Suppose you are interested in law but don’t necessarily want to jump into law school. In that case, a paralegal career may be the perfect fit. As a paralegal, you are professionally trained to assist lawyers with administrative duties, with just a few years of education under your belt.
In fact, most paralegals begin working with a two-year associate’s degree, but career advancement, more opportunities, and higher pay, a bachelor’s degree is the way to go. If you are organized, motivated, and love a high-paced work environment, a bachelor’s in paralegal studies may be for you.
Check out our top bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies and start making some plans for your future!
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What is a Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Degree?
A bachelor’s in paralegal studies program is typically 120 credit hours and prepares students for paralegal careers. Some of the best paralegal bachelor’s degree programs are either a bachelor of science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). A BS usually requires more math and science courses, and a BA entails more arts and humanities courses.
The best paralegal bachelor’s degree programs require a combination of legal coursework, projects, and internships. Some programs include concentration areas such as real estate law, business law, or litigation. Sample courses include:
- Introduction to Paralegal Studies
- Legal Ethics
- Corporate Law
A great perk of bachelor’s in paralegal studies degrees is that many are offered entirely online, adding flexibility and convenience to a student’s workload. Additionally, some programs allow both full and part-time formats. Typically, it takes approximately four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies if you’re a full-time student.
Careers for Paralegal Studies Majors
Paralegal studies graduates have developed skills that employers seek—organization, communication, and research, to name a few. The most common career choice is, naturally, a paralegal. Paralegals or legal assistants assist lawyers with the following duties:
- Investigate facts of various cases
- Conduct research
- Organize documents
- Write reports
Paralegals may choose to concentrate on a specific type of law. For example, corporate paralegals work for an entire organization instead of a single lawyer or small firm of lawyers. Litigation paralegals work with lawyers in and outside of the courtroom. Family law paralegals assist attorneys with divorce and custody disputes. Real estate paralegals help clients with paperwork for making real estate purchases.
Paralegal studies majors can also work as legal analysts. Legal analysts are legal specialists who assist lawyers by conducting and interpreting research. Likewise, some paralegal majors choose to become office managers for attorney’s offices or legal teams. These professionals enjoy the administrative duties of overseeing projects and employees to ensure the office runs effectively.
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Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Salary Potential
With a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, you can expect to earn approximately $50K a year, at least starting out. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary of paralegals and legal assistants is $52,920. However, it’s also worth noting that entry-level paralegals need an associate’s degree, as noted on BLS. Those with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn more.
The lowest 10% earn less than $32,900, and the highest 10% bring in more than $85,160. Paralegals who work for the federal government earn a higher median salary ($69,490) than those who work for other legal services ($50,600) (BLS).
Where you live also matters. Recently, Forbes published an article detailing the top ten highest-paid states for paralegals. Connecticut comes out on top, with an average paralegal salary of $62,760. Number #10 is Delaware, where paralegals make $57,290 annually. The lowest-paid states range from the U.S. South to the Midwest, such as Arkansas ($42,050) and Kansas ($43,790).
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What are the Best Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Degrees?
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University of Toledo
Since its founding in 1872, the University of Toledo has evolved into what it is today: a public research university with a national reputation of excellence. Our #1 ranking, UToledo’s Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies, is accredited by the American Bar Association, and only about 20% of U.S. paralegal programs earn this distinction.
UToledo’s ABA-approved paralegal bachelor’s degree combines legal knowledge, communication skills, and practical, hands-on experiences. As a student, you will work in state-of-the-art facilities, including a mock courtroom. You also have the opportunity to join a nationally recognized mock trial team, which allows you to create connections with legal professionals across the country.
Whether you want to jump into a paralegal career after graduating or go onto law school, UToledo’s bachelor’s in paralegal studies will get you there. In fact, UToledo reports that 93% of paralegal studies graduates who go to law school pass the bar exam on their first try.
To apply to UToledo’s paralegal program as a freshman, you need the following:
- Four years/units of English
- Four years/units of math (including algebra I and II and geometry)
- Three years/units of natural science
- Three years/units of social science
- At least a 2.5 GPA or a 19 ACT/910 SAT.
Montclair State University
Founded in 1908, Montclair State University is an excellent choice if you are searching for an affordable paralegal bachelor’s degree. Among a handful of notable awards, MSU is ranked among the top universities for affordable tuition by Forbes. At MSU, you will find an ABA-approved Bachelor of Arts in justice studies with a paralegal studies concentration.
MSU’s paralegal studies program offers a “balanced and varied background in theoretical and practical aspects of law.” Through core and concentration courses, you will study topics such as:
- Civil litigation
- Real estate
- Criminal law
- Family law
- Corporate law
To graduate, you must complete 120 credit hours, including a senior seminar and internship, while maintaining at least a 2.75 GPA.
MSU reports that approximately 50% of its program graduates are working as paralegals. This program also serves as an excellent pathway for future studies, such as law school. MSU evaluates applicants on a holistic scale, reviewing factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities, admissions essays, and recommendation letters. For more information on application details, check out this link.
Winona State University
Since its beginnings as a teacher’s college in 1858, Winona State University has transformed into the No. 1 Best Public University in Minnesota (U.S. News & World Report). WSU also holds awards as a top school for veterans and a top school for social mobility. WSU offers a highly-ranked ABA-approved Bachelor of Science in legal studies.
WSU’s BS in legal studies is for students who want to become paralegals or go to law school after graduation. This degree combines a strong liberal arts background with foundation legal specialty courses. To graduate, you need to complete 120 credit hours and a semester-long internship where you gain real-world experience in the legal field.
WSU also offers a 3+3 program through the Mitchell Hamline School of Law where students can receive a BS and JD in just six years! WSU legal studies graduates are eligible to start careers working in:
- Law firms
- Governmental agencies
- Insurance companies
- Banking institutions
Many graduates also use this degree as a pathway to graduate school or law school.
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Part of the Texas A&M system, Texas A&M University-Commerce has a lot to offer its students. Among TAMUC’s unique qualities, you will find top-notch academic programs like a BA/BS in paralegal studies. If you’re looking for a bachelor’s in legal studies online, this is one to check out!
TAMUC offers the only ABA-approved paralegal bachelor’s degree in Texas. The BA/BS can be completed on campus or 100% online for extra flexibility. You can choose between a Bachelor of Arts, which includes 12 hours of a foreign language or a Bachelor of Science, which includes 12 hours of upper-level political science courses.
Along with a strong background in law, you will study areas such as:
- Fundamentals of legal research
- Family law
- Civil procedure
- Business organizations
- Law office management
- Real estate law
- Constitutional law
A paralegal internship is also required, where you will gain valuable on-the-job experience in the legal field. Check out this link for more information about TAMUC’s best paralegal bachelor’s degree online.
University of Southern Mississippi
Founded in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi is a Carnegie R1 research institution, earning it the title of one of the nation’s leading research universities. Southern Miss features the oldest ABA-approved paralegal program in the state, so you won’t want to miss this one! The actual degree is a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies with a paralegal concentration option.
The legal studies faculty at Southern Miss include practicing lawyers and legal professionals, dedicated to helping students reach their academic goals. This program entails 124 credits hours, including 3-9 credits towards internships. Major courses include Civil Litigation, Legal Research, and Equity Practice. Students are also required to complete a minor from another discipline.
Southern Miss paralegal graduates are ready to work in the legal field, and some begin law school. Recent graduates are currently working in careers like:
- Paralegal/legal assistants
- Politician/government official
- Law enforcement officer
- Judicial administrators
Note that this top bachelor’s degree also includes a pre-law concentration. For more information about this top bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, check out this link.
Founded in 1971, National University is proud to hold 50 years of experience in fulfilling its mission: to provide accessible, achievable higher education to students nationwide. While you can complete National University’s Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies on campus, you can also earn it online with four-week classes at a time.
National’s high-value online bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is approved by the American Bar Association. You will study topics including:
- Legal issues
- Legal analysis
- Legal research
- American legal system
To complete this degree, you need to complete 180 quarter units, which are divided into general education, upper-level division, and electives.
National University is known for its affordability and is a Yellow Ribbon School, offering tuition discounts to military personnel and their dependents. You can also receive transfer credit for work experience, military experience, and even self-development. If you are looking for a flexible, inexpensive bachelor of paralegal studies, check out more information on National’s program here.
A Catholic, non-profit university in Michigan, Madonna University offers affordable degrees both on campus and online. Among its 100 career-focused majors is a top Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies, approved by the American Bar Association. Additionally, you can earn a paralegal certificate after bachelor’s degree in one year of full-time study.
Madonna University’s Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies includes 42 semester hours of major courses including:
- Legal Research and the Internet
- Legal Research and Writing
- Law Office Management
- Law Office Technology
You will also complete an internship. Madonna graduates are sought-after by major law firms, corporations, and courts in the Metro area, and often these careers stem from the required internship.
If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a post-baccalaureate certificate in legal studies, Madonna University is a great option. The paralegal certificate after bachelor’s degree is 30 semester units and takes approximately one year of full time study. Whether you want to attend in person or online, check out Madonna’s admission details here.
Daemen College is a private college in Amherst, New York that is “relatively small—but has it all!” Daemen College’s bachelor’s of paralegal studies is the only ABA-approved paralegal studies program in Western New York. This vibrant BS degree is taught by experienced attorneys by the Socratic method, which mimics the law school classroom.
Daemen’s bachelor’s of paralegal studies is broken down into 45 credits of core curriculum, 43 credits of major requirements, and 33 credits of free electives. Sample courses include:
- Introduction to Legal Skills for General Practice
- Contract Law
- Real Estate Property
- Tort Law
- The Criminal Trial
Additionally, you will apply your knowledge and skills learned in coursework to a senior thesis project.
Daemen reports that 95% of its recent graduates were employed or began law school within six months of graduation. Graduates work in all types of legal settings like the following:
- Large corporate law firms
- Small law firms
- Labor law firms
- Real estate
- Health care fields
- Criminal law
Daemen also offers a paralegal studies certificate, which can be completed in just two semesters.
A Jesuit-Catholic institution, Loyola University-Chicago is notable for its student-athlete success both on and off the court. Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete to be successful at Loyola. Check out the Bachelor of Arts in legal studies—a well-rounded approach to becoming a paralegal. You can also pursue a concentration in litigation and corporate practice if you wish.
Loyola’s BA in legal studies includes 120 credit hours, completed through eight-week course formats. Core courses include:
- Advanced Topics in American Law
- Advanced Legal Analysis & Writing
- Legal Research & Writing
- Paralegal Studies
If you choose to pursue the litigation and corporate track, you will learn how to assist attorneys in preparing and presenting lawsuits.
Loyola’s paralegal studies program is geared towards busy adults—allowing you to complete this program online while offering on campus evening and Saturday morning courses. To apply, you need either an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or at least 15 credit hours in paralegal coursework. Check out additional admissions information here.
Lewis University is a comprehensive, Catholic institution that was founded in 1932. Lewis provides small classes, experienced faculty, research-based curriculum. Among its 80+ undergraduate programs is an ABA-approved paralegal bachelor’s degree that will help you reach your goals in becoming a professional paralegal.
Lewis University’s Bachelor of Arts in paralegal studies entails 128 credit hours that can be completed in a traditional or accelerated format. While the core courses are similar to other paralegal programs’ core courses, you will get to choose from electives such as:
- Torts and Personal Injury Law
- Family Law
- Basic Contract Law
- Criminal Procedure/Rules of Evidence
- Western Political Thought
To graduate, you will also complete a practicum and capstone project. To apply to Lewis’s paralegal program, you need:
- An associate’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (recommended)
- To be at least 24 years old
- At least a 2.0 GPA
If you are interested in all that Lewis University has to offer, check out this link.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies worth it?
You may be wondering if a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is worth the time and money or if an associate’s degree will do. While an associate’s degree is often enough to gain a job as a paralegal, a bachelor’s degree will open up the doors for more opportunities.
A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is not necessary to begin a career as a paralegal, but it will be worth the time in the long run when you want to advance your career.
What degree is best to become a paralegal?
There are three academic credentials that you can use to become a paralegal: an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a post-baccalaureate certificate. Many people start with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies and are eligible to gain work as paralegals. However, some paralegal positions require a bachelor’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is an excellent way to secure more competitive jobs and higher salaries. However, let’s say you already have a bachelor’s degree, perhaps in another field. In this case, you could earn a post-baccalaureate certificate, typically a condensed version of the bachelor’s requirements.
Do paralegals make more with a bachelor’s degree?
A paralegal bachelor’s degree salary ranges depending on several factors, but the short answer here is yes—paralegals increase their salary when they hold a bachelor’s degree. The following factors will determine a paralegal’s salary:
- Education and training
- Experience level
- Geographic location
How long does it take to get a paralegal degree?
A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is typically 120 credit hours, which takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Some programs offer accelerated paths, lessening the time frame.
A bachelor’s in paralegal includes general education coursework, legal studies coursework, and electives. Some also include internship opportunities.
What can you do with a paralegal bachelor’s degree?
A bachelor’s in paralegal studies provides you with organization, communication, and research skills that translate into an array of careers. The most common career is to become a paralegal. However, even within this field, paralegals work in various job settings:
- Real estate
- Family law
- Criminal law
If you are interested in a specific type of law, look for a top bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies that offers that specific concentration.
Some paralegal majors decide to become title examiners or judicial law clerks. Title examiners search real estate, study titles, or summarize legal or insurance documents. If assisting judges in the court room appeals to you, perhaps you could become a judicial law clerk. Judicial law clerks also research and prepare legal documents.
How much can I make with a paralegal bachelor’s degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for paralegals is $52K annually. However, these statistics are representative of all paralegals, regardless of credentials and experience levels. A bachelor’s degree will increase your salary potential, perhaps closer to the highest 10% who earn more than $85,160.
How much is a bachelor’s in paralegal studies?
Cost is an important factor when looking for a bachelor’s degree. While the cost of paralegal programs varies, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), reports one year at a four-year institution averaged $28,775 for the 2019-2020 school year. This number includes tuition, fees, room, and board.
Generally, public universities are less expensive than private institutions. For example, an average year at a public institution is $21,035, while an average year at a private one is $45,932. If you are worried about the price of further education, there are low-cost bachelor’s of legal studies out there. While there may not be cheap bachelor’s in paralegal programs, some schools offer tuition assistance and scholarships, lowering the out-of-pocket cost.
The cheapest BS in paralegal studies are from online programs. Online schools often charge students flat-rate tuition and of course, you won’t be paying room and board. Also, the best paralegal bachelor’s degree online programs also do not base tuition on in-state or out-of-state status.
Top Searched Programs:
Check out more paralegal bachelor’s degree programs from these top searched schools:
Rasmussen University is notable for promoting flexibility and affordability through its academic programs. With 23 campuses and a strong online learning platform, Rasmussen may be what you are looking for. Rasmussen University offers an online paralegal certificate that can be completed in as few as eight months.
Nova Southeastern University
If you’re looking for a paralegal bachelor’s degree in Florida, check out Nova Southeastern University. NSU Florida’s ABA-approved paralegal bachelor’s degree will give you real-world experience through field experience and internships. You can also complete this program online, on campus, or through evening classes.
Through Widener University and Delaware Law School, you can earn an ABA-approved bachelor’s degree in legal studies. This program includes a handful of concentration options, such as criminal law, corporate law, and health law. The program is also flexible and offers both full and part-time learning options.
A private college with loads of opportunities, Mercy College holds three locations in New York as well as a notable online platform. Mercy College features a sought-after Bachelor of Science in legal studies with a concentration in paralegal studies. Not only is Mercy College’s paralegal program ABA-approved, but it is a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.
University of Providence
Founded in 1932, the University of Providence is a Roman Catholic school in Great Falls, Montana. The University of Providence has an ABA-approved Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies that is worth checking out. You can complete this program either on campus or 100% online.
Hampton University Online
If you’re looking for one of the best paralegal bachelor’s degree online, check out the Bachelor of Arts in paralegal studies from Hampton U Online. This top-value BA in paralegal studies combines specialized legal courses with a liberal arts foundation. Not does Hampton U offer programs that provide flexibility for busy adults, but they are also known for their affordable tuition.
Franklin Pierce University
A private university in New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce University offers “highly personalized, financially accessible academic programs” to help students meet their academic and career goals. Franklin Pierce University’s paralegal certificate program is a 30-credit (10 course) curriculum that can be completed in just one year.
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