Whether you’re an experienced paralegal professional looking to advance in your career, have aspirations of law school and practicing law yourself, or you’re a future paralegal looking for a great program, this ranking has some great options for you. The bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is the highest level of education for paralegal professionals. This ranking of the top ten online paralegal bachelor’s degrees will help you determine which online paralegal programs will be your best value.
Ranking Best Value Online Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees
Our simple methodology determines the best value online paralegal bachelor’s degree by factoring in each school’s tuition, graduation rate, and 20-year net return on investment. More detail on our methodology, the role of paralegals, paralegal expected earnings, and strategies for earning your paralegal degree are included at the end of the article.
#1. Regent University
Regent University is an evangelical Christian university and as such does require students to take some courses on the Bible and Christian history. Graduates of this online paralegal studies degree have worked as legal assistants, legal aid advocates, judicial clerks, court administrative assistants, and litigation support analysts. The paralegal studies program is offered in affiliation with Regent’s law school.
Graduation Rate: 96%
20yr Net ROI: $240,000
#2. Mississippi College
The paralegal program at Mississippi College is offered through the Department of History and Political Science, graduates of which have been employed by Bellsouth, the Hinds County DA Office, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, U.S. Army JAG Corps, and U.S. Navy. The program covers subjects like civil litigation, wills and estates, family law, law office management, and legal research and writing.
Graduation Rate: 93%
20yr Net ROI: $164,000
#3. University of Providence
The University of Providence (formerly University of Great Falls), offers an online paralegal program that includes an internship and the ability to use electives to specialize in a particular area of law. Students must complete ten credits of legal specialty courses in a traditional classroom setting, so students not looking to reside at their school should inquire as to whether or not those ten credits are offered as an intensive.
Graduation Rate: 76%
20yr Net ROI: $277,000
#4. Florida Gulf Coast University
The online bachelor of science in legal studies degree at Florida Gulf Coast University is designed to prepare students for either a career as a paralegal or for law school. The core curriculum covers contract law, torts, professional ethics, criminal procedure, and legal research and writing. Students can choose between concentrations in litigation, real estate, family law, criminal law, international law and wills, trusts, and estates.
Graduation Rate: 61%
20yr Net ROI: $207,000
#5. Valdosta State University
The online paralegal studies degree from Valdosta State University prepares students for many positions including clerk of court, court administrator, law office manager, legal assistant, and also can serve as preparation for law school. Students will take courses like introduction to criminal justice, principles of logic and argumentation, human communication, legal research, and writing for the legal and social science professions.
Graduation Rate: 70%
20yr Net ROI: $96,200
#6. Hampton University
The online paralegal studies program at Hampton University was designed to meet the needs of both those looking for a way to enter the paralegal field and experienced professionals seeking to enhance their credentials, or to prepare students to go on to law school after their undergraduate degree is complete. Students will take courses like law in society, contemporary legal ethics, real estate, bankruptcy, constitutional law, and will engage in a three-credit internship.
Graduation Rate: 67%
20yr Net ROI: $244,000
#7. Liberty University
This 100% online bachelor’s in paralegal studies is designed to give students a firm grounding in ethics and a well-rounded legal knowledge applicable in government, politics, and law. All courses in the program are taught by practicing lawyers. Those courses include constitutional government and free enterprise, foundations of law, family law, and criminal practice and procedures. Career options immediately available to graduates include paralegal, legal assistant, claims adjuster, and law clerk.
Graduation Rate: 72%
20yr Net ROI: $106,000
#8. SUNY College of Technology at Canton
Graduates of this 100% online paralegal studies degree have worked in law firms, corporations, hospitals, and local, state, and federal government offices. The program provides access to a personal tutor and opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in an internship. Students also have access to a personal concierge, a single person who is responsible for answering any and all questions regarding the program. All classes are taught by the same faculty that teaches on-campus.
Graduation Rate: 67%
20yr Net ROI: N/A
#9. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University’s online paralegal degree program is approved by the American Bar Association. The program allows students to complete all but 10 credits online. Those ten credits can be earned during two on-campus intensives. These intensives will provide students with networking opportunities and in-person faculty interaction while refining skills fundamental to the paralegal profession.
Graduation Rate: 41%
20yr Net ROI: $188,000
#10. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global (formerly called Kaplan University) offers a B.S. in legal support and services with a concentration in paralegal studies. Students who have graduated from this program have become legal secretaries and paralegals working in areas of law like immigration, real estate, contracts, and litigation. Courses include business law, legal ethics, law and society, advanced legal research and writing, ethics and the legal environment, legal philosophy, litigation, criminal law, and administrative law.
Graduation/Transfer Rate: 56%
20yr Net ROI: N/A
What is a paralegal’s role?
The terms paralegal and legal assistant are interchangeable and defined exactly the same by the American Bar Association. The basic role of a paralegal is to complete the work delegated to them by the lawyer with whom they work. The tasks delegated to paralegals can vary greatly depending on the area of law and include preparing cases, organizing files, drafting documents, conducting legal research, and investigating cases. You will find paralegals working in all the same places you find lawyers including law firms, corporations, and all levels of government (especially the court systems).
Do I really need a bachelor’s degree?
The short answer is no, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree. But having one can make you more competitive in the field. Online paralegal bachelor’s degrees are designed build on the foundation of an associate’s degree, leading to a more sophisticated understanding of the law. They offer more opportunity to specialize in specific areas of law, giving students a competitive edge in those specializations. Specialized paralegals are an attractive option for law firms that specialize in a niche area of law (most firms have only one or two areas of focus).
Experience is highly valued by law firms. Bachelor’s programs often offer additional internship opportunities to students, especially those who have already completed their associate’s degree. The additional internship will provide you with more practical experience, which will benefit you in your job search. Many paralegals choose to work part-time in entry-level positions while completing their bachelor’s degree, increasing both their experience level and education at the same time while gaining the benefit of deeper and more specialized legal knowledge.
Paralegal career outlook and earnings information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median pay for paralegals at $49,500 per year. An associate’s degree is still the typical entry-level education requirement. Bachelor’s degrees have many benefits, especially when it comes to career advancement, but an associate’s degree is still all you need to begin your career. The BLS estimates that there are currently 279,500 people employed as paralegals and expects this number to grow 8%, adding an estimated 21,400 jobs between 2014 and 2024, which is as fast as the national average. The BLS expects that competition for jobs will be strong, and emphasizes the importance of the competitive edge possessed by formally trained and experienced paralegals.
Why you should earn an associate’s first
It’s highly advisable to earn your associate’s degree in paralegal studies at a community college. Community colleges are far cheaper on average than 4-year universities. Earning a full associate’s degree first will allow you to start working as a full-fledged paralegal after only two years of school. The way 4-year programs are structured, you may not meet the requirements for employment as a paralegal after only two years of study. Earning your associate’s first, and working as a paralegal part-time while completing your bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies online will allow you to gain the experience necessary to maximize your competitiveness in the field. Education is important, but law firms and companies also value experience.
Paying for your paralegal bachelor’s
Paying for your bachelor’s degree is quite similar to paying for the associate’s degree, though it’s more expensive than an associate’s from a community college, and more likely to require you to take out student loans. Federal grants and student loans obtained through a FAFSA application are still the gold standard for paying for your bachelor’s degree This should be the first option you explore. Remember that even if you’re not living in dorms and taking the programs online, the grants, scholarships, and student loans can help you pay for living expenses. If you enroll in a school in your state, remember to explore the state-level resources. Scholarships and grants from your state are valuable resources. If you did well in community college and have a good GPA, make sure you investigate merit-based scholarships that might be available to you. Your school’s financial aid office should have some great resources to help you research your options.
Sources and Resources
20 yr net ROI
75%= 6 Points