Online Degree and Certification Programs

As further education is required and expected throughout professional careers, the number of online programs has risen to meet the needs of the ever-busy American professional. Online paralegal degree and certification programs are no different. These distance-learning options are meant to provide convenience and affordability to students. There are, however, numerous advantages and disadvantages to the distance-learning degree and certification programs for paralegals.

Online courses or programs are most beneficial for a student who is dedicated and for whom the traditional college experience is not realistic or practical. A common myth is that the prerequisites for an online degree are significantly less than those of a traditional school. On the contrary, there appear to be slightly more, if not different, requirements. Not only are qualifying scores on aptitude or admissions tests necessary but also more advanced computer skills, in some cases, and certain technology, including operating systems, software programs, or upgrades.

Length of programs will vary depending on multiple factors. Typically, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs will take two to four years to complete, respectively. Certification programs will generally take six months to one year to complete. There are also other factors involved, such as the pace of the student and the set up of the online program. For instance, some individuals will only be able to take courses in a certain order; if the individual is not a full-time student, he or she may have to wait a full year until the course is available again.

Online programs are usually offered with a lower tuition than traditional schools, making them much more affordable for students. Distance learning is favorable for those looking for a balance between their busy schedules and education. In many online degree programs, students can proceed at a pace unique to each of them while continuing to work full-time. Additionally, students are also somewhat unlimited in choices due to logistics.

Some students are able to finish with an online degree faster than they would through a traditional university or college. Also, some traditional schools offer online options as a benefit to their students who choose this route and a cost saving opportunity for the school. These students achieve the same quality degree while learning in their own home or environment.

Although flexible and convenient, an online college is not for everyone. Students must be dedicated and able to do independent study amidst other everyday life, distractions and disruptions. Not all online programs are held in very high regard in the professional world, especially the legal field. Students may be very limited in their search for a qualifying school or program.

Even online paralegal students should choose a degree program that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). These schools are difficult to find due to the rigorous approval process the ABA inflicts on paralegal programs. Often, the distance-learning approach does not meet up to the ABA standards. This is also true of certification programs. There are only a select number of certification programs offered and these are typically not in online form.

Overall, online paralegal programs can be very advantageous and inexpensive for students who learn well in this atmosphere. Paralegals do need to make sure the program is accredited, though, to get the respect and credit they deserve. They should also be aware of the type of program and demands prior to registering.


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