Paralegal Certificate Programs

Choosing the right paralegal certificate program

If you are considering enrolling in a paralegal certificate program, it is vital that you choose the program that will give you the best return on your time, and effort. Not all paralegal certificate programs are alike and you should take into consideration a few important factors before selecting one. You will find a huge variety of programs to choose from. Don't let that intimidate you. Here are a few things to think about to help you focus your search for a paralegal certificate program.

Length of paralegal certificate program

There are hundreds of paralegal certificate programs across the country, however, they abide by no standards and the curriculum differs from one program to another. Units required for a certificate program can range from 18-60 semester units. This translates into anywhere from one full-load semester to two full years.

With such a wide range between programs, look for the program that offers you what you need. For example, if you already have a degree, you probably will opt for the shorter type program that omits much of the general education classes that you already received in college. However, if you have not completed any college, a longer commitment to a paralegal certificate program might be useful to you in the long run. The more education you have, the more credible you will appear to prospective employers.


Depending on your time restraints and schedule, you may want to consider an online paralegal certificate program for the flexibility it offers you. If you work full time or live far away from a school that offers such a program, an online program may be your ticket into the paralegal world. Since you won't have to wait for a new semester to start, an online paralegal certificate program is the fastest way to become a paralegal.

On the other hand, you must carefully consider whether or not you are able to dedicate yourself 100% to an online program. With an online paralegal certificate program there are no set class times and no live interactions with other students. Your study would be self-directed and more time consuming than most probably anticipate.

If an online paralegal certificate program doesn't sound like the right choice for you, whether you don't think you can be that motivated or you would just prefer a classroom environment, choose a live program that isn't too far away to be cumbersome to your everyday schedule. Also consider if the amount of time driving to the location is worth having a classroom setting. You may be surprised at the extra time it would take to commute to a classroom.

Type of paralegal certificate program

Consider the curriculum and options that are offered when choosing your paralegal certificate program to be sure that you can get the training you desire. There are many different programs you can choose from depending on what type of law you would like to work with. Ask questions before enrolling in a paralegal program to ensure that they offer the coursework you desire to take. You don't want to be stuck working in family law if what you really want to concentrate on is legal research.

ABA approval

The ABA or American Bar Association will approve paralegal certificate programs after they have been around at least two years, for a fee that is. This approval is not necessary to be hired by a good law firm. Firms do not base their decision on whether or not your program was approved by the ABA, they will undoubtedly place a higher value on the reputation of institution and the skills you demonstrate you learned from the paralegal program.

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