Online Paralegal Degrees

Paralegals offer support to lawyers, and an online paralegal degree directly prepares you for work in the field. Paralegals help organize files, conduct research, and write legal documents. They also gather information pertaining to legal cases, collect evidence about cases, obtain affidavits from key parties, take notes for lawyers during trials, file appeals, liaise with clients, and much more.

Some graduates work as administrative assistants at policy and law organizations or in private companies. Their jobs differ slightly from what paralegals do, but they still get to work in a supportive role at a law firm or civic organization.

The job market for paralegals is expected to remain strong in the coming years. Paralegals enjoy stimulating and rewarding work, and if you are interested in law and think you would work well in a law firm, a paralegal degree online can help you get started in the industry. Below, you’ll find pertinent information about the educational and career options available if you are interested in pursuing a paralegal degree.

Online Paralegal Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $15,693 17.08% 2 years $40,095 $48,031 N/A
Bachelor's $18,986 1503% 4 years $37,250 $49,000 7.6%
Master's $18,652 11.5% 2 years N/A $71,648 N/A
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Many paralegal jobs require only an associate degree, and earning a paralegal degree online should effectively prepare you for a career in the field. Some lawyers may prefer to hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees, particularly for positions that require specialized knowledge. Positions that do require a bachelor’s or master’s degree often pay somewhat higher starting salaries than positions only requiring an associate degree.

Choosing Your Paralegal Careers

Average Paralegal Salaries

$36,500
$48,810

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Salary: $36,500
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
3% 3,976,800 High School Diploma or Equivalent N/A

Secretaries and administrative assistants support business executives and executive directors in a range of industries, including schools, government organizations, and legal offices. Legal secretaries differ from paralegals in that they are responsible for more clerical duties, such as transcribing and filing documents, responding to emails and phone calls, and scheduling meetings and travel itineraries. They may also take on bookkeeping responsibilities, help manage finances, and conduct research. Many legal secretaries opt to earn a paralegal associate degree and certification in order to move up into a paralegal position.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Salary: $48,810
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
8% 279,500 Associates Certified Paralegal, Advanced Certified Paralegal - Not required

Paralegals support lawyers. They collect information, take notes during trials, meet with legal clients to discuss cases, draft correspondence for lawyers, file affidavits, complete paperwork, and much more. A job as a paralegal may be a good fit if you are organized, pay attention to detail, are interested in law, and if you enjoy working closely with someone in a supportive role. A paralegal associate degree will qualify you to enter this position upon graduating, and earning certification will help you stand out among other job candidates.

Online Paralegal Degrees

Associate

A paralegal associate degree is the educational credential you need to become a paralegal. This type of paralegal degree signifies that you know enough about the law to work in most law firms. A two-year paralegal degree online familiarizes you with different areas of law and the skills you need to help lawyers. Highly specialized firms sometimes require graduates with higher-level degrees, but the associate will qualify you for most positions.

Sample Courses
Introduction to Law, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Ethics, Contracts
Common Majors
Criminal Law, Business Law, Immigration Law
Potential Jobs
Paralegal, administrative assistant, legal assistant
Average Income
$36,500 per year
Employment Prospects
Both of the number of job openings for paralegals and for administrative assistants are expected to increase steadily over the next several years.

The Top 5 Online Associate Degrees in Paralegal Studies

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee
  • in-state tuition: $2,024
  • out-of-state tuition: $8,051
2

Holmes Community College

Goodman
  • in-state tuition: $2,288
  • out-of-state tuition: $4,868
3

Northwest Mississippi Community College

Senatobia
  • in-state tuition: $2,250
  • out-of-state tuition: $4,450
4

Alexandria Technical & Community College

Alexandria
  • annually: $5,385
5

Georgia Military College

  • annually: $4,829

See full rankings

Bachelor’s

An online paralegal degree from a four-year college or university will provide you the expertise needed to work in highly-specific branches of the law. This degree exposes you to key legal concepts and also in-depth areas of the law that will help you work with lawyers in complicated cases. Earning a paralegal degree online at the bachelor’s level can give you an edge when competing for jobs at top law firms, and you may earn a higher salary than paralegals who only hold an associate degree.

Sample Courses
Foundations of Law, Tort Law, Criminal Practice and Procedure, Corporate Law
Common Majors
Corporate law, legal writing, immigration law
Potential Jobs
Paralegal, legal assistant, legal researcher
Average Income
$48,810 per year
Employment Prospects
An online paralegal degree from a four-year college or university will qualify you for a job pool that is projected to grow by approximately 8% between 2014 and 2024.

Master’s

A graduate paralegal degree can help you advance your career by providing you with additional specialized knowledge and skills. While an associate or bachelor’s degree in the field will prepare you for most jobs in the field, a master’s online paralegal degree qualifies you to take on additional responsibilities.

Sample Courses
Litigation, Contracts, Advanced Legal Writing, International Law
Common Majors
Paralegal studies, legal research, administrative law
Potential Jobs
Paralegal, legal assistant, legal advocate, legal document editor
Average Income
$48,810 per year
Employment Prospects
8% growth rate between 2014 and 2014.

Professional Requirements

Certified Paralegal/Advanced Certified Paralegal

NALA, the premier paralegal association in the United States, offers two different certifications for graduates from paralegal programs to prove the breadth of their knowledge to potential employer: the Certified Paralegal credential and the Advanced Certified Paralegal credential. Both of these credentials are earned by completing a series of coursework and exams through NALA.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Several months