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Best Paralegal Schools in Arizona for 2024: Online and On-Campus

Learn how to start an exciting legal career by becoming a paralegal. This guide discusses the best paralegal schools in Arizona and resources to quickly join this fast-growing field.

Author: Shannon Lee
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A blue silhouette of the state of Arizona is set against a white background. The shape of Arizona is angular with a slightly jagged western border, a flat southern border, and a slanted northeastern border.

Did you know that in most legal practices, paralegals do much of the legal work? Attorneys may spot the legal issues, develop the legal theories, and argue in court, but it’s the paralegals who do much of the research, preparation, and drafting of legal documents. No matter what shows up on the court docket, you can count on the fact that paralegals did the heavy lifting.

Given how necessary paralegals are to the legal profession, there’s a strong demand for these professionals, especially in Arizona. The 10-year projected growth rate for paralegals in Arizona is 28.3%, and theaverage annual salary is a healthy $61,300, showing how much their work is valued.

The goal of this guide is to discuss the various types of paralegal schools and programs in Arizona available to prospective students.

Best Colleges to Earn a Paralegal Degree in Arizona – Campus-Based Programs

Arizona is home to many paralegal schools and programs that provide the necessary training to join the profession. Yet when it comes to meeting Arizona paralegal requirements, some schools are a better option than others. The following section spotlights three such programs that stand out with respect to their academic quality, affordability, and student support options.

Note that this is a preview of our full ranking list, which will come later in 2024.

Phoenix College

Phoenix College is part of the Maricopa Community College system and offers two Paralegal Studies academic tracks. Both are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The Associate in Applied Science Paralegal Studies Program takes roughly two years to complete and consists of 64 to 74 credits. Those interested in graduating faster can enroll in the Certificate of Completion track, which requires as few as 40 credits.

No matter which pathway a student chooses, they will take the same coursework in civil procedure, contracts, litigation technology, legal research, and information gathering. This is primarily an on-campus program, but students have the option of taking some of their courses online. To accommodate students as much as possible, many of the in-person classes are offered at two or more Phoenix campuses. Upon graduation, students meet Arizona paralegal requirements and be ready for entry-level employment in law firms and general counsel offices at government agencies.

Delivery:
  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate in Applied Science Paralegal Studies
  • Certificate of Completion in Paralegal Studies

Arizona Western College

Individuals interested in a paralegal program at Arizona Western College can choose from either the Associate of Applied Science or Occupational Certificate in Paralegal Studies. The former consists of 65 credits over four semesters. The latter also takes four semesters, but it’s a part-time program that requires 28 credits. The curriculum is designed to meet Arizona paralegal requirements and prepare individuals to work as paralegals in either criminal or civil cases in the private or public sectors.

One of the great features of Arizona Western College is the affordable tuition, with a $94 per credit tuition rate for in-state students and $104 to $141 per credit rate for out-of-state students. Once enrolled, students have access to an array of resources, including tutoring, technical support, academic advising, and career development.

Delivery:
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Occupational Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Pima Community College

Pima Community College is like many other paralegal schools in Arizona in that students can become a paralegal by completing either the associate of applied science or post-degree certificate paralegal program. But there are two features of this program that make it stand out from many other Arizona paralegal programs.

First, it’s approved by the ABA. Second, students can choose to take a few additional courses to become a legal paraprofessional (LP). LPs are licensed professionals who can provide legal advice in limited contexts without attorney supervision.

To meet the scheduling needs of students, on-campus classes are offered during the day and evening. Additionally, many of the required courses are offered fully or partially online in an asynchronous format.

Delivery:
  • On-Campus
  • Online
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate of Applied Science – Paralegal, Legal Assistant
  • Post-Degree Certificate – Paralegal

Top Online Paralegal Degree Programs in Arizona

Traditional paralegal programs in Arizona are popular but not always practical. Having set class times and traveling to campus prevents many students from completing an Arizona paralegal program.

Therefore, several online paralegal programs in Arizona have sprung up. These are intended to meet the Arizona paralegal requirements but be more convenient. Some of these programs are fully online, with no campus or in-person requirements. Others may have fully online coursework but also require additional in-person training.

The following section closely examines a few popular online paralegal programs in Arizona that meet paralegal requirements; a full ranking list will be released soon.

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers two online paralegal programs. The first is the Paralegal Certificate program. The curriculum is 100% online with courses offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats. In addition to the classes, students complete 90 hours of in-person training.

There’s also the Advanced Paralegal Certificate program, which is intended for currently practicing paralegals who desire more advanced legal training in specialized areas of the law. The curriculum allows students to choose six courses, all of which will be available online asynchronously. In addition to the six classes, Advanced Paralegal Certificate students complete 270 hours of in-person training.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Paralegal Certificate
  • Advanced Paralegal Certificate
Program Options:
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Partially-Online

National Paralegal College

It should come as no surprise that National Paralegal College specializes in providing the highest quality paralegal programs and meeting Arizona paralegal requirements. National Paralegal College has DEAC accreditation and offers all of itsprograms in a convenient online format and with the widest selection of degrees available from online paralegal programs in Arizona.

Unlike most paralegal programs in Arizona, prospective students choose from four options and related programs. In addition to the associate and certificate options, National Paralegal College also offers a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in legal studies.

All of the courses are online, meaning students don’t have to make any campus visits. To encourage group learning, the online classes are live. However, all lectures and course materials are available for viewing or offline use by any student at any time.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Paralegal Certificate
  • Associate of Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Graduate Programs:
  • Master of Science in Legal Studies
Program Options:
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online

Rio Salado College

At Rio Salado College, students choose from two paralegal programs. Those seeking a college degree enroll in the Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal program. Lasting approximately four semesters, in this program students learn procedural and substantive legal concepts and earn a paralegal certificate of completion in addition to their associate degree. Students also have the option to transfer to an eligible bachelor of applied science program.

Those wishing to graduate a bit more quickly can apply to the Certificate of Completion in Paralegal program. Students can graduate in three semesters and have the option to continue their education to earn an associate of applied science degree. Neither is a 100% online paralegal program in Arizona, but a significant number of general education and paralegal courses are available online and in an asynchronous format.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Certificate of Completion in Paralegal
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal
Program Options:
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Partially-Online

Types of Paralegal Degrees You Can Earn in Arizona

Most paralegals complete a special program, usually resulting in a certificate or associate degree. Bachelor’s degrees are an option, although they are far less common. The various credentials offered by paralegal schools in Arizona exist to accommodate the varied educational backgrounds and professional goals of their students.

Undergraduate Paralegal Degrees in Arizona

Paralegal Associate Degrees

An associate degree usually consists of about 60 credits that can be completed in two years or less. Because it’s a college degree that includes general education classes, it offers more room for growth, such as if you wanted to eventually earn your bachelor’s degree. Another reason to get an associate degree is that some employers may require a college degree for their paralegals.

Accredited Arizona Colleges with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies aren’t very common, as they typically take 120 credits and four years to complete. However, they’re a good option if you want to work somewhere that requires a four-year degree or if you plan on eventually getting a graduate degree, such as a master of legal studies or a juris doctorate.

Accredited Arizona Colleges with a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

Certificate Programs

This is the most popular pathway to meet Arizona paralegal requirements. Certificate programs offer all of the necessary training as quickly as possible. While they don’t result in a college degree, they take far less time and money to earn compared to an associate degree.

Accredited Arizona Colleges with Paralegal Certificate Programs

Paying for Your Paralegal Degree in Arizona

Before you apply to any of the paralegal schools in Arizona, you’ll need to figure out how to fund your education. Luckily, you’ll have multiple resources for financial aid. In addition to student loans (usually offered based on Federal Student Aid), grants and scholarships will be the most desirable because they don’t have to be paid back. These are often offered by the schools themselves, such as with Yavapai College.Other times grants and scholarships are awarded by nonprofit organizations, such as the Paralegal Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. If you’re already working, there’s also the possibility of tuition reimbursement benefits in which your employer pays for you to go back to school to become a paralegal.

Salary & Growth for Paralegal Grads in Arizona

As mentioned previously, the estimated growth for paralegals is impressive, with the profession expected to grow more than 28% over the next 10 years or so. To put this into perspective, the national projected growth rate for paralegals during the same time period is 12%—still a healthy number but nowhere near Arizona’s rate.

The salary for Arizona paralegals reflects this demand, with a state-wide average of $61,300. This is right in line with the national average of $62,840. However, you can expect to make even more in Arizona metropolitan areas. For example, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area offers an average paralegal salary of $64,560. In contrast, the more rural areas have a notably lower average annual compensation of $47,280.

Finally, keep in mind that the experience gained as a paralegal will be invaluable if you decide to advance your legal career by becoming an attorney or legal paraprofessional.

Arizona Paralegal Professional and Student Resources

  • Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals
    The Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals (AAIP) is the most prominent professional organization for Certified Legal Document Preparers. Resources offered by the AAIP include continuing education, professional development opportunities, skills advancement, and educating the public about what Certified Legal Document Preparers do.
  • Arizona Paralegal Association
    The Arizona Paralegal Association (APA) is the premier professional organization for paralegals in the state. The APA’s mission is to offer resources and services to improve the standing of the paralegal profession and enhance the practice of its membership. In addition to continuing legal education programs, members enjoy monthly lunches and webinars.
  • Maricopa County Association of Paralegals
    The Maricopa County Association of Paralegals provides its members with access to certification programs, continuing education classes, networking opportunities, and an annual dinner held each October. This organization is open to various types of legal support staff, not just paralegals.
  • NALS of Phoenix
    Formerly known as the Phoenix Legal Support Association, this group exists to serve as a professional organization for all legal support occupations, including legal assistants, paralegals, court reporters, receptionists, legal secretaries, and process servers.
  • Tucson Paralegal Association
    The Tucson Paralegal Association (TPA) is open to all paralegals and legal assistants and aims to promote the professional and ethical obligations required of these legal support staff members. In addition to hosting networking events, the TPA also provides continuing education opportunities.