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Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies

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Heather FurnoParalegal
Paralegal certificate online student Heather Furno

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.

Unlike many of the paralegal programs offered at other universities, the online certificate at UMass Lowell is credit-bearing, which means courses completed through our program may apply toward the online 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

AAFPE Badge
Member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.

Career Outlook

342,810
Jobs (2022)
+0.9%
% Change (2022-2023)
$64.8K/yr
Median Earnings
47,006
Annual Openings
Source: Lightcast (2022)

Occupations

  • 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 14 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations."

"About 45,800 openings for paralegals and legal assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire."
— Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2022

Learning Outcomes

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
  • Real 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

UMass Lowell's Paralegal Students Have Completed Internships at:

  • The Office of the General Counsel, Massachusetts Community College System - Bedford, MA
  • Burns & Levinson LLP - Boston, MA
  • Cordell & Cordell - Boston, MA
  • Kiley Law Group - Andover, MA
  • Adam Elman Law Office - Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Congresswoman Lori Trahan - Lowell, MA
  • Committee Public Counsel Services - Public Defender Division
  • Various In-House Corporate Legal Departments
  • Massachusetts Court Service Centers

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.

One Success Leads to Another

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

LGST.1030 Introduction to Paralegal Studies (3cr)

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.

LGST.2100 Restorative Justice (3cr)

This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles and practices of restorative justice as a method of building positive peace. Students develop a working knowledge of the general theories of restorative justice, as well as practical hands-on experience with peacemaking techniques. Traditional assumptions about justice and the adversarial legal process will be explored and challenged. The relationship between restorative justice, restorative practices, and other conflict resolution methods such as mediation will be discussed. Practical challenges in implementing restorative justice on the ground will also be examined.

LGST.2340 Criminal Law (3cr)

This course studies substantive criminal law, with emphasis on general principles of criminal culpability, such as the act requirement, the mens rea requirement, and causation. Topics include detailed coverage of the elements of personal and property crimes, such as homicide, rape, assault, battery, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, and fraud. The course will also cover the law of attempted crimes, accomplice liability, and defenses.

LGST.2500 Disability and the Law: Legal Rights of People with Disabilities (3cr)

This course examines the history and progress of the disability rights movement in America, the current state of the law, trends, and prospects for the future, with particular focus on those laws designed specifically to address the needs of people with disabilities.

LGST.2610 Introduction to Legal Concepts (3cr)

This course serves as an introductory legal course. It is a survey of many specific topics, such as constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property law, and current legal topics of interest. More importantly, the course emphasizes critical legal thinking, legal ethics, and human values.

LGST.2620 Introduction to Business Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.2870 Legal Writing (3cr)

This course trains students to produce effective legal work product as drafters of client letters, memoranda of law, pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents.

LGST.3600 Legal Issues in Racism (3cr)

This course presents a study of racial discrimination in the United States. Emphasis is placed on relevant constitutional provisions, statutory provisions, and on United States Supreme Court cases.

LGST.3630 Corporate and Property Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3660 International Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3670 Environmental Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3700 Real Estate Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3720 Sports, Entertainment and Art Law (3cr)

This course challenges students to engage in analytic reading, critical thinking and problem solving related to the legal issues facing the sports, entertainment and art worlds. Topics may include contracts, intellectual property rights, employment law, labor law, and other areas of interest.

LGST.3760 Family Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3790 The Relationship of Law, Logic, and Ethics (3cr)

This course examines the impact of ethical viewpoints on the structure of legal doctrines. It stresses the fact that the study of law is a study of ethics as well as logic.

LGST.3810 Women and the Law (3cr)

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.

LGST.3830 Alternative Dispute Resolution (3cr)

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.

LGST.3860 Intellectual Property (3cr)

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.

LGST.3870 Legal Research Methods (3cr)

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.

LGST.3900 Litigation (3cr)

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.

LGST.3920 Wills,Trusts and Estates (3cr)

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.

LGST.4800 Bankruptcy, Debtor & Creditor Law (3cr)

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to U.S. Bankruptcy laws and their place in providing a safety net for both individuals and business as well as an orderly, consistent and predictable method for dealing with income, debts and assets for insolvents, such system being necessary for the proper functioning of an economy. The topics include the evolution of the laws, provisions common to all Bankruptcy petitions, and proceedings under the most common chapters. Students will study and apply the most commonly used consumer chapters of the United States Bankruptcy Code (7 & 13).

Requirements:

LGST.2620 Introduction to Business Law, or permission of instructor.

LGST.4970 Legal Studies Practicum (3cr)

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.

Undergraduate Certificate Requirements

Students enrolled in UMass Lowell certificate programs must complete all courses and maintain a grade point average of 2.000 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.

Spring 2024 Tuition

Cost Per Credit Cost Per 3-Credit Course*

Undergraduate

Online $380 $1,140
Online Business** $385 $1,155
On Campus Lowell $340 $1,020
*If the number of contact hours exceeds the number of credits, tuition is calculated by multiplying by the total number of contact hours.

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?

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Paralegal certificates are not required to be ABA-approved in any state. Less than one-quarter of paralegal programs from the most respected institutions in the country possess ABA approval, even though they would meet the approval guidelines. For many reasons, schools cannot or choose not to go through the ABA approval process.

    Fortunately, few employers require prospective paralegals to complete an ABA-approved certificate program. Furthermore, paralegal students are eligible for free ABA membership simply by entering their student email addresses.

    UMass Lowell’s fully online paralegal certificate, with courses taught and designed by experienced attorneys and faculty members, is created to be as accessible as possible to busy adults. UMass Lowell possesses AAfPE membership, and credits earned through our program can count toward the online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Paralegal option or our Bachelor of Liberal Arts: Legal Studies Concentration.

  • Many need clarification on paralegal certificates and certifications because they are different.

    The certificate you achieve through our program at UMass Lowell is an academic credential that verifies you have completed an educational program of study. Most importantly, the courses at UMass Lowell are credit-bearing, which means you can apply those courses toward a bachelor's degree. However, you will not be a "certified" paralegal upon program completion.

    You must complete an exam and meet outlined educational or experiential requirements through a non-governmental agency to achieve certification. Two of the most popular certifying institutions include the National Federation for Paralegal Education (NFPA)and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

  • Successful paralegals are skilled readers, writers, researchers, communicators and critical thinkers. They also possess a thorough understanding of legal terminology and procedures. Paralegals must be highly organized, detail-oriented, able to work well independently and simultaneously manage multiple tasks and deadlines.

    Additionally, proficiency in computer software programs such as Microsoft Office and legal research databases is essential for success in this field. Continuous learning and staying updated with changes in laws and regulations are also crucial for paralegals to maintain their expertise and provide high-quality support to their legal team.

  • Employment opportunities for paralegals are excellent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    "Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 14 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

    "About 45,800 openings for paralegals and legal assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire."

    Paralegals can work in various settings, including law firms, government agencies, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Within these settings, there are also different areas of law in which a paralegal can specialize. The opportunities for growth and advancement in this field are numerous and varied.

  • While most paralegals are employed at law firms, the knowledge and skills that paralegals possess apply 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
    • Health care providers
  • Paralegals assist lawyers with various tasks related to law practice. These tasks may include conducting legal research, drafting legal documents, managing case files and communicating with clients. While paralegals cannot provide legal advice or represent clients in court, they are critical in ensuring that legal matters are handled efficiently and effectively.

    A paralegal career can focus on several different areas of practice, such as:

    • Real estate
    • Litigation
    • Business
    • Corporate law
    • Personal injury
    • International law
    • Estate planning
    • Criminal law
    • Intellectual property
    • Environmental law
    • Bankruptcy
    • Immigration
    • Family law

Apply

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.

Apply Now

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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