Associate degrees are typically earned at community colleges, although they may also be available at some colleges and universities that offer four year degrees. When students carry a full course load, an associate degree in paralegal studies will take about two years to complete (60 semester or 90 quarter units in all). Depending on the school, paralegal studies students may earn an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or Associate in Applied Science Degree.
According to the American Bar Association, admission standards for paralegal studies programs are often more challenging than for other majors. As legal coursework is challenging, requires solid writing skills and strong critical thinking abilities, programs may require aptitude tests, writing samples, letters of recommendation or interviews. Students who successfully meet these additional entry requirements should be well prepared for the sophisticated level of coursework offered within a paralegal studies program.
Associate degree programs in paralegal studies combine general education coursework, such as writing and history, with classes focused on the legal field. Instructors of legal specialty classes often tailor their programs to reflect the region in which they teach, the current legal climate, and emerging needs within the legal field. Upon completion of associate degrees, paralegals are qualified to begin careers as legal generalists, meaning that they have had a broad introduction to several areas of law and have not chosen a specific area of law on which to focus. ABA approved paralegal schools can be found here.