highly experienced faculty prepares you for the National Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal Exam.
Campus Location: Campuses located in 6 states
Accreditation: Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Standouts: Introduction to Law and the Legal System, Legal Analysis and Insight, Managing Legal Relationships and Law Office Technology, just to name a few.
Degree Outcome: Through your online associate degree program at Rasmussen College, you will develop important critical-thinking and strong writing skills to prepare you for introduction into the court system, government agencies, as well as, legal firms. You’ll be prepared to conduct research and construct legal documents for trials, hearings and corporate meetings.
Learn more about Rasmussen College’s ONLINE ASSOCIATE OF JUSTICE STUDIES/PARALEGALS DEGREE PROGRAM
Online AA in Paralegal Studies
About the Program: Taught and developed by practicing lawyers, Liberty’s Associate of Arts Paralegal program is top notch and they are dedicated to teaching you from firsthand knowledge what qualifies you for this career. Fifteen credit hours must be taken on-campus. Liberty is the largest, non-profit university and has more than 90,000 students worldwide that enjoy the flexibility of their online courses. Classes are taught by the on-campus faculty in a flexible, challenging and engaging virtual classroom format. With its high retention and graduation rates, Liberty is consistently ranked in the top 10 online colleges by Online Education Database.
Campus Location: Lynchburg, VA
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Program Standouts: Fundamentals of Law, Criminal Law and Court Procedures, and other pertinent paralegal skills, such as performing title searches. This program will adequately prepare you for earning your bachelor’s degree if desired and can be completed within two years.
Degree Outcome: Liberty University’s online Associate of Arts program in Paralegal Studies prepares their students for an entry-level position as a Legal Assistant, Government Worker, Legal Secretary, and of course, a Paralegal.
Learn more about Liberty University’s ONLINE ASSOCIATE OF ARTS (AA) PARALEGAL STUDIES DEGREE PROGRAM
AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
Online AS in Paralegal Studies
About the Program: Facilitated entirely online, the University’s Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies prepares career-motivated students with the opportunity to complete their degree entirely online and gain an in-depth understanding of the ins and outs of the paralegal profession. Instructors specialize in the field, so you can be assured that you are being taught by experienced professionals.
Campus Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Program Standouts: Introduction to Law for Paralegals, Legal Research and Writing, Legal Ethics, Litigation, Legal Research and Writing, and more.
Degree Outcome: American Public University System’s associate degree program in this field will prepare students for entry-level positions as a professional paralegal or legal assistant in the offices of a law firm, a corporation or business with a legal department, in a government agency or at a non-profit organization or consulting firm.
Learn more about American Public University System’s ONLINE ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE IN PARALEGAL STUDIES DEGREE PROGRAM
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will an online Associate of Paralegal Studies benefit me in pursuing an entry-level position in law?… Or, will a certificate program suffice?
In the field of law, earning an online associate degree in paralegal studies is indeed a good start. Since an associate degree program can be completed within two years, you can easily obtain an entry-level job as a paralegal or legal assistant immediately upon graduation.
Generally, if you prefer, you may also earn a certificate in this field. However, as competition in the field increases, your online associate degree will benefit you regarding the position and salary you receive upon graduation. In addition, some states allow for licensure to allow paralegals limited abilities of authority. If required, you must have, at the very least, an associate degree to receive licensure, if applicable. Certificate programs are not endorsed by the American Bar Association (ABA) or by the National Federation of Paralegal Association (NFPA). Your associate degree will serve you well in the field of law, as opposed to the limited advantages of earning a certificate.
How do I earn an online associate degree in paralegal studies?
Prerequisites for entry into an online associate degree program in paralegal studies would include a high school diploma or GED, as well as, acceptable ACT/SAT scores. Hybrid and 100% online programs are available on the topic of paralegal studies.
Coursework will include general core classes, as well as, regulations on property law, legal office technology, family law, document preparation, administrative law, environmental law, civil litigation, bankruptcy, and conducting legal research and writing. Also, your studies may include criminal law and procedures, drafting pleadings and motions, law ethics and cyber laws, in addition to, honing your critical-thinking, organizational, and problem-solving skills.
Please verify that your online Associate of Paralegal Studies degree program is properly accredited by the American Bar Association, although, your employment may not depend on the accreditation, it will certainly help. To further your education, consider earning an online bachelor’s degree in this field.
What sort of position and salary can I earn with an online Associate of Paralegal Studies degree?
Generally, graduates of the online Associate of Paralegal Studies degree program, quite naturally strive to fulfill a position as a paralegal. The BLS reports the earnings of a paralegal or legal assistant as approximately $50,410 annually.
Paralegals are hired to assist attorneys who need tasks completed, such as legal research, drafting documents, and maintaining files. They arrange evidence for case preparation, and draft documents, as well as, schedule appointments, and call clients and witnesses. The BLS has projected a 15% job growth increase between 2016 through 2026.