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Paralegal Bachelor’s Programs Online Guide

Earning your bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is a great way to boost your career and help you stand out in a competitive job market. A growing number of schools are offering paralegal studies programs in both fully-online and hybrid-online formats where some coursework is on campus. A four-year degree in the legal field will help you develop the types of professional paralegal skills that are in-demand in today’s modern workforce. Earning a paralegal degree online can also help you prepare for advanced study, including law school. This guide to online paralegal bachelor’s programs is designed to help you evaluate whether an online or hybrid-online program is right for you and find top-ranked paralegal programs that fit your interests and career goals.

On-Campus vs Online Paralegal Programs: Will Online Learning Work for You?
Benefits of Earning a Paralegal Degree Online
What You Should Know Before Choosing an Online Paralegal Program
Important Information about the Accreditation of Online Paralegal Programs
Top Online Paralegal Programs
Profiles of Top Paralegal Schools with Online Programs
Frequently Asked Questions

On-Campus vs Online Paralegal Degrees: Will Online Learning Work for You?

There are both pros and cons to pursuing your bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies online. Before committing to a program, it’s best to evaluate these factors in order to determine whether online courses are a good fit for your learning style and needs.

Students taking courses online need to possess the skills and aptitudes necessary to hold themselves accountable for completing coursework on time. To be successful in this environment, students should be self-motivated and have a strong work ethic. Online students should also be able to self-teach through written materials and pre-recorded videos, without relying on the interactions found in a traditional classroom.

Paralegal programs offered online typically provide greater scheduling flexibility than is found in on-campus programs. However, this does not mean that students will not face deadlines or potential scheduling conflicts. Online paralegal programs often include a mix of asynchronous and synchronous courses. Asynchronous courses, sometimes called self-paced courses, do not have set meeting times; instead, students schedule their own study time within deadlines for assignments and exams set by the instructor. Synchronous courses are those that have designated meeting times for virtual classroom lectures and other scheduled class experiences.

Benefits of Earning an Online Paralegal Degree

Online legal studies degrees offer students a number of benefits. The first thing most people think about when considering online programs is the flexibility. In addition to reducing or eliminating commute times to campus, online programs offer students the opportunity to arrange study on their own schedule. In the case of asynchronous courses, students can study and complete assignments at any time during the day or evening. Programs that include courses that require virtual attendance in webinars typically schedule both day and evening sections, and sometimes weekend sections, meaning students have choices that fit a variety of scheduling preferences.

Pursuing a paralegal degree online also allows students to attend an out-of-state school without relocating. If you do not live near any of the top schools for paralegal programs, looking for out-of-state online paralegal programs may be a good choice. As an added benefit, many online paralegal schools offer in-state or reduced tuition rates for out-of-state students that traditional schools do not.

Many online paralegal degrees are also welcoming to transfer students. If you previously earned an associate’s degree or some college credit from a regionally accredited school, you will find that many online programs in legal studies will accept the transfer of your previously earned credits towards your paralegal degree. This can reduce the cost of earning your bachelor’s degree and the time that it takes to complete a four-year program.

What You Should Know Before Choosing an Online Paralegal Degree

Although there are many benefits to earning a paralegal degree online, there are also various misconceptions about such programs. One common perception is that the coursework for online degrees is easier than coursework for on-campus degrees – but the opposite is often true. Accredited schools with online paralegal programs most commonly use the same curriculum and materials for online courses as for on-campus courses, and in many cases, the same instructors and professors. Additionally, since students must be self-directed and often do more reading in an online course than in an on-campus one, many find online courses to be more challenging.

Prospective applicants to online paralegal programs should also consider carefully the specialization or concentration options offered. Opportunities to add a formal specialization to online paralegal programs are typically more restricted compared to on-campus paralegal programs, since fewer courses may be offered online. However, if no formal specializations are offered, students may be able to add an informal concentration through electives.

Finally, many online paralegal programs are not 100% online. The majority of programs, both on-campus and online, require students to complete at least one paralegal internship or field experience. Distance students may be able to complete this requirement in their local area, but will typically be responsible for arranging the internship on their own. Additionally, in order to earn approval from the American Bar Association (ABA), paralegal programs must require a minimum number of credits to be earned on campus; you can read more about this in the next section.

Important Information about the Accreditation of Online Paralegal Programs

When evaluating online paralegal schools, there are two important accreditations to keep in mind. The first is regional accreditation, which applies to the entire college or university. Regional accreditation is a form of approval from one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education. Schools that are regionally accredited must meet academic quality standards for both the courses and degrees offered. Regional accreditation is also required for receiving federal financial aid and is frequently a prerequisite for schools to accept transfer credits from another college.

The other type of accreditation to consider is specific to the paralegal field, and that is approval from the American Bar Association (ABA) that applies specifically to a paralegal program. The ABA evaluates paralegal programs through academic and on-site reviews to ascertain the quality of a program and its success in preparing paralegals with necessary career skills and knowledge. While the ABA does approve paralegal programs that include online courses, ABA-approved paralegal programs must require that at least 10 credit hours of legal specialty courses be completed on campus.

This campus attendance requirement means that any ABA-accredited paralegal program with online courses will be hybrid-online, and not fully online. However, if you choose to attend an out-of-state program, depending on where you live and the policies of the program you attend, you may be able to take on-campus legal specialty courses at a closer college or university campus and transfer those courses into your program to meet this requirement.

While attending an ABA-accredited program is not necessary to become a paralegal, it is widely thought to offer career benefits due to its rigorous standards and national recognition. You should consider carefully the norms in your area by researching employers’ requirements and examine the impact this may have on your ability to pursue local or national paralegal certification, which may suggest that the program you attend be ABA-approved.

Top Online Paralegal Programs

Researching and choosing the online paralegal degree that’s right for your needs can be a daunting task. To help make it easier, we have ranked the top accredited online paralegal programs in the US using our own unique ranking system. To be considered, programs must be not-for-profit and be regionally accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education (for more on accreditation, see above).

Accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA) can also be an indicator of program quality. Since ABA approval is not applicable to online-only programs, and not all hybrid-online programs that may otherwise qualify seek ABA approval, we did not use ABA accreditation as a ranking factor. However, it is included in the table below as a quality signal for hybrid programs that students may wish to consider.

Our methodology for evaluating the best hybrid and online paralegal programs includes weighted factors such as the average tuition cost for online students, the percentage of the student body enrolled in online courses, and the school’s overall graduation rate. Some factors were given a heavier weight than others, such as the overall graduation rate, which is a good indicator of student success. We also used factors such as schools’ placements in the US News & World Report’s Regional, National, and Best Online programs rankings.

SchoolP411 RankAverage Online Tuition^ABA Accred.?1% Undergrads Studying Fully Online2^^Grad Rate 2% Tenured Faculty3US News Regional Rank4US News National Rank5US News Best Online BA/BS Rank6
University of Central Florida1$282No14%70%45%N/A#171#16
Purdue University Global2 tie$247No1%78%72%N/A#56NR
Regent University2 tie$395No70%61%54%N/A#231- #300#35
California University of Pennsylvania3$325No25%52%43%#146- #187N/A#77
SUNY College of Technology at Canton4$315No25%36%24%#25N/A#88
Tulane University*5$433Yes2%83%30%N/A#40NR
Eastern Kentucky University*6$409Yes16%44%31%#73N/A#115
William Woods University*7$225No20%59%4%#75N/A#215
Roger Williams University*8$433Yes8%65%32%#37N/ANR
Northwestern State University of Louisiana9$375No34%39%52%#114- #142N/A#264- #346
Valdosta State University10$226No12%37%36%N/A#231- #300#107
Dominican University11$461No1%62%22%#19N/ANR
Eastern Michigan University*12 tie$414Yes6%40%61%N/A#231- #300#264- #346
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College12 tie$496No39%57%14%#22N/ANR
University of Memphis*13$454No9%43%33%N/A#231- #300#125
Liberty University14$390No71%47%0%N/A#231- #300#184
Southern New Hampshire University15$320No92%49%N.Av.#86N/ANR
Grand View University16$402No3%50%19%#39N/ANR
Stevenson University*17$450Yes8%54%N.Av.#86N/A#107
Hampton University18$300No3%56%34%NRN/ANR
Widener University Delaware Law School*19$499Yes3%57%26%N/A#192#264- #346
Austin Peay State University20$523No12%38%57%NRN/ANR
Mississippi College21$708No5%59%19%#32N/ANR
Bellevue University22$415No76%17%N.Av.NRN/A#153
Brandman University23$500No73%N.Av.N.Av.NRN/A#94
University of Providence*24$814Yes47%45%N.Av.#22N/ANR
Humphreys University*25$262No2%41%N.Av.NRN/ANR
Peirce College*26$600Yes49%21%N.Av.NRN/A#165
Mercy College*27$767Yes9%43%7%NRN/A#249
Hilbert College*28$906Yes1%50%6%NRN/ANR

Table Notes and References:
*Schools denoted by an asterisk (*) offer hybrid-online programs that require one or more campus-based courses.
^Average online tuition is the average of in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for online students per credit hour.
^^The percentage of students studying fully online is institution-wide and includes graduate students studying online in all disciplines as reported by each school to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/directories/paralegal-directory.html
2. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
3. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/
4. US News National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
5. US News Regional University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/regional-universities
6. US News Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/rankings

Profiles of Top Paralegal Schools with Online Programs

University of Central Florida

university of central florida logoThe University of Central Florida offers an online legal studies degree that can be completed as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts typically take additional foreign language courses, while students pursuing the Bachelor of Science typically take more math and science courses. On either track, a total of 120 credit hours are required to earn the degree. In addition to core general education and legal courses, students will complete 33 credit hours of legal electives across the areas of Law and Policy; Advocacy; Law and Business; Law and Technology; Family Matters; and International Law. All students must also complete either a capstone or an internship course. All of the faculty for the University of Central Florida’s online paralegal program are graduates of ABA-approved law schools. Graduates of the paralegal program are eligible to apply for the Florida Bar Registered Paralegal designation as well as for national paralegal certification exams. Program graduates are also well-prepared to seek admission to law school.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 50%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.92
Average ACT score of accepted students: 262

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: Non-refundable $30 application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $1793
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $1053
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $22,2541
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3843
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $3003
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $38,3531
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 60%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 39%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies; Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
First online program offered in: 1997-19984

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Law and the Legal System; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Professionalism & Civility in the Law
Internship/fieldwork required: Capstone or Internship

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 4224
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 2974
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 2004
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 14:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 36 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: Yes
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 90%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 70%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $21,8182
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 5.2%1

Purdue University Global

purdue university global logoPurdue University Global offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services with a concentration in Paralegal Studies. In addition to gaining a broad background in law, legal theory, and research, students have the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge through upper division electives. The curriculum is also designed to help students hone their communication and critical thinking skills with a focus on real-world applications. The Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services program requires 180 quarter credits to complete, consisting of 33 core credits, 93 major credits, and 54 credits of open electives. Purdue Global offers a tuition cap program that caps tuition at a set rate, meaning that entering students will be better able to plan the cost of their education; according to Purdue Global, tuition cap students typically save 33% on their education costs. Students enrolled in the online legal studies program may also choose to work towards a master’s degree concurrent with their undergraduate studies, such as the Master of Science in Legal Studies or the Master of Public Administration.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 57%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.81,2
Average ACT score of accepted students: 282

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: N.Av.

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $2476
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $22,8126
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $3841
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $2476
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $7836
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $41,614 1
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 47%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 35%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Science in Legal Support and Services, Paralegal Studies Concentration; Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
First online program offered in: N.Av.4

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Introduction to the Law and Legal Profession; Introduction to American Jurisprudence; Legal Research and Writing; Advanced Legal Research and Writing; Legal Ethics; Law and Society; Business Law; Ethics and the Legal Environment; Legal Philosophy; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Capstone
Internship/fieldwork required: No

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 12:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: N.Av.4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: No
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 91%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 78%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $27,6172
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 2.5%1

Regent University

regent university logoThe 100% online bachelor’s in paralegal studies at Regent University prepares graduates for careers in the legal support field as well as for graduate study. The online paralegal program is specifically designed for adult learners (those who are 24 years of age or above) and provides flexible scheduling options. The curriculum focuses not just on legal research, theory, and communication but also on clerical and management skills, providing students with strong foundations for advancement in their legal careers. Students also learn the fundamentals of professional and persuasive writing in a legal context. A minimum of 120 credit hours are required to earn the degree. Of these, 42 credit hours are devoted to paralegal studies major courses. Students also complete 32 credit hours of electives, which may include additional paralegal studies courses for specialization. The curriculum plan also includes four semesters of foreign language study. Students who complete the Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies may also be interested in Regent University’s on-campus Master of Arts in Law, LLM in American Legal Studies, or Juris Doctor (JD).

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 78%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.32
Average ACT score of accepted students: 232

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: $50 nonrefundable application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3957
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $5957
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $29,159 1
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3957
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $5957
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $29,1591
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 80%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 91%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
First online program offered in: 2005-20064

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Foundations of Paralegal Studies; Legal Writing & Research; Introduction to Judicial Systems; Investigation in Litigation; Law Office Environment; Civil Litigation; Law & Ethics; Family Law; Personal Injury Law; Criminal Law & Procedure; Contract Law; Real Estate Law
Internship/fieldwork required: No

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 414
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 314
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 334
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 14:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 24 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: Yes
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 78%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 61%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $28,0352
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 4.6%1

California University of Pennsylvania

california university of pennsylvania logoThe Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence: Legal Studies degree at California University of Pennsylvania can be completed fully online and offers students in-depth academic study of legal issues and the law as well as broader exposure to legal theory. Both first-year students who have no prior college experience and those who previously earned an associate’s degree are welcome to apply. Developmental and advanced courses in legal writing, research, reasoning, and critical thought are included in the curriculum. Accepted students may choose to study year-round, which may reduce the amount of time required to earn the bachelor’s degree. An optional concentration in land management, which includes courses such as Oil and Gas Law; Land Management Administration; and Surface and Subsurface Geology for Land Management, is offered as part of the degree program. Three cohort start dates are offered year-round in fall, spring, and summer. Those who complete the online legal studies degree may go on to apply to California University of Pennsylvania’s online Master of Science in Legal Studies, which offers concentrations in Criminal Justice; Homeland Security; and Law and Public Policy.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 96%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.12
Average ACT score of accepted students: 202

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: Personal essay; non-refundable $35 application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3228
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $3228
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $26,3561
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3288
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $4828
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $30,8421
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 75%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 83%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence: Legal Studies; Master of Science in Legal Studies
First online program offered in: 2011-20124

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Administrative Law; Constitutional Law; Classical Jurisprudence; Legal Research and Writing; The Paralegal Profession; Litigation and Trial Evidence; Real Estate Law; Estates and Trusts; Law, Business, and the Workplace; Criminal Law
Internship/fieldwork required: No

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 1254
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 734
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 734
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 20:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 24 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: No
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 73%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 52%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $26,2422
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 7.3%1

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

SUNY Canton logoSUNY College of Technology at Canton is home to a fully online Bachelor of Technology in Legal Studies. The online courses in this program have no set log-in or class times, allowing students a high degree of flexibility in scheduling their course load. Courses are also led by the same faculty with real-world experience who teach on campus, and students are paired with a single point of contact, known as a personal concierge, who will answer any questions about course scheduling, technology, and similar concerns. The interdisciplinary curriculum encourages students to take courses in accounting, business, and criminal justice that compliment the online legal studies major. Students also take in-depth courses in legal research, legal writing, and foundational legal principles, before moving into upper-level courses in specialized areas of law. Legal studies electives offered include Negligence and Intentional Torts, Real Property, Environmental Law, and American Indian Law and Federal Policy. All courses emphasize the application of classroom learning and theory to real-life scenarios. The curriculum also places a special emphasis on the United States Constitution and its applications to US law, rights, and restrictions.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 79%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 2.82
Average ACT score of accepted students: 202

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: $50 non-refundable application fee; score of 70 or better on the NYS Regents Exam in Math; score of 75 or better on the NYS Regents Exam in English

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $2869
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $2869
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $23,8851
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $3439
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $6949
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $28,0751
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 88%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 81%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Technology in Legal Studies
First online program offered in: 2005-20064

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: American Legal System; Business Law I & II; Legal Research; Criminal Practice; Professional Ethics; Advanced Legal Writing
Internship/fieldwork required: Internship optional

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 674
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 404
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 534
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 18:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 36 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: Yes
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 77%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 36%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $31,6542
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 9.7%1

Tulane University

tulane university logoThose looking to complete an accredited paralegal degree online will be interested in the hybrid-online Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies at Tulane University, which is approved by the American Bar Association. Tulane’s online legal studies degree is designed to prepare graduates for paralegal careers as well as for graduate study, including advanced legal degrees. All courses within the legal studies program are taught by practicing attorneys and paralegals who have in-depth experience in the legal profession. Courses are available on campus during days and evenings as well as online. The 120-credit program includes 36 credit hours within the major. Students must complete at least four of the legal studies major courses on campus. A culminating practicum course provides students with internship-based learning with a focus on career skills and networking. The practicum also includes a classroom component wherein students will develop their professionalism and job search skills. Transfer credits from other accredited institutions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis; at least half of the credits applied towards the degree must be completed at Tulane University.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 21%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 4.02
Average ACT score of accepted students: 312

Requirements
Testing: Not required
Other admissions requirements: $40 nonrefundable application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $43310
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $43310
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $69,7641
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $43310
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $43310
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $69,7641
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 36%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 30%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Arts in General Legal Studies
First online program offered in: N.Av.4

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Introduction to Paralegal Studies; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Litigation I & II; Computers in the Law Firm; Paralegal Practicum
Internship/fieldwork required: Yes

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 8:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: N.Av.4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: N.Av.
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 93%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 83%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $33,7172
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 4.9%1

Eastern Kentucky University

eastern kentucky university logoStudents who complete the ABA-accredited online paralegal degree program at Eastern Kentucky University are awarded the Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Science. This bachelor’s in paralegal science allows students to complete all but 10 credit hours of the 120-credit hour program online; due to ABA approval requirements, 10 credit hours of paralegal science courses must be completed on campus during an intensive residency. The residency takes place over two weeks each May and provides students with opportunities to network and collaborate with students and professors. All other courses are offered in eight-week terms, allowing students to focus on fewer courses at a time. All instructors for the online paralegal bachelor’s program hold a JD or PhD. Transfer students are welcome to apply; up to 90 credit hours in transfer credits can be accepted from other accredited institutions. Numerous minors and certificates complimenting the paralegal science major are offered, including correctional intervention strategies, intelligence studies, social intelligence, and youth services. Graduates receive proactive job placement assistance that eases the transition into the workforce.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 87%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.32
Average ACT score of accepted students: 232

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: 2.5 high school GPA or above; ACT composite score of 20 or above; $35 nonrefundable application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $40911
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $37511
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $23,0941
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $40911
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $78211
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $31,9781
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 77%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 60%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges – Commission on Colleges (SACSOC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Science; Associate of Arts in Paralegal Science
First online program offered in: 2006-20074

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Introduction to Law; Legal Research and Writing I & II; Real Estate and Bankruptcy Practice; Litigation: Evidence to Discovery; Litigation: Trial to Appeal; Legal Administration and Computer Applications; Paralegal Internship; Paralegal Evidence and Trial Skills; Paralegal Seminar
Internship/fieldwork required: Yes

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 1104
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 814
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 874
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 16:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 24 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: Yes
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 73%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 44%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $33,0512
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 10.1%1

William Woods University

william woods university logoWilliam Woods University is home to a fully online Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies that provides students with academic and hands-on learning in preparation for a variety of careers, including documentation specialist, paralegal, court clerk, legal administrator, and investigator. Admission to the program is competitive. Students who are accepted to the 122-credit hour program will learn the fundamentals of the legal system, including substantive and procedural law, legal research and writing, legal computer skills, and interviewing and investigation through 42 credit hours of major courses. The virtual learning environment for the online paralegal degree encourages peer discussion and collaboration while providing opportunities to interact with instructors. A virtual law office practicum functions as a virtual internship, paired with a capstone research and writing assignment. Online courses are offered in a flexible eight-week format to help students complete their degree plans while working and meeting other commitments. Graduates will be prepared to work effectively in law offices and other legal environments.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 75%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.42
Average ACT score of accepted students: 232

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: High school GPA of 2.5 or above and graduation within top 50% of class; ACT of 19 or better or SAT of 890 or better

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $22512
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $96812
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $38,8601
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $22512
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $96812
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $38,8601
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 99%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 67%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Higher Learning Association (HLC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
First online program offered in: 2012-20134

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Law and Paralegalism; Electronic Legal Research; Civil Practice; Ethics and the Law Office; Evidence and Fact Gathering; Family Law; Criminal Practice; Administrative & Federal Procedure; Probate and Estate Planning; Contracts; Constitutional Issues; Torts Law; Practicum and Capstone
Internship/fieldwork required: No

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 174
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): 124
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): 144
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 10:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: 24 hours4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: No
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 77%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 59%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $32,7282
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 3.0%1

Roger Williams University

roger williams university logoThe accredited online paralegal program at Roger Williams University is approved by the American Bar Association and leads to the award of the Bachelor of Science Paralegal Studies. This hybrid-online program requires students to complete at least 10 credit hours on campus due to ABA approval requirements. The curriculum is practice-oriented, with emphasis placed on the skills and knowledge needed to use legal databases and computers in a professional environment. A focus on alternative dispute resolution is also found across the curriculum. Courses in the paralegal studies major, which total 37 credit hours of the degree plan, are designed to teach students the fundamentals of substantive and procedural law, develop legal writing skills, and hone legal research skills. Professional skills, ethics, and behavior are also given a heavy emphasis, preparing students for work immediately after graduation. In addition to a semester-long internship during the senior year, the online paralegal degree includes a justice studies capstone that integrates research, writing, and critical thought skills. Roger Williams University also offers on-campus post-baccalaureate certificates in Healthcare Paralegal and Nurse Paralegal. The Roger Williams University School of Law also offers an on-campus Juris Doctor (JD) and an on-campus Master of Studies in Law (MSL).

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 82%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.32
Average ACT score of accepted students: 252

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: $50 non-refundable application fee

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $43313
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $33313
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $52,7001
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $43313
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $33313
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $52,7001
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 72%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 69%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Science Paralegal Studies
First online program offered in: N.Av.4

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Introduction to Law and Legal Studies; Criminal Law for the Paralegal; Emerging Technologies and the Legal Environment; Law and Contemporary Society; Legal Research and Writing I & II; Law of Contracts; Law of Business Organizations; Litigation I & II; Legal Ethics; Paralegal Internship; Legal Capstone Course
Internship/fieldwork required: Yes

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 14:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: N.Av.4
Dedicated paralegal career center/advising: No
Live virtual tutoring?: N.Av.
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 79%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 65%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $44,2252
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 3.6%1

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

northwestern state university of louisiana logoThe fully online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Prelaw and Paralegal Studies at Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSULA) provides students with an intensive 21-credit hour education in pre-law within the criminal justice major. The criminal justice major includes cross-disciplinary study in psychology, sociology, and political science. This range of courses provides students with a broad background in the justice system and solid preparation for seeking employment post-graduation. In addition to paralegal courses, students can expect to take criminal justice-focused courses such as Police Process, Adjudication Process, Criminal Investigation, and Criminal Evidence and Procedure. Online courses at NSULA are offered in traditional 16-week semesters as well as fast-track eight-week quarters during the school year. Summer courses are offered in four- and eight-week formats. Transfer students are welcome to apply; NSULA will evaluate transfer credits from regionally accredited schools on a case-by-case basis. Credit by exam, such as the CLEP exams, is also accepted. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree may be interested in NSULA’s Pre-law and Paralegal Certificate of Completion, a 24-credit hour professional program.

Admissions & Enrollment

Admissions
Acceptance rate (undergraduate): 80%1
Average high school GPA of accepted students: 3.32
Average ACT score of accepted students: 222

Requirements
Testing: ACT or SAT
Other admissions requirements: $20 non-refundable application fee; high school GPA of 2.35 or above; ACT minimums contingent on GPA; high school diploma must satisfy Louisiana Regents’ Core Curriculum

Tuition

In-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $37514
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $21614
In-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $21,3991
Out-of-state tuition (per online credit hour*): $37514
Out-of-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): $66514
Out-of-state tuition for academic year (on-campus, including fees): $32,1871
Notes:
*The cost per online credit hour does not include online course fees or other expenses such as books and exam proctoring fees.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available: Yes
Percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid: 75%2
Percentage of first-time students in 2016-2017 who took student loans (all types): 59%1

Academics & Faculty

Regional accrediting agency: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC)
Online paralegal programs offered: Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Prelaw and Paralegal Studies
First online program offered in: 2000-20014

Paralegal Coursework

Core courses: Introduction to Law; Legal Research; Litigation; Estates, Trusts, Wills; Corporations; Real Estate & Mortgages; Family Relations Law; Law Office Administration
Internship/fieldwork required: No

Faculty

Full-time online instructional faculty (campuswide): 2864
Full-time online instructional faculty with PhD (campuswide): N.Av.4
Full-time online tenured faculty (campuswide): N.Av.4
Student-faculty ratio (overall): 20:15

Student Support & Success

Instructor response expected within: N.Av.4
Live virtual tutoring?: No
One-year new student retention rate (full-time, campuswide): 76%1
Overall undergraduate graduation rate (campuswide): 39%1

Graduate Statistics

Average indebtedness of 2017 graduates: $42,3992
2014 cohort student loan default rate: 11.5%1

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online paralegal programs legitimate?

Online paralegal programs from schools that hold regional accreditation are just as legitimate as on-campus brick-and-mortar paralegal programs. Regionally accredited schools that offer distance paralegal programs typically model the online program after their on-campus offerings, and the degree you receive will not indicate that you were an online student. One of the most important things to remember about online programs is that regional accreditation is key! You might also wish to research approval from the American Bar Association (ABA), which is discussed in more detail above.

Are online paralegal degrees ABA-approved?

Yes, the American Bar Association (ABA) does approve online programs. However, to be approved by the ABA, paralegal programs must require students to take at least 10 credit hours of legal specialty courses in a traditional classroom. As a result, students can complete the majority of such a program online but will need to take some courses on campus.

Is an online paralegal degree worth it?

Whether a program is “worth it” depends in large part on your career goals, the typical requirements of employers in the area where you wish to work, and your ability to finance the program. A paralegal bachelor’s degree can provide you with a higher-level skill set, as well as deeper legal knowledge, than a paralegal associate’s degree. For this reason, many employers prefer to hire paralegals with a bachelor’s degree; this is especially a trend in metropolitan areas and in legal specialty areas such as corporate law and intellectual property.

Financing a paralegal degree is also an important consideration. Applying for need- and merit-based financial aid is the first step in determining how much a paralegal bachelor’s program might cost you out-of-pocket. Comparing the cost of a given degree program to the average salary of paralegals in the cities where you would like to work can help you determine value. You should also know that the average paralegal salary with a bachelor’s degree tends to be slightly higher than the paralegal salary with an associate’s degree – as of 2016, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) reported that bachelor’s degree paralegals earned about $1,000 more per year than associate’s degree paralegals. Master’s degree holders earn $3,000 more per year than bachelor’s degree holders according to the same survey. Geographic area and national paralegal certifications also make a difference in salary potential.

Do you need a bachelor’s to become a paralegal?

A bachelor’s degree is not required to work as a paralegal – but having your bachelor’s degree does make it easier to get hired. The minimum education for a paralegal is typically held to be a certificate. According to O*NET OnLine, 50% of paralegals hold an associate’s degree, compared to 34% with a bachelor’s degree and 7% with a post-secondary certificate.15

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges
3. University of Central Florida: https://www.ucf.edu/
4. US News Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/rankings
5. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/
6. Purdue University: https://www.purdue.edu/
7. Regent University: https://www.regent.edu/
8. California University of Pennsylvania: https://www.calu.edu/
9: SUNY College of Technology at Canton: http://www.canton.edu/
10. Tulane University: https://tulane.edu/
11. Eastern Kentucky University: https://www.eku.edu/
12. William Woods University: https://www.williamwoods.edu/
13. Roger Williams University: https://www.rwu.edu/
14. Northwestern State University of Louisiana: https://www.nsula.edu/
15. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00