Top 25 Online Paralegal Certificate Programs to Launch Your Legal Career

Earning an online paralegal certificate programs can prepare you for an in-demand career supporting attorneys in a variety of legal settings. Read on to learn why paralegal training is valuable, how to evaluate online certificate programs, and discover the top 25 accredited online options.

What is an Online Paralegal Certificate Program?

A paralegal certificate program provides focused training in legal research, litigation procedures, software systems, and specific legal disciplines to prepare students for roles as paralegals or legal assistants. These accelerated programs take 1 year or less to complete.

Online paralegal certificates allow students to gain these skills remotely through web-based course delivery. Most programs blend asynchronous recorded lectures with live virtual classes. Online options provide flexibility to balance education with work and life demands.

The Growing Importance of Paralegals in the Legal Field

Paralegals have become indispensable to the legal profession. As attorneys take on growing workloads, they delegate substantive legal work to paralegals who make the delivery of legal services possible.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of paralegals is projected to grow 10% from 2020-2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This increased demand makes paralegal training a valuable path into the legal field.

Law firms, corporations, government agencies, and other organizations employ paralegals to conduct activities including:

  • Legal research, analysis, and investigation
  • Document drafting and preparation
  • Litigation support like interviewing clients and organizing files
  • Case management and tracking
  • Electronic discovery involving databases of legal documents
  • Assisting with trial preparation and appellate processes

Paralegals are taking on additional high-level responsibilities under attorney supervision, fueling the need for qualified candidates. A paralegal certificate provides essential training to launch this legal career.

Why you should Earn a Paralegal Certificate?

There are no universal educational or certification requirements to work as a paralegal. However, earning a certificate demonstrates thorough and focused preparation that can give you a competitive edge. Here are the key advantages of paralegal certificate programs:

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Specialized legal training – Certificate curriculums concentrated specifically on paralegal skills provide an efficient pathway into the field. This training facilitates direct entry into legal work rather than spending years in a broad undergraduate program unrelated to the actual job.

Foundational knowledge and abilities – Coursework delivers the core competencies and specialized knowledge needed to perform substantive legal work, such as legal research, litigation processes, technology tools, and legal writing. Hands-on exercises allow students to apply concepts.

Prepares for certification exams – Many certificate programs help prepare students for voluntary paralegal certification exams offered by organizations like NALA and NFPA. Earning an exam-based credential provides additional advantages.

 Connections to legal networks – Paralegal instructors and internships integrated into quality certificate programs give students access to professional networks and mentors. These relationships offer insights and contacts to aid career entry.

Affordable and flexible – Paralegal certificates take just 1 year or less to complete compared to 2-4 years for an undergraduate degree. Online delivery provides scheduling flexibility. The concentrated format is also very cost-effective.

Earning a certificate from a quality program directly equips students with specialized abilities to contribute meaningfully as paralegals.

How to Choose the Best Online Paralegal Certificate

There are many paralegal certificate programs to choose from, both online and on-campus. Use this criteria to evaluate quality:

Accreditation Status

Only consider paralegal certificates approved by institutional accrediting bodies like the DEAC or ACCSC. This validates quality standards. Program-specific paralegal accreditation is offered by the ABA, but not required.

Curriculum Contents

Look for coursework aligning with key competencies like legal research, litigation, corporate law, legal writing, technology tools, and ethics. Programs may focus on specific legal disciplines. Practical exercises are essential.

Faculty Qualifications

Core instructors should have a Juris Doctor (JD) along with experience practising law or working specifically as paralegals. They should actively engage with the legal community.

Flexible and Accessible Format

Online paralegal certificates allow remote completion on your schedule. Programs should use current learning technologies and enable mobile access.

Student Support Services

Robust student advising, career guidance, tutoring assistance, mentoring, and peer networking should be available. Technical support is critical for online students.

Costs and Financial Aid

Paralegal certificates provide affordable preparation but make sure financial aid and scholarships are accessible if needed. Avoid programs with inflated tuition costs.

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Reputation and Graduate Success

Research job placement rates, alumni reviews, reputation with employers, school history, and other outcomes that indicate a proven program.

Using these criteria allows for identifying credible paralegal certificate programs that deliver results. Now let’s look at 25 top online options across the country.

Top 25 Online Paralegal Certificate Programs

  1. Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law Paralegal Certificate

Overview:

This ABA-approved certificate from California’s Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law prepares students to become paralegals through online courses equivalent to on-campus classes. Students gain specialized legal knowledge and practical skills.

Accreditation:

ABA-approved; Institutionally accredited

Curriculum:

Core courses in litigation, legal research and writing, contracts, torts, corporate law, technology tools, and paralegal career development. Real-world assignments and mentoring included.

Faculty:

Experienced attorneys and paralegals actively working in the California legal community.

Student Support:

Access to campus advisors and support team for technical issues. Networking through the school’s Legal Career Services resources.

Cost:

$395 per unit; 36 units for certificate

Financial Aid:

Available to those who qualify

Alumni Success:

Graduates work at top California law firms and legal departments including Sheppard Mullin, Littler Mendelson, Blanchard Krasner & French, among others. Many alumni pass NALA certification exam.

Pros:

– Strong faculty connections within the regional legal community

– Transferable units towards Associate or Bachelors degree

– On-campus clinics and networking accessible to online students

  1. Loyola University Chicago Paralegal Studies Certificate

Overview:

Offers an online Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies, teaching essential skills rooted in liberal arts education.

Accreditation:

Loyola University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Curriculum:

Coursework spans civil litigation, legal research and writing, technology tools, and key legal specialty topics. Blends theory with hands-on learning.

Faculty:

Experienced Chicago-area legal professionals, primarily attorneys.

Student Support:

Full range of student services offered to online learners. Dedicated advising staff provides support.

Cost:

$770 per credit hour

Financial Aid:

Scholarships and financial aid available based on eligibility

  1. University of Florida Paralegal Certificate

Overview:

Established online Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate program from the University of Florida. Wide range of elective law topics.

Accreditation:

Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Curriculum: 

Core paralegal skills plus electives in family law, real estate, litigation, contracts, torts, and more. Blends theory and practical assignments.

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Faculty:

Experienced attorneys and paralegals working in Florida legal community.

Student Support:

Access to all University of Florida online student services including libraries, tutoring, advising, and career services.

Cost:

About $477 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Lower for Florida residents.

Financial Aid:

Scholarships and financial aid available.

  1. University of Arizona Paralegal Certificate

Overview: 

Online Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate program through the University of Arizona. Develops broad legal skills with elective focus areas.

Accreditation:

Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Curriculum:

Core paralegal training combined with electives focused on areas like business law, estate planning, government regulations, Native American law, and more.

Faculty:

Experienced attorneys, paralegals and educators based in Arizona.

Student Support:

Access to full range of UArizona online student services and resources. Dedicated advising provided.

  1. Southern New Hampshire University Paralegal Certificate

Online Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate program focused on core legal skills and contemporary issues. SNHU accredited is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  1. University of Louisiana Monroe Paralegal Studies Certificate

Online Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Certificate program approved by the ABA.

Accreditation:

ULM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The paralegal program is approved by the ABA.

  1. Southwestern College Paralegal Certificate

Online ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate program focused on core legal skills and emerging issues.

Accreditation: 

Southwestern College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The paralegal program is approved by the ABA.

  1. Bryant & Stratton College Paralegal Certificate

Online Paralegal Certificate program focused on core skills and emerging legal issues. Available nationally.

Accreditation: 

Bryant & Stratton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  1. Jersey College Paralegal Certificate

Online ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate program focused on core competencies and emerging legal issues.

Accreditation:

Jersey College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET). The paralegal program is approved by the ABA.

Other Online Paralegal Certificate Programs include:

  1. Syracuse University Paralegal Certificate
  2. Purdue University Global Paralegal Certificate
  3. California State University, Chico Paralegal Certificate
  4. Middle Tennessee State University Paralegal Certificate
  5. Texas A&M University-Commerce Paralegal Certificate
  6. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Paralegal Certificate
  7. William Woods University Paralegal Certificate
  8. Peirce College Paralegal Certificate
  9. University of Cincinnati Paralegal Certificate
  10. University of Providence Paralegal Certificate
  11. Davenport University Paralegal Certificate
  12. Liberty University Paralegal Certificate
  13. University of Massachusetts Paralegal Certificate
  14. Roger Williams University Paralegal Certificate
  15. Florida Gulf Coast University Paralegal Certificate
  16. Madonna University Paralegal Certificate.

Summary

In a nutshell I’ll say, Earning an online paralegal certificate from a quality, accredited program provides focused preparation to enter this in-demand career. With many reputable options nationwide, you can gain substantive legal skills in as little as one year or less.

Use this guide to evaluate and choose the program offering the best combination of practical curriculum, knowledgeable faculty, career support services, and value tailored to your goals. Launch your paralegal career and begin supporting the delivery of legal services with expertise gained through a top online certificate program.

 

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