Earn your bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies at SPC

The paralegal studies bachelor's degree offered at St. Petersburg College is the only public baccalaureate program in paralegal studies in Florida approved by the American Bar Association. The program is not only affordable, but will also make you highly desirable in the job market.

Approved by the ABA

All of SPC's paralegal programs are approved by the American Bar Association.

Paralegals are not licensed attorneys. A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

This academic program prepares you for the following careers. All job data is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Salary Data

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA Average

Florida Average

Projected employment for Florida

2016 Employment

24,960

2026

30,090

Percent Change

21

Projected Job Openings

3250

Features of SPC's bachelor's degree in paralegal studies

  • We offer classes on an annual rotation and in the evening to allow you to work full time while in school.
  • Our classes are taught exclusively by local practicing attorneys and sitting judges.
  • SPC has the only public baccalaureate program approved by the ABA in Florida.
  • We admit students three times a year - January, May and August.
  • Your assignments replicate real life situations to strengthen critical thinking, oral and written communication skills and practical, ethical understanding.
  • Once you graduate, you can take the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) examination offered through the National Association of Legal Assistants.

Paralegal Studies Bachelor of Applied Science

LEGAL-BAS

Effective Beginning Catalog Term: Fall 2019 (565)

The requirements shown below are valid beginning Fall 2019 (565), and may not reflect degree requirements for current students. Current students should visit My SPC and view My Learning Plan to see specific degree requirements for their effective term.



Program Leadership Information

Dr. Susan Demers
Dean


Program Summary

The Paralegal Studies BAS program is designed to train students for careers as paralegals in law firms, governmental entities and corporate legal departments. Paralegals work under the supervision of attorneys to provide non-clerical professional support in the delivery of legal services to clients and the community. Paralegals are not licensed to practice law.

The Academic Pathway is a tool for students that lists the following items:
o the recommended order in which to take the program courses
o suggested course when more than one option exists
o which semester each course is typically offered
o if the course has a prerequisite
o courses that may lead to a certificate (if offered in the program)

If you are starting the program this term, click here to access the recommended Academic Pathway.

If you have already started the program, click here for the archived Academic Pathways.

Please verify the Academic Pathway lists your correct starting semester.

Florida CIP Code

1102203022: PARALEGAL STUDIES (BAS)

Federal CIP Code

22.0302: Legal Assistant/Paralegal.


Admission Rules

Admission requires completion of sixty (60) college-level credits in a related discipline, including 15 credits of transferable general education courses.

All students must fulfill an additional fifteen (15) credits in related courses at the lower division 1000 and 2000 level with a prefix of PLA including: PLA 1003, PLA 1104, PLA 1763, PLA 2114 and PLA 2203, plus three (3) credits of any other lower division PLA course required of an A.S. degree student (for a total of 18 credits). Students must have a grade of "C" or higher in each course.

Graduation Rules

If you have not completed two consecutive years of the same foreign language in high school or 8 credits in college, you will need to complete 8 credits of foreign language before completing the B.A.S. program.

ADMISSIONS COURSES
A.A. Degree or A.S. Degree

Credits 60

ADMISSIONS COURSES
ADDITIONAL GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES - Grade of "C" or higher

Enhanced World View Course
A. COMMUNICATIONS 9
B. HUMANITIES/FINE ARTS 6
C. MATHEMATICS 6
D. NATURAL & PHYSICAL SCIENCES 6
E. SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES 6
F. ETHICS 3
G. COMPUTER/INFORMATION LITERACY COMPETENCY

MAJOR CORE COURSES
Grade of "C" or higher required for all upper-division courses

PLA 3885 United States Constitutional Law 3
PLA 4116 Legal Writing Seminar 3
PLA 3723 Logic and the Law 3
PLA 4830 Comparative Legal Systems 3
PLA 3703 Seminar in Professional Responsibility 3
PLA 3734 Computers and the Law Office 3

MAJOR CORE COURSES
REQUIRED FINAL COURSE - Last Semester for All Students

PLA 4941 Paralegal Studies Capstone 3

MAJOR ELECTIVE COURSES
Select 24 credits - Grade of "C" or higher required for all upper-division courses

MAJOR ELECTIVE COURSES
Complete a minimum of 12 credits from PLA electives

PLA 3XXX Any 3000 level PLA prefix course PLA 4XXX Any 4000 level PLA prefix course

MAJOR ELECTIVE COURSES
Complete 12 credits from PLA, BUL, PAD and/or PUP electives

BUL 3XXX Any 3000 level BUL prefix course BUL 4XXX Any 4000 level BUL prefix course PAD 3XXX Any 3000 level PAD prefix course PAD 4XXX Any 4000 level PAD prefix course PLA 3XXX Any 3000 level PLA prefix course PLA 4XXX Any 4000 level PLA prefix course PUP 3XXX Any 3000 level PUP prefix course PUP 4XXX Any 4000 level PUP prefix course
Total Credits 120

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a paralegal?
Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, paralegals have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney. (This is the American Bar Association's definition.)

Is there a difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?
The terms are used interchangeably, much as the terms lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably. Every state, including Florida, regulates the practice of law through a licensing procedure. In all states paralegals/legal assistants are prohibited from practicing law without a license to practice law. There is no licensing procedure for legal assistants at this time, although the Florida Bar has proposed a scheme of voluntary regulation for eligible paralegals.

How do you become a paralegal?
In the past, many paralegals were trained on the job, but today, most paralegals are trained in training programs in community colleges and four-year schools. Most of the community college programs are A.S. degree programs, which contain a component of general education courses but are principally devoted to legal specialty courses. The B.A.S. degrees include more general education courses as well as more focus on critical thinking and communication skills as they are utilized in the law. Employers are often looking for paralegals who have graduated from college programs approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Attending a college with successful job placement services and gaining experience through internship programs are a big help in launching a paralegal career. Although there is no licensing for paralegals in Florida, passage of a voluntary national certification exam called the Certified Legal Assisting Exam administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants adds to your credibility as a professional. Those with a bachelor's degree are eligible to sit for the examination upon completion of fifteen credit hours of PLA prefixed classes.

What is American Bar Association (ABA) approval?
The American Bar Association approves paralegal educational programs which satisfy its strict quality guidelines. An institution's curriculum, faculty, administration, academic resources, student services and library facilities are evaluated as part of the ABA approval process.

Where are paralegals employed?
The most obvious place to find paralegals is in the traditional law office. Although this career is relatively new, having emerged since the 1970's, today firms of all sizes regularly employ a variety of paralegals. Government offices use paralegals, as do private companies. Sometimes the paralegal works in the corporate counsel's office and sometimes the paralegal hires the outside attorneys for the corporation.

Bachelor of Applied Science Paralegal Studies Program Goals

  1. Acquire and implement advanced critical thinking and analytical skills needed to effectively problem solve.
  2. Demonstrate the appropriate use of communication and organizational skills within and outside the legal system.
  3. Execute the technical skills, including legal research and writing, needed to succeed in the legal profession.
  4. Exhibit the ability to deliver professional and ethical legal services in a culturally and locally appropriate manner.
  5. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of the American legal system.

Industry Certification

Our Paralegal Studies degrees prepare you for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) exam to become a Certified Paralegal.

Continue your education at SPC

SPC's Associate in Science Paralegal Studies Degree transfers to our Paralegal Studies Bachelor of Applied Science degree, which is the only public baccalaureate program in Paralegal Studies in Florida approved by the American Bar Association.

SPC also offers a Paralegal Studies Certificate for those who have already earned a bachelor's degree.

Paralegal Studies A.S. Degree

Admission requirements

To be admitted to SPC's Bachelor of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree program, you need:

  • A cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a 4.00 scale in all college classes
  • 60 credits from a regionally accredited institution, including:
    • 15 credits of transferable general education courses 
    • The following paralegal support courses with a grade of C or better
      • PLA1003  Introduction to Paralegalism
      • PLA1104  Legal Research and Writing
      • PLA1763  Law Office Management
      • PLA2114  Advanced Legal Research
      • PLA2203  Civil Litigation

Download Program Admission Guide