Paralegal Schools in North Carolina

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 North Carolina have come to rely on paralegals with the kind of expertise that can only come from earning a certificate or degree in paralegal studies.

We know there’s no shortage of opportunities for legal support staff in large metro areas, but in North Carolina paralegals also have a strong presence in small town firms and court systems. In fact, in 2016 the US Department of Labor reported that rural Piedmont employs the highest number of paralegals of all non-metro areas in the nation.

Maybe you’re looking to advance in your position with the District Attorney in Mecklenburg County, or the Wake County Public Defender’s office in Raleigh, or one of the big firms in a downtown skyscraper… Then again, maybe you’re just wrapping up high school and have your sights set on landing your first job with one of these major players in North Carolina’s legal system… Maybe you’ve been grinding along in some other field for the past few years and now you’re looking to become a paralegal to finally get the respect and pay you know you deserve.

The profile of the average paralegal student can be very different, but they’re all faced with a common set of questions. The biggest one being: how can I find a quality online program, and how do I know if it’s right for my particular situation?

We’ve got you covered. We put together some recommendations that include entry level career diplomas and associate’s degrees for those just getting started, and bachelor’s degrees and post-degree certificates for those looking to change careers or advance. All of our picks are housed in accredited schools.

 

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Family Law Certificate – Campus

Wills and Estates Certificate – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Caldwell CC got our attention for offering affordable options in paralegal studies.

Both certificate programs offer a series of courses taken straight from the AAS program and each can be completed in just eight months. The family law certificate is 14 credits while the wills and estates certificate is 17. Credits from both programs can be applied towards the AAS program if you decide to go back for your degree.

The AAS program is 70 credits and can be completed in two years – five semesters including a summer session after the first year.

Courses for all these programs are offered days and evenings from CCCTI’s Caldwell campus in Hudson, and some courses may also be available online. To apply for admission to this school you need a high school diploma/GED and sign up for an entrance examination or SAT/ACT testing.

 

Cape Fear Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Diploma in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Civil Litigation Certificate – Campus

Real Property Certificate – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

We’re featuring Cape Fear CC because it provides competitive options for aspiring paralegals from all backgrounds in the Cape Fear area.

The diploma and certificate programs feature selected courses taken straight from the AAS program. Credits you earn pursuing these programs can be applied to the AAS, or even mutually among the diploma and certificate programs.

The 75-credit AAS program can be completed in two years, with five semesters in total including a summer semester after your first year. The 39-credit diploma program can be completed in one year, totaling three semesters including a summer session. The 18-credit certificate programs can be completed on a part-time basis over the course of one year – three semesters including a summer session – with two classes (six credits) per semester.

Admission is open to anyone who meets CFCC’s basic entrance requirements. The school has campus locations in Wilmington, Castle Hayne, Burgaw, and Hampstead.

 

Carteret Community College

Paralegal Technology Associate’s Degree – Campus and some online

Paralegal Diploma (post-bac) – Campus and some online

  • ABA-approved – Yes, both programs
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Carteret CC offers two competitive programs that have earned the stamp of approval from the American Bar Association. Courses are offered from the school’s Morehead City campus, with many also being offered in an online format.

The AAS program is 67 credits and can be completed in two years over five semesters, including a summer session after your first academic year. This program is open to anyone who meets CCC’s entrance requirements. You may need to take a placement test before signing up for classes if you’re not found to be exempt.

The diploma program is 36 credits and can be completed in one year as a three-semester program, including summer. It is designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and therefore classes focus on core paralegal topics. This program is designed for career changers and other legal professionals looking to prepare for the paralegal profession.

 

Central Carolina Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some hybrid

Paralegal Technology Diploma (post-associate) – Campus and some hybrid

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Central Carolina CC offers options for paralegals from different educational backgrounds, and both programs have a high job placement rate for new graduates.

The AAS is a five-semester program taken over two years, including a summer semester after your first year. It is offered from the Lee main campus in Sanford during the day with some classes also offered in the evening.

The diploma program can be completed in 12 months over fall, spring, and summer semesters. To apply to this program you need at least an associate’s degree in any field, making this an ideal option for those returning to school to earn a paralegal credential. Classes are offered from the Lee main campus during the day, and nights on the Lee and Harnett main campus in Lillington. Some classes for both programs may be offered in hybrid format online.

 

Central Piedmont Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus, hybrid, and some online

Diploma in Paralegal Technology (post-bac) – Campus, hybrid, and some online

  • ABA-approved – Yes, both programs
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

CPCC offers one of the best-quality and most affordable paralegal programs in the state from a convenient campus location in Charlotte.

The AAS program is 72 credits in total and can be completed in five semesters, including one summer semester. To apply to this program you must meet certain English and mathematics prerequisites and CPCC’s general admissions requirements.

The 41-credit diploma program is designed for those who’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree in any field who want to hone their paralegal credentials. The program runs fall, spring, and summer semesters and can be completed in 12 months.

Graduates of both programs are prepared to sit for the NC Certified Paralegal Exam. You have the option of completing all your courses on CPCC’s Charlotte campus. You can also complete non-core paralegal courses online and some core paralegal courses in a hybrid classroom-online format. However you must complete at least 10 credits of core courses in a traditional classroom setting.

 

Coastal Carolina Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Paralegal Technology Diploma – Campus

Paralegal Certificates – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Coastal offers great options for aspiring paralegals who are ready to invest anywhere between two semesters and two years in their education. Admission applications for any of these programs can be submitted by anyone with a high school diploma or GED.

Classes for all programs are offered from CCCC’s Jacksonville campus. Certificate programs range from two to three semesters in length. The diploma program is three semesters – fall, spring, and summer – and totals 43 credits. The AAS program is 75 credits spread over five semesters (2 years). The AAS program contains most of the courses found in the other programs. You can apply courses taken in other programs through Coastal toward fulfilling requirements for these certificates, the diploma, or the AAS.

CCCC offers these four paralegal certificates:

  • Corporate Law Legal Assistant Certificate – Fall, spring, and summer semester; 16 credits
  • Litigation Legal Assistant Certificate – Fall, spring, and summer semester; 12 credits
  • Legal Secretary Certificate – Fall and spring semester; 18 credits
  • Real Property Legal Assistant Certificate – Fall, spring, and summer semester; 18 credits

 

Davidson County Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Paralegal Civil Litigation Certificate – Campus

Paralegal Real Estate Certificate – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

We’re featuring this Lexington-based school because it accommodates prospective paralegals with different career goals and a different amount of time and money to invest in preparing for a career. To apply to any program you need a high school diploma or GED.

The 64-credit AAS program is four semesters and can be completed in two years. Both certificate programs are 18 credits and can be completed in two semesters over eight months. The classes you complete as part of the certificate program can be applied to the AAS if you choose to continue your studies.

 

Duke University

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) – Campus and online

Paralegal Specialist Certificates (post-associate/certificate) – Online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Duke’s paralegal certificate programs offer a convenient way to develop paralegal skills, all from a school that has a great reputation. These non-credit programs are offered through Duke’s Continuing Studies department. They can fulfill continuing education requirements for national paralegal certificates and also serve as stand-alone credentials.

The paralegal certificate is offered from the school’s Durham campus or can be taken completely online. You’ll have up to one year to complete the online program at your own pace. The six-month campus-based program is offered during the evenings and weekends, and there is also an option to take a seven-week intensive summer program.

There are 22 specialist certificates that are each comprised of four courses that can be completed in up to six months at your own pace online. Specialty subject areas include everything from administrative and bankruptcy law to sports law, wills, and workers’ compensation. To qualify for entry into this program you need one of the following:

  • Certificate in paralegal studies
  • Associate’s degree or higher in paralegal studies
  • Three years of paralegal work experience plus at least an associate’s degree in any field

 

Durham Technical Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and partially online

Paralegal Technology Diploma – Campus and partially online

Bankruptcy Law Paralegal Certificate – Campus and partially online

Business Law Paralegal Certificate – Campus and partially online

Civil Litigation Paralegal Certificate – Campus and partially online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Durham Technical offers some serious variety when it comes to paralegal education.

The AAS program can be completed in two years over five semesters and include a summer term after your first year. Graduating from the AAS program makes you eligible to sit for the NC State Bar Paralegal Certification Exam.

The diploma program can be completed in 12 months over four semesters including one summer term. The certificate programs – bankruptcy law, business law, and civil litigation – can be completed in eight months each and average 15 credits. The credits you earn for the diploma or any of the certificates can be applied towards other DTCC paralegal certificates, the diploma, and the AAS.

Classes are offered from DTCC’s Durham campus during the days and evenings. Some individual classes are also offered fully online, however most core courses are campus-based.

All programs are open to anyone who meets the school’s basic admissions requirements. Depending on your high school or GED transcripts you may need to take math and/or English placement tests to demonstrate basic proficiencies in these subjects.

 

Fayetteville Technical Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Paralegal Diploma (post-bac) – Campus

  • ABA-approved – Yes, both programs
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Fayetteville Technical offers top-quality and affordable ABA-approved programs from FTCC’s conveniently located Fayetteville campus.

To enroll in the 67-credit AAS program you need a high school diploma or GED. You can complete this program over two years (five semesters) including a summer session after your first year.

The 47-credit diploma program can be completed in three semesters including a summer session. This program is designed for career changers and existing paralegals who have already completed their education and are looking to focus on the subject of paralegal technology. To be eligible for admission you must already have a bachelor’s degree in any field.

Both programs include the opportunity for a two-credit work-based learning project where you can gain on-the-job experience as a paralegal.

 

Forsyth Technical Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Paralegal Technology Diploma (post-associate) – Campus

Paralegal Technology Legal Assistant Certificate – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Forsyth Technical combines a great location with supportive faculty members and a successful graduate class. Classes are offered from FTCC’s campus in Winston-Salem.

The 64-credit AAS program can be completed in a five-semester, two-year program that includes a summer semester sandwiched in the middle. This includes up to three credits of work-based learning where you can apply what you’ve learned in a real-life field setting. This program is open to anyone who meets FTCC’s general admission requirements.

The 39-credit diploma program can be completed over three semesters – fall, spring, and summer – and is open to anyone who has already completed a two-year degree program in any field.

Students who graduate from the AAS or diploma programs are eligible to sit for the NC Paralegal Certification Exam. The AAS is offered during days and evenings.

The 15-credit legal certificate program can be completed in one semester and is open to anyone who meets FTCC’s basic admissions requirements. The credits you earn as part of this program can be applied to the diploma or AAS programs.

 

Gaston College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Certificate – Campus and some online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Gaston College offers two great options for prospective paralegals. The AAS is fully transferable to several four-year universities in the area, while classes for the certificate program can be applied to the AAS if you decide to commit to earning the full degree.

Anyone who has a high school diploma or GED can apply to either of these programs. The 18-credit certificate program can be completed on a part-time basis in 16 months. It is an abridged version of the two-year 71-credit AAS program, which also includes the opportunity for on-the-job work-based learning in a paralegal setting.

GC has campus locations in Dallas, Lincolnton, and Belmont. Many classes are offered traditionally on campus as well as online, however for the AAS program you must complete at least 10 credits of your core courses in the classroom.

 

Guilford Technical Community College

AAS in Paralegal Techology – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Offering one of the best paralegal programs in Jamestown, GTCC has a great campus location where you can learn the essentials of the trade. To help you transition to the professional world, this program offers the option to complete a work-based learning experience.

This two-year 64-credit program can be completed in five semesters, including a summer session after the first year. Classes are offered on campus and GTCC has an open admissions process. If you would benefit from further education you can apply to this school, regardless of your academic background.

 

Gwinnett Colleges and Institute

Diploma in Paralegal Studies – Campus

  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training

GCI offers this diploma from its ideally located Raleigh campus as a non-credit option. This means anyone with a high school diploma or GED can apply to this program and earn a stand-alone diploma. This program also fulfills continuing education requirements for optional national paralegal certifications.

You can graduate in just 15 months if you take day classes, or in 18 months if you take night classes. Graduates are qualified to take the paralegal certification examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

GCI also offers other paralegal programs in Georgia.

 

Halifax Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

Certificate in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Thanks to its open-door admissions policy, all you need to apply to HCC is motivation and a high school diploma/GED. You already have motivation if you’re considering becoming a paralegal, and this school offers two attractive options from its Weldon campus, with many classes also offered online.

The 18-credit certificate program can be completed in two semesters. If you continue with your studies you can apply the classes you complete in the certificate program towards the AAS.

The AAS can be completed in three years and totals 71 credits. Graduating from the AAS program makes you eligible to sit for the NC Certified Paralegal Exam.

 

Johnston Community College

Associate Degree in Paralegal Technology – Classroom and online

General Law Office Certificate (post-associate) – Classroom and online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

JCC provides convenient, flexible, and attractive options for those coming out of high school as well as those pursuing a new career.

Anyone with a high school diploma can apply to the associate’s degree program. It can be completed in two years and totals 66 credits.

The 18-credit certificate program is designed for students who already have at least an associate’s degree in any field, and can be completed in two semesters. This makes it ideal for career changers in the legal field or other fields who already completed their education and want to shift focus to become a paralegal.

Both these paralegal programs are approved by the NC State Bar and meet the qualifications to sit for the NC Certified Paralegal Exam. Classes for both programs are offered from JCC’s Smithfield campus days and evenings. Though they are also offered entirely online, to be eligible for the NC Certified Paralegal Exam you must be present in the classroom for at least 10 credits of core courses.

 

King’s College

AAS in Paralegal Studies – Campus

  • Licensed by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges

With the option to graduate in 16 months for full-time students, King’s College offers one of the fastest AAS degree programs in paralegal studies around from a great campus location near Charlotte’s Uptown. All you need to apply is a high school diploma or GED.

This 63-credit four-semester program also includes an externship in the greater Charlotte metro area, a great way to develop contacts in the legal world and gain valuable hands-on experience.

 

Meredith College

Paralegal Certificate (post-bac) – Campus

  • ABA-approved – Yes
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

We’re featuring this school because it has the only ABA-approved paralegal program in the Triangle. This post-bac program is perfect for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in any subject and want to gain a specific paralegal credential. MC boasts that 90 percent of its graduates hold jobs in the legal field within half a year.

In just one year you can gain this competitive credential. As a student in this program you can focus on three areas of paralegal studies: civil litigation, business organization, and real estate.

As part of this program you can participate in a pro-bono clinic where you assist pre-screened clients with legal issues relating to Social Security, Medicaid, employee rights, subsidized housing, and more. If you want more field experience than you can get from, the clinic you also have the option to participate in a 161-hour internship.

Classes are offered from MC’s convenient campus location in Raleigh.

 

Methodist University

Minor in Legal Studies – Campus

  • ABA-approved – Yes
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

MU offers one of the few ABA-approved minors in legal studies in the entire nation. This 21-credit campus-based minor can be added on to any four-year degree program offered by the university, and is open to anyone who meets MU’s basic admission requirements.

This program will prepare you to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) exam for national paralegal certification. It also includes a 115-hour paralegal internship that takes place in the Fayetteville area, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in the legal field.

 

Miller-Motte College

AAS in Paralegal Studies – Hybrid

  • Licensed by the North Carolina Community College System

MMC offers one of the most convenient paralegal AAS programs around. You can complete this hybrid program in just seven quarters by taking a portion of your classes online, and another portion of your classes from MMC’s Raleigh or Fayetteville campuses.

This AAS program is 92 credits in total, including a four-credit 100-hour externship in your local community. Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can apply to this program.

 

Pitt Community College

Associate Degree in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Diploma (post-bac) – Campus and some online

  • ABA-approved – Yes, both programs
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

We’re featuring this program because of its high quality and affordability scores, open to aspiring paralegals from different backgrounds.

The associate’s degree program is open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. This 75-credit program can be completed in five semesters, including a summer term after your first year. The 40-credit diploma program is open to anyone who already has a bachelor’s degree in any field, making this perfect for career changers or legal professionals wanting to focus on paralegal studies.

Both programs are approved by the ABA and the NC State Bar. Classes are offered from PCC’s Winterville campus near Greenville. Students can participate in day and evening classes, while some general education courses are also offered online. Both programs include the option to earn credits through work experience as a paralegal.

 

South College

AAS in Paralegal Studies – Campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) – Campus

BS in Legal Studies – Campus

  • ABA-approved – Yes, all three programs
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

There’s no other place in North Carolina where you can find so many ABA-approved options for paralegal education, all offered from SC’s convenient Asheville campus.

To be admitted to any of the degree programs you need a high school diploma or GED. You may also need to pass an entrance exam, the SAT or the ACT.

The AAS program can be completed in two years. It is designed for prospective paralegals who plan to go directly into the workforce upon graduation. The 120-credit BS program can be completed in four years and results in one of the most respected education credentials in the field.

The certificate program can be completed in one year and is open to students who already have at least an associate’s degree in any field.

 

South Piedmont Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Diploma – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Certificate – Campus and some online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

South Piedmont CC makes our list because it offers three options that anyone with a high school diploma or GED can choose from.

The 18-credit certificate program can be completed in 32 weeks, the 37-credit diploma program can be completed in 48 weeks, and the 64-credit AAS program can be completed in two years. All credits you earn in these programs are inter-transferable within SPCC, so if you want to eventually enroll in the AAS program you’ll already be well on your way if you earn a diploma or certificate first.

SPCC has campus locations in Polkton, Wadesboro, and at two locations in Monroe. Classes are offered on campus, with select classes also available online.

 

South University

AS in Paralegal Studies – Campus and partially online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

We’re featuring this 92-credit program because you can’t beat the convenience of a high-quality paralegal curriculum offered from a campus location in High Point during evenings and weekends, not to mention that some classes are delivered online.

As you near completion you have the opportunity to complete a four-credit capstone externship experience. This will help you hit the ground running as soon as you graduate.

You can earn your degree in as little as 19 months. To apply for admission you need a high school diploma and to either score well on a test like the SAT or ACT, or pass SU’s admissions examination.

 

Southwestern Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

The 71-credit AAS program through Southwestern CC stands out for three reasons: its quality, its affordability, and the fact that graduates are eligible to take the Paralegal Certification Exam administered by the NC State Bar.

You can graduate in as little as two years, completing five semesters including a summer term, after your first year. During your last semester you’ll participate in a work-based learning experience with a college-approved employer in the legal industry.

You can apply to this program if you have a high school diploma or GED. Classes are offered from SCC’s Sylva campus.

 

Surry Community College

Associate Degree in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Certificate in Paralegal Technology – Campus

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

The two-year associate’s degree program through Surry CC can be completed in four semesters and totals 68 credits. It includes the option for a work-based learning segment where you can gain supervised experience in the legal field. The 17-credit certificate can be completed in two semesters.

Graduates of either program are qualified to sit for the NC Paralegal Certification Exam. To apply, you need a high school diploma or GED.

 

Vance-Granville Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Certificate – Campus and some online

Paralegal Technology Diploma – Campus and some online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Vance-Granville CC offers three great options for aspiring paralegals. All programs are open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. Classes are offered from VGCC’s Henderson campus and some classes are also offered online.

The AAS program totals 65 credits and can be completed in two years over five semesters, including a summer term after your first year. It includes the option to earn up to six credits from work-based learning. This involves supervised experience in the legal field with a college-approved employer. Graduates of the AAS program are qualified to sit for the NC Paralegal Certification Exam sponsored by the state bar.

The diploma and certificate programs are both abridged versions of the AAS, and you can apply the credits you earn in these programs towards the AAS if you continue your studies later. The certificate program totals 14 credits and can be completed in two semesters. The 36-credit diploma program can be completed in three semesters including a summer term where you can earn credit for work-based learning as a paralegal.

 

Western Piedmont Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Online with some campus-based courses

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

WPCC’s AAS in Paralegal Technology is available almost completely online, and even qualifies you to sit for the NC Paralegal Certification Exam through the state bar.

As a condition to sit for the exam, the state bar requires you to attend at least 10 credits of courses in a classroom on campus. You can do this from WPCC’s campus in Morgantown, however you can also do this online thanks to a simulcast that is transmitted over the web from the Morgantown campus. Most of the classes in this program are offered exclusively online.

The program itself totals 67 credits and can be completed in two years of full-time study. With its open-door admission policy, this school considers your application no matter your background as long as you are a high school graduate.

 

Wilson Community College

AAS in Paralegal Technology – Campus

Paralegal Diploma – Campus

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) – Campus and online

  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

WCC offers three competitive paralegal programs designed for those just getting started after high school, as well as career changers who have been working in the legal field, or some other field.

You can apply to the AAS and diploma programs if you have a high school diploma or GED. Classes are offered at the WCC campus in Wilson.

The 37-credit diploma program is an abridged version of the AAS, and you can apply the credits you earn in this program towards the AAS if you continue your studies later.

The 70-credit AAS can be completed in two years and includes a summer semester after your first year. As part of this program you also complete a work-based learning internship at a local law office in the area.

The 18-credit certificate program is designed for students who already have at least an associate’s degree in any field. It can be completed in two semesters and enrollment starts every fall. In this program you can take your classes on-campus and online.

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