School and Ranking Information
Students have six school choices in the Tampa area for paralegal studies programs. Based on program offerings and distance from Tampa, the best three schools with paralegal programs are:
- Winner: St. Petersburg College (SPC) is the only school among the three to offer paralegal programs at the certificate, associate's, and bachelor's levels. SPC further has the only Florida ABA-approved public baccalaureate program in paralegal studies.
- Runner-Up #1: Hillsborough Community College's (HCC) legal curriculum offerings are an associate's degree and an advanced technical certificate in paralegal studies. It's located directly in Tampa.
- Runner-Up #2: Pasco-Hernando Community College (PHCC) offers an associate's degree program in paralegal studies. At about 40 miles from Tampa, PHCC is the most distant of these three institutions.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||St. Petersburg College||Hillsborough Community College||Pasco-Hernando Community College|
|Location||Clearwater, FL (18 miles from downtown Tampa)||Tampa, FL||New Port Richey, FL (40 miles from downtown Tampa)|
|School Type||Four-year, public||Two-year, public||Two-year, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)||$3,172 (in-state, undergraduate), $11,427 (out-of-state, undergraduate)*||$2,506 (in-state, undergraduate), $9,111 (out-of-state, undergraduate)*||$3,035 (in-state, undergraduate), $11,552 (out-of-state, undergraduate)*|
|Legal Assistant/Paralegal Degree Levels Offered||Associate's and bachelor's degree; certificate||Associate's degree; certificate||Associate's degree|
|Legal Assistant/Paralegal Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012||91*||49*||29*|
|Most Popular Legal Assistant/Paralegal Program in 2011-2012||Bachelor's in Legal Assistant/Paralegal (32 awarded)*||Associate's in Legal Assistant/Paralegal (36 awarded)*||Associate's in Legal Assistant/Paralegal (29 awarded)*|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time)||28% (2005 entering class)*||29% (2008 entering class)*||34% (2008 entering class)*|
|Noteworthy||Only Florida ABA-approved public baccalaureate program in paralegal studies||Certificate program graduates are eligible for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certification Examination (CLA/CP)||Students can complete 30% of courses online|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
Winner: St. Petersburg College
- 86% of first-time undergraduate students received some form of financial aid in 2011-2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
- 70% of students attend part-time, according to the school
- All paralegal studies programs are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
SPC's paralegal studies program offers an Associate in Science (A.S.) in Paralegal Studies, a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Paralegal Studies, and a post-baccalaureate certificate program. The program has three full-time faculty members, as well as adjunct faculty members. The A.S. program in paralegal studies allows students to specialize in six areas, including real estate, corporate, criminal litigation and family law. In addition to coursework in business law, paralegalism, and legal research, students complete a legal assisting work experience. Bachelor's program coursework includes constitutional law, logic and the law, and comparative legal systems, as well as a paralegal studies capstone course. SPC's post-baccalaureate certificate program is for existing college graduates who seek an ABA-approved legal coursework option. All the programs prepare students to sit for national certification exams.
Runner-Up #1: Hillsborough Community College
- In-state tuition and fees were $2,506 in 2012-2013, according to NCES
- HCC's current annual budget exceeds $215 million, according to the school
- Graduates are prepared for national certification exams
At its main Tampa campus, which was established in 1970, HCC offers an advanced technical post-baccalaureate certificate program in paralegal/legal assisting and both an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Associate in Science (A.S.) in Legal Assisting. The 21-credit certificate program is available for students who have already earned at least a bachelor's degree and seek paralegal courses to work immediately or take the certification exam. Core classes include legal research and writing and tort law, with elective courses covering various law topics, including bankruptcy, contract, wills/trusts, real estate, family, and criminal litigation. The A.S. is the choice for students interested in continuing their legal studies at four-year institutions. Both the A.S. and A.A.S. programs require 64 units. Coursework covers areas of law similar to the certificate program; however, students complete further courses in ethics and office management. Students can choose to complete a paralegal internship.
Runner-Up #2: Pasco-Hernando Community College
- Students gain practical experience through a supervised internship
- Online courses are available
Students can complete an Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program at PHCC's west campus in New Port Richey, about 40 miles from Tampa. The 64-credit program includes coursework in business communications, keyboarding, criminal law, law office management, and legal research. Additionally students complete a mandatory three-credit internship to enhance workplace skills. The program offers many classes in the evenings; however, some are available online.