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A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies gives students the skills to be invaluable in the legal process by helping prepare lawyers for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. This degree offers professionals many opportunities to seek positions in the job market and provides a solid educational foundation for those who want to pursue further legal studies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for paralegals and legal assistants is expected to increase by 14% through 2031. The median salary for paralegals and legal assistants is $56,230 per year. Graduates can also consider employment as arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator, earning a median annual salary of $49,410. Projected employment growth for these jobs is 6% through 2031.

The exact cost of an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies will vary by school. For the 2021-22 academic year, average undergraduate tuition was $12,394 at public universities and $37,095 at private institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. An online bachelor’s in paralegal studies usually requires 120 credits and takes four years of full-time study.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Students should reflect on their interests and aspirations before searching for an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies. Whether a student plans to go on to an entry-level paralegal job or apply to law school may influence what they look for in a bachelor’s program.

Schools typically offer either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in paralegal studies. A BA will include more general education requirements and have a humanities emphasis. A BS includes more technical and applied coursework. There are also several specializations within paralegal studies, including criminal defense, environmental law, real estate, family law, corporate law, immigration, and intellectual property.

Now is also a good time for students to think about the logistics of their education. Those who need maximum flexibility should seek asynchronous programs that don’t have any pre-set class meetings. Students who prefer an interactive learning environment can research synchronous programs with regular virtual classes. Also, determine whether you’ll enroll on a full-time or part-time basis.

Research schools and programs

Start your search with schools accredited by a recognized regional accrediting agency. This will ensure that the institutions you’re considering offer programs that meet high standards of quality education. Students who plan to apply for financial aid or pursue further study after earning their bachelor’s will need to be enrolled at an accredited school.

To learn more about programs and their curriculum, cost, faculty, and delivery methods, visit the school’s website. Most schools publish this and other information online for prospective students. They may also host virtual information sessions or open houses where potential applicants can interact with admissions counselors, faculty, and current students. Another way to learn more about schools and programs is by following them on social media.

Here are some important questions to get answered during the research phase:

  • Are courses synchronous or asynchronous?
  • Are there any experiential learning components, such as internships?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their qualifications?
  • How do online students interact with classmates and faculty?
  • What kind of support services does the school provide online students, such as technical support, academic and career advising, tutoring, and counseling?
  • Are there networking opportunities available for online students?

Prepare for tests and applications

Requirements and procedures typically vary from school to school. An admissions counselor can answer questions or clarify the school’s application process.

For undergraduate degrees, a standard application includes:

  • Completed application and required fees
  • Official high school transcripts showing proof of graduation or GED
  • A resume or CV highlighting jobs, experience, extracurricular activities, and positions of leadership
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, and community leaders acknowledging your achievements and strengths
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose

Check with schools regarding their policies for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Students should also check if there are specific requirements, such as a minimum high school GPA.

Students with previous college credits should submit their transcripts from other institutions so their new school can evaluate the courses for potential credit transfer.

Select your program

After researching the program’s curriculum, faculty credentials, cost, and reputation decide if everything accommodates your objectives and needs. You may find that there are only one or two programs to which you want to apply or that multiple programs would be a good fit. There’s no magic number of schools to apply to, but remember that most schools charge application fees. If you’re applying to a high volume of schools, budget accordingly for these fees.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

The first step is to contact the school’s financial aid office and get more information about the program’s total cost and what financial aid options are available.

Most students will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which schools use to determine students’ eligibility for need-based financial aid like student loans, grants, work-study, scholarships, and assistantships. Financial aid counselors can also provide more information about merit-based scholarships and grants the school awards to high-achieving students.

Other options students can explore are employer tuition assistance benefits and payment plans that allow students to pay tuition in installments throughout the term. Veterans or active-duty military members should explore tuition discounts and GI Bill benefits.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies Programs Badge

Regent University

Eastern Kentucky University

Roger Williams University

Hampton University

Eastern Michigan University

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

William Woods University

Grand View University

Texas A&M University - Commerce

National University

Western Kentucky University

Liberty University

Bay Path University

Loyola University Chicago

George Washington University

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on undergraduate programs offering bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies or a related field. All programs included on the list are available at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with high standards of quality for post-secondary education. We reviewed fully online and in-person/online hybrid programs.

We evaluated each degree program on factors like tuition costs, faculty, reputation, student resources, and admission, retention, and graduation rates. We then calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

We also compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Degree Program?

To earn a bachelor’s in paralegal studies, students must complete 120 credit hours. The curriculum comprises core paralegal studies courses, electives, and general education requirements.

Core coursework typically includes litigation, legal research and writing, civil and criminal law, court systems, ethics, and common law practice areas, such as marriage and family law, personal injury, real estate, and contracts.

Students learn how to gather evidence and information on legal precedents and relevant laws, write reports, organize documents, and contact clients for interviews. This program will help develop transferable skills like communication, critical thinking, attention to detail, interpersonal skills, and multitasking.

An internship or other experiential learning component is often part of the curriculum to give students hands-on learning experience.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies degree program

  • Bachelor of Law Practice. The class explores paralegal practice in family law. Students become familiar with documents, forms, and procedures for marriage, divorce, annulment, separation, alimony, custody, community property, and juvenile law.
  • Legal Administration and Computer Applications. Learners explore the study of law office administration, including how to use relevant computer applications for law practices.
  • Litigation: Evidence to Discovery. This course covers legal principles and paralegal practice in significant civil law. Procedural facets of the early stages of litigation are incorporated.
  • Legal Ethics. Students become familiar with the professional responsibilities of lawyers and paralegals. Topics include justice access and the services of the pro bono office.
  • Criminal Practice and Procedure. This class introduces students to criminal law and procedure. Students will discuss documents, criminal law forms, and criminal litigation preparation utilizing the systems approach.

Online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies degree program?

You’ll most likely be able to submit some or all of your application materials online through an application portal on the school’s website. You can also inquire if the schools you’re applying to accept the Common Application, which streamlines the application process.

Official documents like transcripts and test scores usually must be sent directly from the institution or testing agency. Students should request letters of recommendation from teachers, colleagues, or employers who can speak to their relevant skills and achievements.  Give yourself sufficient time to prepare your admissions essay or statement of purpose, and have a trusted advisor, teacher, or friend review it before submitting it.

Contact the school’s admissions office if you have questions or need clarification regarding a school’s admissions procedures or deadlines.

How much does an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies degree cost?

This will depend on several factors specific to the school and the student. Contact the school’s financial aid office for the most accurate information about a program’s cost.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that average undergraduate tuition for the 2021-22 academic year was $7,869 at public schools and $37,095 at private universities. While public schools are often cheaper than private schools, students should note that public institutions may charge different tuition rates based on whether students are in-state or out-of-state.

There are also additional expenses to consider, including school fees for virtual classroom technology, academic resources, and student support services. Students may need to upgrade their computer or internet service so they have reliable technology for their online program.

On the other hand, enrolling in an online program has some cost advantages. Students can choose to live in an area with a more affordable cost of living than where the institution is located, and they save money by eliminating a commute to campus.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in paralegal studies degree?

Generally speaking, a bachelor’s in paralegal studies requires 120 degrees and is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study. However, students may take longer if they enroll on a part-time basis.

Students who have an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies may be able to complete their bachelor’s degree in less time. The school’s admissions office should evaluate these students’ credits to see what will transfer to their bachelor’s program.

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