Online Immigration Law Schools: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online immigration law school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, prerequisites, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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Immigration law can be studied through a number of online programs. Students may be interested in several, so they may want to keep some important considerations in mind, like how the program is formatted, what program levels are offered and what career the program prepares you for.

How to Select an Online Immigration Law School

Students considering online immigration law schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Immigration law courses are offered online by many institutions for prospective paralegals and lawyers. While students will find many immigration law courses, both online and in traditional format, full programs that focus on immigration law are extremely rare in both forms. Students who wish to study immigration law should choose a program both based on what program best fits their schedule and on program or course availability.

Type of Program

Graduate certificates in immigration law are available from select institutions, and many different programs have immigration law components. These include paralegal education programs, master's degrees in legal studies and doctoral law degrees. Often, immigration law is taught in one or two courses, though in the case of a graduate certificate, as many as four or five may be necessary.

Format and Time Constraints

Online immigration law courses are taught in a range of different formats, from synchronous, real-time classes in which students watch lectures via streaming download, communicate via voice conferencing or web cam and have regular assignment and test due dates to asynchronous classes that allow students to log into class at any time, communicate via message board and email and have flexible assignment and test due dates. Some classes require students to finish the course by a given date but have no specific assignment or test dates at all. Accelerated courses and programs for students who wish to complete their work quickly are usually closer to the first type, while flexible programs for working professionals are often of the second type. Students should choose a style that fits their needs and time constraints.

Online Programs for Immigration Law

Immigration Law Studies Certificate Program

A graduate certificate in immigration law is designed for students who wish to understand the law as it applies to citizenship and immigration. As with all graduate certificates, students must complete a bachelor's degree, usually in a related subject, before enrolling.

Most courses required for online immigration law certificates are available in an asynchronous format, and do not require students to log in to class at any particular time of day or attend real-time lectures. Though courses may have participation requirements, this normally only requires students to log into class forums and post in conversations with other students, an activity they can undertake at any time of day they choose. Many asynchronous classes have no due dates for assignments or tests, only requiring students to turn in all work by a class end date. Students study:

  • Changing immigration policies
  • Filing of applications and petitions
  • Immigration court proceedings
  • Legal research, writing and civil litigation

Online Schools with Immigration Law Programs

The National Paralegal College offers an online associate's program in paralegal studies. Within this program, students can choose to take an immigration law course as one of their electives. This program prepares students for the CLA/CP examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants that qualifies them as certified paralegals or legal assistants. Students who take three courses at a time can complete the program in as little as 15 months, while students only enrolled in one course will complete the program in 41 months.

The City University of New York School of Professional Studies offers an online Advanced Certificate in Immigration Law Studies. Students who apply to this program must already have a bachelor's degree and a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0. The courses are provided to students in an asynchronous format, meaning students are able to access them at their own convenience and complete coursework on their own schedules. The program is comprised of nine credit hours, three of which come from a required Introduction to Immigration Law course, while the other six come from electives in various aspects of immigration law. It is important to note that unless a student already has a J.D. degree, this certificate does not qualify anyone to practice law.

California Southern University offers an online Master of Science in Law program. This 36-credit program takes about two years to complete, though if students transfer credits into the program and take more than one course at once, they could complete it in as little as 10 months. The curriculum covers major law topics, like constitutional law and contract law, as well as an elective course in immigration law. Students in the program can complete courses on their own time and will receive personal communication and advice from practicing attorneys. However, students should keep in mind that this program does not qualify students to take the California Bar Examination, though the school does offer a Juris Doctor program that would.

In summary, students have a few options available if they are interested in studying immigration law online. Before choosing a program, they should consider how long a program would take to complete, whether they program is flexible and how thoroughly immigration law will be covered in the program.

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