Top 25 Paralegal Schools for Job Placement

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paralegal-job-placementParalegals play a crucial role in the legal system, conducting research, investigating facts, interviewing clients, and performing legal research and writing. Though they can’t directly advise clients on legal matters, they’re the backbone of many firms and government organizations worldwide. There are a number of ways to become a paralegal, the most common of which include certifications and bachelor programs, both of which are much shorter and more affordable than law school. More than 80% of all paralegals have received some formal paralegal education according to the the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. While becoming a paralegal is a rewarding career choice for many, not all paralegal programs are created equally. And if you want to make the most of your job prospects once you’re program is over, it’s probably best to make sure you’re in a location and school that have good outcomes. That’s why we’ve compiled a ranking of the 25 best paralegal schools for job placement. After surveying over 270 programs, we looked at three components to determine job placement after graduation: the average salary of paralegals in the region, the projected job growth in the state until 2020, and the quality of the institution providing the program. Check out the top paralegal schools in the nation below, happy learning!

Methodology:

  • Average Salary (.33): the average paralegal salary on a state-by-state basis.
  • Job Growth (.33): the projected percentage of new paralegal positions in the state from 2010-2020 according to the BLS.
  • Institutional Quality (.33): the overall ranking of the paralegal program’s parent institution according to a sampling of ranking institutions.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

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UCLA, one of the top research institutions in the nation, offers a paralegal studies certificate through their extension school. The program is organized as a 38.25 unit course with multiple modules, and is taught with the aim of creating ethical, effective and efficient professional paralegals. As far as job prospects, California’s average paralegal salary is the second highest of states surveyed at $58,570. With the school in the same town as one of the largest legal markets in the US, and in a state that’s projected to have 18% more paralegal openings by 2020, job prospects are good.

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2.University of California, Santa Barbara

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UC Santa Barbara is a top 50 ranked national research institution that offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal studies program through their extension school. The program requires 36 units, 21 of which are accounted for in core requirements, and the rest comprised of electives in more specialized areas of the law. Job prospects for UC Santa Barbara students are good, particularly if they’re willing to relocate to Bakersfield or Los Angeles (both about two hours away). The average paralegal salary is the second highest of those surveyed, at $58,570. Projected job growth from 2010-2020 is 18%.

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3. University of California, Irvine

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UC Irvine is a top 50 national research institution who offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal certification program through their extension school. Work may be completed on-campus or online, and centers around building a work portfolio that showcases your paralegal abilities. As far as job prospects, Irvine is an affluent and highly educated Orange County suburb with many legal work settings. If needed, most of Los Angeles is reachable with about an hour commute. State wide, the average paralegal salary is $58,570, with 18% projected job growth from 2010-2020.

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4. Georgetown University

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Georgetown University is a top 30 research institution that offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal studies program that has been educating paralegals for more than 40 years. The program is currently available as a part-time evening program or a summer intensive program. Located in Washington D.C., job prospects in Georgetown are top notch, through the thousands of government agencies, private practices, and nonprofits that employ paralegals. The average salary for paralegals in D.C. is the highest of any state surveyed, at $68,850. With 16.3% expected job growth in the region from 2010-2020.

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5. University of San Diego

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The University of San Diego is ranked among the top 100 national research universities, and offers a 39-year-old paralegal program with four delivery methods: a full-time day program, an extended day program (broken into two sessions), an evening generalist program, and an evening business practices program. As the 8th largest city in the nation, job opportunities abound, with the average paralegal salary for the state California at $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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6. University of California, Riverside

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The University of California at Riverside is a national research university offering an American Bar Association approved paralegal certification program through their extension program. The program requires 24 units of core requirements, and 7 units of electives which include a number of concentrations or an internship. As a 300,000+ population town, and part of the larger Los Angeles metro area, job opportunities abound. The average paralegal salary for the state California at $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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7.University of La Verne

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The University of La Verne offers a paralegal certification that may be earned in conjunction with any major, or after a student has completed at least 60 hours of coursework at a regionally accredited school. While La Verne is a small town of around 30,000, it’s still in Los Angeles County, around 30 miles east of Los Angeles proper. If you’re willing to make a commute into Los Angeles or another suburb there should be plenty of paralegal opportunities. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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8. New York University

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New York University is a top 40 national research university that has traditionally offered a diploma in paralegal studies through their school of professional studies. While their program is temporarily suspended to “develop new programming to meet the needs of professionals in this evolving field,” students who are already enrolled are finishing their programs, and they should have the program restarted in the future. As perhaps the largest legal services economy in the United States, there are a large number of paralegal opportunities in New York City. Currently the average salary of paralegals in New York state is $53,570. Projected growth of paralegal jobs in the state is expected to stay at 15.8% from 2010-2020.

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9.San Francisco State University

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San Francisco State University is a regionally ranked university that offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal studies program through their college of extended learning. This program, with a relatively high job placement rate, may be completed in 12-24 months, with the average time to completion being 18-24 months. Located in a major metropolitan area as well as within reach of Oakland and Silicon Valley, there are a number of unique legal opportunities in the region. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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10. Hofstra University

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Hofstra University is a nationally ranked university that offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal education program in both day and night-class formats. The certificate program is open to students who have an associates degree or have completed 60+ hours of college credit, an optional internship program further supplements academic offerings and creates professional relationships. Located in Long Island, home to some 40% of New York State’s population, there are a large number of paralegal opportunities available in the region. Currently the average salary of paralegals in New York state is $53,570. Projected growth of paralegal jobs in the state is expected to stay at 15.8% from 2010-2020.

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11. California State University, Los Angeles

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California State University at Los Angeles currently offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal studies program that has been in existence for nearly 40 years. The program is comprised of 8 courses and may be taken for a “general” track that emphasizes legal writing, or three other specializations: litigation, corporate practice, or legal technology. Dual specializations are also available. As far as job placement, Los Angeles is one of the largest legal services markets in the United State, with plenty of opportunity. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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12. Montclair State University

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Montclair State University offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies through their department of Justice Studies graduate school. Students must take 21 semester hours of courses including either an in-depth seminar or internship towards the end of their program. The program is the only state college or university in New Jersey to receive American Bar Association approval for their program. Currently the average salary for paralegals in New Jersey is $58,050, with projected job growth of 21.3% from 2010-2020.

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13. National University

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National University offers an American Bar Association approved bachelor of science in paralegal studies program from both their Los Angeles and Woodland Hills campuses. As a full bachelors program, both a comprehensive academic program and practical education centered around the role of a paralegal in a legal environment are offered. 24 courses are required for graduation, including 9 preparatory courses, 10 major courses, and 6 upper division electives. With both campuses in the the Los Angeles region, many paralegal job opportunities are available. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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14. California State University East Bay

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California State University at East Bay offers an American Bar Association approved certificate program in paralegal studies. Small class sizes and a number of internship opportunities have allowed CSU East Bay to place paralegals in many of the most competitive firm environments in the San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years. Current requirements for the program are 9 core courses, 1 elective, and an internship. Classes are available in the evening year-around at the Hayward and Concord campuses, and in the morning at the Oakland Center downtown. Online courses are also available. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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15John F. Kennedy University

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John F. Kennedy University offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal certificate at both of its Pleasant Hill campuses. The certification may be taken alone or as part of a Bachelors f Arts completion degree in Legal Studies. For those who choose to obtain only the certification, the program may be completed in less than a year. While Pleasant Hill is a smaller community, it’s location in the East Bay puts it within reach of opportunities in Oakland, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in California is $58,570, with an 18% projected job growth rate from 2010-2020.

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16. University of Alaska Fairbanks

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The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is a national research institution that offers both an associates degree and a minor in paralegal studies through their community and technical college. The associate degree is approved by the American Bar Association and is one of the few programs in Alaska that prepares students for paralegal opportunities. While the Fairbanks North Star Borough (county) is only home to some 100,000 residents, and thus a good deal smaller than other locations our ranked programs are located in, Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska, and thus home to many firms and government organizations. Currently the average paralegal salary in the State of Alaska is $56,720, with the projected job growth rate from 2010-2020 at 6.5%.

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17. Duquesne University

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The Duquesne University Paralegal Institute is one of only three programs in the country both approved by the American Bar Association and administered by a School of Law. Classes begin in four separate terms, and are offered either part-time in the evening or full-time over the summer. Students may focus on a generalist education, or one of four other specializations: civil litigation, corporate law, estates, or litigation technology. Located in Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania, legal opportunities abound in the state. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in Pennsylvania is $53,220, with the projected growth of paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 17.1%.

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18.Minnesota State University, Moorhead

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Minnesota State University at Moorhead offers an American Bar Association approved four-year paralegal program that utilizes a number of local professional development channels in placing alumni. The required internship component of the program has placed students at more than 160 firms in 12 states. More locally, Moorhead and its twin city Fargo create the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area, population 208,000. The current average paralegal salary in Minnesota is $52,640, with the projected growth rate for paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 15.6%.

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19. Marist College

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Marist College offers a paralegal certification program that’s approved by the American Bar Association, and may be taken in both concentrated evening and weekend programs. The weekend program is highly accelerated, and allows students to complete the program in a year, while the evening schedule requires two years to complete. Both options require 24 paralegal credits. Students are eligible for the program with a bachelor’s degree or 36 transferable credits. As far as employment prospects, Poughkeepsie is both the county seat of Dutchess County, as well as within 2 hours of cities like Albany, New York, New Haven, and Hartford. Currently the average salary of paralegals in New York state is $53,570. Projected growth of paralegal jobs in the state is expected to stay at 15.8% from 2010-2020.

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20. Queens College, City University of New York

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Queens College of the City University of New York offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal studies certification that may be completed in day, evening, or weekend schedules. The day program is the most accelerated, while the weekend and evening programs are the most flexible, even allowing students to take a combination of weekend and evening classes at the same time. Required internships and job placement programs help to move alumni into important and competitive roles in the New York metro area. Currently the average salary of paralegals in New York state is $53,570. Projected growth of paralegal jobs in the state is expected to stay at 15.8% from 2010-2020.

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21. Villanova University

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Villanova University is a top regional school in the north-east that provides an American Bar Association approved post-baccalaureate paralegal program through their continuing studies department. The program may be taken on part-time or full-time schedules, with the part-time program beginning four times a year and being offered in the evening. The full-time program is more accelerated, and starts in the summer fall or spring, allowing students to obtain their certification in 16 weeks. As far as job prospects, Villanova’s location amongst a number of the more affluent Philadelphia suburbs provides ample opportunity for legal work. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in Pennsylvania is $53,220, with the projected growth of paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 17.1%.

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22. Bay Path College

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Bay Path College is a national liberal arts college that offers both a legal studies degree as well as an American Bar Association approved certificate of advanced paralegal studies for students who have completed at least 60 credit hours of college courses. The certification program requires 21 credit hours, up to 15 of which can be transferred in. As far as job prospects, though Longmeadow (home to Bay Path College) is a small town, it is close to Springfield, a town of over 150,000. A number of larger cities are also within a few hours drive. Currently the average paralegal salary in Massachusetts is $52,020, with the projected growth of paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 21.7%.

 

23. Loyola University Chicago

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Loyola University of Chicago offers an American Bar Association approved paralegal certification through their institute for paralegal studies. The program is highly flexible, allowing students to start at one of five sessions each year, and to attend classes in-person, online, or in a blended fashion. Full-time programs take less than a year to complete the certification. Loyola also offers a number of support services for students, including mock interviews, resume critiques, and help finding internships. As far as jobs, Chicago is the largest legal services market in the midwest, and offers plenty of opportunities. The current average salary for paralegals in Illinois is $51,630, with the projected growth of paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 17.5%

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24. Pennsylvania College of Technology

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The Pennsylvania College of Technology of Penn State offers an American Bar Association approved bachelor of science in legal assistant/paralegal studies. The program is a 2-plus-2 allowing students with two years of study or an associate degree to continue their study and obtain a bachelor of science. Though students may attend all four years and receive their core requirements at Penn State’s college of technology as well. As far as employment opportunities, the College of Technology is located in Williamsport (PA), with a larger metro area of close to 120,000. Currently the average salary for a paralegal in Pennsylvania is $53,220, with the projected growth of paralegal jobs from 2010-2020 at 17.1%.

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25. University of Alaska Anchorage

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The University of Alaska Anchorage offers a American Bar Association approved post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies through their Justice Center as well as a bachelor of arts in legal studies. An exit exam covers all of the topics you should have mastered during your time in the certification program, and ensures employers that you’re advanced enough in your studies to move into the workplace. Internships aren’t required for the program, but may be taken for credit if certain criteria are met. While smaller than some of the metro areas in our ranking, Anchorage is by far the largest city in the state of Alaska, with slightly over close to 400,000 residents in its metro area. Anchorage is also a leading transportation hub due to its location on the globe within relatively short reach to large parts of Asia and North America by air and water. Currently the average paralegal salary in Alaska is $56,720, with a projected job growth of 6.8% from 2010-2020.

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