Associates in Legal Studies Degrees & Schools Guide

Associates Degree in Law Career Options & Salary

Overview of an Associates in Law


The associate degree in law is a two-year academic course of study; it’s an introduction to law and law practice. The associate in law is a popular offering at junior colleges and community colleges; these institutions offer the associate degree in law in several forms including paralegal studies, legal studies, and law technology. The field of criminal justice is a similar choice in which a higher number of community colleges offer instruction and degree programs. The scope of criminal justice is a narrower than the associate degree in law. Criminal justice involves corrections, crime, and criminal prosecutions, and it is a wider, career-focused sector of legal education. Both law and criminal justice can provide entry into law practice.

Criminal Justice & Law Degrees & Career Paths


PROS

    A college degree can make a lifelong difference in lifestyle, occupation, and income. Graduates of associate degree programs earn more than those with high school educations. The average wage for associate degree holders is more than $200 per week higher than high school graduates. The associate degree is faster than a bachelor’s degree taking two years to complete, and students may even be able to complete it within an 18-24 month period. Associate degree holders can enter the job market a full two years earlier than four-year degree students.

    Cost savings are another advantage of an associate degree in law. The cost of a four-year education are much higher than that of the two-year offering. Students can also achieve substantial savings on a four-year degree by taking the first half at a community college, where most associate degrees are offered. Further, many four-year students take summer courses at junior or community colleges to speed up their graduation.

CONS

    The negatives of selecting an associate degree are that it does not offer the same level of pay, opportunity, or pathways as a bachelor’s degree. Associate degree holders can get into the workforce faster than students at four-year schools, but they will likely earn substantially less than bachelor’s degree holders. The bachelor’s degree is the entry-level educational requirement for many law positions, so associate degrees can limit the initial job options to assistant and support roles.

Certificate vs. Associates


Certificates are an even shorter pathway to entry-level jobs than an associate degree. A certificate program typically lasts for one year or less. Schools offer certificate courses in undergraduate and graduate levels. The undergraduate certificates typically require a high school diploma or GED while graduate-level certificates require a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. Certificates can stand alone but can mean more when paired with an associate degree or higher level of education.

What Law Associate Degrees are Available?


  • Associate of Arts (AA)
    Associate of Arts programs resemble the first two years of a four-year college program. The AA curriculum includes general education courses and a wide range of legal subjects and closely-related offerings. Many community colleges offer AA degrees and establish agreements with four-year schools to ensure credit for their courses transfers to the four-year college.
  • Associate of Applied Business (AAB)
    Associate of Applied Business is a degree that consists of vocational and occupational coursework with some level of general education. The AAB prepares graduates to go to work in many types of business environments. Many Applied business degrees do not have transferable credits towards a bachelor’s degree, but each institution differs on this count and students will need to investigate for themselves. The AAB degree is an ideal choice for those that do not intend to seek a bachelor’s or higher degrees. The applied business degree can be a law preparation degree. They can offer coursework and concentrations for legal administration, legal secretarial work, and paralegal positions.
  • Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)
    Associate of Applied Arts degrees prepare students to enter the workforce. The courses have a heavy mixture of hands-on education and training and real-world settings. The goal is to enable the student to enter the workforce ready to perform their duties. In the associate of law degrees, the AAA would offer coursework to equip graduates to assume specific roles or perform designated types of work such as a law office clerk, paralegal, or legal assistant.
  • Associate of Science (AS)
    The AS degree resembles the associate of arts by including a high degree of general education courses. The AS curriculum is a preparation for a bachelor’s degree. The associate of science differs from the associate of arts in an important way; the AS curriculum has an emphasis on science, math, and technical coursework.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
    The AAS is a career or vocational preparation curriculum. This course of study equips graduates for entry into the workforce and may or may not provide credits for a bachelor’s degree. Students must check to determine if credits will transfer to a four-year school. The AAS works well for students that do not plan on going further and getting a bachelor’s degree. The AAS emphasizes entering a job or occupation after graduation.

Admission Requirements


The associate degree in law requires a high school diploma, GED, or an equivalent document to evidence completion of a high school education, such as homeschooling. High school classes or other education that studies government, politics, and the legal framework of our government can be helpful. Courses or readings on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are essential to an understanding of law and legal practice in the United States. Students that study history and read broadly will have advantages, as the law encompasses a wide variety of settings. Many schools offer online and on-campus courses aimed at increasing job skills for law and law enforcement workers.

How long does it take to earn a Law Associates Degree?


Each institution that offers an associate degree in this field may set the credit hours, course content, and type of studies. The associate degree in law may take several forms including paralegal studies, legal technician, and legal studies. Under any name, the standard academic requirements are 60-70 semester hours. Students can complete the requirements on-campus, online, or in a hybrid program in around 24 months. Students may reduce the overall time required to complete the degree by adding online coursework and summer sessions. Many online schools also offer credits for other coursework, personal achievements, and life experiences. By using all means available, students can reduce the time required to 18 months or possibly less.

Potential Careers in Law with an Associates


  • Paralegal
    A paralegal is a trained professional that can manage research tasks. They can perform critical roles such as organizing materials, labeling exhibits, assembling evidence, and preparing routine documents.
    The average salary for this occupation is $47,000.
  • Legal Assistant
    A legal assistant can work closely with attorneys and paralegals to carry out tasks that support litigation and other legal processes.
    The average salary for this occupation is $42,500.
  • Law Clerk
    Law clerks can manage case files, office data, and support legal research.
    The average salary for this occupation is $46,700.
  • Secretary
    Secretaries perform routine and special duties to assist lawyers and other professionals. This role is critical to smooth and efficient functioning of a law office.
    The average salary for this occupation is $54,000.
  • Legal Administrative Assistant
    Legal administrative assistants work closely with lawyers and other law office or legal department personnel. These important professionals handle paperwork and records that support legal proceedings.
    The average salary for this occupation is $48,700.

Options to Advance


An associate degree in legal studies can be a stepping stone to further academic and professional experience. The degree can transfer to a four-year bachelor’s program in legal studies or a closely related major. Many students can use this level of education as a step toward a professional law degree. The options to advance include training in related fields such as arbitration, mediation, and contracts.

Best Associate of Science in Law Programs


On-campus associate degree programs, also known as traditional programs, rely upon classroom attendance, live interaction with teachers, and synchronous learning in student groups or classes. Many colleges today offer alternative methods to reach a greater audience of students including distance and online learning programs, but here are some traditional options.

  • Rio Salada College( Maricopa County Community College System)
    Rio Salada, AZ

    This paralegal education program covers criminal and civil law, corporate law practice, and litigation subjects as well as paralegal skills.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal
  • Spokane Community College
    Spokane, Washington

    This program combines general education with legal office preparation to create a job-ready graduate that can also proceed to a bachelor’s degree.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Applied Science- Legal Administrative Assistant
  • Drury University
    Springfield, MO

    The school offers an evening program on its Springfield campus in paralegal studies. This program includes a substantial amount of coursework in legal studies including legal writing, legal reasoning, litigation, tort law, and family law.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Post University Online
    Waterbury, Connecticut

    Post University is an NECHE-accredited institution that offers career-focused educational programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. The school features on-campus classes at the Waterbury campus location with small classes and a supportive atmosphere.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Legal Studies
    • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Davenport University
    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Offered online, on-campus, or in a hybrid program, the Davenport University has an accredited associate degree program in legal studies. The program introduces students to the domestic and international practice of law and prepares them to work with lawyers in support roles.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Legal Studies

Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Law


  • Post University Online
    Waterbury, Connecticut

    Post University is an accredited institution that offers career-focused educational programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Legal Studies
    • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bryan University Online
    Tempe, Arizona

    Bryan focuses education on preparation for professional life. The courses emphasize workforce success. The curriculum design includes many innovative steps designed to provide unique and supportive learning environments.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies
  • Purdue Global University
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Purdue Global offers law and law-related degrees at the associate, bachelor, and Master’s levels. They have faculty resources that can contribute to a strong foundation in the law for associate degree candidates.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Ohio University
    Athens, Ohio

    The University of Ohio offers an Online course of study that individual students can arrange to meet their goals. Students may be able to develop a legal studies program and obtain a degree in the selected program as an individualized associate degree.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Individualized Studies
  • Davenport University
    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Offered online, on-campus, or in a hybrid program, Davenport University has an accredited associate degree program in legal studies. The legal studies program is an ABA-approved program which introduces students to the practice of law. Graduates work in support roles as legal assistants and paralegals.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Legal Studies