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What is a Paralegal Associate's Degree?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 17, 2024
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A paralegal associate's degree is a diploma earned by completing a two-year program of study in basic areas of the law. It certifies that an individual has completed a minimum number of credit hours of instruction. This may have been achieved by taking online classes, courses in a traditional classroom, or a combination of the two. It is typically sought by people who would like to work in law offices, courthouses, or corporate law departments as a paralegal or certified legal assistant.

This accreditation is normally proof that a person has attended college full-time for a period of about two years. Full-time status is typically defined as taking at least 12 credit hours at any given time. Normally, students have met other requirements, such as performing satisfactorily in core subjects and passing exit exams if required.

Requirements needed to obtain a paralegal associate's degree might be courses in history, government, and legal terminology. An individual might also need to take classes in legal writing, courtroom procedures, and legal research. The exact criteria can vary from one institution to the next, and might be based upon any accreditation for that particular college.

A paralegal associate's degree normally means a student has completed approximately 60 semester hours of course work. Some colleges choose to use a clock hour or quarter hour system rather than semester hours. A person might need to earn approximately 90 quarter hours, or log around 2700 clock hours, of class time in order to graduate with this credential.

Students may need to take classes in a traditional classroom setting in some instances. In other cases, courses might be offered via a distance learning program. Some people may even take hybrid programs that are offered partly at the college and partly via the Internet. A paralegal associate's degree earned online is typically as respected as one achieved by studying at a physical location, and the diploma may not specify the exact method of instruction.

A paralegal associate's degree is often desired by people who want to work in a law office but do not wish to become an attorney. This diploma could help them find employment working as a paralegal or legal secretary. Many lawyers or heads of corporate legal departments require this degree before a candidate can be considered for employment in this field. Obtaining a paralegal associate's degree could help him find a satisfying career in a legal setting.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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