When it comes to being a trained paralegal, there are several educational paths to choose from. While the paralegal educational programs vary considerably in length and substance, generally paralegals possess a 2-year associate’s degree, 4-year bachelor’s degree, and/or paralegal certificate.
Each subsequent level of schooling brings additional qualifications and skills, so it is important for students to consider what will be required of them in their chosen field. Although some law firms accept paralegals with no degree, offering new staff on-the-job training, paralegals with a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or a college degree in any field combined with a paralegal certificate generally have the most career prospects.
According to the American Bar Association, over 1,000 institutions across the United States offer formal paralegal education programs leading to either a degree or certificate. These programs include on campus study as well as on-line paralegal courses.
There are many schools that offer online paralegal programs, with the most of them leading to the earning of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Sometimes, it is even possible to earn a master’s paralegal degree online. These programs include on-line paralegal programs offered entirely on-line and so-called hybrid programs combining classroom and on-line study.
Online paralegal degrees have their advantages.
- They allow students to complete their required coursework from anywhere that has an Internet connection. They represent a great way to study and to boost the level of self-motivation.
- Online paralegal programs are ideal for those who are currently employed, have family responsibilities or other obligations that prevent them from attending traditional courses on-campus.
- Most online paralegal programs can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 48 months depending on the type of degree being earned. A higher level degree will of course take longer to earn, however, in general, you can complete a degree online in shorter period of time if compare to the same courses offer in campus-based programs (unless you purposely delay your courses due to fail to proper manage your time).
- In term of tuition fee online degree programs often cost less then campus-based degree programs as most of learning materials are in downloadable format. Also the credit hours required to complete an online degree program is comparatively less.
The advantages of online paralegal education can become the disadvantages if you are not the right candidate for the online study.
- The flexibility of planning your own schedule in online education could be the disadvantages for you if you are a type of person that can’t manage your time probably between your work, family and study.
- As most of online learning materials are in text format, if you are not comfortable with this format and prefer to listen to the lecture instead of reading it. Then, it will become the disadvantage for you and you need to reconsider your decision before you choose online paralegal education to be your degree pursuing channel.
- Unfortunately, the same factors that have made a paralegal career popular have led to a surfeit of poorly-designed, unworthy online training programs. While lack of accreditation and low quality of online curriculum is a significant concern, it pays to get educated about schools for legal studies before you enroll.
Some aspiring paralegals may be hesitant to pursue education attending traditional courses on-campus because of cost or concerns that they won’t be able to work while completing studies program. For those students online paralegal program might be a good fit.
Indeed, you could save some time and money by taking your paralegal degree online. The question is if you are the right candidate for online education. Can you manage your time effectively? Are you self-disciplined person? Are you able to communicate well through chats and discussion forum? These media are the key communication channels in online learning environment and you must be able to adapt to it or it may causes you fail to complete your degree program.
By understanding the pros and cons of online paralegal education, you will have a better understanding on how these factors will affect you if you choose to pursue your paralegal degree online.