Paralegal Studies Proficiency Certificate


This American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Studies certificate is designed to provide students who have earned an A.A., A.S. or bachelor's degree from an institution accredited by a regional member of the Commission of Higher Education with the skills and knowledge required to work as entry level paralegals. Community College of Philadelphia trains paralegals that must operate under the supervision of a licensed attorney and are prohibited from practicing law.

Students with an A.A.S. degree may also be eligible; see Program Entry Requirements below for specific details.

Program Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the Paralegal Studies Proficiency Certificate, students will be able to:

  • Work successfully as entry-level paralegals.
  • Apply ethical concepts to hypothetical examples and real-life situations.
  • Draft legal documents, conduct legal research both manually and through computer-assisted research and undertake the full scope of tasks assumed by entry-level paralegals.
  • Demonstrate legal analytical skills and legal writing skills.
  • Cultivate a supportive professional network and learn how to remain current in the legal profession.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of legal terminology in civil litigation and a variety of practice areas.
  • Demonstrate practical skills in a variety of practice areas.
  • Understand the role of technology in the modern law office and have practical experience using legal technology programs.

Program Entry Requirements:

This certificate is open to students who have earned a BA, BS, AA or AS degree from an institution accredited by a regional member of the Commission of Higher Education prior to beginning this proficiency certificate program. Students who have earned an AAS degree may also be eligible, providing that the coordinator of Paralegal Studies certifies that the student's transcript reflects compliance with all general education requirements mandated by the ABA.

Program of Study:

All students seeking the post degree Paralegal Studies proficiency certificate are advised that they must complete 9 credit hours of legal specialty classes in a traditional classroom format. Courses in traditional format include those meeting entirely in the classroom and classroom hours of hybrid sections. Students are urged to meet with a paralegal advisor prior to registering for courses and are cautioned that a certificate will not be awarded until this requirement is met. 

Courses are offered in day, evening, accelerated, weekend, and online formats.

Program of Study and Graduation Requirements:

A grade of “C” or better in the five required courses and four electives is required to earn the certificate. Students whose behavior is viewed as inconsistent with professional standards may be dropped from the certificate program pending the results of a departmental hearing. All students are required to sign an integrity statement in all Paralegal Studies courses agreeing to abide by standards of ethics and integrity in all assignments and undertakings. Students pursuing the Paralegal Studies Proficiency Certificate are advised that it is important to have current knowledge in order to successfully compete in today's legal environment and are urged to complete all Paralegal Studies courses within five years of graduation. To ensure that graduates possess current knowledge and skills, the following requirements apply:

  • Because of the need to possess current knowledge of technology, Legal Technology (PLS 115) must be taken within five calendar years of graduation.
  • Any student who has taken Introduction to Paralegal Studies (PLS 101), Civil Litigation (PLS 121), or Legal Research and Writing I (PLS 111) and/or Legal Research and Writing II (PLS 211) more than five academic years before his/her proposed graduation date must demonstrate current knowledge. The student must meet with the Program Coordinator and develop a plan to demonstrate current knowledge and skills.

Course Sequence:

Course Number and Name Prerequisites Credits
PLS 101 - Intro to Paralegal Studies   3 credits
PLS 121 - Civil Litigation I PLS 101, which may be taken concurrently 3 credits
PLS 111 - Legal Research and Writing I PLS 101, which may be taken concurrently 3 credits
PLS 115 - Legal Technology PLS 101, which may be taken concurrently 3 credits
PLS 211 - Legal Research and Writing II  PLS 111 and ENGL 102 3 credits


Note: students must select four courses from the electives below:

Course Number and Name Prerequisites Credits
PLS 215 - Electronic Discovery PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 221 - Civil Litigation II  PLS 101 and PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 231 - Family Law  PLS 111 and PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 241 - Tort Law  PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 251 - Real Estate Law for Paralegals  PLS 111 3 credits
PLS 255 - Business Organizations for Paralegals  PLS 111ENGL 101 3 credits
PLS 261 - Wills, Trusts and Estate Administration  PLS 111 3 credits
PLS 265 - Intellectual Property  PLS 111 3 credits
PLS 271 - Bankruptcy Law  PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 275 - Employment Law  PLS 111 3 credits
PLS 281 - Environmental Law  PLS 111 3 credits
PLS 285 - Immigration Law  PLS 101PLS 121 3 credits
PLS 295 - Legal Internship Completion of PLS 101, PLS 111 and PLS 121 and a grade point average of 2.5 or better. 3 credits

Minimum Credits Needed to Graduate:


For More Information, Contact:

Jennifer Schneider, Paralegal Program Coordinator,

The Division of Liberal Studies, Room BR-21, 1700 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Telephone (215) 751-8450, or call the College Information Center at (215) 751-8010.