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 Metro Area Average

Florida Average

Projected employment for Florida

2022 Employment




Percent Change


Projected Job Openings


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

Effective Beginning Catalog Term: Fall 2024 (640)

The requirements shown below are valid beginning Fall 2024 (640), 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 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.

Many courses in this program are now offered in an online format in addition to traditional face-to-face classroom instruction. Please note that The American Bar Association (ABA) requires students to take a minimum of nine (9) credits of legal specialty courses through synchronous instruction in order to successfully complete the program. (Synchronous means that we share the time together via Zoom though we are not in the same physical space.) Most of our online classes have this Zoom component which you may see referred to as Live Online. Synchronous instruction then may include traditional in-person class time or mandatory remote attendance at specified class times via Zoom. These virtual classes require the same attention as a face-to-face classes along with a reliable internet connection.

Graduation Requirements

All courses must be completed with a minimum grade of "C".

GENERAL EDUCATION: All students must complete the 36 credit general education requirement in order to graduate from this program. A.S. degree holders may need to complete an additional 15-21 general education credits to complete the thirty-six (36) credit hour general education requirement.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE: 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.

CIVIC LITERACY: As per Florida Rule 6A-10.04213, baccalaureate degree students entering a Florida College System (FCS) or State University System (SUS) institution in the 2021-2022 academic school year and thereafter must demonstrate competency through successful completion of a civic literacy course AND by achieving a passing score on the Florida Civic Literacy Examination (FCLE).

Academic Pathways

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

Please verify the Academic Pathway lists your correct starting semester.

Program Leadership Information

Dr. Susan Demers

Florida CIP Code


Federal CIP Code

22.0302 - Legal Assistant/Paralegal.

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

Download Program Admission Guide