Paralegal Schools in North Carolina
The universities and colleges in North Carolina offer a multitude of paralegal and legal assistant programs covering specialties from copyright law to civil litigation to fit with your career interests and goals. This guide to paralegal schools in North Carolina will provide you with important information so that you can make an informed choice. You may also wish to consider online paralegal programs, which some find to be a more flexible alternative to on-campus programs.
- There are 27 colleges and universities that offer paralegal/legal assistant degree programs in North Carolina.1
- 22 schools offer a certificate program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 23 schools offer an associate’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- No schools offer a bachelor’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 3 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree for paralegals/legal assistants.1
- 6 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.2
- No schools ranked in Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs in 2018.3
- No schools ranked in College Factual’s Best Colleges Offering Degrees in Legal Professions in 2018.4
- 3 schools ranked in US News Best Law Schools in 2019.5
- 6 not-for-profit ABA-approved paralegal degree programs are in North Carolina.6
Top-Ranked Schools with Paralegal Programs
Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*
- Appalachian State University (#29 in-state, #22 out-of-state)
- North Carolina State University (#9 in-state, #7 out-of-state)
- University of North Carolina-Asheville (#61 in-state, #71 out-of-state)
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (#1 in-state, #1 out-of-state)
- University of North Carolina-Wilmington (#62 in-state, #68 out-of-state)
- Western Carolina University (#58 in-state, #48 out-of-state)
US News Best Law Schools 2019
- Duke University (#11 tie)
- Wake Forest University (#32 tie)
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (#45 tie)
Schools with Paralegal Programs Approved by the ABA
- Carteret Community College
- Central Piedmont Community College
- Fayetteville Technical Community College
- Meredith College
- Methodist University
- Pitt Community College
Paralegal Degree Programs in North Carolina
Guilford Technical Community College
Guilford Technical Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Paralegal Technology and a Paralegal Technology Certificate program for students who already possess an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. The associate degree requires a total of 64-68 credit hours, which takes most students two years to complete. The certificate program is 18 credits and may be completed in one semester, depending on the student’s schedule. Some paralegal courses are available online. Certain courses are only offered on campus, and currently, GTCC does not offer night classes in the paralegal department. Core classes include subjects such as Legal Research and Writing, Ethics and Professionalism, and Civil Litigation. Graduates of the program have the necessary qualifications to take the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification examination. Other students may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree or eventually attend law school.
My best advice for getting hired as a paralegal would be to network – join paralegal associations, attend local seminars – the more people you meet, the better. If a position becomes available and you have a connection with that firm or organization through networking, you can reach out and let them know you will be applying – as with any opportunity where there is competition, you need to do what you can to make yourself stand out in a good way.” –Penny Higdon, North Carolina Certified Paralegal and President, Metrolina Paralegal Association.
Central Piedmont Community College
The paralegal program at Central Piedmont Community College offers a thorough introduction to the practical skills necessary to succeed in the paralegal and legal assistant professions and is the only American Bar Association (ABA)-approved paralegal degree program in western North Carolina. Full-time students can complete the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal Technology in two years. The curriculum incorporates both college-level general education courses as well as substantive and procedural legal specialty courses. Special emphasis is placed on professional and technical skills such as word processing, accounting, research, and writing. CPCC also offers a post-baccalaureate diploma program in Paralegal Technology for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree but are interested in transitioning to the legal field.
Meredith College offers a Paralegal Certificate for students interested in the legal field. The paralegal degree program offers three concentrations within the field: civil litigation, business organizations, and real estate. These specialty tracks are a unique offering at Meredith and may be beneficial to paralegal students wishing to specialize in a specific area of law. The core curriculum includes courses such as Legal Research, Law Office Management, and Legal Survey, and students complete their degree with courses in their concentration area. As an established paralegal degree program, Meredith College has developed close ties with the local legal community, fostering promising opportunities for recent graduates. Additionally, the flexible course schedule and convenient location in Raleigh, NC make the program accessible to individuals with various scheduling obligations. The paralegal program at Meredith College has been approved by the American Bar Association and has been certified by the North Carolina State Bar.
Fayetteville Technical Community College
Fayetteville Technical Community College offers a five-semester degree program in Paralegal Technology that emphasizes both legal knowledge as well as professional and scholarly skills such as public speaking, presentation software, and computer skills. Legal areas of particular emphasis within the curriculum include civil litigation, real property, and wills and estates. The mandatory co-op work experience component of the program enables students to engage in a real-world legal setting at the culmination of the course sequence. This program is designed to be entered in the fall semester and may offer scholarships and financial aid packages to qualified students. Fayetteville Technical Community College’s paralegal AAS degree program has been formally approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Online Paralegal Programs
The Duke University Institute of Career Development and the Department of Continuing Studies collaboratively offer an online paralegal certificate program. This program is designed for those looking to transition into a paralegal career and applicants must have a minimum of an associate’s degree. The 300-hour course teaches students the skill sets necessary to succeed in the paralegal field. The certificate program is available completely online, and although students must complete the curriculum within one year, the lessons are self-paced. Students use online lecture notes, writing labs, video tutorials, and mock exams to learn the foundation of the paralegal profession. Coursework covers subjects including Evidence and Investigation, Legal Research and Writing, Pleadings and Discovery, Legal Ethics, and Legal Technology. Students also have the chance to develop their resumes and learn about strategies for entering the field. Note that the program is not considered a qualifying program for the North Carolina Paralegal Certification exam because the NC State Bar doesn’t qualify completely online formats. However, graduates may qualify for the national certification examinations offered through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
Coastal Carolina Community College
At Coastal Carolina Community College students can earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Paralegal Technology or complete a certificate program. Certificate programs are designed for entry-level and experienced professionals who are interested in continuing their education. The school offers certificate programs for Legal Secretary, Corporate Law Legal Assistant, Real Property Assistant, and Litigation Assistant. Any of the certificate programs can be completed entirely online or on campus, and some associate’s degree courses are available online. The AAS curriculum includes subjects such as civil law, criminal litigation, law office research, corporate law, and family law. Students learn technical writing and research skills as well as ethical and professional standards in the legal field. The associate’s degree can be completed in five semesters and the certificate programs are designed to be completed in three semesters, but flexible schedules are available to working or part-time students.
Central Piedmont Community College
1201 Elizabeth Ave
Charlotte, NC 28235
Student Review: “I really have enjoyed my time in the paralegal program at CPCC. Most of the professors are very interesting and their classes are enjoyable; they all are former lawyers. The classes not only gave us knowledge that we need, but we did a lot of class activities that are practical, like learning how to draft complaints and answers. I also got a co-op internship while I was there with Lawyer on the Line, and it was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed being able to be in the diploma program. I already had a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and I was able to complete the diploma program in one year. It was not full of unnecessary classes; everything was relevant.” -Student at Central Piedmont Community College
Student Review: “The Paralegal Technology program at CPCC is wonderful. I took the Post-Bac Diploma track. It took me a little over a year, but I learned more there than I did getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at a 4-year university. All of the professors are both knowledgeable and friendly. They have great internship opportunities, which I took advantage of. It is also a very affordable program, and I even won a scholarship. There is a great selection of classes, and they even let you take a few of them online (mostly the computer classes). Taking the computer classes online in my own time was great since I was working multiple jobs while attending school.” -Student at Central Piedmont Community College
Pitt Community College
1986 Pitt Tech Rd
Winterville, NC 28590
Student Review: “Pitt Community College can be kind of a mixed bag at times, but I had a really good experience with the paralegal program. The faculty is professional and competent and willing to help a hard-working student however they can. The courses are challenging, but they prepare you for a career in the real world, and the college offers flexible hours for working people like myself. Best of all, in my last year, there were tons of student employment opportunities. So I earned credits and got job experience while I attended. If you live in Pitt County, and can’t afford ECU for whatever reason, PCC is the way to go.” – Student at Pitt Community College
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695
Student Review: “The North Carolina State University paralegal program was a solid introduction for anyone who holds a previously-earned bachelor’s degree in English or business and is interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal. The scope of the program was broad; however, on many topics, instructors sacrificed depth for breadth, so students may need to look into certain subjects more thoroughly in order to feel completely prepared for paralegal work. The program’s focus on legal databases was comprehensive, which can be very helpful for paralegals who seek jobs that require a lot of research. The instructors also used a general document template rather than one more suited for the state (North Carolina) in which most graduates of the program would seek employment.” -Student at North Carolina State University
Student Review: “The University of North Carolina State paralegal certificate program was great. This was a fourteen-week course that provided me with the foundation I needed in understanding the American legal system. There were two parts to the program. Both parts were 45 contact hours worth of Work. Everyone I encountered in this program was great. The teachers were very approachable and presented the information in an easy to understand way. They also made the courses fun and excited by telling stories of their lives in the legal system. I would recommend this program to anyone interested in becoming a paralegal. I think it is one of the top programs in the state. It prepared me for the career I want.” -Student at North Carolina State University
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values in Public Colleges: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-public-colleges/index.php
3. Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs: https://www.paralegal411.org/degrees/bachelors/online/
4. College Factual’s Best Colleges Offering Degrees in Legal Professions in 2018: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/legal-studies-and-professions/rankings/top-ranked/
5. US News Best Law Schools 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
6. American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/