Paralegal Certificate Program

Earn Your Certificate in Four Months OR One Year With Flexible Program Options

Our flexible full-time day or part-time evening program options provide students with the education to pursue their professional goals. Experienced instructors, along with an extensive network of regional law offices and a thriving alumni network, ensures student success upon completion of the program.

Why you should take this program:

30 Years of Preparing High-Achieving Paralegals

Since 1986 Villanova University has prepared its students for the highly skilled paralegal profession. Through expert instruction, legal specialization courses, and the availability of Villanova resources, graduates from the Paralegal certificate program are experts in legal terminology, case research, and are prepared to meet the expectations of a legal office. Learn more about how our graduates stand out from the rest. 

About the Profession

The paralegal plays an important role in today's business and legal arena. The paralegal is charged with assisting attorneys in supporting their clients efficiently, conducting research, and completing casework and documentation. 

The ABA definition of a legal assistant/paralegal is “A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

Responsibilities of a Paralegal:

  • Preparing and writing court documents, including trial notebooks and jury instructions
  • Conducting client and witness interviews
  • On-site investigation and photos
  • Ensuring all case documents are readily available for a law firm and preparing legal documents for trial
  • Performing research via online portals and reference libraries for evidence in cases

Responsibilities of a paralegal or legal assistant will vary depending on the organization they work for. Students are encouraged to explore their legal specialty so they can become familiar with the industry they would like to work in. See the examples below for more details.

  • Boutique Firm (practices one type of law, i.e. tax, family law)
  • Corporations with in-house counsel (bank, insurance company, medical company)
  • Governmental Agencies (social services, defense)
  • Home-Office (freelance)

Benefits of a paralegal certificate:

According to the American Bar Association, the average cost of a law degree from a private school is $34,300 annually and more than $16,800 at a public school. The median annual salary for a paralegal is $48,350 and allows a professional to work in the legal field without the debt of a law degree. Working as a paralegal also provides a foundation of knowledge and opportunity for advancement in a law firm.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Industry Statistics

 

The United States Department of Labor provides a foundation of statistics and career search data for professionals to make informed decisions regarding paralegal certification. Be sure to read the statistics below and visit the Department of Labor website to learn more about the paralegal field and industry growth forecast.

Department of Labor Statistics

2014 Median Pay $48,350 per year
Work Experience in Related Occupation None
On-The-Job Training None
Number of jobs in 2014 279,500
Job Outlook, 2014-2024 8% (As fast as average)
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's Degree

Career Services

Students enrolled in the Paralegal certificate program not only have access to the Villanova Career Center but can also connect with a network of more than 72 law firms and 260+ active alumni. These tools ensure our alumni have access to the resources needed for employment upon graduation. 

The College of Professional Studies (CPS) has cultivated relationships with law firms in the region and has a history of providing competent paralegals to these firms. For this reason, our graduates are routinely recruited and hired. The College of Professional Studies is sent job opportunities by alumni and partners an average of 4-7 times a month, which is then shared with our paralegal certificate alumni.

In addition to program specific resources offered through CPS, students enrolled in the Paralegal certificate also have access to the Villanova University Career Center which includes: 

  • Assisting students with defining academic and career goals
  • Planning your successful job search
  • Personalized resume review
  • Interview coaching
  • Access to the Villanova job bank: HandShake
  • Answering academic and career questions
  • Suggesting Career Center resources to help you move forward

Learn more at the Villanova University Career Center

Program Requirements & Admission

Please reference the items listed below for requirements to apply for the Full-Time Day program and Part-Time Evening program.

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution (submission of official transcript)
  • Essay - Writing sample of career goals
  • Optional - A letter of recommendation attesting to academic ability, work experience, or character.
  • $50.00 application fee

Interested students should complete the application process at least two weeks prior to the start of class so the College of Professional Studies has time to review applicant information.

Sample Academic Calendar:

Acceptance of Transfer Courses:

The Villanova University paralegal program will accept the transfer of a maximum of four courses from another ABA approved paralegal program. Students requesting the transfer of courses must submit proof of satisfactory course completion, a syllabus and description.

If the coordinator determines that the student has presented sufficient evidence of completion of a course which satisfies program requirements, it will be accepted.

In some cases, the transferring student may be asked to take an exam to show competency in a subject area/course being accepted in transfer.

Any student completing the Villanova University paralegal program must have completed at least the equivalent of 10 semester credit hours in the traditional classroom setting.

Only courses from ABA approved programs are accepted.

The Villanova paralegal program does not accept the transfer of on-line courses from another program.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Scholarship Information

Villanova University's Office of Continuing Studies invites students to submit their names for consideration for the Bisk Education Endowed Scholarship for Part-Time and Continuing Studies.

Established in 2008 by Bisk Education, Inc., the Bisk Education endowed Scholarship for Part-Time and Continuing Studies seeks to recognize non-traditional students who demonstrate both academic potential and financial need.

To qualify: Continuing Studies students must be officially enrolled in a Continuing Studies certificate granting program in either the fall or spring semesters. Scholarship applicants must also demonstrate financial need, as determined by the Office of Financial Assistance.

To apply:  Students must complete and submit the Bisk Education Endowed Scholarship Fall or Spring Application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Although Continuing Studies programs do not qualify for financial assistance, the FAFSA will be used to determine financial need as required by the scholarship criteria.  

Please include a cover letter with your application indicating the Certificate Program and term you have applied/registered for and any other information you wish to share with us.

  • Fall Semester - application deadline is August 15
  • Spring Semester - application deadline is December 5

Financial Aid

Loan options are provided by both Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. Please select the links below for more information. 

Full-Time Day Program

Students committed to earning their paralegal certificate in a condensed time period should consider the full-time day program to complete the program in one semester. Full-time students are scheduled to attend classes Monday through Friday with two classes each day from 9:00am - 12:00pm and 1:00 - 4:00pm. 

The Villanova University ABA Approved program consists of 9 core classes and 6 legal specialty courses designed to help students understand basic legal concepts and develop the decision making abilities needed by paralegals. The 6 legal specialty courses focus on in-demand topics within the legal profession to ensure students are prepared for the competitive paralegal profession.

Program Highlights:

  • Students are registered for a pre-set curriculum consisting of 15 courses which can be completed on a full-time basis in 4 months. 
  • Classes are held 5 days a week from 9:00am - 4:00pm  with appropriate breaks.
  • All classes are held on campus in a dedicated classroom. A student lounge is available for those students arriving early or wishing to stay late and study.

Course Fees & Schedule

The tuition cost for the paralegal day program - 15 courses - $480 per course.
Books and parking permit are additional.

Registration, Billing/Payments and Cancellation Policy

Schedule

Spring 2017 Schedule: January 17 - April 28, 2017

* Paralegal Day 2017 SPRING Schedule.pdf
Spring 2017 Schedule of Classes - click the link to download.

Course Curriculum

To graduate from the paralegal program and earn a Villanova University certificate of completion, students must earn a grade of ‘C’ or higher in each class, complete a program exit exam, and submit a portfolio of class assignments. The curriculum is pre-set and accepted students will be registered for the entire semester.

Core Courses Legal Specialty Courses
  • Intro. to the Paralegal Profession & Principles
  • Civil Procedure & the Litigation Process
  • Legal Research
  • Legal Writing
  • Contract Law
  • Torts and Personal Injury Law
  • Ethics
  • Business Organizations
  • Paralegal Office Coordination
  • Criminal Law
  • Employment Law
  • Estates& Trusts
  • Family Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Real Estate Law

Part-Time Evening Program

Complete Your Paralegal Certificate in One Year

The part-time evening paralegal program was designed with flexibility in mind for students with full-time jobs or other commitments. Classes emphasize legal principles, theories, paralegal procedures and on the job practices. Interested individuals should apply to begin in the Fall Semester (beginning in late August) and follow the education track to complete the program in one year.

Program Highlights:

  • Students can enter the program in the Fall semester (Late August).
  • Applications are reviewed in advance as they are submitted. 
  • Classes are held 2 nights a week from 6pm to 9pm.
  • Students are tracked to complete the program in one year.
  • Completion of all 15 classes is required for graduation.

Course Fees & Schedule

Tuition:
Tuition is payable per semester or per course(s) at the beginning of each term. Per Course tuition rate is $480.

Books and parking are additional.

Registration, Billing/Payments and Cancellation Policy

Please know these dates are subject to change.

Fall 2017 Schedule:

Coming soon!

About the Program

All courses emphasize paralegal skills, forms, documents and procedures, as well as legal principles and theories which are pertinent to the paralegal’s performance on the job. Core courses are designed to help students understand basic legal concepts and develop the decision-making abilities needed by paralegals. Specialty courses focus on high demand areas of employment and help students to develop and apply practical and immediately marketable paralegal skills. Each course will require the student to become well versed with all documents necessary to apply the legal knowledge learned, and be proficient in document preparation. Documents will include pleadings, interrogatories, contracts, corporation articles and by-laws, bankruptcy petitions, petitions for custody and child support, trial briefs and memorandums, deeds, agreements of sale, inheritance tax returns, and many others.

Course Curriculum

All students are required to take 9 core courses and 6 elective courses. The curriculum is pre-set each term. 

In order to complete the program in one calendar year, a student should take the recommended or available courses as listed on the Academic Calendar/Course Schedule. This requires taking two courses per term. If exceptions are needed, the program administrator should be contacted upon acceptance and alternate arrangements discussed. 

Required Core Courses 

In order to to graduate from the program and receive a certificate, students must: complete all courses with a grade of “C” or above; complete an exit exam, exit questionnaire and submit a portfolio of written work.

  • Introduction to the Paralegal Profession & Principles
  • Civil Procedure and the Litigation Process
  • Legal Research
  • Legal Writing
  • Contract Law
  • Tort and Personal Injury Law
  • Ethics
  • Business Organizations
  • Paralegal Office Coordination

Legal Speciality Courses

  • Criminal Law
  • Employment Law
  • Estates & Trusts
  • Family Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Real Estate Law

An American Bar Association (ABA) Approved Program

A Message From Our Faculty

Valerie Okonweze - Evening Paralegal Program

Sean McCarthy - Day Paralegal Program