Associate Degree in Paralegal: A Complete Guide (2024)

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Learn what’s involved in earning an Associate degree in Paralegal. We'll cover what the degree is, its pros and cons, the steps to get it, how long it takes, online options, what you’ll study, and potential career paths.

Key Points

  • An associate degree in paralegal provides foundational legal knowledge and skills
  • Pros include affordability, flexibility, and job opportunities, while cons involve limited career advancement
  • The program typically takes 2 years to complete and covers legal research, writing, and procedures
  • Graduates can pursue entry-level paralegal roles, graduate school, or various career opportunities

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What is an Associate Degree in Paralegal?

An associate degree in paralegal is a 2-year undergraduate program that prepares students for entry-level positions in the legal field. The curriculum covers a range of legal topics, including legal research, writing, and procedures, as well as general education courses. Upon completion, graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to assist lawyers in various legal settings, such as law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments.

Pros and Cons of Pursuing an Associate Degree in Paralegal


  • Affordability: Associate degree programs are generally more affordable than four-year bachelor's programs, making them a more accessible option for many students.
  • Flexibility: Many associate degree programs offer flexible scheduling options, such as part-time or evening classes, allowing students to balance their studies with work or other commitments.
  • Job Opportunities: Graduates with an associate degree in paralegal can pursue various entry-level paralegal positions, providing a solid foundation for a career in the legal field.


  • Limited Career Advancement: While an associate degree can lead to entry-level paralegal roles, further career advancement may be limited without a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • Specialized Knowledge: Associate degree programs may not provide the same depth of specialized legal knowledge as a four-year paralegal program or a law degree.
  • Potential Salary Limitations: Paralegals with an associate degree may have a lower earning potential compared to those with a bachelor's degree or more advanced legal education.

How to Get an Associate Degree in Paralegal

1. Meet the Admission Requirements: To enroll in an associate degree in paralegal program, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, and some programs may have additional requirements, such as a minimum GPA or entrance exam scores.

2. Apply to the Paralegal Program: Research and compare different paralegal programs in your area or online to find the one that best fits your needs and goals. Complete the application process, which may include submitting transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

3. Explore Financial Aid Options: Investigate various financial aid options, such as grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs, to help cover the cost of your associate degree in paralegal. Eligibility for financial aid is often based on factors like financial need, academic performance, and personal circumstances.

4. Enroll and Complete the Program: Once accepted, enroll in the paralegal program and complete the required coursework, which typically includes a combination of legal-specific classes and general education requirements. Maintain a good academic standing and actively participate in the program to ensure a successful completion.

List of Online Associate Degree in Paralegal

If you're exploring online associate degree options in Paralegal, one notable website is Dreambound, which provides a flexible and economical Paralegal degree program.

Dreambound is an online educational platform that teams up with accredited universities to offer high-quality and affordable degree programs. Their online associate degree in Paralegal caters to students seeking a flexible and accessible learning experience.

Programs and schools available through Dreambound include:

Liberty University Online


  • AA Paralegal Studies

Cost Range: $6,000 - $18,000

Broward College


  • AS in Paralegal Studies

Cost Range: $3,400 - $12,000

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How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate Degree in Paralegal?

The typical timeline for an associate degree in paralegal is 2 years of full-time study. However, the actual duration may vary depending on factors such as the specific program requirements, the student's course load (full-time or part-time), and any transfer credits or prior learning experiences.

What to Expect from an Associate Degree in Paralegal

An associate degree in paralegal program covers a wide range of legal topics, including legal research, writing, and procedures. Students can expect to take courses in areas such as legal ethics, civil and criminal law, contract law, real estate law, and legal technology. The curriculum also includes general education courses in subjects like English, mathematics, and social sciences.

In addition to the academic coursework, many paralegal programs incorporate hands-on learning experiences, such as internships or clinics, to provide students with practical skills and exposure to the legal field.

What Can You Do with a Paralegal Associate Degree?

Graduate School Preparation

With an associate degree in paralegal, graduates may choose to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor's degree, either in paralegal studies or a related field, such as legal studies or criminal justice. This can further enhance their knowledge and skills, potentially leading to more advanced paralegal roles or even the opportunity to pursue a master's degree or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program.

Entry-Level Paralegal Roles

Graduates with an associate degree in paralegal can seek entry-level positions as paralegals or legal assistants in various settings, including:

  • Law firms
  • Government agencies
  • Corporate legal departments
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Legal aid clinics

Career Opportunities

Beyond entry-level paralegal roles, an associate degree in paralegal can open up a variety of career paths, such as:

  • Litigation support specialist
  • Legal researcher
  • Legal document specialist
  • Legal administrative assistant
  • Law office manager

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for paralegals in the United States is around $60,970, with a projected job outlook of 4% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Final Thoughts

An associate degree in paralegal can be a valuable and affordable pathway for individuals interested in pursuing a career in the legal field. By providing foundational legal knowledge and practical skills, this program can open the door to various entry-level paralegal roles and potentially serve as a springboard for further education or career advancement. Whether you're just starting your educational journey or looking to enhance your existing skills, an associate degree in paralegal is worth considering as a viable option.

Feel free to explore the other guides below if this one isn't quite what you're aiming for:

Marce Arnejo
Written by
Marce Arnejo

Marce Arnejo is part of the Sales team at Dreambound. Her role involves seeking out schools and institutions to provide valuable opportunities for students seeking a career in the healthcare sector. Beyond her professional life, Marce is passionate about music and gaming. She finds joy in exploring various genres of music and using gaming to unwind and immerse herself in virtual worlds. Her diverse interests enrich her personal life and contribute to her work by bringing new ideas and creativity.

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