Individuals who work a full-time job may wish to take their earning potential to another level by beginning a career in the legal field. However, working adults who wish to pursue additional education may find that the cost of enrolling in a certificate or degree program and the commitment of working a full-time job can make pursuing education credentials seem more difficult.
Nevertheless, a career as a paralegal may an ideal choice. Many paralegal courses offer affordable credentialing that can be obtained in a relatively short amount of time with the flexibility of offering courses online. Therefore, people who work full-time jobs or have other time constraints are able to pursue a legal career in a way that may be a better fit for their budget and scheduling needs.
Featured Paralegal Programs
- Paralegal Certificate: Penn Foster Career School
- AA – Paralegal Studies: Liberty University Online
- BS in Paralegal Studies: Kaplan University
While there are many paralegal programs nationwide, the top 10 most affordable online programs are listed below. The following programs offer a minimum of an associate’s degree and are accredited.
1. Penn Foster College
Students who enroll in the Paralegal Studies Associate Degree program at PennFoster College will complete four semesters of courses that cover legal terminology, English composition, ethics, computer applications, business law, civil litigation, legal research and writing, family law, real estate law, wills and trusts, and an elective. Students who complete the program will be eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certification Exam.
2. Ivy Tech
Ivy Tech offers students two options through which they may earn an associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies. The Associate of Applied Science includes courses such as Civil Procedure, Technical Writing, Exposition and Persuasion, Torts Contract, Law, and Property Law. The Associate of Science degree requires more general education courses and electives. Other differences include a course in American politics, Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing, Speaking and Listening, and Ways of Knowing electives. Common courses between the two programs include Legal Research, Civil Procedure, Exposition and Persuasion, and Legal Ethics.
3. American Public University
American Public University offers an Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies to help working adults prepare to transition into a rewarding legal career. Students in the program study complete courses that cover a range of common legal topics such as litigation, real estate law, criminal law, paralegal procedures, general law, civil practice, and paralegal writing and research. Students who are enrolled full-time may complete the program within two years.
4. National Paralegal College
The associate’s degree program at National Paralegal College is suitable for students who wish to receive a broad foundation in legal studies and business. The degree can also be used as a basis for later earning a bachelor degree. Students who take three courses each semester are able to complete the program in 15 months. After completing basic classes in legal research and writing, torts, contracts, and ethics, students may choose eight courses in more focused areas, some of which include real property, criminal law, domestic relations, constitutional law and criminal procedure, white collar crime, public communication laws, environmental law, alternative dispute resolution, and business law. Students are also allowed to choose eight general education courses from among subjects that include comparative politics, introduction to sociology, principles of management, American history American government, business writing, English composition, and Principles of Finance.
5. Mount Washington College
Prospective students who wish to prepare for an entry level career in the legal field as a paralegal, legal assistant, or court assistant will be prepared to do so upon completing the Paralegal Associate Degree program offered by Mount Washington College. Key areas of focus in the program are civil and criminal law, legal research, property law, and wills, estates, and trusts. Students must complete 60 course hours to earn a degree.
6. Rasmussen College
The Paralegal Associate’s degree at Rasmussen College is based on educational recommendations that were made by the NALA and other legal organizations. Students learn to use LexisNexis and WestLaw to build their legal research skills. The coursework also focuses on common legal practice areas such as family law. The program prepares students to take the NALA exam for certification.
7. Westwood College
A distinguishing characteristic of the Paralegal Associate’s Degree program at Westwood College is that the program was designed with input from legal professionals. Therefore, the coursework aims to equip students with the presentation, writing, and research skills their future employers will seek when hiring a paralegal. Course topics include Legal Research and Writing, Immigration Law, Interviewing and Investigation, Contract Law for Paralegals, Entertainment Law, Law Office Operations, and more.
8. Kaplan University
The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies at Kaplan University focuses on training students in important areas such as legal terminology, writing, research, technology, and law office management. Substantive areas that are covered by the program’s courses include contracts, real estate law, wills and trusts, and torts. Students must successfully complete 90 credit hours to earn a degree.
9. Virginia College
Virginia College offers an online associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies that takes a real-world approach to training. The program is designed to be completed in 88 weeks. Students will complete courses that are aimed at improving their general education, professional skills, and technical competencies.
10. Broadview University
$375 per credit hour; depends on enrollment status**
Broadview University offers an associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies that utilizes modern technology to allow students to connect with each other and with their professors through specialized instant messaging technology and email. Year-round availability of courses makes it possible for students to accelerate their completion schedule, making it possible to finish the program within 21 months. Online students who reside near the school’s brick and mortar campus may take advantage of the onsite computer labs, libraries, and exercise room. Faculty members who teach the program’s courses are employed as attorneys and paralegals. Students complete studies in areas such as torts, criminal law contracts, real estate, bankruptcy, litigation, probate, and family law. The program includes in internship component, which allows students to gain hands-on experience interviewing clients and preparing documents in a real wold setting.
Before choosing a paralegal school, students should thoroughly investigate to ensure that the school of their choose meets accreditation requirements for the jurisdiction in which they would like to eventually work. Students should also consider other fees that may not necessarily be included in tuition fees such as the cost of administrative fees, books, and other course materials. With so many institutions offering cheap programs, research is key when searching for cheap online colleges.