Take online classes and step towards becoming a paralegal
- Associate degree program length: 20 months
- 100% online coursework
- Transfer up to 46 approved credits
- Prep for the Certified Paralegal Examination (NALA)
- If you choose, continue your study in advanced legal topics/pre-law (BS in Legal Studies)
Choose your path to begin a career in law:
- Program length: 20 months
- Credits required: 62 credit hours
- Degree: Associate of Science in Legal Studies
Earn the education you need to become a paralegal fast – and get started in your new career.
- Program length: 36 months
- Credits required: 125 credit hours
- Degree: Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Earn a 3-year bachelor’s degree in legal studies to build a strong understanding of the law.
Paralegal program classes & curriculum details
In this program, you will learn about different types of law as well as gain the skills needed to conduct legal research and prepare legal documents.
Graduates are prepared to sit for the Certified Legal Assisting and Certified Paralegal exams through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). You will be ready for a professional role in any area of law.
All classes are delivered online with a capstone or internship (if available in your state).
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All courses, 30.00 semester credit hours, are required. A minimum of 6.00 semester credit hours is required. Students may take any accounting (AC), business management (BU), information systems (IS), or paralegal (PL) course. At least 3.00 semester credit hours must be paralegal (PL) courses. Students enrolled in this associate degree must complete a minimum of 24.00 semester credit hours in general education distributed among the following disciplines. Refer to the General Education section of the catalog for specific information about courses within each discipline.
9.00 Semester Credit Hours in Communications
6.00 Semester Credit Hours in Humanities (must include 3 semester credit hours of cultural diversity)
3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Mathematics
3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Science
3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Social and Behavioral Sciences 2.00 semester credit hours are required.
Open Elective Courses
General Education Requirements
Personal and Professional Development Courses
All courses, 30.00 semester credit hours, are required.
A minimum of 6.00 semester credit hours is required. Students may take any accounting (AC), business management (BU), information systems (IS), or paralegal (PL) course. At least 3.00 semester credit hours must be paralegal (PL) courses.
Students enrolled in this associate degree must complete a minimum of 24.00 semester credit hours in general education distributed among the following disciplines. Refer to the General Education section of the catalog for specific information about courses within each discipline. 9.00 Semester Credit Hours in Communications 6.00 Semester Credit Hours in Humanities (must include 3 semester credit hours of cultural diversity) 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Mathematics 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Science 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Social and Behavioral Sciences
2.00 semester credit hours are required.
An alternative: Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Designed to provide students with a more advanced understanding of law, this program also incorporates a selection of core business courses to provide a solid background in management and administration. Graduates are prepared for careers in legal assistance, legal administration, business and management training. This degree is also ideal for those wishing to continue on to law school. Learn more about our online legal studies bachelor's degree program.
Legal assisting/paralegal program enrollment prerequisites
Enrollment requirements for the online legal studies associate degree program at Herzing University include:
- A high school diploma, GED or equivalent
- Meet and interview with a Herzing University admissions advisor
- Fill out an enrollment application
What can I do with a paralegal degree?
Paralegals work in all sorts of different environments and may specialize in many different categories of law. Law firms of all specialties require clerical work, research, dictation and other administrative tasks needed to keep things running smoothly.
Paralegals may work in many different capacities:
- Private sector
- Public sector: government & military
- Freelance / contract
By earning your associate degree online and getting certified, you’ll be qualified for many different types of legal assisting roles and can determine what works best for you.
Getting certified helps your resume stand out
Upon graduating with an associate or bachelor’s degree, you will be eligible to take the Certified Paralegal Examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
Graduate with a degree, pass the exam and you will be a Certified Paralegal (CP).
Herzing’s goal is your success in work. Getting certified may give you an edge in the hiring process and help you earn your dream job.
The rules vary by state. Certification is not a legal prerequisite to work as a paralegal in every state. However, we encourage you to get certified. The Herzing online paralegal program curriculum includes a class dedicated to NALA certification exam prep.
Frequently Asked Questions
A career in legal assisting might be right for you if you exhibit these desirable qualities:
- Are comfortable in a highly structured environment
- Are precise and pay attention to details
- Enjoy research
- Have excellent written and oral communications skills
- Have strong computer skills
- Wish to continually expand your capabilities
- Work well alone or as part of a team
- Handle on-the-job pressure
- Are inquisitive and like to find answers to questions
- Bilingual capability not required—but can be valuable
Paralegals assist lawyers with the creation of legal documents and conduct research on laws, court cases and contracts—but duties will vary depending on the employer. Those entering the field with little or no prior experience will typically perform routine clerical tasks, taking on the additional responsibility of more varied tasks after gaining the appropriate experience.
The duties of a legal assistant/paralegal include assisting the lawyer with research, brief preparation, and other legal office administration, but do not include practicing law, advising clients, or setting fees since paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.
Paralegals can work in-house with a law firm in the private sector, in the public sector with a government agency, or in a freelance/contract role. Discover more about what paralegals are and what they do.
Yes. Herzing University offers online associate and bachelor’s degree options for students seeking requisite education to earn their first entry-level job as a paralegal / legal assistant.
Keep in mind some law firms and employers may require the completion of an ABA approved program for new hires – and the fully online program is not ABA approved (but programs at our Atlanta and New Orleans campuses are).
Our associate degree program takes an average of 20 months to complete; the bachelor’s degree program, 36 months. After earning your degree, you will be eligible to take the Certified Paralegal Examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
These titles are sometimes used interchangeably, but the general difference between legal assistants vs. paralegals breaks down like this:
- Legal assistants (alternatively named administrative assistant, legal secretary) handle a broad variety of office tasks, including scheduling, data entry, answering phones or other clerical duties.
- Paralegals often handle more technical legal tasks, including preparing documentation or performing research, and often requires more experience in law.
However, duties vary widely by firm and there are certainly employees titled “Legal Assistant” who perform paralegal duties—and vice-versa.
Herzing’s paralegal / legal assisting degree programs prepare you to thrive no matter the title!
Paralegals may work in many different environments with unique specialties in law, including:
- Personal injury
- Family law / divorce
- Business law
- Criminal law
- Government & military: Air Force, Army, etc.
- Real estate
- Civil litigation
- Intellectual property (IP)
- Estate planning / probate
…among many others. With enough experience in your specialty you may regard yourself as an “Immigration Paralegal,” “Litigation Paralegal,” “Corporate Paralegal,” etc.
Yes! Legal assisting is not only an excellent job if you’ve got the right skillset—but it can also act as a springboard into many different types of careers in law as you get more experience and further your education.
Your first step is getting educated. Our goal is to help you take the first step, discover your true capabilities and thrive in your new career.
Educational requirements to become a paralegal vary by state and employer. Given the broad scope of potential roles in legal assisting, different jobs require different levels of education.
Types of paralegal programs to choose from:
- Certificate / diploma programs*. Basic certificate programs (sometimes called a “diploma”) are designed to provide minimum training & education. Some are designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field.
- Degree program. Associate & bachelor’s degree programs help you become highly qualified for an entry-level paralegal job and often provide a strong foundation to grow into other careers in law.
* Herzing University does not offer a certificate program.
It’s important to understand the difference between the two types of “certificate” programs. A basic certificate/diploma program will typically offer a fast track to getting started as a paralegal, but none of them are ABA approved and they will fall short of the comprehensiveness of a degree or post-baccalaureate certificate program.
Which should I choose?
That depends on your prior education and career goals. For students without a degree interested in becoming a paralegal, our associate and bachelor’s degree programs are a perfect starting point.
No. Currently, fully online paralegal / legal assisting programs are not approved by the ABA. There are cases where the ABA may approve individual online classes – but there are no 100% online ABA approved programs.
Not all employers will require completion of an ABA approved program. However, earning your degree through an ABA approved program can give you an edge on the job market and open doors to more opportunities.
Herzing University offers ABA approved paralegal programs at our New Orleans and Atlanta ground campuses.
According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), paralegals earn an average salary of $56,610 per year ($27.22 per hour).* Keep in mind this is not an estimate for starting pay in an entry-level position—average pay will vary based on your experience, level of education and the state in which you work. Find the average paralegal salary by state.
The BLS reports a positive outlook for jobs over the next ten years, projecting a 10% increase in employment for paralegals and legal assistants from 2019-2029—well above the expected increase across all occupations.*
Accreditation & Disclosures
Note: Only the Herzing University paralegal programs in New Orleans and Atlanta are approved by the American Bar Association. The online legal studies program is not ABA approved.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.