Online Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
Be an indispensable resource in the fields of law
Either as a stepping stone to law school, or as a satisfying career in itself, the legal professions offer intellectual challenge and financial reward. The William Woods University online Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies has been a leader in the field for more than 40 years. We'll prepare you for a wide range of roles and a variety of industries, through academic excellence and hands-on experience, with the convenience and flexibility of online education.
As a part of William Woods online Bachelor's in Paralegal Studies, you will study:
- Substantive and procedural law
- American legal system
- Delivery of legal services
- Legal research and writing
- Law-related computer skills
- Legal interviewing and investigation
You’ll take part in a rigorous and challenging curriculum taught by experienced faculty committed to supporting you every step of the way. You’ll have the opportunity to collaborate online with your peers, sharing what you have learned and honing techniques and skills that you will apply in the workplace after graduation. You will also gain hands-on experience as a paralegal through the program's Virtual Law Office, Practicum requirement.
William Woods is frequently ranked among the nation’s top online learning programs. We combine rigorous coursework with a student-centered, service-oriented educational environment, and our convenient, 8-week courses offer start-and-stop flexibility and affordable tuition. Our paralegal studies program is an institutional member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).
Your paralegal studies degree at work
While 71% of paralegals work in law firms, you may also find employment in a corporate setting, governmental agency, organizational setting, or other entity. Paralegals perform a broad range of legal duties, helping to increase their value in the job market and find opportunities in many different industries. Our alumni hold successful positions in government, in law firms, in the energy, finance, health care and gaming industries, and throughout the corporate world.
Job opportunities include:
- Documentation specialist or compliance officer in a bank, credit union or savings and loan
- Risk management and compliance in health care
- Paralegal in governmental agencies and departments
- Paralegal for a law firm, prosecutor, or public defender
- Paralegal in corporate law departments
- Deputy court clerk
- Investigator for accreditation associations
- Legal administrator of a business
The William Woods online B.S. in Paralegal Studies degree consists of 42 semester hours in a 14-course sequence. Coursework focuses on the application of substantive and procedural law to legal fact patterns that professionals would encounter in the legal environment. The program strives to build a core of legal knowledge and critical thinking skills, as well as an understanding of professional ethics, communication, and interpersonal skills. These all serve to enhance your ability to function as an effective professional in the legal environment.
Courses you may take
PRL 302 - Law and Paralegalism - 3.00
This introductory course is designed to introduce students to the practical aspects of working within the paralegal field and will include examination of the American legal system, paralegal skills and competencies such as legal analysis, interviewing, investigating, legal research and writing and, regulatory and ethical issues facing paralegals, and career options for the paralegal.
PRL 304 - Electronic Legal Research - 3.00
This course explains the what, how, and why of legal research. Students will learn Boolean searching and formation of queries in order to facilitate the location of primary legal authority and secondary sources. The skills learned in this course will allow students to research paid legal databases and the Internet for substantive and procedural law and to think critically while moving through the steps to locate statutes and case law in order to assist the attorney in representing a client and their legal issue.
PRL 306 - Civil Practice - 3.00
This course introduces the process of civil practice (procedural rules) and the law that governs it (substantive law) and to the skills of investigating and fact gathering which includes interviewing of clients and witnesses. Students will gain practice in drafting the documents necessary for civil matter to proceed through the legal system from filing through trial and post-trial.
PRL 309 - Ethics and the Law Office - 3.00
This course includes an overview of the ethical organization and management of the modern law office. Topics include: client billing, responsibilities concerning client funds, case management systems, law office technology and the Code of Professional Responsibility and Ethical Guidelines for both lawyers and non-lawyers. Rules, statues and case law governing unauthorized practice of law will be covered. Students will analyze, evaluate, articulate and defend positions on ethical questions.
PRL 311 - Evidence and Fact Gathering - 3.00
This course examines the rules governing the admission, exclusion, and presentation of evidence in judicial proceedings. Topics covered in this course include relevancy, authentication, the “Best Evidence” rule: categorical rules of exclusion; character and habit evidence; competency of witnesses; examination and impeachment of witnesses; opinion and expert testimony; presentation of evidence, privilege; the hearsay rule and its exceptions, presumptions and burdens of proof and the scope of judicial notice. Additionally, the course covers strategies for fact-finding, investigation and interviewing techniques for gathering information. Also includes investigative techniques for determining what information is needed and finding, organizing, verifying and documenting the information. Prerequisite: PLS110 and PRL304
PRL 315 - Family Law - 3.00
A study of the law of marriage, annulment, dissolution, guardianship, adoption, custody, legitimacy of children, and issues within the juvenile courts, with emphasis on development of skills pertinent to the paralegal function. Prerequisites: PLS110 and PRL304
PRL 318 - Criminal Practice - 3.00
This course will provide a basic understanding of the substantive and procedural criminal law including due process, probable cause, statutory and case law authorities governing criminal law and the rules of criminal procedure. Students will also review the structure of the criminal courts system. This course provides application of the substantive law and procedural safeguards to a case study in representing either the state or a defendant in a criminal law proceeding. Prerequisites:PLS110 and PRL304
PRL 321 - Administrative & Federal Procedure - 3.00
This course presents basic concepts of administrative law and procedure in federal and state agencies. Students will learn advocacy techniques for representing a client in an administrative process. Substantive topics will include administrative delegation of power, rulemaking, agency discretionary powers, remedies, and judicial appeals. Federal law will focus on procedure in Federal courts and applicable state rules. Prerequisites: PLS110 and PRL 304
PRL 420 - Probate and Estate Planning - 3.00
This course presents basic concepts of estate planning, elder law issues, and probate law. Students will learn how to assist clients in planning, procedure and conflict resolution related to testamentary and other advanced planning documents; the probate process, and special issues related to aging including minors and adults with physical and/or mental disabilities. This course will include both substantive and procedural law as applied through a hands-on problem-solving format.
PRL 430 - Contracts - 3.00
Will provide a basic understanding of the substantive law of contracts. The course focus is on both common law and the uniform commerical code in regard to the basic elements of contract formation and will involve practical research assignments to explore the practical application of the principles of contracts. Prerequisites: PRL302 and PRL304
PRL 440 - Constitutional Issues - 3.00
This course will introduce students to the principle concepts of government that underlay the structure of the United States Constitution. These concepts include federalism and judicial review. In addition, the course will examine the Court’s methods of Constitutional interpretation. Through case study of major Supreme Court decisions, students will explore the meaning of the civil liberties contained in the first ten amendments to the constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, including due process, equal protection, the rights of criminal defendants and the freedoms of speech, religion and privacy. Prerequisites: PLS110
PRL 450 - Torts Law - 3.00
Tort law is the area of law that provides a remedy for harms to private individuals. Tor law includes intentional torts and unintentional torts. This course will introduce students to the theory that forms the basis for society's interest in assigning blame and the economic distribution of liability.
PRL 475 - Practicum and Capstone - 6.00
The capstone/practicum course is the final course in the paralegal studies program. This course will provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency as a paralegal in two ways. First, through the practicum, students will demonstrate the ability to apply coursework in an actual law office setting, similar to participating in a virtual internship. Second, students will demonstrate their proficiency in legal reasoning through the capstone research and writing assignment.
Freshman applicants – for all undergraduate students
- Completed application
- High school transcript (or GED) with a 2.50 GPA and graduated in the top 50% of your class
- Entrance Exam: ACT of 19 or Higher OR SAT of 900 or Higher
The Admissions Committee may review student qualifications and conditionally/provisionally accept students who do not met the minimum 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale and a minimum ACT or SAT I composite score of 19 or 890, respectively.
Your digital classroom. Available anywhere.
William Woods online undergraduate programs are available to students across the country. In Missouri, our students come from Fulton, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Kansas City, Moberly, Springfield, Ozark, Cape Girardeau, Rolla and many more locations. Beyond Missouri, our online graduates hail from California, Illinois, Kansas, Washington, Arkansas and other states.
Learn more about online admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.