Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies

Division of Social Sciences — Curriculum Code: 2015

Will Earn Upon Program Completion: Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree


Why major in Paralegal Studies?

The program is designed to prepare each student to work in an entry-level position in a variety of legal settings such as law firms, corporations, government and other entities. A Paralegal typically performs a wide variety of tasks including interviewing clients, investigating cases, preparing legal documents, performing legal research, writing legal memoranda, and assisting in trials and appeals. In addition to introducing students to the fundamental legal principles, this program develops students’ practical skills to prepare them to work effectively in any legal environment.

Essex County College’s Paralegal Studies Program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is also a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). Students can earn a Paralegal Studies degree on a part-time basis.

If I major in Paralegal Studies, can I transfer to an upper-division college or university?

The Associate in Science degree in Paralegal Studies prepares you to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to complete your bachelor’s degree. ECC’s transfer/articulation agreements with area four-year institutions ensure a smooth transfer for our A.S. graduates.

Are there any requirements I must satisfy before I start taking courses in my major?

Based on your placement test scores, you may have to take developmental courses in reading, English, and/or mathematics before taking the core curriculum courses in your major.

How long will it take for me to complete this degree?

If you do not need developmental course work and you register for an average of 17 credits each semester, you can complete the degree in two years. You may shorten the amount of time by taking courses in the summer sessions.

May I transfer college level courses into the Paralegal Studies program?

Pursuant to College Regulation 5:18: Transfer Credit and Evaluations (Section #5) – For all transfer students, including, but not limited to, students seeking to enroll in the Paralegal Studies Program. If the Enrollment Services department is unable to evaluate a course, the student must provide a course description and/or course outline. The Department/Division Chairperson will determine if the course is comparable to an Essex offering and if credit may be awarded.

Only students transferring from ABA approved institutions may transfer up to a maximum of 15 credits toward the Program. The Program Director will evaluate legal specialty courses from ABA approved institutions on a case-by-case basis. In addition, students who wish to apply credits to the Paralegal Studies Program must also have their course and credits evaluated by the Program Director within six (6) months of entry into Essex County College. This time limitation is necessary for purposes of advisement and to avoid possible course duplication.

Where should I direct specific questions about this program?

Call the Division at (973) 877-3250.

Upon completion of this program, graduates will be able to:
  • Explain the role of a paralegal in today’s legal system;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the American legal system, fundamental legal principles, and the litigation process;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of legal ethics and of the Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Guidelines for Enforcement of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.;
  • Proficiently access, locate, and research the law by both traditional and electronic methods;
  • Demonstrate problem-solving and critical, analytical thinking skills within the context of evaluating legal issues; and
  • Communicate effectively with accurate legal terminology in written and/or oral form, with a demonstrated proficiency in the use of technology.



(33 credits)

Written & Oral Communication (6 credits)

ENG 101 and ENG 102 (two 3-credit courses)

Quantitative Knowledge & Skills/Scientific Knowledge & Reasoning (12 credits)

Choose one math course and a lab science sequence or two math courses and one lab science course from the following:

Math: MTH 100, MTH 101, MTH 103, MTH 113, MTH 119, MTH 120, MTH 121, MTH 122, MTH 127, MTH 221, or MTH 222 (one or two 4-credit courses)

Lab Science: BIO 101 – BIO 102, BIO 103 – BIO 104, BIO 121 – BIO 122; CHM 101 – CHM 102, CHM 103 – CHM 104; PHY 101 – PHY 102, PHY 103 – PHY 104, or PHY 113 – PHY 114 (one or two 4-credit courses)

Society & Human Behavior (6 credits)

POL 104 (one 3-credit course)

Choose one of the following courses: ANT 101, ANT 105; ECO 101, ECO 102; POL 101; PSY 101, PSY 102, PSY 219; SOC 101, SOC 108, or SOC 219 (one 3-credit course)

Humanistic Perspective (6 credits)

Choose one of the following literature courses: ENG 205, ENG 208, ENG 215, ENG 221, ENG 222, ENG 232, ENG 237, ENG 238, ENG 242, ENG 250, ENG 263, or ENG 264 (one 3-credit course)

And choose one of the following art or music courses: ART 100, ART 101, ART 102; MUS 100, MUS 108, MUS 109, or MUS 117 (one 3-credit course)

Historical Perspective (3 credits)

Choose one of the following history courses: HST 101, HST 102, HST 111, HST 112, HST 121, HST 122, HST 131, HST 132, HST 134, HST 135, HST 136, HST 137, HST 161, or HST 162 (one 3-credit course)



(24 credits)

PLS 101 Introduction to Law for Paralegals (3 credits)
PLS 102 Legal Research and Writing (3 credits)
PLS 105 Torts (3 credits)
PLS 107 Contracts (3 credits)
PLS 202 Advanced Legal Research and Writing (3 credits)
PLS 204 Business Organization and Government Regulation (3 credits)
PLS 205 Administrative Law (3 credits)
PLS 206 Litigation Procedures (3 credits)


(6 – 9 credits)

ENG 105 (3 credits)

Choose two of the following Legal course electives: PLS 203 Wills and Estate Administration, PLS 210 Property Transactions, PLS 220 Family Law, and/or PLS 225 Law Office Management and Field Experience (two 3-credit courses)


Total Credits Required for Degree: 63 – 66




First Semester
ENG 101 College Composition I (3 credits)
PLS 101 Introduction to Law for Paralegals (3 credits)
PLS 105 Torts (3 credits)
POL 104 American Government (3 credits)
Art or music requirement (3 credits)

Second Semester
ENG 102 College Composition II (3 credits)
PLS 102 Legal Research and Writing (3 credits)
PLS 107 Contracts (3 credits)
Math/Lab Science requirement (4 credits)
Society & Human Behavior requirement (3 credits)

Third Semester
PLS 202 Advanced Legal Research and Writing (3 credits)
PLS 206 Litigation Processes (3 credits)
Math/Lab Science requirement (4 credits)
Literature requirement (3 credits)
Legal elective (3 credits)

Fourth Semester
PLS 204 Business Organization and Government Regulation (3 credits)
PLS 205 Administrative Law (3 credits)
Math/Lab Science requirement (4 credits)
History requirement (3 credits)
Legal elective (3 credits)

Note: The Paralegal Program prepares students to work under the supervision of an attorney. A paralegal shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Only attorneys can provide legal services directly to the public.


(1) The two General Education Integrated Course Goals, Ethical Reasoning & Action and Information Literacy, are both addressed by the required curriculum described above, regardless of specific choices made by the individual student.
(2) This plan assumes the completion of all required developmental courses in reading, writing, and mathematics as well as other pre- and co-requisites for some of the courses, as listed in the Course Descriptions section.

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