Earning a college degree online has a long list of benefits for students. For aspiring paralegals or pre-law students, the convenience and flexibility offered through online education is second to none. Whether the legal profession is something you’ve always wanted to entertain or you’re looking to change career paths, earning a paralegal degree online allows you to keep working as you study for your degree or continue taking care of your personal obligations. The online track makes it easier for more students to get a college education and opens doors of opportunity to further one’s career path and even change it altogether!
What Does it Take to Get a Paralegal Degree?
Acknowledging the first steps of pursuing a paralegal degree is the key to embarking on a potentially rewarding professional future. The steps taken is almost as easy as 1-2-3. How to Become a Paralegal’s website suggests that all you have to do is “earn a certificate or degree in paralegal or legal studies from an accredited degree program, find employment that provides on-the-job training and get a paralegal certification.”
Could getting a paralegal degree be that easy?
Earning a college degree takes a considerable amount of hard work, commitment, and determination. While these above-mentioned steps are certainly the milestone markers toward working as a certified paralegal, there are smaller goals within those steps that need also be achieved. Here at Florida National University (FNU), we want to provide a closer look at all of the necessary steps that you’ll need to take in order to start an academic career as a paralegal or pre-law student.
Finding the Right University that Offers a Quality Degree Program
Whether you’re choosing the career path of a paralegal or aiming to attain a pre-law degree, your academic path is dependent on what the college or university offers, as well as what you would like to achieve in your career. Aspiring students who are interested in earning a pre-law degree have the option of first enrolling in an associate’s degree or even a bachelor’s degree program. It is possible for paralegals to have either an associates or bachelor’s degree.
FNU offers a bachelor and associate’s online degree program in legal studies. Completing any one of these degree programs will make a graduate eligible to find work as a paralegal. Some employers might prefer one degree over the other, depending on the company and state in which you live, especially when it comes to certification, as it’s not a general requirement, but can certainly serve as an advantage over other applicants—something to keep in mind when choosing an academic path.
Your Paralegal Studies Options with FNU
The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies online degree program offered by FNU is a 120-credit hour curriculum that not only covers the basic fundamentals of legal research and writing, ethics, criminal law, constitutional law, property law, civil litigation, business communication, etc., it also provides a wider array of elective courses that give students the option of focusing their interest in a certain area of the law such as different areas of crime and law. In this degree program, a total of 39 elective credits need to be fulfilled. A student enrolled in this bachelor’s program also has the opportunity to get on-the-job experience for a credit with an internship in legal assisting. For online students’, special arrangement will need to be made with a participating company in their area.
The Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies online degree program requires a minimum of 60 credits to graduate. Here, you’ll get the basic fundamentals needed to make you a worthy candidate to work as a paralegal professional. The option for a credited internship is not offered here, but we encourage you to find a company or law firm who is willing to hire interns
Here are some other factors to take into consideration when selecting the best online Paralegal Studies degree program:
Accreditation: What it Means for Your Education
Enrolling in an educational institution that is properly accredited guarantees that the quality of each course is designed to provide you with the best education possible. Accredited universities are vetted by other accredited universities ensuring that the course curriculum meets the standards of the accreditation council. FNU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. As a regionally accredited educational institution, FNU’s curriculum undergoes an immense review process by other regionally accredited universities within the area holding one another that much more accountable for the quality of courses offered.
How long will it take to complete the program?
The associate’s program typically takes two years to complete and the bachelor’s degree can take four years. However, as an online student, you have the flexibility to spread your courses a little further apart allowing you to complete your degree at a customized rate. However, it is worth noting that FNU does provide a time cap for students to complete their degree. You’ll need to discuss the details with an FNU academic advisor.
What to Do When Finding the Right Paralegal Program
Applying to FNU’s online degree program requires the same materials needed as if you where to apply in person at either one of our campuses in Miami or Hialeah. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Schedule an appointment with a university representative
- Review the program’s curriculum
- Collect your admission application documents
- FAFSA Confirmation Page
- High School Diploma
- College Transcripts
- Complete the application
- Provide a copy of an government ID
- Social Security Card
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s License
- Citizenship Papers
- Exam Results
Continuing Your Education as a Paralegal Professional
After earning your paralegal degree, we recommend that you join a paralegal council that will help you further your knowledge as a professional. Here is a short list of some organizations:
- The Paralegal Association Continuing Education
- Certification and Career Advancement
- FNU Alumni
- Paralegal Association of Florida
- Central Florida Paralegal Association
There are hundreds of regionally based paralegal associations throughout the country. Speak to your academic advisor; connect with professionals via social media and your online classmates to find the one nearest you.
Start your academic career as a legal professional and contact a FNU representative today!