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Get­ting a legal stud­ies degree online is a sol­id career choice for work­ing para­le­gals who want to enhance their career with a bach­e­lor’s degree, or work­ing adults in anoth­er field who are look­ing for a career change. But busy work­ing pro­fes­sion­als have to set their pri­or­i­ties, and for many, the cost is the most impor­tant fea­ture. Find­ing a way to save on an afford­able para­le­gal degree means look­ing for the most afford­able, high­est qual­i­ty pro­grams — and that takes guidance.

Afford­able can mean a lot of things to dif­fer­ent stu­dents. Those look­ing for a cheap para­le­gal degree online have sev­er­al dif­fer­ent options. There are many schools that offer low tuition on their legal stud­ies or para­le­gal online pro­gram. There are even many pro­grams that offer col­lege cred­it for work expe­ri­ence or mil­i­tary ser­vice. Last­ly, quite a few employ­ers will actu­al­ly reim­burse tuition for col­lege stud­ies. This is espe­cial­ly true for peo­ple that work for a law firm or anoth­er employ­er in the legal industry.

For prospec­tive para­le­gals look­ing for the most afford­able option, Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors began our rank­ing with a full list of accred­it­ed, rep­utable online para­le­gal and legal stud­ies degree pro­grams. From there, though, only one fac­tor was con­sid­ered in orga­niz­ing the rank­ing: tuition cost, as report­ed by IPEDS. Insti­tu­tions are pre­sent­ed by cost from low­est to high­est. A low-cost degree means a bet­ter return on invest­ment in the long run.

1. Bellevue University

The online BS in Legal Stud­ies from Belle­vue Uni­ver­si­ty is a great choice if you’re look­ing for an afford­able legal stud­ies degree online. Stu­dents inter­act close­ly with fac­ul­ty mem­bers and well-known experts, includ­ing Con­gress­men, legal pro­fes­sion­als, and cor­po­rate exec­u­tives. Belle­vue incor­po­rates hands-on learn­ing into all of their pro­grams, and the legal stud­ies pro­gram is no excep­tion. Stu­dents are giv­en the chance to vis­it gov­ern­ment offices, attend share­hold­er meet­ings, view the leg­is­la­ture in action, and much more. The legal stud­ies pro­gram at Belle­vue pro­vides stu­dents with a thor­ough under­stand­ing of the U.S. legal sys­tem and pre­pares them for a career in the legal field or for fur­ther edu­ca­tion lead­ing to a pro­fes­sion­al law degree.

Bellevue’s Real Mas­tery approach allows stu­dents to mas­ter the skills that employ­ers need most. Real-world projects help stu­dents refine their knowl­edge, prac­tice their skills, and increase their con­fi­dence, giv­ing them an edge when it comes time to meet with prospec­tive employ­ers. The legal stud­ies pro­gram at Belle­vue is avail­able both online and in-person.

Pro­gram: BS in Legal Studies

Click to learn more about this afford­able para­le­gal degree!

2. Charter Oak State College

If you’re look­ing for the best online para­le­gal degree, Char­ter Oak State Col­lege offers an online Para­le­gal Bachelor’s Degree in Gen­er­al Stud­ies. The pro­gram is approved for con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion cred­its by the Con­necti­cut Bar Asso­ci­a­tion. Stu­dents who com­plete the con­cen­tra­tion will learn about legal ethics, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and doc­trines, as well as learn­ing about the paralegal’s role in the legal system.

Char­ter Oak is an online pub­lic col­lege offer­ing asso­ciate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as cer­tifi­cate pro­grams. Approx­i­mate­ly 90% of Char­ter Oak stu­dents work at least part-time while pur­su­ing their degrees. In addi­tion to offer­ing com­pet­i­tive rates, Char­ter Oak offers inter­est-free tuition pay­ment plans to stu­dents who need to finance their edu­ca­tion. Char­ter Oak accepts most trans­fer cred­its. The school also awards cred­its for stan­dard­ized tests, mil­i­tary train­ing, cor­po­rate train­ing pro­grams, and oth­er sources.

Pro­gram: BA in Para­le­gal Studies

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3. Peirce College

The online BS in Para­le­gal Stud­ies from Peirce Col­lege teach­es stu­dents to apply crit­i­cal think­ing to para­le­gal assign­ments, make use of legal research, and effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate both oral­ly and in writ­ing. Stu­dents learn to use the tech­nol­o­gy appro­pri­ate to their pro­fes­sion as a para­le­gal and are trained to abide by the code of ethics gov­ern­ing the legal pro­fes­sion. Peirce Col­lege’s para­le­gal pro­gram is approved by the ABA.

At Peirce Col­lege, pro­grams are designed with adults in mind. In addi­tion to allow­ing trans­fer stu­dents to apply up to 90 cred­its toward their degrees, stu­dents can earn cred­its through Peirce’s Pri­or Learn­ing Assess­ment (PLA) pro­gram. Through PLA, stu­dents can earn cred­it through exam­i­na­tion, as well as receiv­ing cred­it for mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment train­ing and pro­fes­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Peirce is the only col­lege in Philadel­phia ded­i­cat­ed sole­ly to serv­ing adult students.

Pro­gram: BS in Para­le­gal Studies

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4. American Public University

Amer­i­can Pub­lic Uni­ver­si­ty offers an afford­able legal stud­ies degree online. The BS in Legal Stud­ies pro­gram pro­vides exten­sive knowl­edge of the U.S. jus­tice sys­tem and courts, and teach­es stu­dents to per­form legal research and writ­ing. Grad­u­ates of the pro­gram will be famil­iar with the his­to­ry of the legal sys­tem and will be able to apply the knowl­edge attained through the pro­gram in their future employment.

At Amer­i­can Pub­lic Uni­ver­si­ty, online class­es start once each month and last for 8 or 16 weeks each and stu­dents can log in and com­plete their assign­ments when­ev­er it is con­ve­nient dur­ing the dura­tion of the course. There are forums, dis­cus­sion boards, and social media accounts to help stu­dents con­nect with their pro­fes­sors and class­mates. In a 2018 sur­vey, 95% of alum­ni said they would rec­om­mend Amer­i­can Pub­lic Uni­ver­si­ty. Amer­i­can Pub­lic Uni­ver­si­ty has a book grant that allows under­grad­u­ate and doc­tor­al stu­dents to access their books online with­out cost.

Pro­gram: BS in Legal Studies

Click to learn more about this afford­able para­le­gal degree!

5. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

The glob­al cam­pus at North­west­ern State Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisiana offers a pre-law and para­le­gal stud­ies online BA in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice. This pro­gram could be the best online para­le­gal degree for stu­dents who think they might want to con­tin­ue on to law school, but want to begin their careers as para­le­gals in the mean­time. The con­cen­tra­tion requires 21 semes­ter hours of cours­es in pre-law and para­le­gal studies.

North­west­ern State Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisiana offers flex­i­ble class sched­ules, mil­i­tary ben­e­fits, and indi­vid­u­al­ly-tai­lored instruc­tion. The school has com­pet­i­tive tuition rates and offers flat-rate tuition to online stu­dents, so stu­dents always know what to expect when it comes to cost. The school is com­mit­ted free­dom and integri­ty and strives to con­stant­ly improve all areas of its stu­dents’ lives. Out-of-state stu­dents attend­ing eNSU do not pay any extra fees as long as they take online cours­es only.

Pro­gram: BA in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice — Pre-Law and Paralegal

Click to learn more about this afford­able para­le­gal degree!

6. Purdue University Global

Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty Glob­al offers an online BS in Legal Sup­port and Ser­vices. Stu­dents in the pro­gram can opt to pur­sue a con­cen­tra­tion in para­le­gal stud­ies. The pro­gram offers a strong foot­ing in legal the­o­ry and prac­tice and is con­tin­u­al­ly reviewed and improved to keep pace with new devel­op­ments. Cours­es include sub­jects such as busi­ness law, ethics and the legal envi­ron­ment, legal phi­los­o­phy, legal research and writ­ing, and alter­na­tive dis­pute resolution.

At Pur­due Glob­al, each pro­gram is designed to meet the needs of adults who are work­ing full- or part-time while pur­su­ing their degrees. The school has mod­ern­ized its cur­ric­u­la to pro­vide train­ing in the skills and tech­nolo­gies stu­dents need to excel in their careers in the legal field fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion. Not sure? Stu­dents can take a three-week test dri­ve to see if Pur­due Glob­al is a good fit. As part of the Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem, Pur­due Glob­al has the advan­tage of name recog­ni­tion that opens the doors to opportunity.

Pro­gram: BS in Legal Sup­port and Services

Click to learn more about this afford­able para­le­gal degree!

7. University of Maine at Augusta

The Col­lege of Pro­fes­sion­al Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Maine at Augus­ta offers an online BS in Jus­tice Stud­ies. Stu­dents can choose to pur­sue a crim­i­nal jus­tice con­cen­tra­tion, which cov­ers sub­jects such as inves­ti­ga­tions, polic­ing, and foren­sic sci­ence. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Maine at Augus­ta is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing stu­dents with the best dis­tance edu­ca­tion available.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Maine at Augus­ta has been offer­ing dis­tance edu­ca­tion in one form or anoth­er for 30 years. It start­ed with ITV in 1989 and evolved as new tech­nolo­gies were devel­oped. Today, UMA stu­dents have many tools avail­able to help them inter­act with their class­mates and instruc­tors as they learn on their own time, when­ev­er it is con­ve­nient for them. Some class­es are help via video­con­fer­ence, allow­ing stu­dents to inter­act with the pro­fes­sor in real-time dur­ing lec­tures. Record­ings of these ses­sions are often made avail­able for down­load lat­er. There is a Black­Board where stu­dents can share their work, and instruc­tors can even leave audio feed­back on assignments.

Pro­gram: BS in Jus­tice Studies

8. Eastern Kentucky University

East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty offers a bachelor’s degree in para­le­gal sci­ence that can be tak­en par­tial­ly online. This pro­gram gives stu­dents a broad under­stand­ing of the law while pro­vid­ing a foun­da­tion that is firm­ly plant­ed in the lib­er­al arts. Grad­u­ates are pre­pared to enter the work­force as para­le­gals or pur­sue fur­ther edu­ca­tion in the field of law. Career options for para­le­gal sci­ence grad­u­ates include jobs as a legal assis­tant or para­le­gal in non­prof­it and for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, law offices, cour­t­hous­es, insur­ance agen­cies, banks, and gov­ern­ment offices.

EKU has been around for more than 100 years and has received many hon­ors and awards. The school start­ed as a school for train­ing teach­ers. EKU’s goals include instill­ing an under­stand­ing of the demo­c­ra­t­ic process in its stu­dents, teach­ing effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, and pro­vid­ing a vari­ety of cul­tur­al and intel­lec­tu­al oppor­tu­ni­ties for its students.

Pro­gram: BS in Para­le­gal Science

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9. SUNY Canton

The BS in Legal Stud­ies offered by the SUNY Can­ton School of Busi­ness can be tak­en online, on cam­pus, or a mix­ture of both. In this pro­gram, stu­dents learn how to con­duct legal research and writ­ing. The BS in Legal Stud­ies cov­ers many areas of law, includ­ing fam­i­ly law, civ­il lit­i­ga­tion, neg­li­gence, busi­ness law, crim­i­nal prac­tice, real prop­er­ty law, and real estate law. Instruc­tors include prac­tic­ing attor­neys who bring prac­ti­cal knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence to the cur­ricu­lum. Stu­dents who wish to con­tin­ue on to law school can par­tic­i­pate in the 3x3 pro­gram, which allows law stu­dents to com­plete their law degree in just six years, sav­ing both time and money.

The School of Busi­ness at SUNY Can­ton val­ues intel­lec­tu­al curios­i­ty, pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­tence, diver­si­ty, auton­o­my, cit­i­zen­ship, and col­lab­o­ra­tion. The school sets high expec­ta­tions for its stu­dents and helps them to meet those expec­ta­tions in order to encour­age pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al growth. Stu­dents inter­est­ed in earn­ing real-world work expe­ri­ence while attend­ing school can choose the intern­ship option.

Pro­gram: BS in Legal Studies

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10. University of Maryland University College

The BS in Legal Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege is avail­able com­plete­ly online, and some cours­es can also be tak­en on cam­pus. The pro­gram pre­pares stu­dents for work pro­duc­ing legal research, doc­u­ments, and infor­ma­tion. Stu­dents learn to pre­pare legal doc­u­ments and forms, assess fact pat­terns, and more. The Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Legal Stud­ies is also a good first step for stu­dents who wish to con­tin­ue on to law school.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege was found­ed more than 70 years ago and designed specif­i­cal­ly for adult learn­ers. Some fea­tures that make this school attrac­tive to the work­ing pro­fes­sion­al are mul­ti­ple start dates, degrees designed with today’s job require­ments in mind, and free dig­i­tal course mate­ri­als in place of books. At the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege, stu­dents’ expe­ri­ences and accom­plish­ments are more impor­tant than test scores. The school does not require stu­dents to take the SAT or GRE.

Pro­gram: BS in Legal Studies

Click to learn more about this afford­able para­le­gal degree!

Many peo­ple look­ing to get a cheap para­le­gal degree online are able to enroll in low tuition pro­grams. There are a cou­ple of things that prospec­tive stu­dents want to keep in mind when look­ing for a low tuition pro­gram. First of all, most major uni­ver­si­ties that also offer online para­le­gal pro­grams charge high­er tuition than they do for their in-per­son class­es. Sec­ond­ly, many less­er-known uni­ver­si­ties which spe­cial­ize in online pro­grams actu­al­ly charge much low­er tuition.

Some pro­grams will offer cred­it for work expe­ri­ence or mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence. Many pro­grams that do this are not accred­it­ed, how­ev­er. Prospec­tive legal stu­dents should dou­ble-check a pro­gram’s accred­i­ta­tion if they offer cred­it for work experience.

Some employ­ers even reim­burse their employ­ees for tuition costs. As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, this is most com­mon with employ­ers in the legal field. Even if a cer­tain employ­er does not have a spe­cif­ic tuition reim­burse­ment plan, it can’t hurt to ask.

The aver­age legal stud­ies degree salary varies wide­ly depend­ing on the exact degree, occu­pa­tion, and even the work­er’s loca­tion. How­ev­er, the aver­age legal stud­ies jobs salary is over $72,000. This is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than the aver­age Amer­i­can salary. A para­le­gal bach­e­lor degree salary is about the same, as the two cat­e­gories are close­ly relat­ed. Many peo­ple seek to raise their legal stud­ies jobs salary by becom­ing a cer­ti­fied para­le­gal. A cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is not a col­lege degree, so it is not tak­en into account in sta­tis­tics about the aver­age legal stud­ies degree salary. How­ev­er, para­le­gals have a high aver­age salary and excel­lent career prospects, as the demand for this occu­pa­tion is grow­ing rapidly.

Of course, how much mon­ey legal pro­fes­sion­als make depends on which legal occu­pa­tion they go into. A para­le­gal bach­e­lor salary would like­ly be more sub­stan­tial than the salary of some­one who works as a legal advi­sor at a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, for exam­ple. Also, the aver­age salary of some­one with a legal stud­ies degree can be a lit­tle misleading.

Many peo­ple use a legal stud­ies degree as a spring­board to a law degree. Some legal stud­ies bach­e­lor’s grad­u­ates enter the work­force for a time to save up mon­ey for their law school tuition. Dur­ing this time, they would like­ly make some­where around the $45,000 aver­age salary quot­ed above. How­ev­er, these legal stud­ies grad­u­ates would end up mak­ing much more mon­ey if they went to law school after they fin­ished their bach­e­lor’s degree and obtained a JD degree.

Can I Get an Online Paralegal Degree for Free?

It is not pos­si­ble to get an online para­le­gal degree for free. How­ev­er, there are many ways that legal stu­dents can save mon­ey on their para­le­gal degrees. For exam­ple, many employ­ers in the legal field will reim­burse or at least par­tial­ly reim­burse employ­ees for get­ting a para­le­gal degree. Also, there are many free online para­le­gal cours­es for peo­ple who are think­ing of going into a para­le­gal career.

There are quite a few free online para­le­gal cours­es out there from many dif­fer­ent providers. Usu­al­ly, these cours­es are begin­ner cours­es aimed at peo­ple who are think­ing of enter­ing the field. How­ev­er, it is pos­si­ble to find more advanced cours­es that are avail­able for free.

Many peo­ple who are con­sid­er­ing going into a para­le­gal stud­ies pro­gram actu­al­ly already work in the legal field. They may be legal assis­tants or work in admin­is­tra­tive posi­tions at a law firm. These peo­ple would like­ly have a degree of legal knowl­edge that would at least make the usu­al free legal cours­es redun­dant. How­ev­er, more advanced cours­es are avail­able for free if you go to cer­tain providers.

In addi­tion to the free online cours­es avail­able, there are many ways that prospec­tive para­le­gal stu­dents could get their tuition cov­ered. As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, tuition reim­burse­ment pro­grams are com­mon in the legal field. Also, there are many grants and schol­ar­ships avail­able to para­le­gal students.

Grants and schol­ar­ships are actu­al­ly one of the most com­mon ways that para­le­gal stu­dents get their tuition cov­ered. There is a sur­pris­ing amount of finan­cial aid out there, espe­cial­ly for women and peo­ple of col­or. A look at the finan­cial aid page of any major uni­ver­si­ty will like­ly show sev­er­al schol­ar­ships for women and peo­ple of col­or that could cov­er the tuition for legal stud­ies classes.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Para­le­gal Degree Pro­grams
15 Best Online Para­le­gal Degree Bach­e­lor’s Pro­grams
10 Fastest Online Para­le­gal Degree Bach­e­lor’s Programs