Top 10 Paralegal Programs in North Carolina for 2020

The Online Paralegal Programs ranking of the best paralegal programs in North Carolina focuses only on ABA-approved paralegal programs. Why? When you start looking for schools and programs, one of the first things you should look for is ABA approval. Why look for ABA-approved paralegal programs in North Carolina? Well, it’s not just North Carolina. As a matter of fact, no matter where you go to school, if you plan to become a paralegal, that ABA seal of approval is a must-have.

The ABA does not approve less than stellar institutions. It only approves schools that teach the relevant skills and knowledge that students need to succeed in the field. ABA approval gives you an your potential employers a quick way to tell that your education is worth the cost. Always look for ABA approved paralegal programs in NC. When your school has the ABA stamp of approval, you’ll know that you’re getting the type of challenging education that you deserve. Plus, your potential future employers will know that your education makes you worth hiring.

How We Ranked the Best Paralegal Programs in North Carolina

In the age of for-profit colleges, a lot of schools would be more than willing to take your money and provide a sub-par education in return. Students who attend these schools often realize too late that their degrees aren’t worth much. Employers don’t usually want to hire graduates from these schools. In addition to the basic requirement of ABA approval, OPP editors used three factors to rank programs: Cot, Job Placement, and Student Satisfaction. That tells prospective students that their program will have a real impact on their career.

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A paralegal certificate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allows professionals to earn their certifications quickly. As one of the best paralegal programs in North Carolina, the college certification program focuses on key subjects needed to be successful in a paralegal career: investigation techniques, legal research, and courtroom preparation. The North Carolina State Board has reviewed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s paralegal program and has confirmed that graduates are eligible to take the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification Exam at the conclusion of their yearlong studies.

The University of North Carolina was founded in 1789 as a public institution of higher learning. The university is one of the most competitive colleges in the state with UNC being ranked consistently as one of the Top 40 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. The college’s Tar Heels are one of the best basketball teams in the NCAA Division I and have a long-standing rivalry with Duke University.

Program: Paralegal Certificate

2. Duke University

Duke University has one of the best paralegal programs in NC with the required courses taught by successful local attorneys. The traditional certification program is available on-campus in Durham, North Carolina. The five-month program includes evening courses and Saturday sessions to accommodate working adults. An accelerated program is available during the summer. An online paralegal certificate is offered with a 300-hour course of study on subjects such as legal investigations and law research. Both the traditional and online paralegal certificates from Duke University promise a high return on investment with employers appreciating that all training was done at a prestigious university.

Duke University is a private college located in the suburban area of Durham. The college has annual enrollment numbers that exceed 16,000 with students attending any of the 10 academic schools to earn their degrees and certifications. Duke University is one of the most selective colleges in the country with only nine percent of all applicants gaining acceptance.

Program: Paralegal Certificate

3. Central Piedmont Community College

Central Piedmont Community College stands out by offering one of the best paralegal programs in North Carolina. Classwork within the program will include an in-depth look at different areas of the law including wills, legal writing, legal research, investigations, probate work, and much more. A component of information technology is included in the certification program with students learning how to collect and analyze data. Central Piedmont Community College earned approval for their paralegal technology certification program through the American Bar Association and has a high pass rate for the North Carolina Certified Paralegal Examination.

For more than 50 years, Central Piedmont Community College has offered affordable learning options to local students. The college has multiple campuses throughout North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County. The Charlotte college has 300 credited programs available and 55 professional certificate programs. Class sizes are small with plenty of personalized attention provided to all enrolled students.

Program: Paralegal Technology

4. Pitt Community College

Paralegal technology is an emerging certificate program that is currently being offered through Pitt Community College. Both the American Bar Association and the North Carolina State Bar approve the paralegal diploma from Pitt Community College. Within the program, courses include Civil Injuries, Civil Litigation, Family Law, Wills, and Ethics. The community college emphasizes flexibility through their certification programs with classes available during daytime hours, evenings, and weekends. A portion of class requirements can be done through virtual courses. By attending Pitt Community College, professionals are able to earn their certifications at a very affordable price tag.

Pitt Community College is an accredited college in Greenville, North Carolina with more than 60 accredited degree programs. Along with associate’s degrees and certifications, the college also sponsors adult literacy and adult basic education classes on campus. The community college is one of the largest institutions in the state with more than 23,000 students taking both credit and non-credit courses annually.

Program: Paralegal Technology

5. Meredith College

The paralegal program at Meredith College has approval through the American Bar Association and is qualified through the North Carolina State Bar. The accelerated certification program is a one-year commitment with a strong focus on hands-on learning. An internship component is required as part of the certification requirements. Also, students attend a pro bono clinic to gain direct client experience. Meredith College is a highly recommended program for prospective paralegals due to low tuition costs and career placement services.

Located in the urban section of Raleigh, Meredith College is a private four-year institution. The liberal arts college operates as a women’s college with a total enrollment of almost 2,000 students. The college offers both undergraduate and graduate degree options with highlighted majors that include business, psychology, and education. All students can take advantage of the college’s StrongPoints program—a personal coaching model that provides mentorship opportunities between students and faculty members.

Program: Paralegal

6. Guilford Technical Community College

Paralegal technology certifications are offered through Guilford Technical Community College. An additional credentialing opportunity is available through the college’s paralegal associate degree program. The certificate program is only offered to individuals who have already earned at least a two-year degree. Both the associate’s degree and certification program is finished within two years of full-time study. Classroom topics include property law, ethics, corporate law, investigations, legal research, and legal writing. At the conclusion of the American Bar Association approved program, students are prepared to take the North Carolina Paralegal Certification Exam.

As one of the largest junior college systems in North Carolina, Guilford Technical Community College teaches more than 35,000 students on its six Jamestown area campuses. The college offers very low per-credit tuition costs with the majority of the students qualifying for federal grant and loan programs. Currently, the school has 80 academic programs and 100 technical diplomas.

Program: Paralegal Technology

7. Fayetteville Technical Community College

Fayetteville Technical Community College has one of the best paralegal programs in NC for students who want to specialize in legal technologies. Students are trained to assist attorneys with legal tasks such as investigations, drafting and filing legal documents, law research, legal writing, and probate tasks. Core classes within the program include Ethics, Commercial Law, Wills, Trusts, and Commercial Law. The diploma paralegal program is done over the course of three semesters while the associate degree option takes five semesters to complete. To qualify for the paralegal diploma program, the student must already have a bachelor’s degree. Fayetteville Technical Community College thoroughly prepares students for careers within law firms, financial institutions, and government agencies.

Fayetteville Technical Community College has both credit programs of study and non-credit continuing education courses. There are over 280 program options with a student body of more than 35,000 annually. Classes can be done in-person or via the college’s virtual campus. The college has multiple campuses throughout the Fayetteville area including an education center at Fort Bragg.

Program: Paralegal Technology

8. Methodist University

Methodist University has one of the best paralegal programs in NC that allows students to earn an undergraduate degree in legal studies. The 21-credit minor course of study was designed for students who wish to become certified paralegals in the state. The program provides an overview of the legal system with many of the courses the same classes taken by first-year law students. Out of the 21 credits, 12 credits must be completed on campus at Methodist University. Methodist University provides numerous job opportunities for legal studies students including internships and career placements.

Methodist University is a private religious college centrally located in the city of Fayetteville. The college is very focused on personalized attention to each of its students with the average student/faculty ratio being 9 to 1. Total enrollment for the college is less than 2,100 with a rolling admissions policy.

Program: Legal Studies BS

9. Carteret Community College

Those interested in paralegal technology can choose to attend the highly rated paralegal program from Carteret Community College. Along with legal topics such as investigative research, family law, estate law, real estate, and commercial law, enrolled students learn about computer programs that assist with legal analysis. Program options include a two-year associate’s degree or post-bachelor’s diploma. At the conclusion of the programs, students are prepared to take the paralegal certification exam and find employment at private law firms, insurance agencies, and government offices.

Carteret Community College is a very affordable two-year college in Morehead City, North Carolina. The beautiful campus is situated right on the shores of Bogue Sound. Dozens of academic programs of study are available as well as numerous non-credit continuing studies. Many courses can be completed on-campus as well as done online through the college’s virtual campus.

Program: Paralegal Technology

10. South College Asheville

Receive a paralegal certificate from South College—a site of one of the best paralegal programs in North Carolina. The American Bar Association-approved diploma program is available for post-degree students who want to work under the direction of an attorney. Legal professionals teach classes with featured subjects such as legal research, investigative techniques, family law, commercial law, and ethics. Paralegal students are given access to supplemental aids such as tutors, writing labs, and math labs.

South College has five campuses located in both North Carolina and Tennessee. An online portal is also available to enrolled students who wish to complete courses virtually. Hundreds of academic disciplines are offered with accelerated programs designed to help students get career ready quickly.

Program: Paralegal Certificate

Can I Get an Online Paralegal Program in North Carolina?

For a lot of people, the traditional education route just won’t work. A lot of career seekers have busy lives, and not everyone fits the profile of the traditional college freshman. A lot of these non-traditional students are turning to online education to learn the skills that they need. Is it possible to find that sort of program in North Carolina? Yes, you can absolutely find online paralegal programs in NC. However, it is important to know that there are no officially ABA-approved online programs. Remember that ABA acreditation is only for on-campus programs. However, a school with an ABA-approved on-campus program will teach the same material in its online program.

Accredited online paralegal programs in NC generally provide the same quality and rigor that their on-campus counterparts provide. However, these programs also provide the flexibility that a lot of busy adults need. They also come in plenty of varieties. For example, there are fully online programs. There are also hybrid programs that combine online classes with some on-campus classes. Then, there are also online paralegal certificate programs in North Carolina. These certificate programs work well for those who want paralegal training but aren’t ready for a full degree.

How is the Job Market for Paralegals in North Carolina?

Generally speaking, the job market is fantastic for paralegals all across the country. Over the next ten years or so, the demand of paralegals in the US is expected to grow by 12%. North Carolina’s demand for paralegals just happens to be higher than the national average, with a projected job growth of more than 17%. Why is there such a demand for paralegals now? It’s partially because more and more professionals are hiring paralegals to help them with any legal research and organization that they may need. Attorneys are good sources for paralegal jobs in North Carolina, of course. However, corporations will also hire paralegals. When it comes to entry-level paralegal jobs in North Carolina, you won’t have any shortage of possibilities.

How Much Do Paralegals in North Carolina Make?

The paralegal salary in NC varies from city to city. Generally speaking, the bigger the city, the higher your potential salary. The average paralegal salary in Greensboro, NC starts around the $30,000 mark. The average paralegal salary in Charlotte, NC makes a big jump to over $50,000. Those numbers only get higher when it comes to big city paralegal salary. In Raleigh, NC, the average is more than $62,000. Of course, bigger cities generally have a higher cost of living, too, so you’ll want to do some research to make the most cost-effective choices when you explore your options. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that the paralegal salary in NC can be lower for people who are just coming out of school. When you search for things like “average salary for paralegal in NC,” keep in mind that it may take you some time to reach those averages. That said, with such a big demand for paralegals, you’ll likely earn a competitive salary compared to entry-level positions for other professions.

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Top 10 ABA Approved Paralegal Degree Programs