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What Types of Degrees Are Available in Legal Assisting?

Aspiring legal assistants can earn an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in the field. Certificates are also available to those who hold bachelor's degrees in another field. Read on to learn more about each degree option.

Legal Assisting Degrees and Certificates

The standard academic requirement for most aspiring legal assistants or paralegals is an associate's degree in the field. Programs are available at all levels, though, and each may fit the needs of different students.

Important Facts About Legal Assisting Degrees

Online Availability Available as partially and fully online programs
Prerequisites Some programs require approval from a department head in order to enrol
Possible Careers Legal assistant, paralegal, law office administrator
Continuing Education Some colleges may offer continuing education courses to maintain paralegal certification
Median Salary (2018) $50,940 (for aralegals and legal assistants)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (for paralegals and legal assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assisting

These 2-year degrees are available at community colleges, often in both full-time and part-time formats. The curriculum includes general education or liberal arts classes, like English composition, mathematics, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The specific legal assistant curriculum makes up almost half of the coursework and often includes an internship or field experience. Topics can include:

  • Business law
  • Estates, liability and other aspects of civil law
  • Legal research
  • Document preparation
  • Technology for law offices

Post-associate's or Post-baccalaureate Certificate

Those who have bachelor's degrees and want to become legal assistants can earn a certificate in the field. The legal assisting or paralegal certificate program takes about a year of full-time study and includes many of the legal courses from the associate's degree. Some community colleges offer the law portion of their associate's degree program as a free-standing certificate.

Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies

As a 4-year degree program, a legal assisting bachelor's degree can offer many choices in coursework or specialization. Similar to other legal assisting programs, students can often pursue internships or field experiences. Specializations can include:

  • Client advocacy
  • Criminal law
  • Civil law
  • Torts
  • Legal administration
  • Real estate
  • Legal research

Master of Arts or Science in Paralegal Studies or Legal Assisting

While a master's degree is above and beyond the standard academic requirement for a paralegal, a handful of schools offer these programs. Master's degree programs offer more depth and breadth in legal assistant training, including multiple specializations, such as:

  • Political science
  • Constitutional law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Thesis