Once you decide to become a legal assistant, it’s time to choose the right degree program.
There are many paralegal degree options, which include both graduate and undergraduate school opportunities.
Find out which undergraduate paralegal degree is the right education choice for you!
What is an undergraduate degree?
Let’s begin by defining exactly what an undergraduate degree is. Quite literally, they are degrees that are earned prior to graduate degrees (duh!). Let’s get more specific.
Usually, it is a bachelor’s degree that is traditionally and most commonly called an undergraduate or undergrad degree. Although, an associate’s degree is also an undergraducate degree.
Both bachelor’s and associate’s degrees are undergraduate degrees.
Graduate degrees are master’s and doctorate degrees.
The term undergraduate degree is most often used by people who are planning to go on to earn graduate degrees, or in reference to career fields (such as psychology) where master’s or doctorate degrees are required.
There are very few graduate degree programs for Paralegals. It is not necessary to earn a master’s degree in Paralegal to work as a Legal Assistant. You might decide to continue your education by receiving a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, if you want to become an attorney.
Paralegal undergraduate associate’s degrees
Associate’s degrees are typically two year programs. There are 3 types of associate’s degrees in paralegal. Your school will have just one of the three options. None is necessarily better than the others, but if you live in an area where you have multiple options (or plan to attend school online), the differences are worth exploring.
Associate of Arts: An AA in Paralegal Studies presents you with an opportunity to not only learn the paralegal curriculum, but also earn general education credits in liberal arts classes for a well-rounded education.
Associate of Science: An AS in Paralegal supplies practical classes like: math, technical, and science in addition to core paralegal classes, providing you with specialized knowledge.
Associate of Applied Science: An AAS in Paralegal affords you with not only a paralegal education, but with job skills that directly apply to the legal assistant career.
Many students, especially those who are becoming legal assistants as a second career in life, opt for associate’s degrees. It is common for paralegal associate’s degree programs to be offered a couple of nights a week, which allows students to be able to work during regular business hours.
- A good option for students who have just graduated high school or are just entering the work force is to earn an associate’s degree in paralegal, obtain an entry-level legal assistant job, and continue to pursue their education toward a bachelor’s degree while working in the field.
Read more about paralegal associate’s degrees and why they are the most popular education choice for legal assistants!
Paralegal undergraduate bachelor’s degrees
A bachelor’s degree in paralegal can be earned in four year’s time. Let’s explore why you may elect to pursue this option.
Although it is not necessary to have a bachelor’s for most legal assistant positions, the federal government, major corporations, and big law firms are among those who may require legal assistants to have bachelor’s degrees (in any subject) for certain positions.
Typically, paralegals with bachelor’s degrees will earn more money than legal assistants who have only an AA. In big cities at major corporations or law firms, it is not uncommon for experienced paralegals with bachelor’s degrees to earn six figure salaries.
You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. Or instead, you can opt for any non-legal field and then complete a paralegal certificate program. Or, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, you can return to school for your second career and receive an AA or paralegal certificate.
Online undergraduate degrees
There are both associate’s and bachelor’s paralegal degree programs available online. Online undergraduate college education is becoming more popular. The stigma attached to online college courses that was present a decade ago is all but gone.
Paralegal is among the best online degrees in the current economic job market.
Online degrees are a great option to consider, although they do not present the ideal educational environment for everyone. Read more at this link to find out if an online paralegal degree is right for you.