Paralegal degree programs are a popular option for those considering a career as a paralegal, legal assistant or other legal support occupation. Paralegal degree programs combine postsecondary education with career-focused paralegal education, including law, contracts, research techniques, and other legal skills. There are many paralegal schools available where you can earn a traditional degree or even an online paralegal degree.
Explore the paralegal degree programs available below to see which is right for you.
Paralegal Degree Programs Enrolling Now
How to Become a Paralegal
Although there are no laws stating that a paralegal must have a certificate or degree before working, most employers prefer to hire workers who have received formal paralegal training. In order to enroll in a paralegal degree program, you generally need a high school diploma or GED. In addition, it is a good idea to have a basic knowledge and understanding of court proceedings and legal practices. Some schools may require you to interview or demonstrate previous knowledge or experience in the field.
Paralegal Degree Options
There are several types of degree paralegals may choose to pursue, each with different strengths.
Associate’s degree programs: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-year associate’s degrees are one of the most popular paralegal degree types. These programs combine career-focused paralegal education with a small amount of general education and background coursework.
Bachelor’s degree programs: Bachelor’s level paralegal degrees provide a stronger background of general education which can be applied to most career directions, as well as a thorough education in paralegal studies. Bachelor’s degree programs usually last from three to four years.
Master’s degree programs: A master’s paralegal degree program can be applied to an existing degree or combined with a bachelor’s degree program to create an advanced level of education in paralegal studies. These degree programs last from two to three years, and can sometimes be taken while fully employed.
Besides different degree options, you must also choose between traditional and online schools. If you prefer working from home at your own pace, online may be the best option for you.
What is a Paralegal Degree Program Like?
The type of courses you will take while earning your paralegal degree varies considerably from school to school. However, you can expect to take courses such as:
- Legal Terminology
- Business, Civil, Criminal, and Tort Law
- Research Methods
- Legal Applications of Computers
Your paralegal degree program may also require you to complete an internship before graduating. This is a great way to learn about the responsibilities of a paralegal firsthand before beginning your career.
After Earning Your Paralegal Degree
After earning a paralegal degree, you may want to consider seeking a paralegal certification. There are several organizations that offer certification, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAP). In addition to your degree, certification is a great way to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in the field to potential employers.
Contact your paralegal school to find out if they offer courses or practice exams to prepare you for earning your certification.