Paralegal Studies Certificate Program in Downtown LA

 courtroom gavel and lawbook

Alternative instruction will continue for Fall 2020 semester.  Students should remain in communication with their instructors and follow their instructions. 


Paralegal job growth is anticipated to increase by 12%, or 39,000 jobs, by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-Occupational Outlook Handbook 2018)

An entry level Paralegal can expect to earn $40,250-$58,000 and $54,500-$106,250, 5-10 years out. (Robert Half Legal 2020 Salary Guide)


Program Description

Offered at Cal State LA Downtown, the Paralegal Studies (PLS) Certificate Program has been American Bar Association (ABA) approved since 1978, making it one of the earliest approved programs in a university setting in California. The program curriculum is designed to equip students with a strong foundation of legal knowledge and the ability to apply this knowledge to a variety of practical tasks required of the profession. As legal professionals, paralegals are able to interview clients, perform legal research, and draft and analyze legal documents.

Read how receiving a PLS Certificate from Cal State LA has impacted the careers of former students.

Program Objectives:

  • Develop and practice oral and written communication skills
  • Develop and practice skills to find answers and problem solve through experiential learning
  • Develop and practice critical thinking skills through writing assignments
  • Develop practical litigation, transactional and technology skills, and create a framework for continued learning in the workforce
  • Develop a framework for the knowledge, skills and ethical obligations of the paralegal profession

Cal State LA's Paralegal Studies Certificate Program satisfies the requirements of Business and Professionals Code Section 6450. However, paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.

Who Should Enroll?

This program is ideal for:

  • Individuals interested in becoming part of a legal services delivery team
  • Individuals considering law school
  • Paralegals looking to brush up on their paralegal skills


Register for a live webinar OR to view/listen to a pre-recorded Paralegal Studies Certificate program webinar presentation here.

Tuition & Fees

Each course is $900 ($300 per unit).The total cost of all six required courses is $5,400. Students are required to pay the Westlaw fee for each term they are enrolled in. Payment for the courses the student enrolls in per term and Westlaw fee are required at the time of registration.

Financial Assistance

Federal financial aid is not currently available for this program. However, you can apply for a private student loan here. If you are currently unemployed, you may be able to enroll in this program for free. Read more here.

Course Schedule

In light of COVID-19, Cal State LA is following CDC and local government guidelines and has therefore shifted to an alternative mode of instruction models. All classes in fall 2020 will be held via Zoom.

  • All classes are held in the evening, Monday through Thursday (6:30 to 9:15 p.m.).*
  • View/download the Spring 2021 Paralegal Studies Certificate program schedule here. (Coming soon.)
  • Most students finish the program within two or three semesters.

*Class times are subject to change.


Prospective participants must have a baccalaureate degree or an associate of arts or science degree from an accredited post-secondary institution for admission to the program. An associate of applied science degree or an occupational or vocational degree does not satisfy the education requirement.

If you completed your undergraduate education at an institution where English was not the primary language of instruction, you must submit evidence of English language proficiency. International academic transcripts can be translated through You must submit an acceptable TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 paper-based or 79-80 internet-based test (with a minimum Writing sub-score of 24 and Speaking sub-score of 26) to demonstrate English proficiency.

If you do not have a baccalaureate degree or an associate of arts or science degree from an accredited post-secondary institution, please contact the Program Office for an alternative process.

Please note: The program does not permit students to transfer specialty credits from other institutions; nor does the program award legal specialty credit by course challenge, examination or portfolio.

Course Descriptions

In order to earn your Certificate in Paralegal Studies you must complete each of the required six courses (18 units) with a grade of "C" or higher. PLS 7010 Paralegal Internship is optional and not a required course to complete the program.

PLS 7001 American Legal Systems
Examine the fundamentals of the United States legal systems. Sources of law, procedural requirements, and the role of the paralegal in the delivery of legal services will be explored.
PLS 7002 Civil Litigation
Examine civil ligation using contract and tort cases as a backdrop. Initiating a case, discovery, pre-trial, and preparing for trial will be explored.
PLS 7003 Legal Research and Writing
Examine the legal research process and the principles of legal analysis and writing. Use of authority, research tools, and effective writing strategies will be explored.
PLS 7004 Legal Technology
Examine technology commonly used in the delivery of legal services. Word processing, databases, electronic filing, and e-discovery will be explored.
PLS 7005 Transactional Law
Examine common transactional law principles. Contracts, business types, corporate filings, and regulatory forms will be explored.
PLS 7006 Administrative Law
Examine state and federal administrative agencies. Rulemaking, administrative hearings, and common administrative law areas, including immigration, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, tax, and Social Security will be explored.
PLS 7010 Paralegal Internship (Optional Course)
Examine the knowledge, skills and abilities used in the delivery of legal services through an internship position in a law firm, legal department, government agency, or other legal settings. IMPORTANT NOTE: Students considering this course should email to obtain approval and placement assistance. This approval should be obtained the semester before students plan to enroll in the course.

To Apply/Application Deadline

Spring 2021 Application Window: September 7 to December 4, 2020.

Both the online application and official transcripts reflecting a conferred (awarded) degree must be received by the College of Professional and Global Education (PaGE) Program Office before December 4, 2020. Applicants with missing transcripts during the application window will be notified by the Program Office via email until official transcripts are received. When the Program Office receives both the online application and sealed official transcripts, your application will be evaluated for program admissions. If admitted into the program, you will be notified by email from the Program Specialist.

When submitting official transcripts to the Program Office, the document needs to be printed on the issuing institution’s official paper/letterhead and sealed by the institution in an envelope. Opened transcripts will be considered unofficial and will not be used to complete an applicant’s admissions file. All submitted documents will not be released back to you.

Apply to the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program here.

Please submit all official transcripts to:

Cal State LA – Paralegal Studies
5151 State University Drive, Golden Eagle Room 220B
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8619

If transcripts are not mailed to the address listed above, our office will require you to request another official copy from your university. Prospective students who received their degrees from Cal State LA will not need to submit official transcripts, but will need to indicate their CIN (Campus Identification Number) when creating a PaGE account.

Our office will also accept electronic transcripts of your conferred degree if your institution has this option. Please request for your official transcript to be sent electronically to:

Flora Wong, Program Specialist

Non-Discrimination Policy

Please read Cal State LA's Non-Discrimination Policy here.


Law firms in need of paralegal interns or employees, please contact

For more information, please contact the College of Professional and Global Education via email or (323) 343-4915.