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Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate Program Details

Penn Foster’s online Paralegal Certificate program is designed for working paralegals looking to refresh current knowledge or gain new skills to take on further responsibility in their field. Your classes will cover torts, conducting legal investigations and interviews, family law, and more.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Textbook: Torts Law; Concepts and Applications

This course is an introduction to the legal environment of business. Topics covered include American court practice and procedure, torts, employment law, international law, environmental law, and contract law.


  • Categorize the various sources of law in the U.S. legal system
  • Analyze the formations and characteristics of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and the corporation forms of business entities
  • Point out the various constituents of the contract law
  • Show the rules of a written contract with the rights and breaching of a contract
  • Report the contract laws that govern principal-agent relationships, law of agency, and labor-management relationships

Textbook: Business Law with UCC Applications

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.

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.


Supplement: Selected Federal Civil Rules

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.

Textbook: Criminal Law for Paralegals

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


  • Explain the elements of family law practice and of marriage
  • Define the fundamental principles of law with annulment and the divorce process
  • Identify the role of a paralegal with cases involving parenthood, child custody, child support, and adoption
  • Identify the proper forum and procedural requirements for spousal support, property division, separation agreements, and family violence

Textbook: Family Law for the Paralegal

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.

Textbook: Reality of Real Estate

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.

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

Additional Details

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 in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.
Please review your state board requirements that are applicable to your field of study. State boards may impose a variety of different requirements.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Short Lessons
Easy-to-Access Lessons
Each lesson is broken into short chapters that allow you to fit learning into whatever time you have available. Don’t have time to finish a lesson? Not a problem - pick up where you left off next time!
Digital Flashcards
Digital Flashcards
A fun and interactive way to test your knowledge before your exams. Find out what information you've mastered, and what material needs additional review.
Discussion Boards
Discussion Boards
With Penn Foster Career School, you are never alone! Our learning platform includes discussion boards so you can connect with instructors and other students in the Advanced Paralegal Applications program.

Sample Advanced Paralegal Applications Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Advanced Paralegal Applications course would look like.
Sample Advanced Paralegal Applications Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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