When considering a paralegal studies program, students have three degree options: Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS). The path you choose will depend on your future career or academic goals. The AAS is designed for those who want to join the workforce in an entry-level position directly after school. For students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s, or those who want to become lawyers, the AA or AS programs are usually transferable to four-year schools.
An online associate degree in paralegal studies covers the fundamentals of law, legal processes and the special duties required to assist an attorney. The degree, which can often be completed within one or two years, qualifies individuals to begin their paralegal careers upon graduating. With employment opportunities for paralegals expected to grow 17% between 2012 and 2022, now is a great time to pursue this degree.
By earning a paralegal studies associate degree online, students are afforded additional computer and writing skills, while enjoying flexible class schedules and the convenience of taking their courses pretty much anywhere. Additionally, students save money on commuting, parking and class materials, since most of what you need is available online.
Any one of the online associate in paralegal studies programs on the list below will instill you with the computer, organizational and critical thinking skills you need to succeed in the paralegal field.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
Tallahassee Community College
|Tallahassee||444 Appleyard Dr|
Tallahassee, FL 32304-2895
The AS in Paralegal/Legal Studies program supplies graduates with an overview of the law and the skills and knowledge needed to succeed within a legal service team. To tune their degree to future career goals, students take specialized courses and their choice of electives, which include Lobbying and Legislative Law, Microcomputer Applications for Business and Criminal Law. The paralegal degree online program consists of 64 credit hours.
Classes are held over Canvas, with technical support available via phone and online tutorials. Students can access course materials, discussion boards and assignments at any time that best fits their schedules. They must meet deadlines and due dates, and some professors may require that students visit campus or an approved site to take proctored tests. TCC has created a guide to help new and prospective students prepare for an online paralegal degree.
Holmes Community College
|Goodman||#1 Hill St|
Goodman, MS 39079
Students who enroll in the paralegal technology program can earn a technical or advanced technical certificate or an associate of applied science degree. The curriculum prepares students for entry-level paralegal positions in courts, law firms and corporations. Classes include Legal Writing, Real Property, Wills & Estates, Public Speaking and Law Office Management. Along with completing 30 credit hours of coursework, students participate in a 135 clock-hour-long internship.
All courses are held over Canvas, and students pursing a paralegal degree online can complete their studies in two years. HCC is a member of the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC), a cooperative consisting of 14 community college districts that allows students to take courses hosted by member schools.
Northwest Mississippi Community College
|Senatobia||4975 Hwy 51 N|
Senatobia, MS 38668-1714
The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology program qualifies students to perform entry-level jobs in law firms, insurance companies, real estate development companies, government agencies and banks. The curriculum was developed based on the American Bar Association's guidelines and local legal practitioners. Classes emphasize the practical skills and knowledge required in common legal occupations.
Real property law, family law, trust and estate law and civil litigation are covered throughout the program, along with writing, communication and research courses. While all courses are offered online through the Canvas learning management system, online paralegal degree students are required to participate in a paralegal internship.
Alexandria Technical & Community College
|Alexandria||1601 Jefferson Streeet|
Alexandria, MN 56308
In addition to traditional requirements, the 63-credit associate degree in paralegal studies online ensures students are computer-savvy, with courses covering databases, Microsoft Office Applications and practice-specific software. Traditional paralegal law courses include Family Law; Civil Litigation; and Estates, Probate & Real Estate. Specialized courses encompass Debtor/Creditor and Intellectual Property; Evidence, Exhibit Prep & Investigation; and Criminal Procedures, Business Organization and Family Law.
Courses are delivered through the D2L Brightspace learning management system, and the program concludes with an internship where students apply what they learned to a real-world setting.
Georgia Military College
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Students looking to obtain an associate degree in paralegal studies online work towards either an AA or an AS degree, consisting of 98 and 94 credit hours respectively. The curriculum stands out for its variety of courses in science and the humanities, with general education requirements similar to those taken for a bachelor's degree. Graduates of the paralegal degree online are well-versed in the philosophy of law and ready to evaluate constitutional law, statutory law and case law. Students also develop strong research, organizational and communication skills.
Online courses are held over Moodle; videos and help resources are available on their website for new students. GMC has an open admission policy; anyone who has graduated from high school or completed their GED may apply to and enroll in one of the AA or AS programs.
Hutchinson Community College
|Hutchinson||1300 N Plum St|
Hutchinson, MN 67501
The associate degree in paralegal studies online program requires 62 credits, with curriculum covering legal research, legal processes and administrative topics such as HR and accounting. Law-focused courses include Personal Injury and Civil Wrongs, Family Law, Legal Ethics and Litigation. Business and writing courses are also a big part of program, empowering graduates with strong communication and planning skills.
After completing the program, students take the National Association of Legal Assistants examination to become certified paralegals. After logging into the LearningZone, students can access their online courses, hosted by Canvas. Help resources and technical support are also available.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
|Fergus Falls||1414 College Way|
Fergus Falls, MN 56537-1000
Students in the online paralegal degree program learn how to work under the supervision of an attorney preparing legal documents, analyzing procedural and substantive legal problems and managing caseloads. Consisting of 60 credit hours, the online AAS program includes courses in: Civil Law for Paralegals, Real Property and Family Law. Students also take writing and political science courses, and the choices for electives include an internship and accounting and government courses.
Pam Cummings, an instructor for the paralegal program, has professional experience as a legal secretary, legal assistant and closing agent in probate law and real estate law. Online classes are held over D2L Brightspace.
The associate degree in paralegal studies online program is for students who want to enter the workforce immediately after earning their degrees. Those who want to pursue a bachelor's degree should get in touch with an academic advisor to create a degree plan that will transfer. Students complete at least 62 credit hours in general education and paralegal courses, including LAW 101: Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility. This class teaches codes of ethics at state and national levels, how to respond to ethical dilemmas and how to approach such issues in a professional manner.
The program concludes with an internship allows students to explore different career options and develop workplace experience. All online classes are held using the Canvas learning management system; students can access materials and discussions from their computers or on their mobile devices through the Canvas app.
Madisonville Community College
|Madisonville||2000 College Drive|
Madisonville, KY 42431
The paralegal technology program immerses students in a curriculum based on standards developed by the National Association of Legal Assistants. Classes encompass general education requirements and technical courses that include: Law Office Management, Legal Writing, Legal Research and Family Law. Students complete a total of 66 credit hours in order to earn this Associate of Applied Science degree.
Students interact with their course materials, classmates and instructors through Blackboard. Some exams and quizzes may be taken through the learning management system, but students may be required to find a proctoring center for their tests. The school is partnered with the Kentucky Virtual Campus which gives students enrolled at participating schools access to more than 1,100 classes from colleges across the state. Online MCC students can use the virtual library, online bookstore and 24-hour technical support service to help complete their degrees.
Prince George's Community College
|Largo||301 Largo Rd|
Largo, MD 20774-2199
Students of the AAS program complete a curriculum that qualifies them to work as a paralegal and a legal assistant. In addition to core courses in Criminal Law and Techniques of Legal Research, the college offers a host of criminal justice and specialized paralegal classes that can be taken as electives, including: Employment Law, Domestic Relations and Paralegal Internships. The 60-credit program prepares students to enter the workforce directly after graduation, but students have the option of transferring to a four year institution.
All online classes are held over Blackboard; students access the platform by logging in with their Owl Link account. Once signed on, students can use a number of digital resources, including Blackboard IM to live chat with classmates and the Smarthinking online tutoring services.
Rio Salado College
|Tempe||2323 W 14th St|
Tempe, AZ 85281
The paralegal curriculum covers the fundamentals of law; the litigation process; and the research, communication and technology skills required to perform on a law services team. Students complete 64 credits to earn the AAS degree; 55-58 credits are earned in general education and paralegal studies courses. To fulfill the remaining 9-12 credits, students choose from the restricted electives including: Bankruptcy Law for the Paralegal, Legal Investigation and Paralegal Internship Skills.
Online courses are held via RioLearn, RSC's elearning interface. Rio walks students through how to access the different features of the online platform with an FAQ and screenshots on the Tips & Tools page. Students who need extra help with their courses can receive free tutoring through Smarthinking.
Tompkins Cortland Community College
|Dryden||170 North St|
Dryden, NY 13053-0139
Upon completing the paralegal program, students are armed with an Associate of Applied Science degree and the breadth of knowledge they need to manage office duties while assisting supervisors and attorneys with legal procedures, cases and research. The paralegal degree can be completed in two or three semesters; students who have already earned college credits may apply them towards this degree. The 63-credit curriculum includes a selection of unrestricted electives with which students can steer their degree towards their career goals.
TC3 uses Blackboard to host its online classes. After signing onto MyTC3, students can access course materials and discussion boards, take tests and submit assignments. Students participate in a paralegal internship at the end of the program to gain marketable work experience; those with prior legal experience can file to obtain life experience credits and waive the internship.
Darton State College
|Albany||2400 Gillionville Rd|
Albany, GA 31707-3098
Paralegal students have the freedom to choose courses that reflect their interests and future careers; classes offered include: Contract Law; Employment Law; Tort Law; and Wills, Trusts, and Estates. By adhering to the recommended course-load each term, students can earn their AAS in two years.
All online courses are held through the GeorgiaVIEW platform, powered by the D2L learning management system. Online students have access to a number of resources, including an online bookstore, online tutoring services and digital library resources. Students may be required to schedule their exams at an approved proctoring site in their area.
Ivy Tech Community College
|Indianapolis||50 W. Fall Creek Parkway N. Drive|
Indianapolis, IN 46208-5752
Indiana's Ivy Tech offers prospective paralegal students the choice between two associate degree programs: the Associate of Applied Science and the Associate of Science. Both degrees are comprised of 60 credit hours and can be completed in four semesters; the AAS prepares students to enter the workforce upon graduation, while the AS can be used to transfer to one of the Indiana universities that have a reciprocity agreement with Ivy Tech. The AAS requires students to take four more paralegal courses than the AS program: Tort Law, Contracts and Commercial Law, Property Law and Law Office Technology. Both degrees culminate in a capstone course that prepares students for certification.
Classes are taught through Blackboard; this LMS allows students to connect with materials, classmates and instructors with any device connected to the internet. With the Blackboard IM feature, students can collaborate on coursework in real-time. New online students are encouraged to view Blackboard Webinars, available on Youtube, to learn more about how the platform functions.
University of Northwestern Ohio
|Lima||1441 N Cable Rd|
Lima, OH 45805
Over the span of six quarters, students in the paralegal program complete 108 credit hours of coursework. Thirty-five credits fulfill the general education requirements; the remaining 73 consist of technical requirements. Students take classes in: Keyboarding, Domestic Relations, Automated Research and Advanced Word Processing Applications. The program culminates in a capstone course that allows students to apply what they've learned to real-world cases.
Online classes are held over the digital learning platform Moodle. Students access their class materials and discussion boards by logging into the UNOH Virtual College. Many of the school's student services are available online, including the digital library materials and databases.
|Fort Lauderdale||1500 NW 49th St|
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Students of the paralegal program earn an Associate of Arts that can be used as a terminal degree or applied to a bachelor's program through credit transfer. Students complete 60 credit hours of coursework: 36 credits in general education requirements and 24 credits in major courses. Along with classes that encompass paralegal duties and legal procedures, students take a Legal Research and Writing course that covers legal citation, legal precedent and how to perform computer-assisted legal research.
The online learning platform is powered by Blackboard. Many of the programs students use for their classes have mobile apps; students can access Blackboard and several applications that help them manage their assignments.
Itawamba Community College
Mississippi's Itawamba Community College offers a 100% online AAS in Paralegal Technology program through Canvas.
Curriculum covers basic computer skills, law office management and legal writing courses, in addition to general education requirements focused in the arts.
Students can apply what they learned throughout the program and gain workplace experience by participating in a paralegal internship at the end of the program. Graduates are qualified to work as paralegals in law firms, government agencies and businesses.
Mountain Empire Community College
|Big Stone Gap||3441 Mountain Empire Road|
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
The Mountain Empire Community College AAS in Paralegal Studies program is offered on campus and online through Blackboard Learn. The program provides insight into a breadth of legal fields, with courses including Business Law, Family Law, Criminal Law, Real Estate Law and Estate Planning and Probate.
Students gain specialized skills and the ability to perform specific tasks, required in most paraprofessional positions, through Legal Office Procedures, Legal Transactions, Human Relations, Trial Preparation & Discovery Practice and Legal Research courses. Students are also prepared for paralegal certification exams.
Lake Superior College
|Duluth||2101 Trinity Rd|
Duluth, MN 55811-3399
The Lake Superior College AAS in Paralegal Studies is available on campus and online through the digital learning platform Brightspace, by D2L. Courses such as Law Office Applications, Computers in the Law Office, Legal Transcription, Legal Document Processing, Legal Studies, Advanced Legal Research, Microsoft Office, Advanced Microsoft Office, Bookkeeping, Records Management, Presentation Software and Word Processing thoroughly prepare students for the technical roles and procedures required on many legal services teams.
Upon completing the 60-credit-hour program, graduates have a firm grasp of the American legal system, legal terminology and federal and state court rules and procedures. Legal research skills are also developed, along with the ability to draft and format legal documents and letters. Students can choose to specialize their studies in at least three of the following areas: constitutional law, bankruptcy, real property, torts and personal injury, wills and probate, victim advocacy and alternative dispute resolution. The program concludes with an internship where students get hands-on experience in the legal field.
Tyler Junior College
|Tyler||1400 East Fifth Street|
Tyler, TX 75701
The Tyler Junior College offers an AAS in Paralegal Studies fully online. The paralegal program provides an in depth look into business, administrative and clerical roles of paraprofessional through Law Office Management, Principles of Accounting and Business Organizations courses, while providing a scope of knowledge on the law and legal processes via Constitutional Law, Civil Litigation and Introduction to Law courses. Specialized skills are gained in Legal Research and Interviewing and Investigating courses.
The 60-credit-hour, online Associate in Paralegal Studies program is available through the online learning platform Canvas. A variety of resources are available for virtual students, including online tutoring and a rich collection of online journals and magazines.
Eastern Florida State College
|Cocoa||1519 Clearlake Rd|
Cocoa, FL 32922
Eastern Florida State College's Paralegal Studies program is partially available online through Canvas. Law classes are available through their eLearning program, as is a legal internship students can take in-person at a regionally approved location. Students must take general education courses either at the EFSC campus or online through a different school. In addition to providing graduates with an AAS in Paralegal Studies, the program prepares students for the National Association of Legal Assistants certification examination.
The 67-credit program readies students for assisting attorneys or supervisors with legal research, client interviews, case investigations and drafting documents, forms, letters and memoranda. Graduates are skilled in managing cases, preparing for trials and administrative duties.
Law Office Management, Law Office Procedures, Business Organizations and Microcomputer Applications prepare students for the managerial and administrative duties, while Legal Research, Torts, Property Law, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Contracts and Criminal Law courses provide students with skills and knowledge to perform legal tasks.
Mohave Community College
|Kingman||1971 Jagerson Ave|
Kingman, AZ 86409-1238
Arizona-based Mohave Community College offers an Associate in Paralegal Studies program completely online in synchronous or asynchronous formats. Curriculum encompasses legal research, legal writing, basic computer training, accounting and hands-on learning through legal projects, externships and employment. A breadth of law courses are required, including Corporate Law; Bankruptcy; Family Law; Property Law; Tort Law; and Wills, Trusts, and Estates.
After completing the 62- to 63-credit program, students are qualified to work as paralegals in law firms or perform various other roles, including court clerks, government employees, title examiners, contract clerks, legal investigators or law firm administrators. Online classes are held via Schoology.
|Lynchburg||1971 University Blvd|
Lynchburg, VA 24515
The paralegal curriculum, developed and taught by experienced lawyers, prepares students to enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree. Completing 60 credit hours of coursework, students learn the concepts of law and working as a paralegal in the context of Liberty's Christian values. Required courses include: Foundations of Law, Criminal Practice & Procedure, Introduction to Christian Thought and American Government.
The online class portal is powered by Blackboard. Students can familiarize themselves with the platform by participating in a sample course. With their Liberty login, online learners have access to a number of tools and resources to help them succeed in their programs, including Online Communities to help them feel connected to their peers and a writing center.
Clovis Community College
|Clovis||417 Schepps Blvd|
Clovis, NM 88101-8381
Clovis Community College offers an AAS in Legal Assistant Studies program entirely online. The 66-credit program can be completed in seven semesters. Students gain a firm understanding of administrative and specialized responsibilities required in most law services through Accounting, Introduction to Legal Assistant Studies, Law Office Practice and Procedures and intermediate and advanced Legal Writing and Research courses.
Graduates also walk away with a solid understanding of state and federal American law, with American National Government, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedures, Family Law, Torts Practices and Procedures and Litigation classes required. Online courses are available through Blackboard. Academic advising, library material and technical support are all available online for eLearning students.
Cerro Coso Community College
|Ridgecrest||3000 College Heights Blvd|
Ridgecrest, CA 93555-9571
The 60-unit curriculum instills students with the skills and legal knowledge they need to help lawyers with research and trial preparation. Graduates are prepared to work with clients, and they understand how the law and legal proceedings work. Major requirements, totaling 32 units, consist of eight mandator and at least three optional courses; classes include: Legal Ethics, Workers' Compensation Law and California and Federal Civil Procedure Legal Forms.
Online classes are hosted on Moodle and accessed by logging into the InsideCC platform. Technical support is available 24/7, and online students can utilize tutoring, counseling and library services and resources. Students who feel their previous education or life experiences meet the criteria of certain classes may apply to waive those requirements by submitting a prerequisite challenge.
What can you do with the degree?
Career opportunities for those who earn an online associate degree in paralegal studies may seem limited, but graduates can often find entry-level employment with law firms, governmental agencies and insurance adjusters. While they are not licensed to provide legal advice to clients, they have a broad knowledge of several kinds of law, including areas like family, business, criminal and property. Paralegals holding associate degrees are equipped with the research and organizational skills necessary for trial preparation.
The mean annual wage for paralegals working for legal services in 2014 was $49,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Considering how quickly an online paralegal associate degree can be earned, and the affordability of many online programs, you could earn the money you spend on your education within your first year of work as a paralegal professional.
Keys to Success
One of the best things you can do to ensure you succeed as a paralegal is to keep abreast of changes to the legal system, including the addition of new laws and changes to old ones. Understanding the standards your potential employers adhere to will guide how you conduct research, present information and approach cases that have the potential to be ethically insensitive.
The online paralegal programs listed above offer their students opportunities to connect with instructors and classmates, but you have to take the initiative and make those connections. Reach out to your professors when you need help. Seek out a working paralegal at a law firm in your community and talk to them about what it’s like to work in the field. Start or join virtual study groups to discuss the legal theories you learn in your course materials.
Upon earning your degree, you will either be eligible to transfer your credits to a four-year program or start work as an entry-level paraprofessional. If you’re on the career path, you might want to consider certification. While becoming certified is not necessary, it does show potential employers that you are serious about being a paralegal. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers paraprofessionals the opportunity to earn the Certified Paralegal Credential. This credential is approved and recognized by the American Bar Association as a level of standards for paralegals.