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.
Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Legal Studies Degree Online
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 3×3 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
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
How Can I Save Money on an Online Paralegal or Legal Studies Bachelor’s Program?
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.
How Much Can I Make with a Legal Studies Bachelor’s Degree?
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 $45,000. 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.