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 are available in Illinois, from the certificate to the master’s degree level. You may also find that online or hybrid paralegal programs may be a more flexible option for your career goals and interests. Be sure to visit our guide to paralegal careers in Illinois to find out about opportunities for legal studies and paralegal graduates in Illinois.
- There are 26 colleges and universities that offer paralegal/legal assistant degree programs in Illinois.1
- 14 schools offer a certificate program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 17 schools offer an associate’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 8 schools offer a bachelor’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 2 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 1 school ranked in Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs.2
- 3 schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Law Schools in 2022.3
- 3 schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Legal Writing Programs in 2022.4
- 15 ABA-approved paralegal degree programs are in Illinois.5
For not-for-profit colleges and universities with paralegal/legal assistant degree programs.
Table of Contents
- Comparison of Paralegal Programs
- Top-Ranked Schools with Paralegal Programs in Illinois
- Select Schools in Illinois with Paralegal Degrees
- Student Reviews
Comparison of Paralegal Programs
The table below will help you compare not-for-profit paralegal and legal studies programs in Illinois based on various factors. The table includes paralegal program-specific information such as the programs offered and whether there are any online options. It also includes general school information to help you compare the colleges and universities that host these programs, including overall acceptance rate, graduation rate for first-time bachelor’s degree seekers, median debt for graduates, and net tuition per year for full-time undergraduate study. We have also included information on approval by the American Bar Association (ABA). While ABA approval is not required in order to work as a paralegal, it is a mark of program quality that is preferred by many employers.
|School||ABA Approved?||Paralegal Degree(s)||Acceptance Rate6||Grad Rate1||Online Options?||Median Debt7||Net Price1|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College (Chicago)||—||AAS-Paralegal||100%||19%||—||$3,500||$3,125|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College (Chicago)||Yes||AAS-Paralegal||100%||26%||—||$3,500||$3,019|
|College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
AAS Paralegal Studies
|College of Lake County (Grayslake)||Yes||Certificate-Legal Studies;|
|Dominican University (River Forest)||—||BPS-Legal Studies||64%||64%||Yes||$18,500||$19,280|
|Elgin Community College (Elgin)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal||100%||35%||—||$3,888||$4,565|
|Illinois Central College (East Peoria)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal;|
|Illinois State University (Normal)||Yes||BA-Legal Studies;|
|Joliet Junior College (Joliet)||—||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
|Kankakee Community College (Kankakee)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies;|
AAS-Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies
|Lewis and Clark Community College (Godfrey)||—||Certificate-Paralegal;|
|Lewis University (Romeoville)||Yes||BA-Paralegal Studies;|
|Loyola University Chicago (Chicago)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
|MacCormac College (Chicago)||Yes||AAS-Paralegal Studies||100%||23%||Yes||$14,625||$18,061|
|McHenry County College (Crystal Lake)||—||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
|Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills)||—||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
|Northwestern University (Evanston)||—||Bachelor in Legal Studies;|
|Oakton Community College (Des Plaines)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
|Roosevelt University (Chicago)||Yes||BA-Paralegal Studies;|
|South Suburban College (South Holland)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal/Legal Assistant;|
|Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (Carbondale)||Yes||BS-Paralegal Studies;|
|Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville)||—||AAS-Paralegal Studies||100%||28%||—||$3,500||$6,715|
|University of Illinois at Springfield (Springfield)||—||BA-Legal Studies;|
|Wabash Valley College (Mt Carmel)||—||AAS-Paralegal||100%||52%||—||$5,500||$6,726|
|Waubonsee Community College (Sugar Grove)||—||Certificate-Paralegal;|
|William Rainey Harper College (Palatine)||Yes||Certificate-Paralegal Studies;|
- — indicates none.
- N.Av. indicates no data available.
Top-Ranked Schools with Paralegal Programs
Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs 2018
- Dominican University (#11)
US News & World Report’s Best Law Schools 2022
- Northwestern University (#12)
- Loyola University Chicago (#78 tie)
- Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (#147-193)
US News & World Report’s Best Legal Writing Programs 2022
- Loyola University Chicago (#25 tie)
- Northwestern University (#25 tie)
- Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (#121 tie)
Select Schools in Illinois with Paralegal Degrees
The ABA-approved Associate of Applied Science (AAS) at City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright (Wilbur Wright College) prepares graduates for paralegal careers by helping students develop listening, legal writing, and critical legal thinking skills. Through 60 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 Legal Ethics for the Paralegal. All students in the paralegal program have access to a legal research library and online research tools. Additional enrichment opportunities may be found through participation in the college’s Paralegal Club. An optional internship affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Graduates from the Paralegal program are supported by Wright’s job placement and career advising services.
The ABA-approved Paralegal Studies Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal at the College of DuPage (COD) is designed to foster competent and ethical career paralegals by providing students with instruction in a broad range of topics such as criminal law and procedure; law office organization and technology; and legal research and writing. Applicants to the paralegal program must complete prerequisite courses in English Composition, Introduction to Paralegal Studies, and Drafting Legal Documents with a “C” or better before applying to the program. 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 them in creating a professional portfolio. The internship requirement is intended to develop workplace skills and provides valuable exposure to legal environments. Additionally, COD offers a post-degree certificate in Paralegal Studies for applicants who have already earned an associate’s degree or higher.
Illinois State University (ISU) hosts an ABA-approved Legal Studies program that can be pursued as either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) and combines specific, formal paralegal training with a bachelor’s degree. The 120-credit hour program will help students develop skills in law office management, legal research, and critical thinking. General education requirements vary between the BS and BA tracks but both degrees require 49 credits of paralegal courses. Core topics include the role of paralegals within the general procedures of the legal system; legal writing and research; and civil and criminal litigation. The Professional Practice component of the Legal Studies program facilitates student internships in professional legal environments, offering one credit for every 45 hours of work. These internships may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, and may award up to six credit hours towards the major. Admission to the four-year program is selective and is based on factors such as an applicant’s GPA, previous coursework, an interview, and a written statement. Successful completion of the ISU Legal Studies Program satisfies the educational section of the eligibility requirements for the Certified Legal Assistant Exam from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
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 an intern.” –Ann Atkinson, President of NALA – The Paralegal Association.
Hybrid and Online Programs
The College of Lake County (CLC) offers an ABA-approved Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Legal Studies or, for students who have already earned a college degree, an ABA-approved Legal Studies Certificate. Both programs can be completed primarily online, but require at least nine credit hours of synchronous (real-time class meeting via Zoom or in person) education. The 63-credit hour AAS program requires four semesters of study while the 30-credit Certificate program can be completed in as little as 32 weeks. Both programs offer core courses such as Litigation and Drafting Legal Documents, and electives including Law Office Technology, Immigration Law, and Criminal Litigation. The Legal Studies curriculum emphasizes writing and research skills, as well as the ability to think critically about legal issues and act ethically. A three-credit internship with a minimum of 120 hours of real-world experience in a professional legal environment is offered in the final semester of both programs. Graduates of CLC’s Legal Studies programs should be prepared to work in entry-level positions in legal departments and law firms or transfer their academic credits to another institution and pursue further legal studies.
The Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) 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 conflict resolution. The program is offered in an accelerated format, providing full-time students the opportunity to complete the curriculum in as little as 20 months. Students pursuing the BPS 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; or Paralegal Studies. Regardless of concentration, all students complete 21 credit hours of legal studies courses such as Legal Research and Writing; Philosophical Basis of Law; and Legal Ethics. Those who have already earned an associate’s degree from a local community college can transfer up to 68 credits towards the Legal Studies major. Dominican offers BPS students the opportunity to pursue a dual degree program that pairs the BPS with a Master of Arts (MA) in Conflict Resolution.
Loyola University Chicago offers an ABA-approved Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Paralegal Studies degree completion program that is aimed at students who have already begun taking courses in paralegal studies. Applicants to the program must have a 2.0 GPA and either an AAS in Paralegal Studies or 15 credit hours of previous paralegal courses. Students can transfer up to 20 credit hours and the BA program requires a total of 48 credit hours in paralegal studies. Major courses follow an eight-week schedule offered with a mix of synchronous online courses along with evening and Saturday morning options. Other Loyola requirements, such as general studies courses, may also be offered through an asynchronous format. The paralegal studies curriculum covers litigation; corporate practice; and legal research and analysis skills in courses such as Civil Litigation; Law Office Computer Applications; and Contract Administration and Analysis. The program focuses on the technology currently being used in the legal field as well as legal ethics and practices.
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd
Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
Student Review: “College of DuPage has an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies program, so I felt confident about the quality of my classes going in. Some professors are much better than others, but I liked that all of the instructors had to be licensed attorneys. You are being taught by the type of people that you will ultimately work for. The program did a fantastic job at comprehensively covering legal research and writing from the beginning, and I got to appreciate the value of those skills with subsequent courses and with my internship in the program. The other major plus for this program was the mandatory internship. The director works with you to get a placement and she teaches the last course in the program, which focuses on your progression in your internship. The one thing that I disliked about the program was the course offered on technology in the law office; it was disorganized and poorly taught. The class tried to focus too much on too many different law office applications with only a very superficial introduction to the practical value of each application.” -Student at College of DuPage
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. Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs: https://www.paralegal411.org/degrees/bachelors/online/
3. US News & World Report Best Law Schools 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
4. US News & World Report Best Legal Writing Programs 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/legal-writing-rankings
5. American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/
6. Niche: https://www.niche.com/
7. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Ranking ROI of 4,500 US Colleges and Universities: https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/CollegeROI/