Court Stenography Courses and Classes Overview

Court stenographers use a machine to transcribe what happens during legal proceedings. Courses in court stenography are typically completed as part of an undergraduate diploma, certificate or degree program.

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Essential Information

Court stenography courses are most often taken as part of a court or judicial reporting program at the diploma, certificate or associate's degree level, with a certificate or associate's degree being the most common credential needed to work in the field. These programs may be completed at a 2-year college or technical school, 4-year university or special school for court reporting. Completing a court reporting educational program also prepares students for state licensing and National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification, which are both common requirements.

Court reporting programs commonly include courses in machine stenography, judicial reporting, technical reporting, legal terminology and medical terminology. Students often begin their court stenography coursework by learning to use a stenography machine to dictate accurately and quickly through the use of shorthand. This involves the use of many drills to help students improve their speed and accuracy. They also take courses that discuss the proceedings for courtroom reporting, including proceedings that are medical, literary or scientific in nature, as well as teach the specific terminology used in these fields.

Students may take additional courses in business law, judicial studies and general education. These programs often also include an internship and have a requirement that students meet specified speed and accuracy standards before they can graduate.

Overview of Court Stenography Courses

Some related courses found in a court reporting program are described below.

Machine Stenography Course

Students take this required class with the goal of performing 2-voice, 4-voice and literary stenography at minimum word per minute (wpm) speeds and with a minimum accuracy rate. Phonetics, concentration and careful listening are coupled with manual dexterity for specialized keyboarding skills.

Coursework includes general shorthand theory and practice with drills and shorthand exercises. The ability to take dictation, read back from notes and work under the conflict-free theory is cultivated. This class may include computer-based machine shorthand.

Judicial Reporting Course

In another required class, students recognize the characteristics of reporting for depositions, hearings, trials and related courtroom activities. They learn how and when to interrupt a speaker and how to write and transcribe for circumstances requiring an interpreter. General and real-time transcription is practiced, plus medical dictation, daily copy reporting, using reference materials and preparing legal citations.

A comprehensive overview of judicial procedures and applicable reporting technology is typically included. Professional elements of stenography careers are also explored, like official and freelance work, certification, state licensing requirements and ethics.

Legal and Technical Reporting Course

Students focus on the transcription styles for legal proceedings like voir dire, expert testimony, opening and closing statements and jury charges. They also practice stenography associated with congressional, scientific, medical and literary proceedings. Instructors impart ethical standards specific to particular stenography settings in this class.

Legal Terminology Course

A strong knowledge of legal terminology is required for court stenographers. This required class introduces civil and criminal legal terms. Verbiage specific to criminal law, property law, domestic cases and bankruptcy proceedings is explored. Coursework concentrates on student familiarization with prefixes, suffixes and root words common to a working legal vocabulary that extends to pronunciation, spelling and proper usage.

Medical Terminology Course

Students studying medical terminology are prepared for writing and transcribing words commonly used when discussing symptoms, diagnoses, anatomy, physiology and treatments. Terms related to surgical procedures are also covered. Extra attention is paid to similar or confusing words and to those with complicated spellings. Students taking this required class may be prepared for certification in legal and medical reporting.

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