- Program overview
- Why choose VCU
- Enrollment and financing
- Frequently asked questions
- About the paralegal industry
- Meet your instructors
- Paralegal industry resources
What's your next step?
In light of the latest COVID-19 developments, the August 2020 cohort will now be held fully online.
August 18, 2020-February 4, 2021
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-9 p.m.
Registration Fee: $4,995.00
Trying to determine if the VCU Paralegal Certificate is right for you? Our informational video may help.
Have questions? We have answers.
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 occasionally 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 student advisor, Nancy Lowe at (804) 828-1370 or email@example.com.
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. Ask about our VCU Alumni discount. Coupon code must be applied at the time of registration.
Can I get a refund?
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide refunds for certificate programs beyond two weeks before the program start date. Registered students may cancel registration up to two weeks before the program start date, and receive a full refund minus a $100 credit card processing fee. Registered students may choose to transfer to a future program within one year of the original program with approval from the program adviser with no penalty. Transfers are limited to one occurrence. Student substitutions will be accepted up to two business days before the start of the program. Cancellations and substitution requests must be received via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note if enrolled in an incremental payment plan, full payment will be due if you choose to drop out of the program after the cancellation deadline.
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:
- Prior educational experience: Students who already possess a college degree are not likely to attend a two- or four-year paralegal program.
- Prior life experience: Many paralegal certificate students have valuable real-world experience, but lack the credentials to be competitive for job opportunities.
- Motivation: Students who take certificate programs must be motivated, since they are expected to gain knowledge and skills in a relatively short period of time.
- Compensation: Graduates of certificate programs are better compensated than graduates of associate or bachelor degree programs because they typically have work experience or a prior degree in addition to their paralegal certificate.
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.