Finding paralegal programs in Kentucky is easy due to the number of colleges and universities offering certificate and degree programs for paralegals. Picking one, however, may be difficult because there are so many good schools to choose from. So, just how do you choose a paralegal program in Kentucky?
The first step to take is to decide if you want to earn a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s in paralegal studies. A certificate program provides basic education for paralegal studies whereas a bachelor’s degree program is designed to train a person to work as a paraprofessional and open up the path to earning a juris doctorate to become a lawyer.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Paralegal Programs in Kentucky
There are many opportunities for getting a certificate, degree, or diploma to become a paralegal in Kentucky, but they’re not all equal. Online Paralegal Programs editors have researched your best bets for a paralegal program, ranking schools by their reputation, cost, and alumni salary for a well-rounded value.
1. The University of Louisville – Louisville, KY
The University of Louisville (U of L) College of Arts and Sciences/Political Science Department offers an Associate of Arts (AA) in Paralegal Studies that is considered one of the best paralegal programs in Kentucky. This paralegal degree requires students to complete 63 credit units in classes that include family law, legal systems, and the paralegal, legal research, advanced legal writing, professional ethics for paralegals, and a paralegal internship, to name a few. Students can transfer up to six eligible credit units and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on paralegal studies coursework.
The University of Louisville was established as a seminary in 1798. The school’s campuses serve more than 20,900 students. The university’s medical school is the site of the first hand transplant. Highlight – The University of Louisville is recognized as the first city-owned higher learning institution.
Program: Paralegal Studies AA
2. Murray State University – Murray, KY
Murray State University (MSU) Center for Adult and Regional Education/the Center for Legal Studies offers a Paralegal Certificate that is recognized as one of the cornerstone paralegal programs in Kentucky. Students enrolled in Murray State University’s paralegal certificate course can complete the program entirely online. Classes for this certificate program include fourteen weeks of classes like legal terminology, legal process, ethics, torts & contracts, legal document prep, federal rules of evidence, and rules of civil procedure, among others. Students must complete an online legal research access course as part of the certificate’s requirements.
Murray State University was established in 1922 as one of two teacher’s training schools in the commonwealth. Murray State University operates multiple campuses in Murray, Henderson, Paducah, Madisonville, and Hopkinsville with a student enrollment that exceeds 9,100 students. Highlight – Several buildings on campus are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Program: Paralegal Certificate
3. Northern Kentucky University – Highland Heights, KY
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers a Master of Legal Studies degree program that requires students to complete 30-semester units to graduate. As one of the finest paralegal programs in Kentucky, Northern Kentucky University’s MLS degree can be completed in 2 to 3 years, on a part-time basis. Coursework for this legal degree includes legal analysis & problem solving, basic legal skills, – civil research procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, property law, torts, and 18 hours of elective classes, among others. Students enter the workforce in the areas of business, publishing, legal services, labor/employment, or intellectual property, among others.
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) was established in 1968. The university’s campus covers 400+ suburban acres and serves more than 14,200 students. NKU is the youngest of the member schools of the commonwealth’s university system. Highlight – Northern Kentucky University began as a satellite extension facility for the University of Kentucky.
Program: Master of Legal Studies
4. Eastern Kentucky University – Richmond, KY
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences offers two of the best paralegal programs in Kentucky with its Associate in Paralegal Studies (AAS) program or its Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Paralegal Science. IN addition, EKU offers a paralegal certificate program – post-baccalaureate. Each student enrolled in Eastern Kentucky University’s paralegal programs must complete a 280 internship in the legal environment of their choosing. The paralegal programs offered by Eastern Kentucky University are approved by and meet the requirements of the American Bar Association. Transfer credits are possible if the credits are ABA-approved classes from an approved institution of higher learning.
Eastern Kentucky University was established in 1874. This public university maintains multiple campuses in Hazard, Corbin, Manchester, and the main campus in Richmond. Highlight – US News and World Report recognizes Eastern Kentucky University among the top 50 regional universities in the southern United States.
Program: AAS, BA, or certificate
5. Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, KY
Western Kentucky University (WKU) Department of Political Science offers an Associate’s Degree (AA) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Paralegal Studies. Both of WKU’s paralegal programs in Kentucky are approved by the American Bar Association. WKU’s AA paralegal studies program requires the completion of 66 semester credits, whereas WKU’s BA in paralegal studies requires the completion of 120 semester credits. Core coursework for both paralegal degrees includes legal ethics, civil procedure, intro to the paralegal profession, legal technology, family law, legal research & writing, constitutional law, real estate law, and a paralegal internship, to name a few.
Western Kentucky University was established in 1906. The school’s campuses serve more than 19,700 students. The main campus sits atop a hill at the Barren River Valley. Highlight – Western Kentucky University operates multiple campuses in Kentucky in Owensboro, Glasgow, Elizabethtown, and Bowling Green.
Program: AA or BA in Paralegal Studies
6. Morehead State University – Morehead, KY
Morehead State University (MSU) offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Paralegal Science that is recognized among the best paralegal programs in Kentucky by The Best Schools.org. MSU’s baccalaureate degree in legal studies is available on campus. The curriculum for this BA in legal studies includes legal research and writing, criminal law & procedure, pretrial litigation, intro to law and ethics, property law, torts, and a paralegal internship, among others. Morehead State University offers its legal studies students the option of studying abroad in a number of international locations.
Morehead State University was established in 1887 as a normal school but became a state university in 1922. Morehead State University serves more than 9,300 students from its rural 600+ acre campus in Kentucky. Highlight – Morehead State University began with one student in a rented cottage but has grown to be a space-grant institution of higher education.
Program: BA in Legal Studies
8. Beckfield College – Florence, KY
Beckfield College (Beckfield) offers an American Bar Association approved Associate of Applied Science degree program in Paralegal that is considered among the best paralegal programs in Kentucky. Beckfield College boasts that it is the only post-secondary higher learning institution in northern Kentucky and the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati with an American Bar Association ABA approved paralegal program. Most of Beckfield College’s degree offerings are available through the college’s distance learning platform, or in a hybrid-delivered format. Students interested in Beckfield College’s program are encouraged to apply for the many grants available at Beckfield College, including the Kentucky College Access Program Grant.
Beckfield College was established in 1984 as an educational service center for those in the greater Cincinnati area. Five years later, the school became a public higher learning institution. Highlight – Beckfield College provides a variety of diploma and degree programs at the associate’s and bachelor’s degree levels.
Program: AAS Paralegal
9. Daymar College – Louisville (branch), KY
Daymar College (Daymar) offers an Associate of Applied Science degree program in Paralegal that is considered among the best paralegal programs in Kentucky. Students enrolled in Daymar College’s paralegal studies program explore the areas of legal research, family law, criminal law, ethics, civil litigation, and probate administration, to name a few. Students graduate from Daymar College’s paralegal studies program ready to enter the workforce in entry-level positions, supporting legal professionals. Daymar College offers financial aid and scholarships and may be able to help you pay for your tuition and educational expenses.
Daymar College was established in 1963. Daymar operates as a for-profit, higher learning institution dedicated to business. Since its inception, Daymar has grown to now offer more than 30 career tracks to its students. Highlight – Daymar College operates a campus in Louisville, as well as two satellite facilities in Murfreesboro and Clarksville.
Program: AAS Paralegal
10. Madisonville Community College – Madisonville, KY
Madisonville Community College (MCC) offers two of the paralegal programs in Kentucky with its certificate or its Associate of Applied Science degree in paralegal technology. Madisonville Community College offers a generous transfer credit policy, which students can investigate on the school’s website. Students typically complete the AAS degree in two years, if carrying the recommended course load. Classes for this degree include law office management, family law, legal writing, wills and estates, torts, legal ethics, civil litigation, real property, and a paralegal internship, to name a few.
Madisonville Community College(MCC) was established in 1968. Madisonville Community College is a member school of the state’s technical/community college system. More than 2,500 students attend classes at the Madisonville campus. Highlight – The Aspen Institute recognizes Madisonville Community College among the country’s top ten-percent of community colleges.
How Do I Choose a Paralegal Program in Kentucky?
Everyone’s educational and career goals are different. You may prefer to take a paralegal certificate program in order to learn more about the profession and if it’s the right one for you. Or you might find that you enjoy the challenges of working in the legal profession and want to earn a solid education that can propel your career further than a certificate or associate’s degree can provide.
Finding a paralegal program in Kentucky is your first opportunity to test your research skills. Start looking for accreditation from nationally recognized organizations, the kind of education that’s provided by the program (does it have the classes you want to take?), if the program has classes that align with your goals in terms of pure paralegal education or if it has related classes from another discipline, and the organization of the course (trimesters, semesters, accelerated, etc). Make sure to include your personal preferences when looking at paralegal programs in Kentucky. This is your education and it’s something that you carry with you throughout your life. It’s important to select the program that aligns with your goals and is most likely to help you get your career started.
How is the Job Market for Paralegals in Kentucky?
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were a total of 2,770 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout the state of Kentucky. However, the number of paralegal jobs in Kentucky rose to 3,120 in 2019. The job growth in Kentucky mirrors that of the job growth outlook estimated by the BLS at 10% between 2019 and 2029. That shows that Kentucky paralegal jobs have a positive growth trajectory as more businesses turn to paraprofessionals to do the work that was previously done by lawyers. Many industries are turning to hire paralegals for their knowledge of the law which is perceived as being on par with lawyers. Paralegals do legal research and are familiar with writing legal documents which makes them capable of doing the same work as lawyers do for less money. Now many corporations are hiring paralegals directly instead of retaining a law firm to take care of legal matters until absolutely necessary.
Employment is also dependent upon geographic location and needs for legal professionals. Paralegal jobs in Louisville, Kentucky, are easier to find than in more remote areas of the state. The same goes for the average salary: Areas of the state that have lower costs of living and lower demand for paralegals will provide more of a challenge for earning and employment. However, the field of law is one that requires specialized knowledge and understanding and a paralegal with some experience will almost always earn a wage that’s higher than average for the area.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in Kentucky?
The BLS states that the median salary for paralegals in the U.S. is $51,750 per year with the average paralegal salary in Kentucky at $44,650. The gap in the national versus state pay is somewhat significant, but the lower average paralegal salary in Kentucky is brought down due to the fact the state has a large rural population. Someone who works in Louisville will earn a much higher salary than a paralegal working in a smaller area like Paducah.
Working for local, state, or federal government as a paralegal is always an option for someone who wants a solid experience that can land them a higher paying job in the private sector later in their career. Another advantage to working for a governing body is stronger job security and steady advancement with experience and time spent in the job. Government jobs tend to pay a little less than the private sector, but make up for the lower pay through benefits and job stability.
A paralegal who wants to work in a fast-paced environment is best served by seeking out employment in the larger metro areas. Jobs are more plentiful where populations are larger and there’s a larger variety of positions available. A paralegal who’s looking to work in the area of criminal law will have an easier time finding gainful and well-compensated employment in a metropolitan area with a large population as opposed to a more rural area of the state.