Online Paralegal Certificate Program | Penn Foster Career School

Online Paralegal Certificate

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Penn Foster Career School’s Online Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate is designed to teach you the knowledge and skills relevant to specialized paralegal employment. Learn how to perform legal investigations and interviews, assist a litigation attorney in preparing a case, participate in alternative dispute resolution, and take on additional responsibilities in real estate and estate administration matters. You can also transfer these course credits to Penn Foster College’s Paralegal Studies Associate Degree Program. Penn Foster College is licensed in the state of Arizona. And you can complete our Paralegal courses in as little as eight months!

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate program teaches the skills practicing paralegals need to take on additional responsibilities in matters involving civil and criminal litigation, family law, real estate, wills, and estate administration.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the ethical considerations and responsibilities of the paralegal and attorney in interviewing, and the procedures for interviewing and conducting legal investigations effectively
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the tests that establish causation and tort liability, the elements of and defenses to various torts, and characterize strict liability in tort
  • Identify elements of contracts, characteristics of different forms of business organizations, laws of agency and contracts, and laws concerning employment
  • Distinguish the differences between criminal and civil litigation, including subject matter jurisdiction and proper venue
  • Understand the purpose of discovery, different types of discovery, timing of discovery, and recognize matters that are discoverable
  • Draft complaints and interrogatories
  • Understand the process of litigation and how alternate dispute resolution differs from litigation
  • Identify the elements of and defenses to various crimes, and the constitutional rights of those charged with a crime
  • Understand the role of each participant in the criminal litigation process
  • Recognize the difference between a traditional ceremonial marriage and a common-law marriage; define the elements of premarital agreements, no-fault and fault divorces, and annulments
  • Identify issues surrounding child custody, child support, alimony, and adoption

Course 1

PLS114 Conducting Legal Investigations and Interviews

Many paralegals spend a great deal of time talking with clients and/or witnesses. This course will teach you how to effectively interview people and conduct legal investigations.

  • Understand the ethical considerations and responsibilities of the paralegal and the attorney in interviewing.
  • Prepare for and conduct an interview and investigation.
  • Use different types of questions to elicit responses from a variety of people.
  • Summarize the information discovered during the interview and investigation process.
Graded Project: Practicing Your Investigative Skills

This project is designed to practice the important skills you’ve learned about conducting investigations and interviews.

Course 2

PLS121 Torts

A tort is essentially any action that causes harm to a person or property. A good deal of law involves torts, so as a paralegal, you’ll be constantly exposed to tort actions. Your textbook provides many interesting real-life examples of cases involving injured parties. Discover how these cases travel through the legal system, beginning with filing a complaint and ending with settlement, arbitration, or trial.


  • Understand the fundamentals of legal analysis and how to prepare a legal memorandum.
  • Outline an investigative strategy for a personal injury case.
  • Draft a complaint.
  • Understand the tests that establish causation.
  • Characterize strict liability in tort and the elements of and defenses to strict liability in tort.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Torts Law; Concepts and Applications

Course 3

BUS213 Business Law 1

This course teaches the legal aspects of business today.


  • Understand the judicial process and alternative dispute resolution.
  • Describe different forms of business organization and their characteristics.
  • Identify elements of contracts and rules pertaining to contracts.
  • Understand law of agency and laws concerning employment.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Business Law with UCC Applications

Course 4

PLS205 Civil Litigation

Increasingly, paralegals are involved in litigation support. Litigation involves the use of the court system to resolve disputes. In this course you'll learn about civil litigation as well as the types of courts and the role of court system personnel. 


  • Learn the purpose of litigation and the differences between civil and criminal litigation.
  • Distinguish subject matter jurisdiction and proper venue.
  • Understand the purpose of discovery, different types of discovery, and timing of discovery.
  • Recognize matters that are most and least discoverable.
  • Learn how alternate dispute resolution differs from litigation.
  • Identify and explain new trends in alternate dispute resolution.
Graded Project: Civil Litigation

This project will give you the chance to practice the skills you’ve learned so far in your program. Prepare a draft of a complaint and interrogatories for your supervising attorney’s review; locate an appropriate expert witness; and write a profile of the expert.

Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Selected Federal Civil Rules

Course 5

PLS211 Criminal Litigation

As a paralegal working in the field of criminal law, you must have a thorough knowledge of the names and requirements of the different types of crimes. You must also be familiar with what happens at every stage of a case from start to finish.


  • Describe the actions and defenses to a specific crime.
  • Identify what happens from the time a person is arrested until trial.
  • Describe the constitutional rights of a person charged with a crime.
  • Understand the role of each participant in the criminal litigation process.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Criminal Law for Paralegals

Course 6

PLS213 Family Law

This course will provide you with a solid foundation in the basic legal principles that apply to family law.


  • Understand the origin, development, and current trends in family law.
  • Define the elements of a valid premarital agreement, a no-fault divorce, a fault divorce, and an annulment.
  • Recognize the difference between a traditional ceremonial marriage and a common law marriage.
  • Understand the factors that a court uses to determine child custody, child support, and alimony.
  • Identify the different types of adoption available to parents today
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Family Law for the Paralegal

Course 7

PLS215 Real Estate Law

The real estate industry—real estate development, construction, sales, leases, and financing—generates a great deal of work for law firms. Paralegals often work with real estate law, and this lesson is designed to teach you the basics. Real estate law varies somewhat from state to state, but most of the principles are the same in all states.


  • Understand the types, content, and preparation of deeds.
  • Understand how real estate is described in deeds.
  • Define and give examples of encumbrances, easements, and licenses.
  • Describe some of the ways government regulates the use of real estate.
  • Describe the components of a real estate purchase contract and the real estate closing process.
  • Explain the role of lawyers and paralegals in the process of real estate financing.
  • List the provisions of a standard lease and explain their purpose.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Reality of Real Estate

Course 8

PLS217 Wills and Estates

Paralegals often handle matters dealing with wills, trusts, and/or estate administration.


  • Understand statutes and statutory language.
  • Draft a preliminary will for the supervising attorney’s review.
  • Prepare preliminary drafts of the various kinds of trusts.
  • Prepare legal forms to create an estate plan.
  • Apply the procedures and prepare the legal forms used in probate and estate administration.
  • Prepare the tax returns of a decedent’s estate.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration for the Paralegal

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view an Advanced Paralegal Applications sample lesson, click here.

Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate Program Details

Our online Paralegal certificate program can help you gain the knowledge and skills to perform legal investigations and assist attorneys. You'll learn about court practices and procedures and the ethical issues involved in interviews.

Students interested in enrolling in our Paralegal school should have an educational or work-related background in core paralegal concepts. Students without the necessary prerequisites and prior Paralegal education should consider Penn Foster Career School’s Paralegal Career Diploma Program.

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Online Paralegal Certificate

The Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate covers investigation and interview techniques, civil and criminal litigation, principles of tort, wills and estates, and business, family, and real estate law. Here are a few qualities that effective paralegals have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Dependable: Clients and lawyers rely on you to be organized and prepared.
  • Honest: You are honest and ethical in the workplace.
  • Cooperative: You are pleasant and listen to what others have to say regarding projects and tasks.

I just recently graduated. I would definitely recommend Penn Foster to others. Their support was tremendous. Thank you all for the encouragement.... Penn Foster rocks!!!

- Dahlia R., Penn Foster Graduate

Penn Foster is a great way to get ahead in a career and the way the program was set up, even the busiest person can get through it. I'm so glad I found Penn Foster.

- Guiseppe S., Penn Foster graduate

I want to encourage anyone wishing to do a program with Penn Foster. You will get assistance and gain tremendous benefit from Penn Foster.

- Claudia W., Penn Foster Student

Your program includes:

  • Books and learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Is any experience required to enroll in any of the legal services programs?

We recommend that you complete the Penn Foster Career School Paralegal Career Diploma Program or have previous paralegal experience before enrolling for any advanced paralegal classes.

More FAQs >

The completion of a certificate-level program does not typically qualify a student for employment. Completion of this program may assist students who have previous academic or work-related experience improve their chances for promotion or entry-level employment.

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