A bachelor’s degree is required for acceptance in to the SMU Paralegal Studies Certificate program. Exceptions may be considered for prospective applicants with a minimum of four years of paralegal experience. Exceptions will be considered on an individual basis. Please contact a program advisor to discuss your options.
Qualified applicants are not required to possess a legal background for this certificate program. It is designed for legal staff, anyone seeking knowledge of the paralegal profession, and students considering law school.
The program is offered in the spring on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; in the summer on weeknight evenings from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.; in the fall on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on weeknight evenings from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Although our program is not ABA-approved, it provides the same rigorous legal training. Unlike ABA accreditation for law schools, which is mandatory, ABA approval for paralegal programs is voluntary. ABA approval is typically associated with two-year colleges and requires the completion of sixty (60) semester hours of course work, including core undergraduate courses. Because students in the SMU program are college graduates, our program moves faster because it focuses exclusively on legal course work.
Time devoted to studies will vary among individuals; however, students typically spend 5-7 hours a week on course material.
Students receive letter grades for each course. Exams are given in an online format. All courses involve in-class practical applications as well as skill-enhancing out-of-class projects and assignments.
No, students must take the full program.
Students must earn a minimum of 70% in each course and have an overall average of 75% in the program to earn the SMU Paralegal Studies Certificate. If you fail a course, you can continue with your program, but you will need to retake the failed course with the next cohort (open spaces are not guaranteed). The program must be completed successfully within 18 months to receive a certificate.
Tuition does not include the cost of textbooks. Find the list of required textbooks (which are frequently available used) under Tuition.
Many paralegal positions (especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other larger metropolitan areas) require a bachelor’s degree and a paralegal certificate or paralegal education. The SMU program gives a competitive advantage to candidates with bachelor’s degrees because they earn a certificate in six months.
A certificate is earned through successful completion of a paralegal program of study. Most paralegal positions in the Dallas area seek candidates with a Bachelor’s degree and a certificate. Certification, or a “certified” paralegal, indicates passing one of the voluntary examinations administered by a specific paralegal association or the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Graduates of this program may qualify to take certification exams including NFPA’s “PCCE” (Paralegal CORE Competency Exam) and NALA’s examination. Please check the related website of the association for requirements.
According to the State Bar of Texas Department of Research & Analysis, 94.8 % of paralegals are employed full-time. Salaries vary with the size of the firm or organization and experience, but the average salary in the DFW area is $62,690, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We recommend non-native English speakers have a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 250 on the paper-based exam or 100 on the internet-based exam. These scores are recommended, but not required.
Yes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our program advisor will be in touch with you.