California law defines a "Paralegal" as a person who either contracts with or is employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs substantial legal work under the direction and supervision of an attorney. Paralegals provide important support to attorneys, law firms, corporations, governmental agencies, and other entities by performing an array of legal tasks. Tasks include, but are not limited to case planning, legal research, interviewing clients, fact gathering and retrieving information, drafting and analyzing legal documents; collecting, compiling, and utilizing technical information to make an independent decision and recommendation to the supervising attorney. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

This Professional Certificate Program Provides:

  • An ABA Approved Program.
  • Real-world exposure to the legal field.
  • An understanding of the legal system.
  • Substantive and procedural legal knowledge along with practical applications.

Intended Audience: Paralegal professionals, legal secretaries, and other law office administrative staff seeking to better perform their duties and/or advance their professional standing, individuals with the appropriate educational background (see "Admissions Policy") and a desire to work in this challenging and rewarding profession, and individuals wishing to study specific subjects without pursuing the certificate.

Additional Details

Federal Financial Aid Available:

Program Course Schedule

Required Courses (21 units) Course # Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Fundamentals of Paralegal Studies LAW X455.6 4 UCSB      
Case Management LAW X403 2   UCSB    
Civil Litigation LAW X421 3   UCSB    
Ethics for the Paralegal LAW X402.2 1 UCSB   UCSB  
Technology in the Law Office LAW X456.61 3 Ventura   UCSB  
Legal Research, Writing, & Analysis I LAW X417.3 4   UCSB   UCSB
Legal Research, Writing, & Analysis II LAW X417.4 4 Ventura   UCSB  
Elective Courses
(15 units required)
Business Law BUSAD X108 4 UCSB   UCSB  
Contract Law LAW X455.7 3 Online   Online  
Criminal Law LAW X419 3   Online    
Family Law LAW X440 3       UCSB
Juvenile Law for Paralegals LAW X409 3   Online    
Organizing and Analyzing Evidence LAW X459 3     Ventura  
Paralegal Internship* LAW X406 3        
Real Estate Law LAW X455.3 3   UCSB    
Tort Law for Paralegals LAW X417.6 3 UCSB      
Wills and Trusts I LAW X420 3 Online   UCSB  
Wills and Trusts II LAW X455.4 3       UCSB
Aging and the Law LAW X422 3       Online
Employment Law for Paralegals LAW X423 3   UCSB    

UCSB UCSB      Ventura Ventura       UCSBVentura Live Lecture at UCSB; Broadcast to Ventura   
VenturaUCSB Live Lecture in Ventura; Broadcast to UCSB      Online Online

*As requested

This matrix lists courses we plan to offer during the time indicated and is subject to change. Additional courses may be offered; see our current quarter's catalog for the most up-to-date information.


Varied electives are offered throughout the year. This matrix lists courses we plan to offer during the time indicated and is subject to change. Additional courses may be offered; see current quarter’s catalog on the Web for the most up-to-date information.

Certificate Requirements

Candidates for the Certificate must successfully complete 36 units: 7 required courses (21 units) and 15 units of elective courses-with a grade of "C" or better. Most students take two to three years to complete the program; however, you may proceed at your own pace depending on how many courses are available each quarter. Students have five years from the date their first course ends to complete the program. New certificate candidates have the option of beginning the program by taking the initial courses in either the fall (Santa Barbara) or spring (Ventura) quarter.

Admission Requirements

To qualify for admission to the program, students must have completed a minimum of 55 quarter units (37 semester) in general education courses taken as part of a bachelor's degree objective at an accredited college or university. General education courses are defined as non-vocational in nature and are designed to give students a broad-based exposure to such subjects as: mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, foreign language, and arts and humanities. It is mandatory that students have successfully completed a college-level course in English reading and composition. Students who have earned a bachelor's degree satisfy the admissions criteria.

Students who do not fulfill this requirement may complete general education courses concurrently along with courses in the Paralegal Studies program; however, this is recommended only after the student has completed at least two-thirds of the general education units. The Certificate will not be awarded until the general education unit requirement is satisfied.

Recommended Course Sequence

It is strongly recommended that students enter the program in either the fall or spring by taking Fundamentals of Paralegal Studies, Case Management, and Ethics for Paralegals.

Course Credit

As the continuing education division of the University of California at Santa Barbara, UCSB Extension is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). All courses in the program are approved for professional-level, postgraduate credit. This type of credit is typically recognized by employers for full or partial tuition funding or reimbursement. Course units and/or ceu values are listed with the course descriptions. Completion of the program shows evidence to a prospective or current employer of recent professional-level training and development in this field for career advancement and/or salary increase purposes. Questions concerning transferability of credit toward degree programs at other schools should be directed to the degree granting institution. Course credits and unit values are listed with the course descriptions.

Transfer Credit

Proposed transfer courses taken at other schools must be comparable in content and length to the UCSB Extension equivalent and must have been taken from an accredited college or university within the last five (5) years. A maximum of two courses (8 units) may be substituted if the program is not approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). A maximum of three courses (12 units) may be substituted if the program is ABA approved. To determine whether courses taken at other schools will qualify, send a copy of the course title and description and the dates the course was taken along with the UCSB Extension course title equivalent(s) to the program director ( The director will inform students whether the coursework is transferable. To activate the formal transfer of credit, students must have filed their Application for Candidacy in the certificate program and must request the school previously attended to send an official transcript to the certificate advisor.

Applying for Candidacy

To be accepted as a candidate in a certificate program, students must first submit the Application for Candidacy Form below and a one-time, nonrefundable filing fee of $100. Students will be expected to fulfill program requirements in place at the time candidacy is filed. Upon receipt of your application and official transcripts, you will be notified of your acceptance and admission status in the program. Allow four weeks for applications to be processed. If you are unsure whether your previous general education course work will qualify you for candidacy, you may request a free evaluation of transcripts before submitting your filing fee.

Certificate candidates must notify the program director at (805) 893-7440 or when they receive their grade for the final course. Once your final grade is received and your records are checked to verify that you have met all program requirements, your certificate will be processed and mailed to you. Duplicate certificates are available if requested in writing. There is a $22 charge for each duplicate certificate.


Program Cost

Fees for individual course are listed in the current UCSB Extension catalog and on the Web site. For planning purposes, an overall tuition cost has been estimated at $4,910. This figure is for course tuition fees only and does not include the costs of textbooks and/or materials. This cost figure is an estimate only and is subject to change without notice.

Tuition Reimbursement/Scholarships

Most UCSB Extension courses and certificate programs qualify for employer-paid tuition reimbursement. Be sure to check with your employer about any employee assistance programs that you may be eligible to receive.

The Santa Barbara County Paralegal Association (SBPA) makes available three $500 scholarships to students who have been admitted into the Paralegal Professional Certificate Program. For more information, please Click Here.

The Ventura County Paralegal Association (VCPA) makes available one $400 scholarship to students who have been admitted into the Paralegal Professional Certificate Program. Interested applicants should email Jami Knupp at to request a scholarship application.


Course Formats/Locations/Video Conferencing

Most courses meet three hours per night, once a week on weeknights for a total of either 10 or 12 sessions. Courses are offered during the fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters at UCSB and Ventura, with some courses presented via two-way videoconference using a synchronous interactive video system.


Certificate candidates and graduates with little or no experience in the legal field have an opportunity to participate in the internship program. Participants volunteer in both traditional and non-traditional legal settings and perform entry-level paralegal functions. The program director is available to assist certificate candidates and graduates with their paralegal job search.

SBCC Transfer Agreement

Students who do not meet the 37 semester (55 quarter) unit general education requirement may wish to consider enrolling at Santa Barbara City College. A transfer agreement has been articulated to identify appropriate SBCC courses (available both live and online) that will satisfy the general education requirement. For a brochure, please contact SBCC Transfer Center at (805) 965-0581, ext. 2547.

Program Director

Anissa Stewart, Ph.D., is the director of the Paralegal Studies Professional Certificate Program. She may be reached at (805) 893-7440 or

Advisory Board

The curriculum for UCSB Extension's program was developed with input from a local advisory board comprised of practicing paralegals from both the public and private sectors, attorneys, students, educators, and members of the community. The advisory board annually evaluates the program and faculty to ensure that the instruction and the curriculum meet the changing needs of the legal community, address trends in the legal field, and satisfy the demands of our student body.

Other Professional Designations/Websites

Persons who earn a Paralegal Studies Certificate from UCSB Extension are eligible to take the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) exam administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). For more information on becoming a CLA, visit the NALA Web site at To find information about becoming a certified specialist in California visit the Web site of the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations (CAPA) at Other Web sites of interest are the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) at; the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) at; and the American Bar Association (ABA) at

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Paralegal Application Form [PDF]

Contact the Certificate Advisor

Information on Textbooks

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