Overview of Online Paralegal Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs
Online post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate programs are designed for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in any field besides paralegal studies or paralegal science, but who are interested in the subject. These programs generally prepare students academically and professionally for a career as a paralegal and focus on training students in the best practices for the field. Most of these programs can be completed fully online.
Online paralegal post-baccalaureate certificate programs can usually be completed in 2 to 4 semesters. Some of these certificates may allow students to complete the program in full- or part-time formats and/or offer online and evening courses for flexibility. Some of these programs may also offer multiple start dates to allow students to begin their studies whenever it is convenient for them. Besides holding a bachelor's degree, applicants to these programs may be required to submit their transcripts and/or other application materials.
Requirements for Online Paralegal Post-Baccalaureate Certificates
Students in these online post-baccalaureate certificate programs not only further develop their communication and critical-thinking skills but also gain the necessary skills to conduct legal research and make ethical decisions in the field. These programs may also discuss the role of paralegals and help prepare students for the different responsibilities in that role.
These online paralegal certificate programs may range between 30 and 37 credits, and some programs may offer accelerated 8-week or 10-week terms for courses. Depending on the program, students may be able to focus their studies in particular areas of the field, such as general law or intellectual property. Students in these programs typically take a few core courses and one or more electives that are chosen from an approved list. Some programs may offer an internship experience for hands-on learning. In order to complete the program, some students may need to finish with a 2.0 or higher GPA.
Introduction to Law
Introductory courses in law provide students with an overview of the American legal system, including the history, purpose, and/or function of the law. These courses may train students in case law analysis, provide information about law-related professions, and/or explore ethical practices in the field.
Legal Research and Writing
Students may take one or more courses in legal research and writing to learn how to find laws pertaining to cases, analyze written opinions, and apply their findings to real-world cases. These courses are also designed to help students further develop their legal argument writing skills. Students may also learn how to write memoranda and correspondence used in the field of law.
Litigation courses provide students with an overview of civil law. These courses may discuss the rights that fall under these laws, as well as civil law processes and procedures. Other topics for these courses may include jurisdiction, case management, pleadings, appeal, trial preparation, and the disclosure process.
Career Outcomes with a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal
Many students who earn a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate can go on to work as a paralegal or legal assistant. Paralegals may either hold an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree with a certificate in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some paralegals and legal assistants may also decide to earn voluntary paralegal certifications from national or local organizations.
In 2019, the BLS stated that paralegals and legal assistants made a median annual salary of $51,740, but this may vary based on industry. For instance, paralegals working for the federal government made a median salary of $67,080, while those working in the legal services industry made $49,630. These professionals have a much-faster-than-average job outlook of 12% from 2018 to 2028. This may be a result of law firms trying to decrease costs and hiring more paralegals and legal assistants to perform a range of duties.
Students who already have a bachelor's degree can earn an online paralegal certificate to enter into the field. These certificate programs may take 2 to 4 semesters to complete and might include courses on law, litigation, and legal writing.