School and Ranking Information
Students seeking a career as a paralegal have four options to consider for training in the Houston area. In the state of Texas, the State Bar of Texas establishes standards for the paralegal profession, encouraging employers to hire applicants who have received certification through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; one of the requirements for this certification is graduating from an accredited program. All of the following schools have accredited programs, though only one also holds approval from the American Bar Association (ABA). Based on program offerings and ABA approval, the following are the best schools in the area for paralegal education:
- Winner: San Jacinto Community College has the only program in the Houston area approved by The American Bar Association (ABA).
- Runner-Up #1: University of Houston - Clear Lake offers a 4-year degree in legal studies that can prepare students for the requirements of paralegal certification.
- Runner-Up #2: For students who already possess a bachelor's degree, the third option is Houston Community College, with an associate's degree program in paralegal technology and a legal assisting certificate program that can be used to fulfill course credit requirements for certification.
School Comparison Table
|San Jacinto Community College||University of Houston - Clear Lake||Houston Community College|
|Location||Pasadena, Texas (13 miles from Houston)||Houston||Houston|
|School Type||2-year; public||4-year; public||2-year; public|
|Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)|| $1,312 (in-district),
| $5,304 (in-state, undergraduate),
$14,784 (out-of-state, undergraduate)*
| $1,627 (in-district),
|Paralegal Degrees Offered||Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal||Bachelor of Science (BS) in Legal Studies||Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal Technology|
|Degrees Awarded (2011-2012)||15 (AAS)*||15 (BS)*||21 (AAS)*|
|Most Popular Program (2011-2012)||AAS in Paralegal (15 degrees awarded)*||BS in Legal Studies (15 degrees awarded)*||AAS in Paralegal Technology (21 degrees awarded)*|
|Graduation Rate (150% of Normal Program Time)||11% (2008-2012)*||N/A||14% (2008-2012)*|
|Noteworthy||100% success rates for graduates**||N/A||Certificate specialization available|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **San Jacinto Community College website
Winner: San Jacinto Community College
- Only ABA approved paralegal program in Houston area
- Complete placement rate for program graduates
San Jacinto Community College is a public 2-year institution offering an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) through a paralegal program offered through the North Campus in Houston. Boasting a 100% success rate for program graduates, students have a record of directly entering the work force in legal assisting roles. Program courses include topics such as civil litigation, law office technology, investigating and criminal law. Students will also complete a course providing an introduction to the law and legal professions. They will also have the opportunity to complete a legal assisting/paralegal internship by the completion of their program.
First Runner-Up: University of Houston - Clear Lake
- Only Houston area bachelor's degree in legal studies
- Law school preparation or path to paralegal certification
The Clear Lake branch of the University of Houston, a comprehensive public institution, opened its doors in 1974, offering 4-year degree and graduate programs. Offered through the School of Business, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Legal Studies that can be used as a path to certification for professional legal assistants or as preparation for graduate law school. Students complete 60-credit hours for their major, including core courses that cover legal writing, legal research, jury trials and Texas civil procedure. Elective course topics include interdisciplinary courses in areas such as management, accounting, finance and marketing, as well as fields such as writing and political science.
Second Runner-Up: Houston Community College
- Associate degree and certificate programs available
- Certificate specialization available
Created as a member of Houston Public Schools in 1971, Houston Community College was restructured into a multi-college system in 1992. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal Technology, with program courses covering legal research, contracts, civil litigation and criminal law procedure. The college also offers a Certificate in Paralegal Technology - Legal Assisting, with specialization options in either general legal assisting or medical legal assisting.