Starting a paralegal career in Oklahoma, or getting further education to move up in a paralegal career, is a smart choice, but it’s important that prospective paralegal students should select a program that is a good fit for their goals and circumstances. There are a variety of paralegal programs in Oklahoma, and no two are exactly alike. Those who work or have other responsibilities during the day may prefer a program that offers night courses, online classes, or part-time study. Others may opt for an associate or bachelor degree program. Students who already have a degree may be in search of a shorter, certificate program or continuing education option. Other important factors to keep in mind are tuition, as costs can vary, and location, especially if you are looking for a program close to home or work.
Some paralegal programs are approved by the ABA. However, other programs don’t pursue this recognition. Not having the ABA’a seal of approval doesn’t necessarily mean a program is unaccredited or of low quality. Consult the school’s website and look for accreditation verification and reviews from independent sources, too.
How We Ranked the Best Paralegal Programs in Oklahoma
Online Paralegal Programs editors want to see Oklahoma paralegal students find the best program for their careers, so we feature only accredited, legitimate institutions. Programs are ranked according to reputation, student satisfaction, and tuition costs.
1. University of Oklahoma
Housed within the Department of Legal Assistant Education, the University of Oklahoma offers students a certificate in Legal Assistance, geared specifically for students interested in working in law offices and related office support. The entire program can be completed within a year’s time, and it incorporates a hybrid approach with online courses, which makes it easier for working students who need a flexible schedule. The total program takes 42 units to complete, and it covers all the basics of legal study, from civil procedure to evidence to legal writing and more.
Specialization is also possible in topics of interest to the student. The program also supports internships that give students real-life practice and training in legal settings that enhance book and class training. The entire program has been evaluated and approved the American Bar Association (ABA).
Programs: Certificate | Legal Assistant
Master’s Degree | Legal Studies
2. University of Central Oklahoma
Partnered online with the Center for Legal Studies, the University of Central Oklahoma is able to provide its students access to both foundational and advanced paralegal training and certificated skill-building. Students work entirely online, accessing various modules and preparing for testing on their knowledge development, also provided online.
Taking only 14 weeks to complete, the Center for Legal Studies program provides one of the fastest options for students to achieve certified paralegal skills and hit the office world with practical training that can be applied the first day of being hired.
3. East Central University
Among the state’s four-year institutions of higher learning, East Central University provides students an expanded undergraduate level of study in the law with the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, providing both a preparatory gateway for law school as well as giving those seeking the paralegal career and advantage over their competitors with a higher level 4-year college degree. Graduates can directly work in support positions for law firms or courts, and often find additional career paths in government positions as well.
As an additional advantage, students can take classes either on-campus or online, providing greater flexibility for those already working and seeking to expand their skillset. Topics covered include extensive work in legal research and writing as well as legal systems theory, civil procedure, and traditional litigation practices.
Programs: Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
4. Northeastern State University
The Legal Studies Program administers the legal-related education within Northeastern State University, offering a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies to students interested in paralegal and graduate legal careers. The topics are well-suited for anyone who has an interest of either working in the criminal justice field or in civil litigation. They continue to be expanding field topics in business law as well. Students will receive a combination of theory and book studies as well as practical training that is used everyday by law firms, courts, corporations and legal business entities.
Many graduates go on to careers in government, law enforcement, legal practice and support, law school, and education. A good amount of training also focuses on the financial legal aspect of business and practical law aspects in the business world as well.
Programs: Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
5. Rose State College
Designed as a two-year vocational program, the Rose State College Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies provides students and working degree that helps them stand out with a college education and the skill that can be immediately applied in the legal office setting. The student is paired with both legal practical skills such as trained writing and legal research along with substantive topic studies in evidence, civil procedure and criminal law. The student comes out of the Rose State College program with the ability to sit down and prepared draft pleading, briefs and research memos on day one of employment versus needing further training on practical legal office applications.
The program combines both regular hours and evening classes to provide flexibility for working students and traditional day students as well. The entire course curriculum has been evaluated and approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) as well, providing students skills that meet ABA standards applicable in any law office in the country.
6. Tulsa Community College
While Tulsa Community College operates at the junior college level, the school is a paralegal studies powerhouse, providing two different degrees in the field. Tulsa Community College offers students either an Associate of Applied Science Paralegal degree or Associate of Arts Paralegal degree, and both have been evaluated and approved as study programs by the American Bar Association (ABA). The school also claims a proud membership in the American Association for Paralegal Education as well, something unique and specific to Tulsa that not a lot of other institutions can claim as well. Students at Tulsa Community College will be exposed to training in both the practical side of the paralegal career as well as the legal substantive side. They regularly gain valuable skillsets and trained guidance in how to perform effective legal research, draft legal documents, provide initial interviewing of clients, and pleading preparation. Substantive topics in classes will cover basic legal foundations in contract law, litigation, civil procedures and even legal electronic research.
The school offers a mix of in-person and online class training, which provides various scheduling flexibilities for working students. Students completing the program are geared for and encouraged to sit for a variety of paralegal certification exams, providing them an added bonus to their degrees and competitive edge versus others in the field.
Programs: Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
7. Oklahoma State University – Project Reach
Oklahoma State University offers a paralegal and advanced paralegal certificate program partnered with the Center for Legal Studies, delivering paralegal training to students via online platforms and distance learning. The program supports affordable access to paralegal training that can be completed in less than 4 months with dedicated commitment, being one of the fastest paralegal training programs offered in terms of making a graduate office ready for employment.
With an enhanced navigation design, the OSU-Center for Legal Studies approach gives students the maximum flexibility possible to add to their skill set or change their careers while still working a regular job or taking care of a home, and it frees students from the criteria of the traditional classroom and static work schedule that doesn’t always match the demands of real life. Students gain foundational training in legal writing, legal research, basic and advanced paralegal studies, substantive law courses and specialized courses for investigators and victim advocate roles.
Programs: Paralegal I & II
How Do I Choose a Paralegal Program in Oklahoma?
There are several factors to think about when researching paralegal programs in Oklahoma. Students should choose a quality program that meets their needs and will best help them reach their goals.
The American Bar Association lists several criteria to look for before enrolling in a paralegal studies course. A reputable program:
- Offers at least 60 semester (or 90 quarter) credits of classroom instruction, consisting of general education courses and at least 18 semester (or 27 quarter) credits in courses covering specific areas of law
- Employs qualified instructors
- Is eligible for accreditation, or is already accredited by, an agency that’s recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Education
- Has an advisory board made up of public- and private-sector legal assistants and attorneys
- Provides student services, such as career counseling and job placement assistance
- Is part of an accredited educational institution and has sufficient financial backing from that institution
- Provides adequate facilities and equipment, including a student library
How Is the Job Market for Paralegals in Oklahoma?
The job outlook for paralegals and legal assistants in Oklahoma is especially promising and is expected to be similar to sector-specific trends in the United States as a whole. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the field nationwide to be 10% through 2029. This is much higher than average for all industries. The BLS reports that paralegal jobs in Oklahoma will increase at a similar rate. Job candidates who are highly computer-literate and have strong skills in database management will be the most sought-after.
Paralegal jobs in Oklahoma are expected to be on the rise because companies and agencies are on the lookout to reduce costs. That means they’ll be utilizing the services of paralegals and legal assistants in lieu of attorneys whenever possible. They’re also likely to try to reduce expenses by addressing legal issues in-house via their own departments rather than seeking legal services from outside entities. Internal departments of large companies will need a substantial number of qualified paralegals among their ranks.
It’s also possible to find paralegal jobs in Tulsa Oklahoma and paralegal jobs in Oklahoma City OK within small to mid-size firms. These may provide opportunities for employees to work more closely with attorneys, since there are fewer staff members to handle research and other day-to-day tasks.
Those looking for paralegal jobs in Tulsa Oklahoma may be able to land positions with well-known law firms and corporations. Larger firms often tend to divide paralegals into subject-specific teams, giving them the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of law. Paralegal jobs in Tulsa Oklahoma may also include financial-sector careers that lie outside the conventional legal setting.
The types of paralegal jobs in Oklahoma City OK are similar to what is available in Tulsa. In fact, some larger firms and corporations may have job openings in both cities. In addition, both locales offer career possibilities in government agencies. Paralegal positions in Oklahoma City OK can provide more opportunities to work in public policy since the city is home to the state capital.
How Much Can I Make as a Paralegal in Oklahoma?
Paralegal salaries in Oklahoma tend to vary somewhat depending on location. Pay is typically higher in urban areas. However, the cost of living is relatively low statewide, which can make up for a slightly smaller paycheck. The average salary for a paralegal in Oklahoma was $48,330 in May 2018. Oklahoma city paralegals netted $49,960, on average, while their cohorts in Tulsa earned a bit more than $50,000 per year.
The starting salary for a paralegal in Oklahoma isn’t necessarily the same across the board. The BLS reports that as of May 2019, mean salaries for paralegals in Oklahoma ranged from $37,500 to $47,380. One would expect the starting salary for a paralegal in Oklahoma to be on the lower end of the spectrum. In some instances, entry-level pay might be lower than this amount for entities that pay less than the mean.
However, because paralegals and legal assistants are expected to be in high demand over the coming years, salaries for paralegals in Oklahoma should increase accordingly.