George Washington Univ. Masters program

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TLG in New York, New York

95 months ago

Hi all...wondering if anyone has information on the Masters in Paralegal Studies program offered by George Washington University? I am currently completing a paralegal certification, and am considering moving ahead with the Masters degree. Any feedback on the GWU program is appreciated.

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MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida

95 months ago

As noted by another poster, you do NOT need a Masters degree to enter the Paralegal profession. Most employers will accept an undergraduate degree, certificate, certification, or some combination thereof. Entry level positions are exactly that, positions for those with little to no experience, where one can get training & develop their skill set. Entry level jobs will NOT pay more for a Masters with no experience v. an undergraduate/certificate with no experience. Economically, there's no sense in getting a Masters to break into the field.

The GWU MPS program is expensive, $700/credit hour + registration fees & books (expensive & can only order from GWU's selected vendor)for a total approx. cost of $25,000. (This is the online program)

The online program rolled out just last Fall and there's still a fair amount of confusion and working out the kinks. There's minimal instructor input/feedback on completed assignments, students run amok on the discussion forum assignments, and many of the students in the program do not have prior legal education/work experience. It seems that the courses are 6-week 'crash courses' in fairly sophisticated areas of law, and the students who have no prior legal education/experience are at a distinct disadvantage.

I would strongly encourage prospective students to really think about their future career goals and how this degree and program in particular can help achieve them.

There are other Masters degree programs out there; be sure to google both 'Paralegal' and 'Legal Studies' when searching for MA programs, as some come up under one term and not the other. Be sure to research and compare all the programs so you can be sure you find the one that best suits your needs.

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MPS Guinea Pig in Milton, Florida

94 months ago

Lynn Gale in Manhattan Beach, California said: I note that you say the GW Master's in Paralegal is not necessary and that you also had comments about the problems they are having. Could you please tell me a little about your qualifications? I ask this because the program is new, and usually a Master's degree in something means a higher degree of education than a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's. I would appreciate all the knowledge that I could get before making a decision between a certificate program or a graduate degree. The field is also changing in terms of what will be required education for someone who wants to work in the paralegal field. It is the paralegals who are changing it as well. Thanks for your advise.

I have a BA in Legal Studies and 7 years experience in the field. If you're looking to get started in the profession a BA in any field and a Paralegal Certificate is what you need. Employers will not pay more for a Master's degree for an entry-level position over a BA degree. If you do not have prior legal experience, you will only be hired for entry-level positions, no matter your level of education.

A Master's degree will only be useful as an advanced credential, once you've acquired some experience in the field and want to be more competitive for an advanced position. The MPS degree is very new and relatively unheard of. It makes little to no impression on prospective employers at this time.

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

I really don't know what to do -- I already hold a B.A. in German and would like to enter the paralegal field. My local community college offers paralegal classes and I can complete it in 12-18 months. I can also get on-campus daycare for $20/week. I've done on-line classes before and have not preferred them to regular classes, frankly. Still, I would deal with them. I just spoke with an advisor about the GWU Master's in Paralegal studies and it is going to be way more expensive than the community college, and also will take 30-50% longer for me to complete. However, I realize that it is indeed going forward rather than backwards in getting an associate's degree, and that George Washington University is a fairly prestigious school. She also said that I can teach paralegal studies with this degree, and that 12 hours (or one year) of school will apply to ABA law schools.

Please advise! I would like to make the choice that is best for me and would appreciate any input.

Thank you,
Colleen

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

Hello,

Thanks so much for your prompt response. The school I am looking at is not ABA-accredited, but is a community college in the SUNY system. It does offer an internship in its program, however, which I feel would be great to build a network in the community and try to get a foot in the door somewhere. So if it came down to a master's degree from GWU with ABA accreditation and no internship, or an associate's degree without ABA certification but with an internship in my community, which would you choose?

Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate your input.

Colleen

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: You have a Bachelor's degree. All you need to enter law is a paralegal certificate. Honestly.

Your paralegal certificate should preferably be earned in an ABA-approved program. An ABA paralegal certificate is the highest grade paralegal certificate available. With an ABA certificate you will qualify for any legal job that requires a paralegal certificate. You may deprive yourself of opportunities without an ABA certificate.

You should make any effort to obtain an ABA certificate. If you cannot, enroll in your community college's paralegal program. Don't worry about the Associate's degree; your B.A. trumps it and will not be a step backwards at all. You may receive English and humanities credit for your B.A. and take the school's paralegal courses only to graduate.

I agree with you about online courses. Online courses are the new millennium's version of the old-fashioned correspondence courses. I think one learns more, better and faster through discipline of studying for class, attending class and taking notes, and reviewing and recopying notes, or whatever way you may study.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

Update: according to the ABA site, GWU doesn't have ABA certification either!

Colleen

Colleen in Brooklyn, New York said: Hello,

Thanks so much for your prompt response. The school I am looking at is not ABA-accredited, but is a community college in the SUNY system. It does offer an internship in its program, however, which I feel would be great to build a network in the community and try to get a foot in the door somewhere. So if it came down to a master's degree from GWU with ABA accreditation and no internship, or an associate's degree without ABA certification but with an internship in my community, which would you choose?

Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate your input.

Colleen

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MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida

94 months ago

Colleen:

I find it hard to believe that 12 hours ( which would equal 4 classes or one complete full-time semester) of the GWU program will apply to law school. These courses are not comparable, in my opinion, to any law school course, both in terms of substance or depth. Perhaps what the advisor meant was that you can be given advance standing in the program for 12 credit hours if you already have a paralegal degree or certificate from an ABA approved paralegal program. Also, depending on the institution, the MPS degree will only allow you to teach paralegal studies on a part-time, adjunct professor basis. In Florida, at least, you have to have a PhD or a JD to be a full-time university professor.

Since you're just now entering the paralegal profession, I highly recommend going with the SUNY program. An employer will NOT pay more for an entry-level position with a Master's over someone with an Associate or Bachelor's. GWU tuition just went up to $740 per credit hour, making the program even more expensive.

Most AA or BA paralegal programs include courses in real estate, probate, family law, arbitration/mediation, criminal law, employment law, and other general substantive areas of law which you are more likely to encounter on an everyday basis in a regular practice. These courses are NOT offered in the GWU program. Again, the GWU program is an advanced paralegal degree for those who already have prior paralegal education and/or work experience.

Good Luck!

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida said: Colleen:

I find it hard to believe that 12 hours ( which would equal 4 classes or one complete full-time semester) of the GWU program will apply to law school. These courses are not comparable, in my opinion, to any law school course, both in terms of substance or depth. Perhaps what the advisor meant was that you can be given advance standing in the program for 12 credit hours if you already have a paralegal degree or certificate from an ABA approved paralegal program. Also, depending on the institution, the MPS degree will only allow you to teach paralegal studies on a part-time, adjunct professor basis. In Florida, at least, you have to have a PhD or a JD to be a full-time university professor.

Since you're just now entering the paralegal profession, I highly recommend going with the SUNY program. An employer will NOT pay more for an entry-level position with a Master's over someone with an Associate or Bachelor's. GWU tuition just went up to $740 per credit hour, making the program even more expensive.

Most AA or BA paralegal programs include courses in real estate, probate, family law, arbitration/mediation, criminal law, employment law, and other general substantive areas of law which you are more likely to encounter on an everyday basis in a regular practice. These courses are NOT offered in the GWU program. Again, the GWU program is an advanced paralegal degree for those who already have prior paralegal education and/or work experience.

Good Luck!

Hi MPS,

I realized after I wrote that that I had been confused; of course you are right. Now my problem is that I have already maxed out undergrad student loans and can only go to a graduate program (I am relying on federal student loans out of necessity).

So does this mean I cannot attend the GWU program? The only legal experience I have is having dated a couple of lawyers. haha My B.A. is actually in German.

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida said: Colleen:

I find it hard to believe that 12 hours ( which would equal 4 classes or one complete full-time semester) of the GWU program will apply to law school. These courses are not comparable, in my opinion, to any law school course, both in terms of substance or depth. Perhaps what the advisor meant was that you can be given advance standing in the program for 12 credit hours if you already have a paralegal degree or certificate from an ABA approved paralegal program. Also, depending on the institution, the MPS degree will only allow you to teach paralegal studies on a part-time, adjunct professor basis. In Florida, at least, you have to have a PhD or a JD to be a full-time university professor.

Since you're just now entering the paralegal profession, I highly recommend going with the SUNY program. An employer will NOT pay more for an entry-level position with a Master's over someone with an Associate or Bachelor's. GWU tuition just went up to $740 per credit hour, making the program even more expensive.

Most AA or BA paralegal programs include courses in real estate, probate, family law, arbitration/mediation, criminal law, employment law, and other general substantive areas of law which you are more likely to encounter on an everyday basis in a regular practice. These courses are NOT offered in the GWU program. Again, the GWU program is an advanced paralegal degree for those who already have prior paralegal education and/or work experience.

Good Luck!

(continued from above)... I have a strong academic background and love learning, but absolutely no experience or education in the legal field. What do you recommend? I would love to attend GWU. Are the classes demanding, or pleasantly challenging, or what is your opinion? Thank you very much! -- C

P.S. What about the practicum? Do you get help procuring placement in a local firm or government agency for this portion of the program?

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Colleen in Brooklyn, New York

94 months ago

Hi DLP,

Thanks again for your response. I found out I maxed out all undergrad loans and can now only get grad school loans. Will the prestige of a George Washington University degree be worth it if I have no other way to get paralegal education? It also requires a practicum, which I assume they help students line up in their local respective communties, but I could be wrong...

Also, you highly recommend that people not go into the legal field -- do you have any other suggestions? I am not into computer tech stuff, etc. My B.A. is in German, and I don't want to be a teacher. I know the economy is horrible right now. I just need a good job so I can feed my boys. I do freelance editorial consulting and the hourly rate is great, but the jobs are few and far between while I am building clientele.

It sounds like you usually have good advice, so I am all ears if you have any ideas. I spoke with the career counselor at the community college (which is upstate, by the way -- I am moving back there soon). She said that most of the grads there end up becoming legal secretaries. :( At least she was honest!

Thanks,
Colleen

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MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida

94 months ago

I'm not saying you can't attend the GWU program, I'm saying, based on my years of paralegal education and work experience, that this program is not for novices, but those who already have experience. You will not receive the value of the substantive courses I previously mentioned in this program, and that will be to your detriment, IMHO. Also, $30K is a lot of money to invest in a Master's degree when you will only be hired for entry-level positions starting out. The well-paid positions only come with years of experience, no matter what type of degree you have. The economic decision is solely your call to make.

I have no idea what the practicum entails; I'm already a full-time paid paralegal so this would be of no benefit to me anyway. That's something you should ask the GWU advisor. And if the GWU advisor mentions that all graduates of its program are 100% employed in the profession, ask them how many of the graduates were already working as paralegals before they began the program. Saying their students are 100% employed means something very different if most of those who graduated were already employed in the field before beginning the program than if they were all novices whose GWU degree landed them the first job.

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Colleen in Upstate NY in Watertown, New York

94 months ago

Hi guys,

Thank you for your helpful comments. I can't go to any SUNY school because I am maxed out on undergrad loans. I am also moving back upstate in several weeks, so NYC is out of the question. I brought up some of your concerns to the lady at George Washington and she said that no master's degree programs have ABA certification because they are a graduate degree. I asked about help with careers, and she said that GWU students have access to job listings that are not made public by certain employers. That sounded good to me. She also said that it is for anyone with a B.A. in any field and all the basics are covered (I made sure on that one since I didn't want to feel lost). She said that a master's degree is required in many (all?) government jobs for paralegals as well, which sounds good. There is an independent project, and an on-site practicum, so there will be practical experience similar to an internship. I applied tonight, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get in. If not, I will probably do the Boston University on-line certificate and get a regular master's in something else at some point. Thanks for helping me to ask the right questions. I hope this information helps other students considering the master's program at George Washington University.

Colleen

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Colleen in Upstate NY in Watertown, New York

94 months ago

Hi DLP,

Thanks for your prompt response. My plan is to look for entry-level paralegal work while attending school on-line. I can't afford to move to DC just yet, no...but checking out the job boards there on Craigslist, it looks like they have new posting every day, unlike where I am from. While I am upstate I will take any legal job I can get -- it may mean moving to Albany. We will see. And maybe I will have second thoughts and get scared about the price tag -- could happen. Right now it is at $26,000 and some change. I could get a SUNY master's degree in liberal arts or something and a Boston University paralegal certificate for much less money. I will first have to see if I get accepted, and then take it from there. I have to admit that I hope that George Washington University means something to employers -- if it doesn't, there isn't much point, I guess. You're paying for the name...that is not to say that the education wouldn't be good -- GWU supposedly has one of the best law schools in the country, so the paralegal program associated with it can't be bad. I have some time to think about it. I am thinking of applying to a couple of SUNY master's programs as back-ups in case I chicken out at the price tag.

Colleen

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Colleen in Upstate NY in Watertown, New York

94 months ago

Hi DLP,

Well, I may have just wasted $60, but I am starting to get frightened by all of these comments I keep reading everywhere on this forum. Rarely do I see anything about positive experiences! I may just get a master's degree in something I love (i.e., history or foreign languages) and become a secretary or something. I have to admit that I am also a little afraid of getting a master's degree in something I can only use for one profession. I guess I have some time to think about it. Thanks for your comments.

Colleen

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JessicaLee

93 months ago

I don't have any connections and a Master's degree in English Lit, and EVEN I got a job as a paralegal at a firm. I honestly think GW just created this program as another cash cow...what you really need is experience, which you can get with legal temp agencies and as a legal assistant. They WILL hire you without the certification and a silly master's degree. Seriously, NO ONE needs a master's degree in paralegal studies. Don't waste your money!

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Phoenix in Copiague, New York

93 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Absolutely. I agree 100 percent. Very good post. Thank you. I maintain a paralegal certificate is still important because the course at least introduces you to law and provides a passport, as it were, to get past the receptionist. An ABA certificate is better. A four-year degree and a paralegal certificate are ample qualifications to be given a chance. Anything else is superfluous.

Once again, one need only review ads and online paralegal bios to determine authentic quals for a particular area.

How can you maintain that opinion when you cannot get a job? Have you worked in all 50 states? What are you basing your blanket statement on? MY 915 (qualifies to sit for NALA's CP exam) hour paralegal diploma is fully accredited by Middle States. Middle States is the same accrediting institution that accredits Princeton, Columbia, NYU,Pace,and,many other educational institutions on the East Coast. Middle States is given its authority to accredit from the U.S. Department of Education which,is the same agency that gives the ABA authority to accredit law schools.

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Phoenix in Copiague, New York

93 months ago

F-Bomb in Los Angeles, California said: Displaced Legal Professional doesn't work or do anything productive. He roams around this forum dispensing advice to anyone who will listen while bashing any opinions that are not pre-approved.

As you can see, he likes to pick apart everyone's posts line by line. Oh and lookout if someone should not agree with Displaced: he will start correcting your grammar or spelling.

It's actually quite entertaining . . .

He has made so correction on my comment. He made so many one day that I had to remind him that he had made several mistakes of his own.
:)

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Kristine in Seattle, Washington

91 months ago

Overall, what do/did you think of the MPS online program? Would you do it again? Would you recommend it to a friend? I have four years experience working as an IP paralegal and I'm thinking of applying for advanced standing once I pass the CLA exam this December. I'm interested in paralegal management as an end goal. Thanks for any advice. I'm looking at several options, this program among them.

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MPS Guinea Pig in Pensacola, Florida

91 months ago

Kristine,

If Paralegal Management is your end goal, you may want to look into GWU's Law Firm Management program instead. Although the program recruiters will tell you that the MPS can help you get a management position, that is solely from the position that many firms want a graduate degree to fill a management slot. The MPS program does not offer any courses that will help you with paralegal or law firm management. I think the Law Firm Management program is a 9 month Certificate program.

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jake in Torrington, Wyoming

89 months ago

u guys dont help at all

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ABC in Apo

89 months ago

"She said that a master's degree is required in many (all?) government jobs for paralegals as well, which sounds good."

A Master's degree is a required prerequisite for entry-level paralegals at the GS-09 level. If you are looking at entering the GS system (approx $45K/yr) and not having to work your way up the slow way, a Master's degree will be beneficial to you.

"I applied tonight, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get in. If not, I will probably do the Boston University on-line certificate and get a regular master's in something else at some point."

Congratulations on applying. Good luck. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistsics, only 8% of paralegals have a Master's degree. Despite the fact that experience is likely the number one factor in hiring on a paralegal, a Master's degree is a great accomplishment, and the GWU program can be completed online. Why not have another degree under your belt? Completing such a program will show that you have the drive to complete a gret undertaking and want to continue your education.

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That's a pretty small percentage of paralegals. That would prove a Master's degree is unnecessary to be hired for and to function as a paralegal... The GWU Director has stated her program costs $22K+. Why spend that kind of money when it's experience that will get you through the door? Why spend that kind of money when another degree is unnecessary to get hired?

WOW. $22K is a hellaofa lot of money for a Masters degree for someone who wants to become a paralegal.

My opinion is that, considering the income potential for paralegals, it is SO NOT WORTH it to put that time and money into education if your ambition is to become a paralegal. That's $22K PLUS the amount you spent on a BA, when all you need is a certificate. I paid $3K for my paralegal certificate from UCLA.

I never worked as a paralegal. I started in the industry as a word processor then legal secretary. I grew to thoroughly hate working for attys; so I left the industry to return to school full time so that I could do something completely unrelated to law.

One thing I do know for sure about legal secretaries: Having a bachelors degree doesn't command a higher salary. Firms are looking for the experienced secretary. A former coworker with 20 years' experience and a member of a legal secretary association in OC and LA is certified in certain areas of law thru the association. And she told me that specialized certification does NOT get her any more money. I wondered why she put the effort into studying and paying for testing if it didn't make a difference salary wise, but I didn't ask.

A magazine a read recently, I think it was World News, stated that the average salaries for MBA's fresh out of grad school (UC Irvine and UC Davis) were mid $70's in 2005 - starting pay and then consider where they will be in 10 or 20 years. In a case like that, $22K is worth it.

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That's a pretty small percentage of paralegals. That would prove a Master's degree is unnecessary to be hired for and to function as a paralegal. You just wrote that experience is likely the number one factor in hiring a paralegal. The GWU Director has stated her program costs $22K+. Why spend that kind of money when it's experience that will get you through the door? Why spend that kind of money when another degree is unnecessary to get hired? QUOTE]

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That's a pretty small percentage of paralegals. That would prove a Master's degree is unnecessary to be hired for and to function as a paralegal. You just wrote that experience is likely the number one factor in hiring a paralegal. The GWU Director has stated her program costs $22K+. Why spend that kind of money when it's experience that will get you through the door? Why spend that kind of money when another degree is unnecessary to get hired?...

Also, if a paralegal is making $50-$60K, he/she is pretty much capped out in salary. The MBA grad is just starting at $70+. That's what makes it worth it to put in extra time and money into education.

And the former coworker I mentioned above who told me extra certifications from the secretary association didn't get her a higher salary - she also has her bachelor's degree from the Univ. of Minnesota (graduated late 70's) in addition to her certifications. The only difference between her salary and mine was our experience. She had 15 years on me, and even that wasn't a big difference.

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: My ABA certificate from a free-standing paralegal school cost something like $7.5K in 1994. The program undoubtedly costs more since I attended it fourteen years ago, but I seriously doubt it costs any $22K+...
.

Hi DLP - I've always heard "thru the grapevine," that employers don't give any weight to those online programs. Furthermore, I have two acquaintenances who have Masters degrees from the U of Phoenix, and they both said it got them nowhere. Apparently, employers like to see degrees from traditional universities??

In '05 when I was networking and researching like crazy, trying to find my way out of the legal industry, I chatted online with midlife career changers thru some Monster.com forum. I exchanged posts with an IT manager in Boston who said he will not consider any person who received his degree online. He said that individuals who show up to class and interact with other students, "bouncing ideas off each other" are "more well rounded individuals." He also said that anyone can log onto a computer and take an online class. I don't remember exactly how he put it, but my impression was that he felt online degrees was a way of taking the easy way out of getting a bachelors degree.

Granted, this is an IT guy, but I always wondered whether a lot of managers felt that way? Another program that seems popular yet I've heard bad things about it is the U of Phoenix.

And onother thing I noticed about those online degrees - they're EXPENSIVE! I think outrageous considering they aren't paying a professor to show up and teach and grade papers.

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Andi in Atlanta, Georgia

89 months ago

I looked into the GW masters in paralegal program. It is expensive. The current cost is $25,000 online. Generally speaking, the paralegal profession just doesn't pay enough to make up for that cost. I'll go so far as to say that an advanced degree in paralegal studies could possibly be detrimental to obtaining a job, especially without cooresponding work experience. An employer may see the Masters degree on your resume and think you'll require too high a salary to hire you. So, it is something that if pursued would have to be done for mostly personal enrichment. Sure, there is always the chance that it could lead to something more, like a position in management or administration. But, so many other factors go obtaining into these very rarely available positions.

In my research into the GW program, I noticed that it is possible to obtain advanced standing. To do this, you need to have a paralegal certificate and pass an exam, such as the CLA. The certificate can be obtained at a much less costly school. That leaves the remainder of the GW program costing about $16,000. That's A LOT better. This is something I may consider, but mainly because I've always wanted an advanced degree and because I just enjoy the personal fulfillment of learning. I've looked into a few other programs under the title of Masters in Legal Studies. The University of Illinois has one.

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Andi in Atlanta, Georgia said: I looked into the GW masters in paralegal program. It is expensive. The current cost is $25,000 online. Generally speaking, the paralegal profession just doesn't pay enough to make up for that cost. I'll go so far as to say that an advanced degree in paralegal studies could possibly be detrimental to obtaining a job, especially without cooresponding work experience. An employer may see the Masters degree on your resume and think you'll require too high a salary to hire you...

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that paralegal pay isn't enough to make the cost of this education worth it. I received my paralegal certificate from UCLA in 2000, and it cost me $3000.

I was working as a customer service/collections agent at the time, and some of the companies I dealt with were law firms on the East Coast. I got to know a few attys over the phone, and a few of them told me they had heard great things about UCLA's paralegal program. So I figured it must be a good education if attys on the other side of the country had heard about it

I regretted the decision to go to paralegal school later because I ended up thoroughly hating the industry altogether and have started over - again - to effect a career change after over 5 years in the legal industry. I just couldn't stand it any more. I would strongly recommend against any nonlawyer profession, period. If you have an interest in law, go to law school and become a lawyer. Otherwise, consider something else completely unrelated to law.

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Andi in Atlanta, Georgia

89 months ago

I wonder if the original poster ended up going to GW??? Does anyone know?

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dh in Northern CA, California

89 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Continued from above....

With all that said, the test of any training program is if it will help you get the job. As a practical matter, online programs may not be the best choice if employers won't give them credibility.

I DLP - I had heard that before - what percentage of learning is acquired thru each sense. I couldn't remember the numbers. It make sense that a great majority of learning is by site because I'm constantly reading over the material. One thing about a classroom full of students is that, during a lecture, you can always miss something and not realize it - until another student who missed it but knows he missed it and asks for clarification. It's the points that are brought up by the students in class that I always remember.

A lecture can go on for an hour (during summer, 3 hours!), and I will remember only small percentage of what I heard. I have to study the notes I took, and I always see stuff in my notes, the subject of which have no recollection of the professor discussing.

With online learning, you can't miss anything - it's all right there in print. But I learn the most when a group of us get together and work on assignments. I can't possibly read every word of every chapter for every text of every class I have. Something I missed, somone else brings to my attention, and vice versa. It's kind of like learning thru teamwork.

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kenallen in Brea, California

88 months ago

Unless you attend a '' top tier '' school, an MBA is a waste of time... Especially at UOP. Not worth the paper its printed on!

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registeredparalegal in Honolulu, Hawaii

83 months ago

I am applying to the GW Master's degree but have 13 years of paralegal experience, A.S. and B.S. degrees in paralegal science from ABA approved schools and other credentials. It makes sense for me to invest time and money into this advanced degree because I have the experience law firms will require to enter into a supervisorial position and I'm hoping by getting a MPS that will seal the deal. However, I do not recommend anyone who has none or very little legal experience to pursue this advanced degree. It will make no difference if you don't have the experience. You should get your paralegal certification and after a decade of on-the-job experience apply for an advanced degree. Good luck!

TLG in New York, New York said: Hi all...wondering if anyone has information on the Masters in Paralegal Studies program offered by George Washington University? I am currently completing a paralegal certification, and am considering moving ahead with the Masters degree. Any feedback on the GWU program is appreciated.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

83 months ago

RP in Honolulu:

The GWU MPS Program and it's specialty courses are more geared towards those who want to work for the federal gov't, do contract procurement/management, intellectual property law, or international law. It does not offer any courses in management.

GWU does have a separate Law Firm Management program, that is offered mostly only. (Just 2 brief on-campus practicums at the beginning and end of the program). If you're wanting to go into paralegal or law firm management, I think you'd be better off looking into this program.

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Looking UG in New Paltz, New York

82 months ago

Hey so whats your opinion about MPS in HR if I want to pursue HR. Do you still prefer an MBA. In my opinion I rather not a MBA b/c it does not express much of the HR side rather financial. Please Help!!

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

82 months ago

Looking:

Are you thinking of pursuing an MPS in HR to further your legal career? I know many firms who have both a Firm Administrator (MBA) and either an HR Director or a Paralegal Manager. MPS in HR would also help you if you want to do paralegal work specializing in employment/labor law. And of course, you could use it to transition out of the legal profession altogether. I think it's a good choice if you're not keen on the MBA route.

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john in Concord, California

82 months ago

I'm researching paralegal programs in sf bay area. ANYONE ELSE HAVE INFO?

These are the programs I have found thus far:

CSU EAST BAY (HAYWARD)for $6000 but does not have financial aid, and I was told its program is more theoritical and not as advanced. Schedule is not as condusive for the working adult. (Year program assuming you have a BA or AA and do not need to take additional courses.)

JOHN F. KENNEDY has a program in Pleasant HIll for $13,000, is ABA approved, and according to one person I spoke to is more respected by attorneys, more practical, as well as more organized. Also it is closer to my residence and has a schedule that is more respectful to the working adult.(Year program assuming you have a BA or AA and do not need to take additional courses.)

DE ANZA COLLEGE in San Jose has a program for about $13 a unit (about $600-700) but according to those I spoke with, woefully inadequate in both practical and theoritical criteria...(this is just what I've heard, mostly from competing schools).(Year program assuming you have a BA or AA and do not need to take additional courses.)

HEALD's program is $26,000. Is not ABA approved (2009), requires more classes because it does not have a certification but a degree program (AA and BA degrees do not necessarily minimize the number of courses.) 18plus months

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Taurus in California

81 months ago

Last year I graduated from the SFSU CLE ABA Approved Paralegal Program. The classes are in downtown SF just above Powell St. BART. Daytime and night classes are offered so the schedule is great for working adults. It is highly respected but not nearly as expensive as most ABA approved programs. The cost for the thirty unit program is approx $6000.00. FYI.

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Taurus in California

81 months ago

Correction to my above comment: It is the SFSU CEL ABA Paralegal Certificate Program.

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deb in Lafayette, Colorado

79 months ago

Do you think a masters degree in legal administration from Sturm College of Law (University of Denver) would help me change careers? I am a 51 year old divorcee who has not worked since 2001. Prior to that I was a software engineer for 15 years(not anywhere as good as a young geek!). What dose a court administrator make? Any suggestions would be helpful. I was looging at George Washingtons master of paralegal studies but after reading this site my thought that it wasn't worth it has been confirmed. Lawyers in the area say paralegal jobs are for young enegetic individuals planning on eventually attending law school ... they don't care about certification.

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deb in Lafayette, Colorado

79 months ago

Thanks so much for your response. It was quite helpful especially since you know the area. I am very young looking for my age, no one can guess. I did have a stellar software career (patent at Sun, etc)and I have been attending post-MS degree classes at DU ... I love the computer technical stuff but am more people oriented than the typical computer scientist (I have been home with my kids the last years, bad accident 12/3/07 but recovered).
Do you know, is legal administration more people oriented? (I would think so) There is also a court administration specialty too, I find that more interesting.
Do you know ball park salary ranges? What do you think about court administration? I spoke with DU and they had some 2009 DU grads placed even though the courts had hiring freezes. The cost is $36,000.00+ Thanks Again.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

79 months ago

I would probably look more for an IT job in a law firm, rather than a firm administator job. You will probably have to start in a small firm either part time of maybe full time, $10/hr, no benefits.

All the law firm administrators I know are CPAs or at least have a bachelors degree in accounting. Sometimes you will find a paralegal that has become a firm administrator of a small firm. I've seen that once. Tiny 5 lawyer firm though.

The court jobs are few and far between. There isn't much turnover for the court clerk, court coordinator type jobs. There aren't many of them in the first place either. I don't think those positions require college. I deal with them a lot and they are for the most part useless, lazy and mean people - and that goes for 95% of the people who work anywhere inside a courthouse in Dallas County, Texas. Did I just type that out loud?

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soledad in Clarksville, Tennessee

79 months ago

For the most part I agree with what you say. However, I must put in my two cents. I received my BS degree in Legal Studies. I took classes in both the traditional class room and on-line. I did well and got good grades. My point is that the on-line classes were more difficult. I feel that not everyone could take classes on-line. (At least at my school) It took a lot of discipline and self motivation to get through the on-line classes. I knew of students that got through traditional classes without hardly cracking their books. If they showed up in class and listened to the lecture they felt that was enough, because they then had enough information to make 70% on the exams, and papers. They "passed", which is what they were after. You could not get away with not reading all of the material required for my on-line classes. You could not get away with not responding to the other classmates posts, and you could not get away with not studying for your exams.

Anyway, I want to thank you for answering my question. I too was looking at getting a Masters in Paralegal Studies at GWU. What you are saying makes a lot of sense.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

79 months ago

Online education just still has a stigma to it whether it's deserved or not. Over time that will go away and it may be sooner rather than later due to what is happening in the education field now such as:

unaffordable tution costs
difficulty finding student loans or enough student loans
people unwilling to take on a lot of debt if they can find loans
unemployed college graduates - college degrees not leading to jobs
financial aid office scams/kickbacks at universities
the expense and "old School-ness" of the traditional residential college experience
practicality of online education
the impact of the recession on schools (hello, Harvard!)

Give it time - online education will get the status it deserves.

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StevieNix in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

78 months ago

So I am still confused with which route I'm going to take. You all are talking about already having degrees and what not before wondering if you need a Paralegal certificate to pursue that career. But I do not already have a degree. I am a high school graduate, and I'm wanting to make a career being a Paralegal. But, do I want to spend the time and money getting my Associates in Paralegal? Or just get my general practices for Paralegal certificate? I will be attending Kaplan Career Institute for either course. This is an ABA accredited school (in both courses) so it is more expensive. Additionally, it is the only school in or around Nashville, TN that even offers Paralegal studies. So my question is should I spend $32K and two years in school for a degree, or should I spend about half that and one year for my certificate? Basically I want to know if I will have a high chance of landing a job with just a certificate? Or will the odds be a lot higher if I go ahead and pursue the Associates degree?

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Andrea in Honolulu, Hawaii

78 months ago

If you want a career as a paralegal, and plan to go to college anyway, I would advise that you get a degree in paralegal studies (or paralegal science - the degree varies from school to school). I have an A.S. and B.S. in paralegal science, and it makes for a more impressive resume in that it shows my commitment and interest in the field. If 2 people apply at our office and are equal in all ways except one has a 2 yr degree in psychology w/a paralegal certificate and the other has a 2 yr degree in paralegal science, we would choose the candidate who possessed the paralegal degree. However, the candidate with the psychology degree may be chosen IF she/he also has actual law office experience. I believe that a paralegal degree and experience is far better.

I've been a paralegal for 12 yrs. What I know today can be mostly attributed to hands on experience in a law office. However, I did have a great college education in paralegal science and that does give me an edge. I am better equipped (than most) to do legal research & know how to use Lexis & Westlaw. A lot of paralegals lack in research skills. My college education focused on paralegal studies & has given me a leg up - and was worth the money. I now make 65s (including benefits). Get your college degree in paralegal science - skip the certificate. Go for it! Good luck! I also recommend pursuing a B.S. in paralegal science afterwards. Check out Peirce College in Pennsylvania. You can complete your B.S. degree in paralegal studies online, and they will waive the first 4 classes if your A.S. degree is from an ABA approved school.

Another thing you can do after you get your B.S. paralegal degree, is to become a registered paralegal. Go to National Federation of Paralegal Associations and check out the requirements. Email me if you want to pick my brain: Andrea at paralegalars@aol.com. :)

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StevieNix in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

78 months ago

Thanks a lot for the quick responses! It helps out a lot! I am going to check out the school this week, so I will be confident in going for the A.S. degree versus just trying to get the certificate alone! I definitely want to make a career out of this, so once I have completed this 2 yr degree I will more than likely go ahead and continue further! Thanks again!

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Kristine in Seattle, Washington

69 months ago

Hello again! Since my first post on this board I enrolled in GWU's Masters in Paralegal Studies Program (online). I finished one semester and dropped out in April 2010.

From my limited experience, this program is more like dummied down law school than a program designed to improve one's paralegal skills. I wasn't happy with the explanations given on assignments and the feedback from teachers. Half the class misinterpreted instructions on one of the last assignments yet we all lost points. If half the class gets it wrong, the instructions need to be revised.

Also, the time involvement made it very difficult for me to work fulltime and go to school. I was exhausted. I felt like I needed to see for myself what this program was all about. It was a VERY VERY expensive foray into higher education that proved to be pointless (tuition = $5,500.00/semester). I even verified with my employer to see whether or not getting an advanced degree would help me in my current job. The answer was a resounding "NO".

Please think carefully if you are considering this program. GWU heavily advertises this Masters degree because it's a cash cow. I may go on to try a masters in Law Firm Management (Sturm Law School, University of Denver) but that will have to wait until my debt from the GWU program is paid off.

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deb in Louisville, Colorado

69 months ago

Thank you, that was really helpful. I felt like the course descriptions were more like a dummied up law school aimed primarily towards corporate law. My areas legal community is very tight knit and I have been told it's experience not an advanced degree that counts. Sturm college of Law has a very high placement rate. Best of Luck!

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Donald_ in Cliffside Park, New Jersey

69 months ago

"I may go on to try a masters in Law Firm Management"

Sounds like a totally useless degree. As a paralegal, you need to understand that an advanced degree is not goig to add aything to your career.

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Donald_ in Ridgefield, New Jersey

69 months ago

Sorry, but I sincerely doubt lawyers are going to hire a non-lawyer to manage the firm. And a law firm management degree is totally different fron an MBA. It does not carry the same weight or prestige as the MBA.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

69 months ago

Actually, every law firm manager I know is a non-lawyer. The Firm Manager is not the same as the Firm President, which is one of the shareholders. The Firm Managers I know run the gamut of degrees from accounting, business administration, and HR, either bachelors or masters level. The Law Firm Management MPS is relatively new, but maybe GWU has identified a niche market need that needs to be met.

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