How to Get Started
To get started in the Paralegal program, complete the admissions process at El Centro College.
When you're ready to enroll, ask to speak to a Paralegal advisement counselor. He or she can help you determine which courses you should take. If you're planning to earn an associate degree in the Paralegal program, please note that you must complete at least five Paralegal courses at El Centro College. Other courses may be completed at other colleges of the DCCCD.
Tuition and Expenses
Dallas County residents pay $156 per three-hour class — that’s $52 per credit hour, or just $624 for a full semester load of 12 credit hours.
Compare that to what you’d pay elsewhere! See our tuition rates for tuition according to your place of residency.
Textbooks are other expenses to be considered; please check the course requirements and check book pricing at the college bookstore.
Rising Star Program
If you are a Dallas County high school graduating senior, you may qualify for Rising Star funds to help pay for this program. The Rising Star program offers academic support services and up to $4,000 for tuition and books, if you have established financial need.
Courses Offered (Curriculum)
Our catalog provides detailed information about the courses we offer and the courses required for the Paralegal Associate in Applied Sciences Degree.
Accreditation and Affiliations
Each of the Dallas County Community College District’s seven colleges — Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland — is individually accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Paralegal program at El Centro College is one of only a handful of paralegal programs in Texas approved by the American Bar Association — and the only such ABA-approved program in north central Texas.
Although most employers do not require certification, earning a voluntary certificate from a professional society may offer advantages in the job market.
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has established standards for certification requiring various combinations of education and experience. Paralegals who meet these standards are eligible to take a two-day examination given three times a year at several regional testing centers. Those who pass this examination may use the designation Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP).
- The Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam, established in 1996 and administered through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), offers professional recognition to paralegals with an associate or bachelor’s degree and at have least two years of professional experience. Those who pass this examination may use the designation Registered Paralegal (RP).
- The Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which offers board certification for attorneys in Texas, allows paralegals to take "Board certifying exams" in six areas: civil trial law, criminal law, estate planning law, family law, personal injury trial law and real estate law. Those who pass this examination may use the designation Board Certified Paralegal (BCP).
Other Degree and Certificate Options
Together, the colleges of the Dallas County Community College District offer nearly 350 career and technical degrees and certificates, plus more than 50 academic degrees. For more information, see a chart of our degree plans by location or visit ourcredit programs home page.
Developing Skills for Success
Paralegal students have access to the following facilities and advantages at El Centro:
- Practicing attorneys and paralegals as instructors
- An on-campus law library and three computer-assisted legal research systems
- Mock trials and career seminars held by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Southern Methodist University Law School, Dallas Young Lawyers Association and others
- Classrooms in downtown Dallas, near the legal community, many with Web-enhanced components
- Some introductory courses offered at Richland and North Lake colleges as El Centro College home-host classes
- Day and evening classes
- Full- or part-time study options
- Electronic support services to access supplemental readings, grades and course syllabi (eCampus and Blackboard)
- Online Core courses, although all non-core Paralegal courses must be taken in on-site classes
- Our Paralegal Student Association
- Cooperative work experience (co-op) working at least 15 hours a week doing paralegal activities at an assigned site
Our Paralegal faculty members not only have relevant degrees but also have real-world experience in the legal profession. That makes them able to relate to the challenges you face at work. Our instructors work with you one-on-one, encouraging you and helping you to succeed in school and on the job.
See profiles of some of our Paralegal faculty.
Paralegal courses are designed for direct entry into the workforce. However, if you are interested in transferring your Paralegal coursework to earn a degree at a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Services website for guidance on the transfer process.
The program offers several transfer agreements, also called articulation agreements, which consist of contracts between educational institutions. Under these contracts, a four-year university agrees to accept certain credits from a two-year community college toward specified degrees.
The Paralegal program has articulation agreements in place with:
- Dallas Baptist University
- Texas A&M University-Commerce
- Texas Wesleyan University
- Texas Woman’s University
- University of North Texas
- University of Texas at Arlington
Many students come into our Paralegal program with a bachelor’s degree and want to know how much of their coursework will transfer. Please check with a Paralegal academic advisor at El Centro College to get specific information on transferability from the institution that awarded your degree.
Most bachelor’s degrees will satisfy the requirements for the seven core courses necessary to earn a Paralegal associate degree, leaving only the 14 specific paralegal courses to complete.
Links to Related Information
See links to information about paralegal-related organizations, industry news and more.
If you have questions about the Paralegal program that aren’t answered on our website, please feel free to contact us.