Available entirely online or as a mix of on-campus and online courses!

Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies

Build legal knowledge and hone research and communication skills with UMass Lowell's affordable and flexible paralegal certificate online.

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Next Start Date: May 15

Earn Your Paralegal Certificate Online or On-Campus

Position yourself for a successful legal career with UMass Lowell's 6-course paralegal certificate online. The Certificate in Paralegal Studies explores the role of paralegals in both the public and private sectors while learning a mix of legal theory and skills. Upon program completion, you will gain an understanding of legal concepts and vocabulary, the litigation process, the principles of jurisprudence and legal issues that influence modern business practices. You may complete this program through online and on-campus courses.

All credits earned in this certificate may be applied to the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Paralegal option or the Bachelor of Liberal Arts: Legal Studies Concentration.

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Complete in 9 Months

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One of the Most Affordable Tuitions in the Nation

Career Outlook

Jobs (2020)
% Change (2020-2021)
Median Earnings
Annual Openings
Source: Lightcast, 2022


  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants
  • Compliance Officers
  • Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
  • Title Examiners, Abstractors and Searchers
  • Legal Support Workers
"Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As law firms try to increase the efficiency of legal services and reduce their costs, they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants."
— Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2020

Key Takeaways

Gain a foundational knowledge of a wide range of legal matters, including:

  • Legal research processes and written reports, case briefs and memoranda
  • Litigation procedures such as discovery, pleadings, motions and depositions, and trials and appeals
  • rReal estate deeds, title examinations, brokerage contracts, and tenant rights and liabilities
  • Legal concepts and terminology related to core estate planning tools
  • Utilize Lexis Advance for legal research and prepare to earn the Lexis Paralegal Certificate of Mastery
Success Story

"Having worked as a legal assistant for several years, I was looking to advance my knowledge for the benefit of myself and my career. I knew UMass Lowell's Paralegal Certificate Program would provide me with exactly what I needed to get ahead. The fact that I was able to complete the program in less than one year, along with the convenience of being able to take the courses entirely online, made UMass Lowell the perfect fit for me."

Heather F.
Heather F.

Heather F.

One Success Leads to Another

Apply credits from lower credentials to higher ones. Our programs are designed to build upon themselves:

Students who successfully complete the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program can count all of the courses from the certificate program towards UMass Lowell's B.S. in Criminal Justice: Paralegal Option or Bachelor of Liberal Arts: Legal Studies Concentration program.

Curriculum Outline

- 6 Courses (18cr)

Course Descriptions

This course familiarizes students with the role of paralegals in both the public and private sector. Other topics include principles of jurisprudence and basic legal concepts and terminology. 3 credits.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of business law. The main emphasis is on key aspects of contract law, including the agreement, consideration, writings, third-party rights, illegality, performance, breach, defenses, and remedies The course also covers agency law, employment law, sections of the Uniform Commercial Code, and a variety of other legal issues and topics that influence and intersect with modern business practices. This course is highly recommended for pre-law students, CPA students, and paralegal students. 3 credits. BS, Collateral CJ
This course studies the law pertaining to business entities and structures. Partnerships, limited partnerships, and joint ventures are studied at the outset of the course. The main emphasis is on elements of the corporate structure. The last part of the course deals with personal and real property with coverage of wills and trusts. This course is highly recommended for pre-law students, CPA students, and paralegal students. 3 credits.
This course provides a broad introduction to international law with emphasis on current issues. Within public international law, topics covered will include the recognition of new states, organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union, the use of force, human rights, international crimes, the global environment, and international courts and tribunals. Within private international law, topics surveyed will include legal aspects of international trade and foreign investment, labor, intellectual property, cyber theft, and taxation. Current issues discussed will include global warming, recent corruption scandals, the Eurozone crisis, and legal issues facing global technology companies. 3 credits.
This course examines the legal and administrative problems of protecting the quality of the human environment. Federal and state legislation on environmental policy is studied. Public interest litigation as a supplement to the enforcement of environmental law is discussed. The course also focuses on the practical problems of balancing the needs of business, the global competitiveness of the United States, the increasing demand for natural resources, and the need to protect, preserve, and restore the environment. The importance of sustainable development and environmental ethics are discussed. 3 credits.
This course examines contracts for the sale of real estate, deeds, title examinations, security for real estate transactions, methods and problems of co-ownership, zoning ordinances, brokerage contracts, leases and landlord, and tenant rights and liabilities. 3 credits.
This course studies the critical family law issues facing society today. Subject matter examined may include the law of marriage, custody, adoption, divorce, child support, juveniles, right to die, fetal tissue transfer to prolong the life of another, reproduction control, and surrogate parenting. This course is taught from a legal and human values perspective. 3 credits.
This course presents legal issues that often or particularly affect women. Topics may include sex discrimination, sexual harassment, rape, marriage, divorce, reproductive control, surrogate motherhood, and custody. 3 credits.
The traditional trial is becoming increasingly rare in modern civil litigation; the large majority of disputes are resolved by other techniques. This course will examine alternative methods of dispute resolution such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and the mini trial. 3 credits.
This course surveys the law of the protection of ideas, trade secrets, inventions, artistic creations, and reputation. The course will briefly review the law of patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, and geographical indication. The course will cover the distinction between the various forms of intellectual property, and the statutory and common law methods of enforcing rights. 3 credits.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of legal research and writing. Students will gain hands-on experience in legal research and in the reporting of such research in written assignments, case briefs, and memoranda. 3 credits.
This course examines the practices and procedures involved in the litigation process. Topics may include: legal research, courts and jurisdictions, evidence and discovery, pleadings, motions, depositions, trials and appeals, and federal rules of procedure. 3 credits.
This course provides an introduction to the law of wills, trusts, and estates. This course covers the fundamental legal concepts and vocabulary necessary to understand, draft, and work with the core estate planning tools. Practical examples and sample legal cases and materials will be provided and discussed. No prior legal knowledge is required, though some familiarity with the United States legal system or case law will be helpful. 3 credits.
This course consists of assigned fieldwork under the supervision and with the permission of the coordinator. The course is designed to broaden the educational experience of legal studies students by providing exposure to selected legal environments such as corporate legal departments, financial institutions, law firms, real estate departments, banks and government offices and agencies. This provides a correlation of theoretical knowledge with practical experience in an area of interest to students. 3 credits.

Undergraduate Certificate Requirements

Students enrolled in UMass Lowell certificate programs must complete all courses and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better to earn the certificate. All certificate courses must be completed within a five-year period.

Certificate Completion

Students who successfully complete the certificate program should submit a Certificate Petition Form to have their certificate mailed to them.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition at UMass Lowell is typically half the cost of private colleges, and our online tuition is among the lowest in the nation. Tuition for online programs offered through the Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies is the same whether you live in-state, out-of-state or outside of the U.S.

Summer 2023 Tuition

Cost Per Credit Cost Per 3-Credit Course*


Online $380 $1,140
Online Business** $385 $1,155
On Campus Lowell $340 $1,020
On Campus Haverhill $300 $900
*If the number of contact hours exceeds the number of credits, tuition is calculated by multiplying by the total number of contact hours.
†Rate will increase slightly in Fall 2023

Additional Costs

Term Registration Fee $30
Late Fee $50

Please note: Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Tuition Calculator

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Looking for Financial Assistance?

UMass Lowell offers a variety of financial aid and scholarship options.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Does a paralegal certificate need to be ABA approved?

Paralegal certificates are not required to be ABA-approved. Very few employers require new hires to complete an ABA-approved certificate program. Regardless of whether you complete an ABA-approved certificate or not, you should plan to complete a certification exam through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations or National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) to qualify for positions in the field.

Although many employers do not require completion of ABA-approved certificate programs, they do encourage legal assistants and paralegals to pursue bachelor's degrees. While not ABA-approved, credits earned in UMass Lowell's paralegal certificate can be applied to either the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Paralegal option or our Bachelor of Liberal Arts: Legal Studies Concentration.

If I complete the certificate in paralegal studies, will I be a "certified" paralegal?

Many confuse paralegal certificates and certification. The certificate you achieve through our program at UMass Lowell is an academic credential that verifies you have completed an educational program of study. However, to achieve certification, you must complete a certification exam through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations or the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and possibly fulfill other requirements, including work experience.

Your state may provide state-level certifications through the state bar association.

What skills do paralegals need?

Paralegals require strong reading, writing, computer, research, and critical thinking skills. Paralegals tend to be highly organized, can work well independently, communicate well with others, and pay close attention to detail.

Will I find a job as a paralegal

Employment opportunities for paralegals are excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average career outlook growth for paralegals through 2030.

Where do paralegals work?

While most paralegals are employed at law firms, the knowledge and skills that paralegals possess are applicable to many different work environments. Paralegal jobs are widely available in such places as:

  • Corporate legal departments
  • Government agencies
  • Financial institutions
  • Real estate companies
  • Banks
  • Insurance businesses
  • Consulting firms
  • Healthcare providers

What are the types of paralegals?

A paralegal career can focus on several different legal areas such as real estate, litigation, business, personal injury, international law, estate planning, criminal law, intellectual property environmental law, bankruptcy, immigration and family law.


Applying into an Undergraduate Certificate Program

Apply to an undergraduate certificate program using the Online Application Form or by printing and completing the Undergraduate Certificate Application Form in .pdf file format. Applicants will be required to have either their official high school transcript, HiSET®, GED® or their most recent college transcript if applicable, sent to Graduate, Online & Professional Studies at the address below. Applications, transcripts, and other correspondence should be sent to:

University of Massachusetts Lowell
Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies
Undergraduate Admissions
839 Merrimack Street, 2nd Floor
Lowell, MA 01854

Undergraduate certificate applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and there is no fee to apply. You will be notified upon acceptance.

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Questions Regarding Your Undergraduate Application?

Email OCE_Admissions@uml.edu or call 978-934-2474.

For General Assistance:

Call the Advising Center at 978-934-2474 or 800-480-3190. Our academic advisors are here to help!

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