Paralegal Schools in Illinois
The following overview of paralegal schools in Illinois will provide you with the factual information you need to make an informed choice on the school that is right for you. An array of quality paralegal programs is available in Illinois, from the certificate to the bachelor’s degree level. You may also find that online degree programs may be a more flexible option for your career goals and interests.
Paralegal Program Stats
- There are 26 colleges and universities that offer a paralegal/legal assistant degree program in Illinois.
- 11 schools offer a certificate program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 21 schools offer an associate’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- 3 schools offer a bachelor’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.
- There are 13 not-for-profit ABA-approved paralegal degree programs in Illinois.
- Highest graduation rate: Loyola University Chicago 70%.1
- Highest transfer-out rate: Southern Illinois University Carbondale 43%.1
- Highest net price per year: Loyola University Chicago $29,671.1
- Lowest net price per year: City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College $4,723.1
- Highest student population: College of DuPage 26,209.1
- Lowest student population: MacCormac College 176.1
- Annual tuition range for paralegal programs at community colleges and career schools in Illinois: $6,150-$21,920.2
- 5 schools in US News Best Law Schools Rankings of 2013 (top 100): University of Chicago #4, Northwestern University #12, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign #47, Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago #68, Loyola University Chicago #76
Learn more about your options for pursuing a paralegal degree or certificate and about career prospects for paralegals and legal assistants below.
Paralegal Degree Programs in Illinois
Rockford Career College
Rockford Career College offers a Paralegal Associate of Applied Science that prepares graduates for legal positions in which they may apply direct knowledge of law and legal procedures and render assistance to licensed attorneys, clients, and courts. This program imparts students with explicit knowledge of legal standards and procedures and develops critical skills such as independent research, professional oral and written communication, document analysis and problem-solving. The Rockford emphasis on relevant real-world skills and immediate entrance into the workforce is exemplified by the mandatory externship experience in the final quarter of the program. This externship requirement gives students the opportunity to adapt classroom knowledge to real legal environments and begin networking within their desired field. Upon completion, graduates should be qualified to apply for positions as an entry-level paralegal, legal assistant or legal secretary. The program placement rate, as reported to the ACICS, was 66.7% in 2011. The associate’s degree may be completed in a minimum of 2 years. Rockford Career College is a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAPE), the Illinois Paralegal Association, and the Paralegal Program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
College of DuPage
The Paralegal Studies Associate in Applied Science (AAS) at the College of DuPage is designed to foster competent and ethical career paralegals by building a practical legal education on a foundation of sound legal ethics, dynamic problem-solving skills, effective communication, and analytical ability. The objectives of the program include providing students the ability to explain the role of paralegals in various professional settings, implement legal research with both print and electronic resources, produce concise and formal legal documents, and demonstrate proficiency in workplace technology. The curriculum includes general education courses, legal courses, and technology courses and culminates in the mandatory Paralegal Practicum in which students complete 120 hours of paralegal work in a law office and attend a seminar series that guides students in creating a professional portfolio. The internship requirement develops workplace skills and provides valuable exposure to legal environments. The Paralegal Studies AAS degree program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Additionally, the College of DuPage offers a Bachelor’s degree and post-degree certificate in Paralegal Studies for applicants who have already earned an associate’s degree or higher.
Experience is very helpful, so I suggest interviewing for some other position within a firm or corporation just to get some basic legal experience, then when a job opening comes up, the applicant would be able to apply before the job is offered to “outsiders.” Also, list specific experience obtained as intern.” –Ann Atkinson, President of NALA – The Paralegal Association.
Illinois State University
Illinois State University hosts a recently ABA-approved Paralegal Training Program within the Legal Studies Department for those wishing to combine specific, formal paralegal training with a Bachelor’s Degree (BA). As an interdisciplinary department, the Legal Studies Program is characterized by a flexible curriculum that allows students to supplement general paralegal training with one or more specialty areas of study within the field. Specific course sequences are developed by each student with the guidance of the Legal Studies Advisor and are tailored to suit students’ individual career objectives. Core topics include the role of paralegals within the general procedures of the legal system, legal writing and research, and civil and criminal procedure. Though not mandatory, the Professional Practice component of the Legal studies program facilitates student internships in professional legal departments, and awards students one credit for every 45 hours worked. These internships may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid. Though this program requires 4 years to complete, it is an excellent option for those wishing to incorporate a more comprehensive and academic study of the legal field with practical ABA-approved paralegal training. Successful completion of the ISU Legal Studies Program satisfies the educational section of the eligibility requirements for the NALA certification exam. Graduates of this program benefit from the distinction of a bachelor’s degree and are competitive candidates for paralegal positions in Illinois and nationwide.
Wilbur Wright College
The paralegal program at Wilbur Wright College prepares graduates for paralegal careers with an emphasis on practical, hands-on training. Through 63 credit hours of study, students learn essential paralegal skills and applicable legal concepts. Students may take courses on a full- or part-time basis. The core curriculum includes courses in Legal Research and Writing, Wills Trusts, and Probate, Civil Litigation, and Business Law for the Paralegal. All students in the paralegal program may access the school’s legal research library and online research tools. Additional enrichment opportunities may be found through participation in the college’s Paralegal Club. An optional internship during the final semester of study affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Graduates emerge from the American Bar Association approved program with an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal degree and are supported by the college’s comprehensive job placement and career advising services. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as expressly authorized by law.
The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies offered by Dominican University, which can be completed fully online, prepares students for professional paralegal careers in a variety of environments as well as for advanced academic study in law or the social sciences. The program is offered on an accelerated format, providing the equivalent of two years of full-time study in 20 months. Students pursuing the BA in Legal Studies can choose up to two concentrations to support the major from seven concentration areas: Criminal Justice; Disability Advocacy; Labor Relations; Law & Social Justice; Paralegal Studies; Public Administration; or Sustainability Studies. Regardless of concentration, all students complete fundamental courses in legal research, writing, and theory, including courses in the philosophy of law and legal ethics. Those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another subject may also be interested in Dominican University’s Second Bachelor’s Program, which provides the opportunity to earn the BA in Legal Studies as a second baccalaureate degree by completing just 10 courses.
American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Programs in Illinois (Not-for-Profit)
- College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn)
- College of Lake County (Grayslake)
- Elgin Community College (Elgin)
- Illinois Central College (Peoria)
- Illinois State University (Normal)
- Kankakee Community College (Kankakee)
- Loyola University Chicago (Chicago)
- Robert Morris University – Illinois (Chicago, Springfield)
- Roosevelt University (Chicago)
- Southern Illinois University (Carbondale)
- South Suburban College (South Holland)
- Wilbur Wright College (Chicago)
- William Rainey Harper College (Palatine)
Elgin Community College
1700 Spartan Dr
Elgin, IL 60123
Student Review: “Elgin Community College has a paralegal program that I truly believe is second to none. My experience with the program so far has brought many challenges, and has led to many accomplishments. As a result of overcoming the challenges, I have become better prepared for a professional career as a paralegal. The amazing talent that the school has assigned to teach this program are all wonderful, intelligent, and extremely helpful. I enjoyed the fact that the majority of my instructors are all practicing lawyers and know the legal field like the back of their hands. Another positive that comes from this program is that students are working hands-on with people who are more than willing to mentor them. The biggest challenge that comes from this program is fulfilling the intern requirement, but it usually ends with the intern getting picked up for paying work. Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone interested in working in the legal field or any office-type job.” -Student at Elgin Community College
1200 W Algonquin Rd
Palatine, IL 60067
Student Review: “My paralegal prep program taught me some valuable things I will always remember throughout my life. The opportunity to go to school and expand my horizons has given me a broader understanding of the world and how my job makes the world work. I am enlightened and more confident about myself. There were some hard moments and times when I thought I would not be able to finish the program. Ultimately I’m glad I did. I recommend anyone trying to get their degree to go to this school and pursue your dreams. It is never too late and this is one of the best ways to improve your life.” -Student at Harper College
633 Clark St
Evanston, IL 60208
Student Review: “I loved being a part of Legal Studies Department at Northwestern University. The classes were challenging and thought-provoking. The faculty in the department are all very brilliant and also accessible at the same time. I love the breadth and depth of the courses available to students. For instance, part of the major requirements is that students must take one course in each of the following areas: Theory/Philosophy, Global/Comparative Perspectives, Institutions/ Organizations/Economics, Law and Inequality, and Legal Argument/Communications. I appreciated how these requirements helped me construct a more comprehensive legal knowledge base. In addition, as a Legal Studies major, I had the option to participate a two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar where students design and execute original socio-legal research projects. Overall, I think this department prepared students very well for future law school or legal professions.” -Student at Northwestern University
Southwestern Illinois College
2500 Carlyle Ave
Belleville, IL 62221
Student Review: “The paralegal studies program at Southwestern Illinois College has been a wonderful experience for me so far. I am still currently a student in the program, and I highly recommend the program if you are interested in the legal field. The professors are approachable and always willing to help you (including meeting with you during office hours for individual study sessions to help you grasp the material better). All the professors in this program have extensive experience as paralegals, lawyers or judges and have plenty of hands-on stories to apply to the content of the courses to make them easier to relate to real experiences you will encounter on the job in the future.” -Student at Southwestern Illinois College
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/