ABA-Approved Online Paralegal Schools: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online ABA-approved paralegal school. We'll give an overview of the program options, timeframe factors, and common topics offered for the field of study. View article »

View 10 Popular Schools »

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)

Select a school or program

View More Schools
Show Me Schools
 Replay
  • 0:03 Selecting an Online…
  • 0:36 ABA Approval Requirements
  • 1:02 Class Format and Flexibility
  • 1:37 Program Options

Find the perfect school

Video Transcript

Selecting an Online ABA-Approved Paralegal School

Program Levels Associate degree; postgraduate certificate program
Field(s) of Study Paralegal
Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent for associate; associate or bachelor's degree for a postgraduate certificate
Online Availability: Hybrid or traditional only
In-Person Requirements At least 10 semester hours must be in a traditional classroom setting; internship may be required
Program Length: 2 years for associate degrees; 18 months-2 years for postgraduate certificate programs
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification available

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paralegal education programs are designed for students who wish to perform legal work, usually under the direction of a lawyer. Because of ABA requirements, students who wish to complete a paralegal program must choose a program that is hybrid or fully traditional. Additionally, most paralegal programs are not designed for flexible scheduling or continuing education. Depending on their current education level, students can enroll in an associate degree program or a postgraduate certificate program. A few schools offer online courses as part of the curriculum.

ABA Approval Requirements

It is not possible for a fully online paralegal program to meet American Bar Association standards because the ABA has required that in order to gain approval, schools must require students to complete at least ten semester hours of legal specialty courses in a traditional classroom environment. This means that all ABA-approved paralegal programs must be hybrid or on-campus programs.

Class Format and Flexibility

In choosing an online paralegal program, students should also be aware that unlike most online or hybrid programs in other disciplines, many paralegal programs are not designed for flexibility in hours or assignment deadlines. Most paralegal programs require students to turn in assignments on a regular basis and often to attend lectures and discussions at scheduled times via webcam, using a headset and microphone for voice communication. Some programs allow for more flexibility than others, and students should choose a program that fits their specific needs.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Court Reporting
  • Legal Administrative Assistant or Secretary
  • Legal Assistant or Paralegal

Program Options

For students who already hold bachelor's degrees, certificate programs provide the quickest route to a paralegal career. Associate degree programs, which include a general-education component, are more appropriate for high-school graduates or GED holders. Graduates of associate programs have the option of transferring their credits to a bachelor's program for further study.

Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

These programs are designed for students with a high school education who wish to enter into a career as a paralegal professional. Associate degrees in paralegal studies can usually be completed in two years, but more accelerated programs are also available. Classes focus on areas such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Law and contracts
  • Trials and litigation
  • Personal injury
  • Legal research and writing

Postgraduate Paralegal Certificate

A postgraduate paralegal certificate is for students who already have a bachelor's degree, or an associate degree. A postgraduate certificate is usually designed to take at least 18 months, but completion times may vary depending on the institution and how accelerated students wish to make their education programs. An internship may be required. Courses are similar to those in the associate's degree, and include:

  • Civil procedure
  • Administrative law
  • Intellectual property
  • Business organization and practice
  • Law office management

Paralegal certificate and associate programs prepare students to perform legal work under the direction of a lawyer but it is not possible for a fully online paralegal program to meet American Bar Association standards.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?