Paralegal Schools in California
The numerous paralegal schools in California offer a wide variety of degree and certificate programs in paralegal and legal assistant studies, many of which provide opportunities for students to select a specialty within their field of interest. This overview of paralegal schools in California provides you with factual information about your options for pursuing a paralegal education in the state. You can also consider online programs that offer paralegal programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels.
Paralegal Program Stats
- There are 94 colleges and universities that offer a paralegal/legal assistant degree program in California.
- 41 schools offer an undergraduate certificate program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 76 schools offer an associate’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 7 schools offer a bachelor’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 26 not-for-profit ABA-approved paralegal degree programs in California.
- Highest graduation rate: Bristol University 89%.1
- Highest transfer-out rate: West Los Angeles College 20%.1
- Highest net price per year: Saint Mary’s College of California $33,546.1
- Lowest net price per year: College of the Sequoias $2,813.1
- Highest student population: City College of San Francisco 34,558.1
- Lowest student population: Bristol University 16.1
- Annual tuition range for paralegal programs at community colleges and career schools in California: $1,068-$18,0482
- 10 schools in US News Best Law Schools Rankings of 2013 (top 100): Stanford University #2, University of California-Berkeley #9, University of California-Los Angeles #17, University of Southern California #18, University of California-Davis #38, University of California-Hastings #48, Pepperdine University #61, Loyola Marymount University #68, University of San Diego #68, Santa Clara University #96
Read on to find more in-depth information about popular paralegal schools in California and career projections for paralegals.
Paralegal Degree Programs in California
Cañada College awards an Associate in Science–Paralegal degree to students who complete its 60 credit hour paralegal degree program. This program was developed through collaboration with the San Mateo County Bar Association and the San Mateo County Legal Secretaries Association, and has an advisory committee of currently practicing professionals, academics, and other stakeholders for continual program advancement. Paralegals graduate with the knowledge required to prepare legal documents, interview clients, and perform other legal assisting tasks for civil and criminal matters. Courses in the curriculum include Advanced Legal Research & Writing, Paralegalism/Legal Ethics, Electronic Litigation, and Civil Litigation and Trial Preparation. Students may also take courses in specialized areas of the law such as contracts, immigration, and family law. Cañada College provides additional learning opportunities of interest to future paralegals, including a one-day notary public workshop through the Community Education Program.
California State University, Chico
The paralegal certificate offered by CSU Chico is awarded upon completion of an academically rigorous 27 credit hour program. The program includes two required internships, in Legal Studies and Public Law. To be granted the paralegal certificate, students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average for all required courses in the program and apply for certificate conferral during the final semester of the program. The program is administered through the Department of Political Science, whose faculty have been recognized for their high academic and professional productivity. Students enrolled in legal studies programs through the Department of Political Science at CSU Chico gain a deep understanding of the judicial system, process, and constitutional law while building their skills in written and oral communication and research. The legal studies programs also emphasize professionalism, ethics, citizenship, and leadership.
I treated the classroom as a job. I arrived to class on time, professionally dressed, prepared, and willing to contribute. Also, I began mastering my writing skills by finishing every project as if I was actually working for an attorney. By treating my education like a job, by the time I started working as a paralegal, I was practiced and prepared.” –Jennifer MacDonnell, California Paralegal and contributor to the Paralegal Society blog.
UC Davis Extension
The acclaimed Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies at UC Davis – Extension incorporates a high degree of instructional expertise with a dynamic, comprehensive curriculum in paralegal studies and equips students with the knowledge and experience to navigate and succeed in a variety of legal fields. The program focuses on developing critical legal skills such as drafting contracts, analyzing legal documents, client management, and personal injury, product liability, and malpractice law assessment. Program highlights include full support in Spanish, instructors who are licensed attorneys, individual access to LexisNexis and Westlaw online legal research resources, and exposure to advanced topics of tort and contract law. High school diploma or advanced degree required for admission.
SF State University – College of Extended Learning, San Francisco
As the only ABA-Approved Paralegal Education Program in San Francisco, the San Francisco State – College of Extended Learning Paralegal Studies program offers a thorough academic curriculum with a strong foundation in internship experience. Located in Downtown San Francisco, the SF State Program complements coursework by placing students in a variety of internships beginning in the second semester of instruction. Internship hosts include the City Attorney’s office, Public Defender’s offices, the Social Security Administration, California Coastal Commission, California Appellate Project, as well as 40+ private law firms throughout the state. This direct exposure to the paralegal field develops students’ ability to competently apply classroom instruction to real-world settings and greatly increases the marketability of graduates.
The Fremont College of Legal Studies offers an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies Degree Program designed to integrate a comprehensive overview of the background and theory of the modern legal system with hands-on legal research and application. The Fremont College Paralegal Studies Degree Program uniquely provides students the opportunity to conduct legal research, perform real-world problem solving, and participate as a member of a legal team concurrently with academic coursework. Flexible course options are designed to accommodate a variety of schedules at two locations: ABA Paralegal Program Cerritos and ACA Paralegal Program Los Angeles. Additionally, an accelerated degree program provides students the option of completing coursework in as little as 15 months.
The Paralegal Department at Cerritos College offers an American Bar Association-approved program of study leading to the award of an Associate of Arts Degree in Paralegal. The program requires 60 credit hours to complete, which includes 22 credit hours of core requirements and 11 credit hours of electives. Elective courses offered include Advanced Legal Technology, Advanced Legal Research, Fundamentals of Alternative Dispute Resolutions, and Intellectual Property. The Paralegal Department also maintains a Certificate of Achievement program that is approved by the American Bar Association. The certificate program takes 28 credit hours to complete and is open to students who already possess an associate’s degree (or higher degree) in another subject. Both programs emphasize substantive law as well as legal skills through hands-on experience. Students may pursue their studies on a full- or part-time basis, and may complete all required courses through evening classes.
American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Programs in California (Not-for-Profit)
- American River College (Sacramento)
- California State University East Bay (Hayward)
- California State University, Los Angeles
- Cerritos College (Norwalk)
- Coastline Community College (Fountain Valley)
- College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita)
- Cuyamaca College (El Cajon)
- De Anza College (Cupertino)
- El Camino College (Torrance)
- Fullerton College (Fullerton)
- John F. Kennedy University (Pleasant Hill)
- Los Angeles City College (Los Angeles)
- Miramar College (San Diego)
- Mount San Antonio College (Walnut)
- Pasadena City College (Pasadena)
- San Francisco State University – College of Extended Learning (San Francisco)
- Santa Ana College (Santa Ana)
- University of California (Irvine)
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of California, Riverside
- University of California, (San Diego)
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of La Verne (La Verne)
- University of San Diego (San Diego)
- West Los Angeles College (Culver City)
- West Valley College (Saratoga)
11110 Alondra Blvd
Norwalk, CA 90650
Student Review: “The Cerritos College Paralegal program is one of a kind in southern California as it is one of the one ABA backed program in Southern California. This helps with job placement once the program is completed. Lawyers find that having ABA Certification helpful because that course work is tough. The professors at Cerritos College are either judges or lawyers and are fairly knowledgeable in what they teach and how they teach it. The course work is tough but is rewarding as it prepares you for a life of paralegal. They offer a variety of times for classes including online and night classes which was helpful for me because I also work full time at another job. All in all I have no complaints about this program it is a all around great program” -Student at Cerritos College
De Anza College
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
Student Review: “The paralegal certificate program at De Anza College was overall a good experience. The program is approved by the American Bar Association, and can be completed in one year. The professors were knowledgeable and the coursework was challenging. I learned how to conduct legal research using code books, paid Internet services, and free services. I honed my writing skills and learned to read cases and compare their facts and findings to other cases. The professors wee knowledgeable and wanted the students to retain the material. They also were helpful in relating practical workplace knowledge. In addition, guest speakers who work in the industry also gave guest lectures.” -Student at De Anza College
6650 Inglewood Ave
Stockton, CA 95207
Student Review: “At Humphreys College, I took a variety of classes to get my paralegal certificate. I would say that my favorite was Legal Research and Writing because I absolutely loved my professor. She always made sure to explain everything precisely and thoroughly. Although, just like any other college, I had some professors who were absolutely horrendous. For example, my Intro to Law/Civil Procedure class had a professor that spoke so softly the entire class had to huddle in the first two rows to hear him. All in all, the college life at Humphreys is pretty boring. You’ll have classes you love, some you like, and those you dread going to.” – Student at Humphreys College
Santa Ana College
1530 W 17th St
Santa Ana, CA 92706
Student Review: “The Santa Ana College paralegal program was a wonderful experience for me. I felt that I learned a lot and that the teachers were very knowledgeable about the subjects that they taught. The professors were also all members of the California Bar and had experience in practicing law outside of the school. There were a lot of classes to choose from depending on the specifics and direction you were headed after the program ended. There was also an internship class which allowed the students to get real world experience while still being in school. They offered hybrid classes (online and in-class settings), traditional classes, and classes that were strictly online only. This variety allows students the independence to select which classes that they wanted to complete and how those classes would be completed.” – Student at Santa Ana College
Santa Rosa Junior College
1501 Mendocino Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Student Review: “The SRJC Paralegal program continues the SRJC legacy of quality, affordable, community education. The program director also taught many of the classes. She was firm in her expectations, but very knowledgeable. The program offered many classes beyond the general requirements so that students could specialize their studies in the field based on their interests. The program also worked in conjunction with the Sonoma County Law Library to allow students access and classes within the library itself. This was so advantageous for my studies. This program also has a mandatory internship, connecting students with law offices in the area. At the time of graduation, every single graduating student had a job working as a paralegal thanks to the internships and the reputation of the SRJC programs. However, if considering practicing outside of Sonoma County, it should be noted that the SRJC Paralegal program is not ABA approved.” – Student at Santa Rosa Junior College
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Student Review: “The UCLA Extension’s Paralegal Training Program (PTP) was an all-encompassing and very thorough education, with real-life examples often included in the classroom as part of the material. There were also many ways to get involved outside the classroom, as the Program offered lots of help with internships and volunteer opportunities, such as with The Lanier Law Firm in Los Angeles. The professors were all very knowledgeable in their fields, as well as friendly to approach. Due to the wide variety of firms and fields that alumni were involved in, it was much easier for me to make connections in the field, as well as continue with my education. However, despite all the positives, one of the drawbacks was the expensive cost of living and tuition with the program.” – Student at UCLA Los Angeles
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges/