Top Online Bachelor’s in Paralegal Degree Programs for 2019

Yes, you can become a paralegal with just an associate’s degree or certification, but like every professional field, the job market for paralegals is becoming more competitive. If your goal is to simply work as a legal assistant, and associate’s degree will get you where you want to be, but if you would like to advance to more responsibility (and higher pay) like legal drafting or in-depth research, a bachelor’s in legal studies is a wise choice. If you’re a paralegal who is considering going on to law school, it’s an even better choice.

Paralegals are busy people, though. If you’re a working paralegal interested in getting your bachelor’s in legal studies, online may be the answer for you. There are many online programs from ABA-approved law schools, so even though the ABA doesn’t recognize online, they’re taught by the same top-notch faculty. For working paralegals looking for a bachelor degree in legal studies online, Online Paralegal Programs is ranking the best paralegal bachelor’s online.

Ranking Method: How We Chose the Best Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Online

Paralegal is a practical professional discipline, and for that reason, our primary concern at Online Paralegal Programs is ensuring that prospective paralegals find programs that will have a real, positive career impact. For that reason, we rank the best bachelor degree in legal studies online by four career-oriented factors: Average Alumni Salary, Job Placement Rate, Student Reviews, and Tuition Cost. We draw our data from College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche, and each factor is equally weighted.

1. UMass Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, or UMass Lowell, offers a bachelor degree in legal studies online. The degree program is a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an option to focus on paralegal studies. The paralegal option focuses on developing a student’s hands-on skills as well as their knowledge of legal theory. Students have options to take online classes that give greater flexibility and more options when they must balance their degree program with their personal obligations.

The way UMass Lowell differs from other paralegal programs is their focus on developing the skills and knowledge students need to accomplish their goals. The school offers a mixture of online and on-campus classes, which allows students to work around their schedule and take classes based on their situation. It gives you the opportunity to work at your own pace by taking online courses.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Paralegal

2. Tulane University

Tulane University offers a bachelor’s in legal studies online that prepares students for their career goals. The Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies allows students to prepare for a career as a paralegal or to work toward more advanced legal degrees. Students can also obtain a paralegal certification through the school and the online program, which offers more opportunities for their work as a paralegal before deciding whether to pursue a higher level of education in the legal field.

Tulane University stands out by having the oldest ABA-approved program through the American Bar Association’s Committee on Paralegals. The school was approved by the ABA in 1981, and it continues to provide the high level of education students need for their career goals. The practicum course also allows students to gain experience through an in-office internship.

Degree: BA in General Legal Studies

3. Purdue Global

The BS in Legal Support and Services from Purdue Global offers students the opportunity to work in a law firm or in a corporation. It gives you the flexibility to take on a support role in your career and allows you to obtain your paralegal certification when you finish the program. The bachelor’s in paralegal studies online does not require you to attend classes on-campus, so it works well when you have personal obligations that limit your ability to attend traditional classes.

Purdue Global differs from other programs by providing a well-rounded foundation in legal studies. It recognizes that you may work in a variety of industries and focuses on teaching students legal theory to ensure that you are ready for your career. The degree program ensures that students understand the real-world application of their skills and know the process to research information in the legal field.

Degree: BS in Legal Support and Services

4. Florida Gulf Coast University

When you are looking for a bachelor degree in legal studies online, the BS in Legal Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University may assist with your goals. The program provides students with a rigorous education to develop critical thinking skills, as well as practical research and writing skills. The focus on developing useful skills helps students prepare for a career as a paralegal. The degree focuses on the specific competencies you need to obtain certification as a paralegal.

The way Florida Gulf Coast University stands out is the focus on practical skills. The degree program focuses on ensuring students are prepared for their career as a paralegal or legal assistant. That means it focuses on skills that apply to their career goals and prepares students to take appropriate exams for certification. The fully online program also allows students to continue into a higher level of education.

Degree: BS in Legal Studies

5. National University

National University offers a BS in Paralegal Studies to prepare students for a career as a paralegal. The degree program is available online or through traditional classes, so students have a flexible solution for their degree and college experience. The school focuses on accessibility, so it offers flexible classes and opportunities to start working on a degree when it fits your schedule.

National University stands out by offering four-week classes. The month-long classes serve two primary purposes: flexibility when starting a degree program and getting through the material at a fast pace. Students can complete their degree in a shorter amount of time due to the short duration of their classes. The paralegal program also allows students to start taking classes at any month of the year.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

6. Charter Oak State College

The bachelor’s in paralegal studies online at Charter Oak State College prepares students to start a career as a paralegal or improve their skills when they are working in a paralegal job. The Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies was designed with the Connecticut Bar Association, so it fits the standards of the association and provides the information students need to work under lawyers in a law firm. The degree program is not designed for students who plan to continue their education in law school. It specifically focuses on paralegal studies and the role of a paralegal in the legal field.

Charter Oak State College differs from other programs by focusing on the unique challenges faced by paralegals. It specifically focuses on the skills a paralegal needs to work in a law firm or a related field. The focus on a specific aspect of legal services and skills ensures that students are able to handle the problems they may face when working under the supervision of a lawyer.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

7. Peirce College

The BS in Paralegal Studies from Peirce College offers students the opportunity to focus on their career in the legal field. The degree program focuses on the skills a paralegal needs to provide adequate support to lawyers in a law firm or to handle legal support in a corporation. By preparing for the unique role of a paralegal, students gain the skills to handle the research, writing, and support role of their career.

Peirce College stands out by offering a hybrid online program. While students complete their foundational classes on-campus, the specialized paralegal courses are available online. Students can work around a busy schedule and complete their degree when it fits their routine. The program is approved by the American Bar Association and it allows students to focus on reaching their goals as a paralegal.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

8. Mississippi College

The online BS in Paralegal Studies through Mississippi College offers the training students need to handle the challenges of working in a law firm. The degree program recognizes the unique role of a paralegal when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness in a law firm. By focusing on teaching students the legal research skills and writing skills they need for their career, it prepares you to assist lawyers through the process of preparing a case. It also recognizes the importance of organization in a law firm and teaches you to handle organizational challenges for an efficient office.

Mississippi College differs from other programs by taking a practical approach to paralegal studies. The program recognizes that a paralegal does not provide legal advice and focuses on supporting a lawyer. It also recognizes that students may end up working in government roles or corporate roles, so it gives students a strong foundation in legal studies to prepare for their potential roles as a paralegal.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

9. Loyola University Chicago

When you’re considering a bachelor’s in legal studies online, the BA in Paralegal Studies from Loyola University in Chicago offers a solution. The online program allows you to work on your degree and prepare for a career as a paralegal. The program focuses on litigation and corporate practice, as well as legal research, writing, and ethics. The school recognizes the role of a paralegal and provides the foundation you need to start working in your career.

Loyola University in Chicago stands out for their paralegal studies because it allows students to transfer credits from other paralegal programs or an ABA-approved degree program. The ability to transfer credits means you will be able to finish a degree in a timely manner. The online program also allows students to obtain specialized certification in litigation. That specialized degree allows students to focus on a specific area of the law and work with corporations or law firms that deal with corporate law.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

10. University of Maryland University College

The University of Maryland University College offers an online BS in Legal Studies. The online degree program prepares students for a career in law. It teaches you about the processes of a lawmaking institution and the role of ethics in law. It also teaches you about paralegal studies and the skills associated with working as a paralegal. The program allows students to transfer as many as 90 credits from another school or legal program. That allows students to complete their degree when it fits a personal schedule.

The way the University of Maryland University College differs from other programs is the focus on foundational knowledge. Students learn critical thinking skills and legal reasoning to provide support to lawyers and other legal professionals. The program allows students to work as a paralegal or to move forward with a higher level of education. By obtaining a degree in legal studies, students are able to choose a career path that fits their long-term goals.

Degree: BS in Legal Studies

11. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University offers a hybrid online program in paralegal science. The Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Science focuses on paralegal best practices and takes a hands-on approach to the educational process. While the hybrid program offers most classes online, it does require students to attend on-campus classes for ten credits. The program allows students to enhance their degree with certifications that specialize in specific areas of the legal field.

Eastern Kentucky University stands out by offering an intensive residency program for hands-on experience as a paralegal. The residency program offers students access to working professionals, which allows them to make connections for future networking and career opportunities. The school also offers eight-week terms, which allows students to obtain their degree in a timely manner.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Science

12. Kent State University

The BA in Paralegal Studies from Kent State University helps students prepare for their career as a paralegal. The program is approved by the American Bar Association and takes an interdisciplinary approach to the learning process. Since the program is a Bachelor of Art, students learn from the liberal arts background that requires creativity and innovation. After completing the core classes, students move into specialized classes for paralegal studies. During the specialized classes, students gain the critical thinking and technical skills they need to handle the challenges of working in a law firm.

Kent State University stands apart from other programs by offering specialized paralegal studies. Students have the option to obtain a degree as a generalist with broad skills within the legal industry. They can also specialize in litigation or transactional practice. The specialized skills give students a focused understanding of a particular aspect of the law. That allows students to obtain a job in that specialized field.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

13. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a BA in Criminal Justice for students with an interest in pre-law and paralegal studies. The online degree program is a concentration within criminal justice that prepares students for a career as a paralegal or to move forward with a higher level of education. While students must take the core classes for criminal justice, the concentration allows students to focus on their area of interest before they move forward with a law degree. After students complete the degree program, they can start working as a paralegal or move forward with the next stage of their education.

The online degree at Northwestern State University of Louisiana stands out because it offers students a flexible solution for their career goals. Students have the skills and knowledge to work as a paralegal. That allows students to start working in a law firm when they decide to continue working on a law degree. It also prepares students for the specific responsibilities of a paralegal as it relates to organization, research, writing, and assisting lawyers with their cases.

Degree: BA in Criminal Justice – Pre-Law and Paralegal

14. Hampton University

When you are looking for a bachelor degree in legal studies online, the BA in Paralegal Studies from Hampton University offers a solution for your goals. The online degree program provides students with a strong liberal arts foundation before moving into specialized legal studies and focusing on paralegal studies. When students complete the degree program, they are ready to take on the challenges of working in a law firm or working for an organization. The degree program also prepares students who plan to move forward into a law degree for their future career.

Hampton University differs from other programs by offering a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies. The online degree program does not require students to attend classes on-campus and it gives students the strong foundation they need to work in the legal field. The degree program also helps students connect to appropriate individuals for internships and hands-on experience.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

15. Herzing University

The bachelor’s in legal studies online from Herzing University offers the training you need to start a career as a paralegal or a legal assistant. The degree program focuses on teaching students to research laws and materials for a case. It also ensures that students know the relevant skills to handle contracts, drafts of a pleading, and writing up reports for a lawyer. The focus of the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from the university is supporting lawyers with their goals and providing the training students need to work in a legal department of a government agency, private company, or a corporate firm.

Herzing University offers an ABA-approved degree in legal studies for students who plan to work as a paralegal. The degree program stands apart from other options by providing students with the skills to handle the challenges of a law firm. It prepares you for the complications of staying organized and keeping track of important documents or files. It also helps you understand your role when providing support to a lawyer or legal team. The university offers an online program, as well as the on-campus program, to provide students with greater flexibility for their education.

Degree: BS in Legal Studies

16. William Woods University

When you’re looking for the best bachelor’s in paralegal studies online, you may consider the program at William Woods University. The online BS in Paralegal Studies focuses on teaching students the skills they need to work in a law firm. Students learn legal research and writing skills, as well as relevant computer skills as it relates to the legal field and their career goals. The rigorous curriculum gives students a strong foundation in law as it applies to paralegals to provide students with the opportunities they expect from their career.

William Woods University differs from other programs by offering a flexible start and stop program with courses that are eight weeks long. The flexible method of teaching means students can take time off between classes when problems arise that limit their availability. You can pick up the courses when it fits your schedule and adjust your classes to keep up with your goals.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

17. SUNY Canton

The State University of New York in Canton, or SUNY Canton, offers a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies online. The program is fully online and allows students to work on their classes and coursework when it fits their schedule. The online degree program offers hands-on experience by providing case studies and requiring students to work on well-researched documents based on the case study. It gives students the practice they need to handle the goals of a client when working in a law firm.

SUNY Canton stands apart from other legal studies programs by providing a fully online program with real-world experiences. The professors are professional lawyers who practice law or have previously practiced law in a law firm. By drawing from their expertise and experience, students learn about the challenges of defending a client and the process of finding information for the case. They also develop research skills that improve their opportunities for a career as a paralegal.

Degree: BS in Legal Studies

18. Liberty University

The bachelor’s in paralegal studies online from Liberty University offers students the opportunity to obtain a degree and start working in a reasonable amount of time. As a fully online program, students are able to work at their own pace and work around personal obligations. That means a student can complete their degree in less than four years with the courses that last for eight weeks. The program focuses on building a strong foundation in law, politics, and government to ensure that students understand the way politics and the government may change or impact the law.

Liberty University stands out by having SACSCOC accreditation. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACSCOC, recognizes the paralegal studies degree program for its rigorous and focused curriculum. The university ensures that students understand more than the basic skills they need to work as a paralegal. It provides insight into factors that may impact the law or the process of handling research in a court case.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

19. Saint Mary of the Woods College

The bachelor degree in legal studies online from Saint Mary of the Woods College offers a strong foundation in the skills a paralegal brings into a law firm. The BA in Paralegal Studies from the college recognizes that politics, history, and society play a role in the legal field. Due to the way laws may impact society and politics, students delve deep into the different impacts of the law on various aspects of social interactions and political groups. That gives students a broad understanding they can bring into their job to improve research processes and keep up with changes to the legal system.

Saint Mary of the Woods College differs from other programs by giving students a broad understanding of the way laws impact different aspects of life and society. By ensuring that students understand the skills they need as a paralegal, as well as deeper topics related to the law, it prepares students for a career in a variety of fields and industries. The online degree program sets high expectations for students through rigorous and thorough materials.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

20. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers a bachelor’s in legal studies online that helps students prepare for their role as a paralegal or a legal assistant. The degree program prepares students for a career in the legal system based on your goals. Since the BS in Criminal Justice with a focus on Legal Studies and Advocacy gives students a strong foundation in the legal system, you have opportunities to work in family services, child protective services, victim services, or the parole and probation system. You can also work in the courts as a clerk or in related fields.

The way Southern New Hampshire University differs from other programs is the focus on advocacy and intervention within the criminal justice system. The degree program goes beyond legal studies and preparing students to work as a paralegal. It takes a specialized approach and prepares students for different roles throughout the justice system based on personal interests and goals.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Legal Studies and Advocacy

21. Keiser University

The BA in Paralegal Studies from Keiser University prepares students for their role as a paralegal in a law firm or an organization. The degree program allows students to take a specialized concentration in Law Office Management, or to focus on general studies. The basic paralegal studies program gives students a broad understanding of the legal system and their role in a law firm. When students take the Law Office Management concentration, they focus on the specific management aspects of a paralegal’s job in the office environment.

Keiser University stands apart by offering the training students need to take on a law office manager position as well as a paralegal position. The degree program recognizes that a paralegal plays different roles within a law firm and may take on a management position to keep up with important tasks within the firm. The online program also offers students a complete understanding of the legal research and drafting skills they need to support and assist a lawyer.

Degree: BA in Paralegal Studies

22. Regent University

Regent University offers a BS in Paralegal Studies to students who want to work with a law firm or in a similar role. The degree program prepares students to take on the responsibilities associated with working in a law firm and the challenges a paralegal may face in their career. It also recognizes that the responsibilities that fall to a paralegal continue to increase, so it helps students prepare for any legal responsibilities that they may work on in relation to research, drafting, or interviewing clients and witnesses.

Regent University differs from other programs by approaching the legal system from a Christian perspective and maintaining ABA-approval for their paralegal studies program. The degree program is available online for flexibility, as well as on-campus for students who prepare to follow through with the traditional education experience.

Degree: BS in Paralegal Studies

23. University of Providence

The hybrid online BS in Legal and Paralegal Studies from the University of Providence allows students the flexibility they need to reach their career goals. The degree program focuses on balancing legal theory with the practical application of the theory. That gives students an idea of how the law and theory of law apply to court cases and litigation. The degree program also requires students to take an internship for hands-on experience in a law firm or organization.

The University of Providence stands out from other schools by providing students with hands-on experience and practical application of the theories they study. That focus on experience ensures that students are prepared to handle their career when they start working as a paralegal. The program is approved by the American Bar Association and gives students a strong foundation in the skills they need for their career.

Degree: BS in Legal and Paralegal Studies

24. Hodges University

Hodges University offers a BS in Legal Studies online that allows students to focus on their career goals and aspirations. The online degree program gives students a foundation in legal studies and allows them to work as a paralegal or a legal assistant. The program also recognizes the growing demand for professionals with technological skills, and it provides students with instruction and training in eDiscovery and eLitigation. It also offers training in the management of a firm’s online or computer data.

Hodges University differs from other programs by focusing on the role of technology in the legal system. The growing focus on using technology to find information about clients, witnesses, or other parties means paralegals and legal assistants need a growing number of skills for their responsibilities. The degree program also prepares students who plan to continue their education in legal studies.

Degree: BS in Legal Studies

25. University of Maine at Augusta

The University of Maine at Augusta offers an online BS in Justice Studies that prepares students for their role as a paralegal. The degree program provides extensive training in residency courses with a focus on legal studies as it applies to the justice system. Students learn about criminal law, policing, forensic science, and specialized areas of the justice system. It prepares students for a career in the court system or in the justice system, as well as jobs working under a lawyer.

The way the University of Maine at Augusta differs from other schools is their focus on the justice system. The degree focuses on criminal justice and policing, which allows students to take on a role at a court. The residency courses give students a strong foundation in the theories of law and the application of theories as it applies to the criminal justice system.

Degree: BS in Justice Studies

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice or Legal Studies?

When comparing a Bachelor degree in Legal Studies to that of a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, one will find that the two programs closely resemble one another. Both the bachelor’s in Legal Studies and its Criminal Justice sister-program prepare graduates to be analytical and critical thinkers.

The difference between a Legal Studies BA and Criminal Justice BA is mostly dependent upon the career objectives of the degree candidate. The Bachelor degree in Legal Studies is the right program for those who wish to become a paralegal, to reach for upper echelon jobs in the legal industry or even move on to attend law school.

Whereas, the Criminal Justice BA degree program is designed for those students who wish to enter the criminal justice industry, or to apply to graduate level criminal justice degree options.

Both the bachelor’s in Legal Studies and the Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree programs generally require 120 credit units to graduate

Those who graduate with a Legal Studies BA find rewarding careers as an FBI agent, paralegal, legal consultant, court clerk, or even a Drug Enforcement Agent.

Students are advised to carefully consider the subtle differences between the legal justice studies vs criminal justice studies while deciding which school/program would meet your needs.

Are There ABA Approved Online Paralegal Programs?

The American Bar Association (ABA) epitomizes the definition of law. Its reputation for integrity in the legal world is unmatched. An ABA approval is a credential proudly worn by the law schools that earn it.

While the American Bar Association approves institutions of higher learning dedicated to educating legal professionals, the ABA does not approve specific online paralegal bachelor’s degree programs. ABA approved paralegal programs require degree candidates to attend a minimum of ten hours of academic hours on the school’s campus.

However, for those who are in search of ABA approved online paralegal programs, it is important to note that one’s intention to find an ABA-approved program is a smart choice. Those who understand how the legal industry operates, know that employers generally prefer to hire paralegal degree graduates from ABA-approved degree programs.

The reality is if your situation dictates that the online delivery format works better than do the next best thing. Instead of vying for an ABA approved online paralegal programs, select the best law school that falls within your financial means and take an online paralegal degree program taught by the same faculty who teach ABA approved paralegal programs on the school’s campus.

How Much Can I Make with an Online Paralegal Bachelor’s?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those professionals with legal studies jobs earned a median salary of nearly $50,940 for the calendar year 2018. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that the job growth for the paralegal industry, and thus a paralegal bachelor degree salary, is 15% through the year 2026.

Many paralegal professionals find that in order to increase a typical paralegal bachelor degree salary, they specialize in one of the many legal specialties. Of course, as a specialist designation will also open upper-level legal studies jobs in your chosen specialty.

Remember, experience also impacts a Legal Studies degree salary. Experience is gained through volunteer work, internships, part-time work, and of course when working full-time after graduation.

And, while a paralegal bachelor degree salary will likely exceed a starting salary of a job applicant with an associate’s degree, a legal studies degree salary for a paralegal that has earned a graduate level paralegal degree. Consider it food for thought, as something to think about when planning your career objectives.

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