How to Earn a Paralegal Degree Online

Online Certificates and Associate's Degrees

Paralegal/Legal Assistant degree programs are one-year and two-year programs offered by many community colleges, trade schools, and technical institutes. It is vital to note the difference between the terms "paralegal certificate" and "Certified Paralegal, CP". The former is a one-year degree; the latter is a voluntary credential that working paralegals/legal assistants can earn through NALA.

If you want to earn an Associate's degree or certificate in paralegal studies, you can earn the degree online. Distance learning degrees are becoming more common in the legal field. Some advantages of earning a paralegal degree online are flexibility and lower costs.

The main admission requirement for any paralegal school (online or traditional campus) is that you have either a high school diploma or GED.

The first places you should look for online paralegal programs are your local community colleges. The courses may be labeled either "paralegal studies" or "legal assistant studies," but don't worry about the distinction, the terms are equivalent. More and more community colleges are offering classes online. You may be able to complete most of the required credits through distance learning. If the program requires some live classes, you can take them in the evenings so that your day job is not disrupted. The main advantage of enrolling in a public community college is that you become eligible for more student aid.

If your local community college doesn't have paralegal classes online, you should research online technical institutes and trade schools. These are not part of your state's public education system, so the tuition may be a bit higher. However, they offer have a wide variety of online degree programs, including legal assistant studies. Again, you may have to take some live classes to earn the certificate or Associate's degree.

Online universities have even more course offerings than online trade schools. These institutions offer certificates and Associate's degrees, as well as Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Many online colleges let you earn a paralegal certificate or Associate's degree online with no live class requirements. These schools vary greatly in price, quality, and accreditation, so investigate them thoroughly before you enroll and pay tuition.

An important thing to look for is real accreditation. Many online schools claim to be accredited by some various educational councils, but these educational councils may not be recognized by anybody! Use the Internet to research the accrediting body.

Make a list of legitimate online paralegal programs and ask a working professional for his or her opinions on various schools. Your contacts in the legal assistant profession can help you choose a good school that is recognized and respected by employers in your area.

After you enroll in a legal assistant degree program, stay current with all of your assignments and tests. While completing your certificate or Associate's degree online, you should aim to earn the highest grades possible. Employers may ask to see your transcripts. After you earn your degree, you can add the accomplishment to your resume and enter the exciting field of paralegal work.

© Had2Know 2010

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