School and Ranking Information
Within 50 miles of Charlotte, North Carolina, there are five non-profit colleges that have a paralegal and/or legal assistant program, all of which are 2-year schools. Based on such considerations as program offerings and proximity, the top three colleges are Central Piedmont Community College, Gaston College, and Cleveland Community College.
- Winner: Central Piedmont Community College, located in Charlotte, offers bar-approved associate's degree and certificate programs and is the largest community college in North Carolina. It also awarded the highest number of degrees in the field when compared with all of the schools profiled.
- Runner-Up #1: Gaston College is close to Charlotte and it offers certificate and associate degree programs.
- Runner-Up #2: Cleveland Community College features the highest graduation rate and it offers associate's and certificate programs.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Central Piedmont Community College||Gaston College||Cleveland Community College|
|Location||Charlotte, NC||Dallas, NC (20.2 miles from Charlotte, NC)||Shelby, NC (40.6 miles from Charlotte, NC)|
|School Type||2-year, public||2-year, public||2-year, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2013)||$2,481 (undergraduate, in-state)
$8,625 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
|$2,480 (undergraduate, in-state)
$8,237 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
|$2,222 (undergraduate, in-state)
$8,366 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
|Paralegal Studies Levels Offered||Certificate; associate's degree||Certificate; associate's degree||Certificate; associate's degree|
|Paralegal Studies Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012||78*||18*||2*|
|Most Popular Paralegal Program (2011-2012)||Associate's and Certificate - Legal Assistant/Paralegal (39 of each awarded)*||Associate's - Legal Assistant/Paralegal (18 awarded)*||Associate's - Legal Administrative Assistant/Secretary (2 awarded)*|
|Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2009 Entering Class||12%*||26%*||28%*|
|Noteworthy||Offers students access to six campuses in Mecklenburg County||School is part of the North Carolina Community College System||In 2012, $12.4 million in financial aid was given to students**|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Cleveland Community College.
Winner: Central Piedmont Community College
- College identified as a top five excellence teaching 2-year college
- Programs approved by the American Bar Association and North Carolina State Bar
The 2-year, 71-73 credit Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Technology program consists of general education and paralegal-specific courses. General education courses include English, math, and communications, as well as business courses such as accounting and computer skills. Paralegal coursework covers ethics, legal research, investigation, and case analysis. Students also learn the basic laws and legal procedures involved in civil, real estate, criminal, family, and commercial cases.
The 41-credit post-baccalaureate diploma program provides paralegal training to students already possessing a bachelor's degree. Classes focus on legal research, writing legal documents, and law office management. Students also learn the basics of criminal, civil, family, and bankruptcy cases. The program contains general education courses in word processing, public speaking, and computers. Both programs offer students two cooperative work experiences.
Runner-Up #1: Gaston College
- Retention rate of 65% for full-time students from 2011-2012, stated NCES
The Legal Office Administration - Basic Certificate program is 17 credit hours. Courses include keyboarding, legal terms, software applications, and business law. After completion of the basic certificate program, students can enroll into the Legal Office Administration - Intermediate Certificate program. This program covers areas such as legal transcription, legal procedures, text entry, and finance solutions.
The Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology program at Gaston is designed to get students ready to perform duties in an attorney's office. Graduates will help attorneys with tasks like office management and probate work. The faculty in the program will teach students elements such as real estate, law, trusts, research, and legal writing.
Runner-Up #2: Cleveland Community College
- The student-faculty ratio was 11:1 based on data by NCES
- Offered the highest graduation rate of the three schools, at 28%, for 2009 entering students, according to NCES
Students who participate in the 46-credit Office Administration - Legal Diploma program will be ready for entry-level jobs in government or legal settings upon graduation. Throughout the curriculum, students learn about areas such as software applications, document formatting, legal procedures, and legal terminology. The Associate in Applied Science in Office Administration - Legal program will prepare students for positions in legal departments, corporate departments, real estate, and government offices. Argument research, legal formatting, legal business ethics, legal procedures, public speaking, business law, and legal terminology are some of the classes students will take. In order to graduate, students have to complete a minimum of 74-76 credit hours.