Paralegal Schools in Illinois

The body of knowledge required to effectively perform legal support services can only come from a formal education in paralegal studies. As attorneys, corporations and government agencies work within an increasingly complex legal framework, the level of responsibility they expect paralegals to be able to take on has also increased. Law offices and other employers in Illinois have come to rely on paralegals with the kind of expertise that can only come from earning a certificate or degree in paralegal studies.

Recent high school graduates, career-changers, and second-income seekers alike flock to Illinois with dreams of jumping into the booming paralegal career field. And why not? Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the entire country, home to millions of people residing within – and beyond – its city limits. Because of the expansive reach of Chicago’s economic and cultural influence, educational institutions must hustle to remain competitive in attracting new students.

This competitive atmosphere serves aspiring paralegals tremendously since it opens up a seemingly infinite number of diploma, certificate, and degrees options in legal studies. But this wide-range of paralegal programs also poses a challenge. With so many schools and programs to choose from, how can anyone find the perfect fit?

We understand that post-secondary education decisions are often met with an equal measure of excitement and anxiety. But fear no more. We’ve already done the hard part for you.

Our team has tirelessly researched which post-secondary schools host the very best paralegal programs, both online and with a campus presence in the state. While compiling our recommendations, we only included accredited schools. To get a fuller picture, request additional details, including estimated cost, program length, and curriculum format.

 

City Colleges of Chicago – Wilbur Wright College

AAS in Paralegal—Campus  

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Wilbur Wright College is a 2-year public community college that is part of the larger City Colleges of Chicago school system. Its well-respected AAS in Paralegal program is composed of 63 credit hours and comes equipped with an internship loaded with practical hands-on-training.

The program also grooms students for future paralegal work by making them familiar using online legal research services. Students are also introduced to potential employers during their required internship. For added flexibility, the program comes with full-time and part-time scheduling options.

 

College of DuPage

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

Paralegal Certificate—Campus (undergraduate, post-associate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

College of DuPage is a 2-year public college located in Glen Ellyn that features both an associate degree and a certificate program in paralegal studies. To facilitate seamless progress, the programs offer daytime, evening, and online learning options.

The AAS program requires 67 credit hours to graduate. The post-degree certificate program is exclusively available to students that have already completed an AA or AS degree or higher. This program is 27 credit hours in length.

Both programs include a terrific practicum unit where students perform an extensive 120 hours working as paralegal interns at local law offices.

 

College of Lake County

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

Paralegal Certificate—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

College of Lake County is a 2-year public community college. Right now, it offers an associate degree and a post-degree certificate paralegal program at all three of its campuses: Grayslake, Waukegan, and Vernon Hills.

The college’s paralegal AAS program is the only ABA-approved paralegal program in Lake County. The AAS program spans 63 credit hours, while the certificate program is 30 credit hours. The paralegal certificate program is only available to incoming students that hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

Students interested in continuing their education to the bachelor level will be especially pleased to find that College of Lake County has an articulation agreement for bachelor degree completion programs at: Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, California University of Pennsylvania, and Roosevelt University.

 

Elgin Community College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus  

Certificate in Paralegal Studies—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Elgin Community College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school that sponsors an associate degree and a basic vocational certificate (BVC) in paralegal studies. Along with being accredited and ABA-approved, this paralegal program is also a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

The AAS program requires 60 credit hours, while the certificate program mandates 24 credit hours. Both programs include an 80-hour internship during its last semester. We were immediately drawn to these programs because all courses are taught by experienced paralegals, attorneys, and judges.

 

Governors State University

BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Can be earned as a dual degree in combination with the AAS in Paralegal Studies/Legal Assistant from South Suburban Community College as part of an articulation agreement between GSU and SSC)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

 

Illinois Central College

Paralegal Certificate—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Illinois Central College is a 2-year public community college campus based in East Peoria. This college is a terrific fit for students interested in earning a post-degree paralegal certificate. Only students that have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school are eligible for admission.

The paralegal certificate program is structured around 37 credit hours and includes an internship. Since the college deems internships to be a critical learning tool, students are provided assistance in finding local law offices interested in hosting an intern.

 

Illinois Eastern Community Colleges-Wabash Valley College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Wabash Valley College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school located in Mount Carmel. It is one of four schools within the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges system and currently offers an associate degree program in paralegal studies.

The AAS program consists of 70 credits and requires participation in an internship during its last semester. One of the program’s major highlights is the availability of scholarship and tuition awards for qualified students looking to ease financial burdens.

 

Illinois State University

BA/BS in Legal Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Illinois State University is a 4-year public university situated in the Bloomington-Normal community. It also has the distinguished reputation of being the oldest university in the state.

The university currently offers BA and BS in legal studies degree options, which require 120 credit hours to complete. Students will delight in the program’s internship options, small class sizes, and the availability of its experienced faculty members.

 

Kankakee Community College

AAS in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Kankakee Community College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school that offers an associate-level paralegal degree. The program’s general focus is preparing students to qualify for baccalaureate degree programs at transfer schools.

The AAS program is comprised of 64 credit hours and uses a combination of traditional classroom instruction with on-campus workshops and paralegal internships to keep students absorbed in the learning process.

 

Kaskaskia College

Certificate in Legal Office Personnel—Campus (undergraduate, pre-degree)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Kaskaskia College is a 2-year public community college located in Centralia. It presently offers an undergraduate certificate in legal office personnel that runs 34 credit hours in length. This program is a quick and easy way for students to qualify for jobs as legal secretaries.

 

Lake Land College

AAS in Office Assistant-Legal—Campus

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Lake Land College is a 2-year public community college based in Mattoon. Its AAS degree program in office assistant/legal covers 65 credit hours throughout four semesters in a classroom setting.

Aspiring paralegals that enroll in this program will greatly benefit from courses in legal terminology and the introduction to criminal justice. The program culminates in an office assistant internship along with an office professional seminar.

 

Lewis & Clark Community College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

Certificate of Proficiency in Paralegal Studies—Campus (undergraduate)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Lewis & Clark Community College is 2-year public post-secondary with campuses located in Godfrey, Edwardsville, and East Alton. It boasts an associate degree and an undergraduate certificate in paralegal studies programs.

The AAS program offers 66 credit hours of classroom-based learning and an internship position (paid or unpaid) working for licensed attorneys. The certificate program is only 33 credit hours in total.

 

Lewis University

BA in Paralegal Studies—Campus  

Paralegal Studies-Minor—Campus

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Lewis University is a 4-year private, for-profit university located in Romeoville. It offers a bachelor degree and minor in paralegal studies program.

The minor in paralegal studies program takes 21 credit hours to complete and includes practical training. We took a special interest in the university’s BA in paralegal studies program because it’s offered in a standard 16-week timeframe and an 8-week accelerated option. Both BA degree formats contain 128 credit hours.

 

Lincoln Land Community College

Paralegal Certificate—Online (undergraduate, pre-degree)

Advanced Paralegal Certificate—Online (undergraduate, pre-degree)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Lincoln Land Community College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school in Springfield that offers two different paralegal certificate programs. Both are undergraduate, pre-degree programs that are offered exclusively online.

The paralegal certificate program requires no previous college education to qualify for admission. The online learning format features curriculum that involves legal document writing assignments, homework obligations, and required quizzes.

The advanced paralegal certificate program is basically an extension of the standard paralegal certificate program. Therefore, only students that graduate from the standard program become eligible for the advanced program. The online learning structure primarily centers around online forums, email correspondence, and digital examinations.

 

Loyola University Chicago

BA in Paralegal Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Loyola University Chicago is a 4-year private, for-profit university that offers an accelerated bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies program. The program runs 120 credit hours in length and allows students to simultaneously earn a specialized certificate in civil litigation, a unique feature rarely seen in other programs

Only students that possess an AAS in paralegal studies degree or who have completed a minimum of 15 credit hours in paralegal-specific coursework is eligible for this program. Once enrolled, students are given the luxury of a blended curriculum which includes online, evening, and weekend scheduling options.

At its height, the program requires students to participate in an unpaid internship lasting at least 120 hours through preselected law firms, government agencies, and corporate law departments.

 

MacCormac College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

MacCormac College is a 2-year private, not-for-profit college located in Chicago. Its AAS degree option is the oldest 2-year paralegal studies program in the state. However, since paralegal courses are taught year-round, day and/or night, the degree can be completed in just 16 months.

The AAS in paralegal studies program consists of 62 credit hours and is well suited for students searching for small class sizes, supervised internship opportunities, and who prefer instructors that are all licensed, practicing attorneys.

 

McHenry County College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

McHenry County College is a 2-year public community college located in Crystal Lake. The school is home to an associate degree and post-degree certificate in paralegal studies.

These paralegal programs are definitely a godsend to any students hoping to work locally upon graduation. Both curriculum plans are specifically designed with a focus on the paralegal markets of Chicagoland and McHenry. Along with classroom-based learning, students are also outfitted with practical internships.

As an added incentive, each student is also given (for keeps!) a tablet upon enrollment.

The AAS degree program includes 60 credit hours, while the certificate program requires 27 credit hours to complete. Only students that already hold a college degree may apply for the certificate program.

 

Midstate College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Midstate College is a 4-year private, for-profit college located in Peoria. Its AAS in paralegal studies program has memberships in the Central Illinois Paralegal Association (CIPA) and the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

Students enrolled in the AAS program are required to complete 92 credit hours. Although the program’s curriculum is classroom-based, some courses are available online to help students navigate busy lives while graduating in a timely fashion.

 

Moraine Valley Community College

Certificate -Legal Office Assistant—Campus (undergraduate, pre-degree)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Moraine Valley Community College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school located in Palos Hills. It is also the second-largest community college in the state.

The certificate in legal office assistant program extends for 40 credit hours over 18 months. The program’s sole prerequisite is the ability to keyboard type 40 words per minute. Students that intend on paralegal careers will surely benefit from courses in business law, legal documents and terminology.

 

Oakton Community College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate—Campus (undergraduate, pre-degree)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Oakton Community College is a 2-year public, secondary school with an associate degree in paralegal studies program located at its Des Plaines campus location.

The AAS program consists of 60 credit hours, while the certificate program has 24 credit hours. Both programs welcome students to fine-tune their learned skills through practicum courses that combine internship experiences with weekly seminars.

 

Richland Community College

Certificate – Paralegal Study—Online (undergraduate, pre-degree)

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Richland Community College is a 2-year public, post-secondary school located in Decatur that features one of the few accredited paralegal programs on our list that is available completely online.

The online certificate in paralegal studies consists of only 5 courses dedicated to research, jurisprudence, litigation, management, and more. This program runs for 12-months and is open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED.

 

Robert Morris University Illinois

AAS in Paralegal—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Robert Morris University Illinois is a 4-year private, not-for-profit university with an associate’s paralegal program based in Chicago with 8 other campuses located throughout the state. The school is also an active member of the American Association of Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

The AAS in paralegal program requires 92 credit hours in total. Its curriculum is centered around classroom-based learning that is accentuated by hands-on practical assignments lead by professional paralegals.

 

Rockford Career College

AAS- Paralegal Studies—Online

Diploma-Paralegal—Online

  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools

Rockford Career College is a 2-year private, for-profit career college that offers an associate degree and a diploma program in paralegal studies. Both programs are only available through online learning and require significant out-of-class assignments.

The paralegal diploma program is 10 months in length. To spice up online curriculum content, the program asks students to perform mock depositions and participate in an externship position with area law offices.

The AAS is paralegal studies program is only open to students that already hold a diploma in paralegal studies (or equivalent) and can be completed in 7 months.

 

Roosevelt University

BA in Paralegal Studies—Campus  

Paralegal Certificate—Campus (post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Roosevelt University is a 4-year private, not-for-profit university with a bachelor degree and post-baccalaureate certificate program in paralegal studies at its Chicago and Schaumburg campus locations.

The BA program consists of 120 credit hours. The curriculum presents a heavy emphasis on civil litigation and delivers hands-on training in litigation software and e-discovery applications. An internship component is also an integrated feature of the program.

The paralegal certificate program is comprised of 24 credit hours and emphasizes civil litigation. Its also involves internship opportunities with government agencies and legal entities such as: Il Dept. of Corrections, Circuit Court of Cook County, and Lawyers Committee for Better Housing.

 

Southeastern Illinois College

AA – Paralegal Assistant—Campus

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Southeastern Illinois College is a 2-year public, community college situated in Harrisburg. Its AA in paralegal assistant program consists of 62 credit hours to graduate and provides relevant courses in career-related topics such as medical terminology and business law.

This program’s classroom-based curriculum is specifically designed to help students seamlessly transfer to a 4-year college that offers a paralegal major.

 

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

BS – Paralegal Studies—Campus

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale is a 4-year public university located in Carbondale. Its BS in paralegal studies program has been around for over 30 years and only hires licensed attorneys as instructors.

The program is made up of 120 credit hours along with a 150-hour internship portion. However, its most distinctive quality is the program’s pre-law specialization pathway option.

 

South Suburban College

AAS in Paralegal/Legal Assistant—Campus  

Paralegal/Legal Assistant Certificate—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

South Suburban College is a 2-year public, community college based in South Holland that is also a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

The AAS in paralegal/legal assistant program is 60 credit hours long. Although the curriculum is classroom-based, there are certain courses that students can complete online or through distance learning formats. Students exercise practical training skills through a 210-hour internship experience.

The paralegal/legal assistant certificate program is 39 credit hours. Only incoming students with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree are eligibile for enrollment. Although most courses are taught on-campus during night hours, some classes can be completed online or via distance learning.

 

University of Illinois—Springfield

MA in Legal Studies—Campus and/or Online

BA in Legal Studies—Campus

  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

University of Illinois—Springfield is a 4-year public university that is one of three campuses within the University of Illinois school system. Students enrolled in the school’s legal studies programs learn courses in small class environments led by instructors that hold doctorate and/or PhDs.

The MA program allows students to complete all degree requirement through a blended learning format (50% on-campus, 50% online) or completely online. Students may also enhance their curriculum by participating in internships and clinical education experiences to earn credits.

The BA program is only taught through classroom-based instruction or a blended learning format, and requires the completion of an internship. Students that achieve a high GPA throughout the program will also be awarded a legal assistant certificate upon graduation.

 

William Rainey Harper College

AAS in Paralegal Studies—Campus  

Paralegal Studies Certificate—Campus (post-associate, post-baccalaureate)

  • ABA-Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

William Rainey Harper College is a 2-year public community college situated in Palatine that provides an associate’s degree and a post-degree certificate in paralegal studies.

The AAS program consists of 63 credit hours taken over 4 semesters. The certificate program includes 24 credit hours and only takes a year to complete. The school’s educators take a strong stance on the value of practical skills training, so an internship is an important component of the program.

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