Paralegal training within the state of Indiana can either take the form of a degree program or a certification program. When prospective paralegals choose a degree program, they most commonly choose to earn an associate’s degree, which can be done in about two years on average.
Those who want to take their education to the next level and to increase their hiring and earning potential will choose to earn a bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years. Some, though, won’t earn a degree at all. Instead, they will pursue a certification program in paralegal studies, which takes about six months to a year on average.
Associate’s degree programs in the field are most commonly offered by community colleges or by trade or technical schools. These schools are usually much more affordable than traditional institutions, which are where the majority of students will earn bachelor’s degrees, and some will earn associate’s degrees. Certifications may be obtained from either.
It is important to note, however, that anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent can be admitted to an associate’s degree program or a bachelor’s degree program. In order to enter into a certification program, however, the candidate must hold a degree, though it need not be in a related field.
Because of this, most certification candidates either earned an unrelated degree before they realized they wanted to become paralegals, or they earned a paralegal studies degree from a program that wasn’t approved by the American Bar Association.
Approval from the American Bar Association, or ABA as it is often called, is vital. If a student attends an unapproved program, he or she will not be able to work in the field until obtaining a certificate or repeating the degree program at an approved institution. Furthermore, any school that one attends must also be fully accredited in order for an actual, legitimate degree to be granted.
Obviously, this means that you need to be very careful and selective as you chose your school. If you are planning on getting your education in the state, then you, unfortunately, only have a few, limited choices. One of those choices is Ball State University, based in Muncie. While this school’s program is not actually in paralegal studies, it is in general legal studies, which is broader and actually grants you even more knowledge in the field.
The program results in a bachelor’s degree, so those looking for an associate’s degree program or a certification program will have to go elsewhere. Students can choose a business studies option or a public law studies option, and some will even focus on law school preparation in their studies.
Another excellent school for prospective paralegals in the state is Saint Mary of the Woods College, which is a private institution. This means that it will be a bit more on the expensive side, but many students feel that the individualized attention and instruction they receive is well worth it. Plus, this school has options for every student, as it offers an associate’s degree program, a bachelor’s degree program, and a certification program.
One final choice is Vincennes University. This school has an associate’s degree program, which focuses specifically on preparing students for immediate work within the field. It is very hands on and experiential type learning, rather than the lecture style employed by most higher learning institutions. Therefore, if that style of learning works for you, you would likely be very happy here.
Of course, if none of these options seem like a good fit for you, you can always choose to pursue your degree online. This will open up many more choices for you. In fact, with online education, you can chose from schools based all around the world. Keep in mind, though, that the same regulations regarding accreditation and ABA approval still apply.
Actually, when choosing an online school, you will want to be even more selective and careful about your decision. That’s because there are many scams and illegitimate schools out there.
So, always double check the accreditation and approval status of a school you are thinking of attending; never just take its claims at face value. If you do this, then you can get a good online education.