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Upcoming programs

Tuesdays and Thursdays

October 17, 2017 - May 3, 2018
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Registration Fee: $4,995.00
Where: Richmond campus

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“The VCU Paralegal Certificate program is the best of both worlds for a working professional. This program makes it extremely easy to continue to work while furthering your education. I have enjoyed learning from some of the great lawyers in the Richmond area, and I look forward to a new career as a paralegal!”

Paige Givens

Trying to determine if the VCU Paralegal Certificate is right for you? Our informational video may help.

« Back to Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Have questions? We have answers.

Program-specific questions

What are the TOEFL score requirements?
We recommend non-native English speakers have a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 250 on the computer-based exam or 100 on the Internet-based exam. These scores are recommended, but not required.

What is a passing score in each paralegal course?
Students must earn a minimum of 70 percent in each course module. Class assignments and exams will be administered. Participants must achieve an overall score of 75 percent or higher in the program to earn the VCU Certificate in Paralegal Studies.

What is a noncredit program?
A noncredit certificate program means that credit hours toward an undergraduate or graduate degree are not awarded for participation in the program.

What if I experience a difficult life event and must withdraw from the program?
If you encounter a life event that might interrupt your participation in the VCU paralegal certificate program, please discuss the matter immediately with a student advisor. In the past, we have been able to work with students to arrange for future participation in the program with no extra charge.

Is this program ABA-approved?
VCU’s paralegal certificate program is not ABA-approved, nor are paralegal programs at most major universities. Typically, ABA-approved programs require approximately two years to complete due to the hourly requirements imposed by the ABA. Approximately 250 out of 1,200 paralegal programs nationwide are ABA-approved, and the majority are offered by smaller community colleges and technical schools for candidates with little college or work experience.

Does ABA approval matter?
The ABA does not formally accredit any paralegal program, but for a fee, the organization approves programs that meet certain standards. Most paralegal programs choose not to seek ABA approval because ABA approval is not a primary factor in most law firms’ decision to hire a paralegal and the hourly requirements imposed by the ABA for approval make the program much longer and financially burdensome. The reputation of the institution attended by the paralegal is often much more important in the hiring decision at law firms. VCU is one of Virginia’s flagship institutions.

Will graduates be able to sit for the NFPA Pace exam and the NALA CLA exam?
The National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations offer (for a price) voluntary examinations. While the majority of paralegals have chosen not to take either exam, they are certainly worthy resume and professional development enhancers. Please note, the above organizations occassionally alter their exams’ requirements and years in the paralegal profession. Contact each association for the most current requirements to sit for those examinations.

What if I still have questions?
Contact our program advisor, Janet Haden at (804) 823-9019 or jkhaden@vcu.edu.

Financial aid questions

Do I need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid?
No, the majority of financial aid programs are only available to students attending credit courses that lead to a degree or other academic credential. Since this is a noncredit course, we are unable to process these traditional forms of financial aid. The FAFSA is used only for degree programs and not noncredit certificate programs.

Can I get a loan for the cost of books and supplies as well as tuition?
No. However, you can search for private student loans or stop in our office for further information. Note that some programs sell out weeks before the start date, so we highly encourage you to start the process early.

Can I get a refund?
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide refunds for certificate programs. Enrollees may transfer to a future program within one year of your original program with approval from the program adviser with no penalty. Transfers are limited to one occurrence.

General questions about paralegal certification

What is the difference between a certificate and a certification in paralegal studies?
Find this information on the program overview page.

Why a certificate program?
We understand that students have many choices in paralegal education. That is one of the strengths of the profession. The type of program chosen by each student usually depends on several factors, including:

Why are certificate program graduates paid more?
Attorneys want to hire paralegals who can efficiently and accurately perform specific law-related tasks. They want, and are willing to pay for, paralegals who possess the training and skills to make them and their firm more productive. As a general rule, attorneys don’t care about the geometry, psychology and other general study courses an employee might have taken in an undergraduate degree. They care about whether the employee can maintain a client file, conduct legal research, draft legal documents and perform other relevant tasks. The VCU paralegal certificate program offers training in the specific skills attorneys are looking for in their paralegal employees.

Learn more about becoming a paralegal on our industry resources page.

Want to find out more? Get in touch.