New Paralegal Degree-Completion Program

The growing demand for paralegals has inspired William Woods University to develop a bachelor of science degree-completion program in paralegal studies. The program will be offered initially in Jefferson City. An orientation will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at WWU’s facility on the lower level of 3405 W. Truman Blvd.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact the university’s Graduate & Adult Studies (G&AS) program prior to then, but walk-ins will be accepted. Call 1-800-995-3199 or contact WWU by e-mail at

The program is a 48-semester hour, 16-course sequence designed for the working professional interested in entering the legal profession with a baccalaureate in paralegal studies. Admission requirements include the completion of 50-60 semester credit hours and at least two years of work experience.

William Woods University has been educating paralegals for more than 25 years on its main campus in Fulton. Peggy Nickerson, coordinator of the paralegal studies program, cites U.S. Department of Labor statistics as one of the reasons to expand the program. According to the department’s report, the paralegal profession remains a top 10 growth career for the 21st century.

“As the number and complexity of lawsuits continues to grow, so will the need for paralegals,” Nickerson says.

A degree in paralegal studies allows a person to function as a paralegal or legal assistant (the terms are often interchangeable). Paralegals are members of the professional legal staff (not the clerical staff) who are employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

A paralegal can work in all types of legal environments, including law offices, governmental agencies, financial institutions, health organizations, corporations, insurance companies, courts and both prosecutor and defenders’ offices.

The paralegal degree-completion program “is representative of the innovative, professions-oriented programs of study for which William Woods is noted,” Betty R. Tutt, vice president and dean of academic affairs, said.

In the beginning, the university’s Graduate & Adult Studies programs were located only in mid-Missouri. Now, thanks to the growing demand, William Woods has expanded G&AS programs to locations across the state for the convenience of interested students.

These programs make it possible for people with full-time jobs to complete a baccalaureate or a graduate degree while remaining employed.

Employing a model of accelerated learning developed especially for the convenience of the working adult, these educational programs are structured so that a degree can be completed in as few as 18 months.

To guarantee the graduation of many well-rounded professionals, William Woods offers degree programs that utilize a cohort model, emphasizing learning through student-directed study groups of three to five students.

The word “cohort” describes a group of people who collaborate to reach a common goal. WWU’s program utilizes the diversity of the individual members to broaden the learning experience of the class as a whole as they work together. The school recognizes that learning can and does take place outside of the classroom and that theoretical knowledge is only useful if applied to real-life on-the-job situations.

To better fit the schedules of the ever-busy G&AS students, classes meet once a week in the evening for four hours. Study groups can meet once more to prepare projects and assignments before the upcoming week. Because of the nature of programming—focusing effort on one course at a time—75 to 90 percent of all students finish their program successfully.

“With the teamwork approach of using study groups and projects within the
cohort model, students can draw on a greater pool of ideas, and they have the opportunity
to learn quickly that the effectiveness of one person can be greatly enhanced by utilizing the other members of the group,” Tutt said.

“William Woods University is a leader when it comes to designing quality programs for nontraditional adult students. Everything we do here at WWU in our Graduate & Adult Studies program is specifically designed to help adults succeed in reaching their goals as efficiently as possible,” she added.

Non-traditional students reflect a growing national trend as more full-time working adults realize the value of maintaining a sustained involvement in higher education. Many adult students recognize that they need additional education either to advance in their current positions or to change careers.

In addition to the bachelor of science in paralegal studies, William Woods offers several other G&AS programs, including an associate of arts degree in liberal studies, ACCESS (general education), a bachelor of science in management, a bachelor of science in computer information management, a master of business administration (MBA), an MBA with an accounting emphasis, an MBA with health management emphasis, an MBA with human resources emphasis and a master of education in both administration and in curriculum/instruction.

William Woods can tailor any of its programs for a particular business or community. More information is available on the William Woods website at