Best Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs

Learn about convenient online paralegal studies associate degree programs that can train you quickly for an in-demand legal career.

Last Updated: 05/11/2022

While lawyers often get the spotlight (and credit) in court and other legal matters, they wouldn’t get far without the background support provided by their paralegal team. Paralegals are an integral part of the legal profession, and they need specialized training and skills to understand the legal process and be successful in their careers. Fortunately, this training doesn’t require four years of college and can now be earned remotely through online paralegal associate degree programs.

This page has everything you need to need to get started on your paralegal education and career path, including a list of this year’s best online paralegal associate degree programs, key details on what you’ll learn, and a look at what your salary could be after you graduate. Continue reading to find out about this quick and convenient way to enter the legal field where demand and earnings potential are strong.

College Spotlights: Best ABA-Approved Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs for 2022

Paralegals play a significant role in the legal field, and it’s important they get the training needed for proficiency in their positions. To help you find the best schools, we compiled a best-in-class list that looks at online paralegal associate degree programs based on affordability, accreditation, and convenience. Start your training at one of these top-rated schools, all of which are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

About the ranking

Methodology for the STEPS Best Online Programs in 2022

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

Assign Impact of Data Points

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability. Online program availability and overall affordability received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. When unable to verify this number, a star-based system was used to signify the number of programs relative to peers.

Affordability

  • Cost:
    Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid:
    Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

1
Mount Wachusett Community College

Gardner, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 9:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 25%
Online Students 1,225
2
Hinds Community College

Raymond, Mississippi

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 31%
Online Students 3,175
3

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 30%
Online Students 1,822

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 10%
Online Students 3,813

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 12%
Online Students 7,942
6
Holmes Community College

Goodman, Mississippi

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 56%
Online Students 1,309
7
Western Technical College

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 9:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 26%
Online Students 706
8
Casper College

Casper, Wyoming

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 32%
Online Students 1,061
9
Allegany College of Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 54%
Online Students 816
10
Itawamba Community College

Fulton, Mississippi

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 63%
Online Students 1,654
11
Iowa Lakes Community College

Estherville, Iowa

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 60%
Online Students 834
12
Pima Community College

Tucson, Arizona

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 9%
Online Students 3,482
13
Montgomery College

Rockville, Maryland

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 40%
Online Students 4,998
14

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 20%
Online Students 1,800
15
Middlesex Community College

Bedford, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 29%
Online Students 1,850
About the ranking

Methodology for the STEPS Best Online Programs in 2022

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

Assign Impact of Data Points

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability. Online program availability and overall affordability received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. When unable to verify this number, a star-based system was used to signify the number of programs relative to peers.

Affordability

  • Cost:
    Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid:
    Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

1
Miami Dade College

Miami, Florida

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 26%
Online Students 23,927

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 88%
Online Students 11,123
3
Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 72%
Online Students 10,337
4
Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 78%
Online Students 6,746
5
Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, Kentucky

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 77%
Online Students 4,199
6
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 50%
Online Students 1,597
7
Mississippi College

Clinton, Mississippi

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 100%
Online Students 962
8
Midland College

Midland, Texas

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 41%
Online Students 1,513
9
Washburn University

Topeka, Kansas

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 69%
Online Students 1,855
10
Davenport University

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 98%
Online Students 2,126
11
Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clarion, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 80%
Online Students 2,160
12

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 4,255
13
Madison Area Technical College

Madison, Wisconsin

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 21%
Online Students 2,184
14
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 8:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 98%
Online Students 165
15
University of Providence

Great Falls, Montana

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 8:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 98%
Online Students 401

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 86%
Online Students 1,568
17
Webster University

Saint Louis, Missouri

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 96%
Online Students 1,026
18
University of Alaska Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 24%
Online Students 2,298

What You’ll Learn in an Online Paralegal Associate Degree Program

The courses found in accredited online paralegal associate’s degree programs prepare students for entry-level positions by familiarizing them with basic concepts related to criminal and civil litigation, paralegal ethics, legal investigations, and court procedure. Students become adept in several paralegal abilities that employers expect, including legal document preparation, critical thinking, written communication, technology, and research skills. Common coursework taken in an online paralegal associate program is highlighted below to give you a deeper look into some of the more common classes in these programs.

Common Courses in Paralegal Studies Programs at the Associate Degree Level

Legal Terminology

The legal field has its own unique words and phrases that professionals are required to be familiar with, so this course teaches students legal terminology and how it is used in legal proceedings and documents. Terms studied include those related to contracts, criminal defenses, real property, and civil litigation.

Legal Research and Writing

This class covers the research tools paralegals use to find information that bolsters arguments made in civil and criminal cases. Students learn to use legal databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw for this research. Students also gain skills needed to draft legal documents, properly cite cases, and edit a legal memorandum.

Introduction to Paralegalism

This course introduces students to the paralegal profession and the daily expectations employers have of paralegals. Topics covered include legal interviewing, wills and estates, contracts, legal research and writing, and paralegal ethics. In addition, students learn about paralegal work in different areas of the law, including business, criminal, civil, family, tort, and procedural law.

Law Office Technology

Students in law office technology classes learn the different computer systems that paralegals use daily. The class provides hands-on experience with technologies used to conduct legal research, control dockets, manage cases, and produce legal documents.

Paralegal Ethics

Paralegal ethics courses teach students how they are expected to behave as a member of the profession. Topics covered include attorney-client privilege, proper handling of fees and funds, conducting financial billings, and avoiding issues that can lead to a conflict of interest and malpractice.

Accreditation for Associate Degrees in Paralegal Studies Online

To ensure they are receiving the education that prepares them for the rigors of legal work, students should only enroll in programs approved by the American Bar Association. ABA approval means that schools have been evaluated for the quality of the curriculum and the ability of the program to best provide the theoretical knowledge and skills employers require. The ABA’s search tool makes it easy to find programs that have received the association’s seal of approval.

FAQs About Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs

How long does it take to earn a paralegal associate degree online?

As a full-time student in an online paralegal associate degree program, you can generally graduate within a year and a half to two years. Students in online programs may be able to complete their degrees faster than those taking in-person paralegal programs because they can often take courses that can be finished within weeks rather than months. Generally, the curriculum for paralegal programs includes coursework amounting to about 90 credit hours.

u003cstrongu003eHow much do online paralegal studies associate degrees cost?u003c/strongu003e

Students enrolling in online paralegal associate degree programs usually pay tuition costs comparable to those for traditional programs. In some cases, students pay less if their school charges by the credit hour rather than the semester. However, even if the tuition costs are the same as in-person programs, online students save money on transportation costs. You can find information more about funding your education in our financial aid guide. In addition, the table below highlights three online paralegal programs to give you a better idea of what you can expect to pay.

School NameNo. of CreditsCost/CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Eastern Kentucky University64$409/Credit$26,176
National American University90.5$333/Credit$30,137
Rasmussen College90$260/Credit$23,400

u003cstrongu003eWhat are the admissions requirements for online paralegal associate degrees?u003c/strongu003e

Admission requirements for online paralegal associate degree programs generally include the same basic requirements for admittance into most entry-level college programs. Those requirements include a high school diploma or GED and SAT or ACT scores. Every college is unique, though, so check with individual schools for specific admission requirements to make sure you follow their required admissions process.

u003cstrongu003eCan I earn my paralegal associate degree 100% online?u003c/strongu003e

Paralegal associate degree programs can be earned entirely online since they do not have courses with a lab component. However, some schools do require completion of hands-on experience through an internship in a legal setting.

Similar Programs You May Be Interested In

What’s After Your Online Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies?

Before enrolling in a paralegal studies associate’s degree program, understand what schools have to offer but also what to expect after you complete your degree. This section discusses the career landscape for paralegals, including how much money they can make and the current job outlook.

How much can you make with a paralegal studies associate degree?

As of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for paralegals and legal assistants is $52,920 with the highest 10 percent of earners making $85,160 and the lowest 10 percent making $32,900. The top industries and median incomes for paralegals are the federal government ($69,490), finance and insurance ($66,390), local governments ($52,660), legal services ($50,600), and state governments ($48,070). For paralegals with associate degrees, PayScale indicates an average salary of $43,171 and a range of $26,000 to $83,000 per year.

u003cstrongu003eAre paralegals in high demand?u003c/strongu003e

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants are expected to see a 10 percent increase in jobs between 2019 and 2029. That amounts to an additional 35,300 jobs added to the profession. This growth is being driven by law firms looking for ways to make the cost of their services more competitive by hiring paralegals to perform tasks previously assigned to entry-level attorneys. Similarly, corporations are bringing more of their legal work in-house and hiring paralegals as part of internal legal departments.

u003cstrongu003eDo I need certification or licensure to work as a paralegal?u003c/strongu003e

Although paralegals aren’t required to earn a certification, getting a credential from organizations like NALS and the National Association of Legal Assistants can help you distinguish yourself in the competitive job market. In addition, employers are increasingly giving preference to candidates with certifications, so earning one can help you land a job.

While certifications are not mandatory, some states have specific rules that must be followed to work as a paralegal. For example, according to the American Bar Association, California, Washington, and Utah, require paralegals to earn a degree and also complete continuing education requirements.

u003cstrongu003eIf I want to continue my studies, which advanced degrees can an online paralegal associate degree prepare me for?u003c/strongu003e

If you want to continue your education, an online paralegal associate degree lays a strong foundation to help you move on to other programs. Graduates can go on to earn a bachelor’s in paralegal studies, online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, and online master’s degrees in criminal justice. Some even move on to the doctoral level and earn PhDs or DCJs.

Additional Resources for Paralegal Students and Professionals

Paralegal students and professionals can continue their learning through numerous industry resources. The following are ten of these helpful resources.

American Alliance of Paralegals

The American Alliance of Paralegals provides continuing education courses, legal news, and certification.

Association of Legal Administrators

Paralegals wanting to pursue management roles in firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments can get support from this organization.

American Association for Paralegal Education

This association is dedicated to promoting quality paralegal education.

CLE & Continuing Education for Paralegals

The Institute for Paralegal Education offers a variety of continuing education classes to help paralegals brush up on their knowledge and skills.

Educational Information for Paralegals

This page on the ABA’s website provides information on paralegal education programs.

NALS

This association for legal professionals provides the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP), Professional Legal Secretary (PLS), Certified Legal Professional (CLP), and Professional Paralegal (PP) certifications. It also gives related news and provides a job board.

National Association of Legal Assistants

The Paralegal Association, orNALA, provides educational opportunities, publications, and career assistance for legal assistants.

National Federation of Paralegal Associations

The NFPA provides professional development opportunities, certifications, publications, and networking and education events.

Paralegal – Lawyer Monthly

This page on the legal news website Lawyer Monthly is dedicated to issues related to paralegal work.

Paralegal Voice

This podcast discusses trends in the paralegal field and provides tips on how to perform paralegal work.