A paralegal degree opens more doors for students. With a degree in hand, they can walk into almost any law firm in the country and apply for a job. The problem that some students face is that not all online schools have the proper accreditation. Those schools with accreditation only want to make money and don’t care about the needs or the future of its students. The top online colleges that offer paralegal degrees have accreditation and help students meet their career goals.
National Paralegal College
The National Paralegal College is one of the top schools in the country for those interested in paralegal programs. While other schools offer a wide range of courses, this school primarily focuses on the legal field. The paralegal certificate program takes less than one year to complete, but students can also complete a Bachelors or Associates degree. The Associates program takes less than two years, while the Bachelors program usually takes around three years to finish. The school encourages interactions between its professors and students, and students can talk to their professors online, over the phone or through email.
Kaplan University is one of the few online schools that offer credits for professional experience. Those currently working in a law firm and those who volunteer at legal clinics can contact the school to inform the faculty of their experiences. The school with closely examine the work they do and decide which classes they can skip based on their past experience. Students can earn additional credits for work they do before finishing the program. The Kapal School of Legal Studies has a history of helping its students after graduation. More than 6,000 students completed the program before working in the legal field or going to law school.
University of Massachusetts
As one of the top schools in the country, the University of Massachusetts realized that students couldn’t always afford to live on campus and attend classes in the state, which is why the school began offering online courses. It now offers a Certificate Program in Legal Studies that prepares students for working in the legal field. The program specifically focuses on computer applications, and students learn how to use the programs that legal offices across the country use every day. Students also learn the skills they need in real life, including research skills and working with clients. UMass Online also lets students see how the online system works and take a sample class before signing up for the program.
Duke University frequently makes the annual list of the top schools in the country, and it offers a paralegal program through its Continuing Education school. Specifically designed for adults going back to school after a long break, the program is also open to recent high school graduates. The online program allows students to learn at their own pace. Each student in the program works directly with an adviser, and the adviser serves as a guide to help students understand the materials they use. All of the professors working for Duke University possess a law degree, and many of those teachers are working lawyers. Students also receive free access to the two largest legal databases, which they can use when researching papers and projects.
Westwood College has several campuses in Colorado and California, but it also has an online program that offers a paralegal certificate program. Students spend more than half their time in the program taking courses relating to law, including Legal Research and Writing and Environmental Law, but they also become more well-rounded students through general education courses. Students can also take some fun electives that help break up the monotony of the program. Westwood College also offers minors in the field, which let students focus on topics that interest them.
Regionally accredited by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Rasmussen College has several campuses in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Kansas and North Dakota, but many of its students choose its online programs. Its paralegal programs covers topics that students need to know about before taking the National Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal Examination, and students can take that test for free after finishing the program. As one of the top online colleges, Rasmussen College also has a one-of-a-kind internship program that lets students explore topics that interest them while working directly in the field. Rasmussen College uses the National Association of Legal Assistants to determine what type of courses it should offer and how it can help students prepare themselves for the exam.
The University of Texas at San Antonio
The University of Texas is one of the largest public institutions of higher learning in the country, and while it has several campuses located across the state, one of its largest campuses is in San Antonio. The Center for Professional Excellence at the school has a paralegal program that students can complete on campus or at home over its online system. Suitable for those with no college experience or experience in the legal field, the program helps mold and shape those interested in working in the legal field. The program consists of three separate semesters that take place over 13 weeks. Each course focuses on the skills that students need, and after successfully completing each course, students receive a certificate that they can present when applying for jobs.
University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley, also known as UC Berkeley, has an extension program available for those interested in attending a paralegal program but cannot live on campus. Students from across the country can take courses through the extension program and study at home. The school worked closely with real working paralegals when developing the program. While other online schools only offer the courses they think students might need, the UC Berkeley program offers courses that specifically target the skills that working paralegals use on the job. Students can attend class in one of two ways. One method is the online program, which lets students on the opposite side of the country take courses and finish the program on their own. The other method involves a combination of online learning and traditional learning on campus, which is a good choice for students who live in the area. Students must take two required classes and four elective classes. The elective courses include Contract Law, Tort Law and other specialized topics that relate back to the paralegal field.
Located in Virginia, Liberty University expanded its course offerings to include online programs in the hopes of helping students living outside of the surrounding area. Its paralegal program is one of the few programs that the school only offers online. Students must complete a total of 120 credit hours towards their majors, but the school offers students the chance to transfer credits they earned from other schools. As long as students complete at least 30 credit hours through the online program, they can graduate from Liberty University with a Bachelors degree. Students later work as claims adjusters, paralegals, law clerks and legal assistants. As a religious institute, Liberty University courses often explore issues relating to the spiritual or religious world, and students take courses that discuss how religious beliefs impact the legal system.
While the need for lawyers decreased in recent years, the need for qualified paralegals increased. Students who attend these schools can work in the legal field while attending classes, and many students find themselves working in similar fields until they graduate. Online colleges offer more freedom over traditional schools, letting students complete their studies from home. The top schools for paralegal studies include those accredited by different states and those that offer internships and courses that prepare students for their future careers.
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