Approximately 85% of all paralegals have some form of post-secondary education, even though it is not always required. Associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in paralegal studies are more common than master’s degree programs in paralegal studies. A majority of institutions only offer up to the bachelor’s level in this field.
It has come to the point in time when an associate’s degree is often not enough to be hired as a paralegal. Many firms are now seeking individuals with a bachelor’s degree. In fact, it is the recommendation of the NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations) that paralegals should have a four-year college degree when starting out in the field, and paralegals “should have 24 semester hours or the equivalent of legal specialty courses to enhance their ability to practice as paralegals.”
The NFPA trusts online educational institutions that provide distance learning programs through the internet. They have stated: “NFPA believes that distance education is a viable alternative within NFPA’s existing core curriculum and education policies. Accessibility of paralegal education is most important in being able to draw in future professionals, and distance education provides that means. Due to its accessibility and flexibility, for a select group of highly motivated students distance education may be the only form of paralegal education available.”
You do not necessarily need to dedicate four full years to working towards a bachelor’s degree online. Online colleges use accelerated teaching methods and learning programs, and this can shorten the amount of time it takes to meet the credentials for a degree. If you already have some college credits, these can be transferred to an online college and this will also shorten the amount of time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. With these things in mind, a bachelor’s in paralegal studies may only take two-three years to attain.
There are a very comprehensive paralegal studies programs available through Kaplan University. They offer four bachelor’s programs in the field:
BS for Paralegal Studies. This is a general degree for individuals beginning in the field.
BS for Paralegal Studies/Alternative Dispute Resolution. Paralegals with this degree may need to perform a great deal or research and writing.
BS for Paralegal Studies/Office Management. A legal secretary looking to be promoted to a management role might take this major.
BS for Paralegal Studies/Personal Injury. This degree has a specialized focus and is good for an individual working at a firm that focuses on persona injury, or handles a good amount of personal injury cases.