Photograph of a law book

Paralegal Specialist Certificates

The paralegal field continues to be a growing profession, so what can an experienced paralegal do to stay on top of a competitive market? Modeled after the successful Duke Paralegal Online Global Program, which was established in 2004, Duke Continuing Studies launched the Duke Online Paralegal Specialist Certificates in a variety of different legal areas. Choose from any one of the following specialties:

  • Administrative Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Business Law
  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Elder Law
  • Employment Law
  • Entertainment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Healthcare Law
  • Family Law
  • Federal Tax Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Juvenile Law
  • Law Office Administration
  • Personal Injury Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Sports Law
  • Wills and Estates Law
  • Workers' Compensation Law

Each Paralegal Specialist Certificate consists of four courses: three required and one elective. Students complete all four courses online from anywhere in the U.S. or abroad using textbooks, plus a multitude of comprehensive online resources. Once complete, students will receive the Duke Online Paralegal Specialist Certificate in their area of specialty.

Benefits of the program

  • Complete it online
  • Self-paced study
  • Complete in only six months
  • Access to an instructor
  • Instructors are practicing attorneys
more: expand to show more details about this program
less: collapse to show fewer details about this program

Curriculum & Course Details

Each Paralegal Specialist program will consist of four courses: three required and one elective.  Students must complete the minimum number of courses in order to earn the certificate. Exemptions for previous course work will not be granted.  If a student elects to specialize in more than one area and there is duplication in courses, substitutions will be made so that a student still takes the minimum number of courses required without having to repeat any course.

Textbooks must be purchased separately for each course.  The information for ordering textbooks will be emailed to students once they are registered.  The total cost of books is estimated at  $45 - $160 per book.  Hard copies, e-books, and, in some cases, used books are available for purchase.

Program Components

  • Two assignments and a final exam per course
  • Interactive e-lectures, review questions, and quizzes
  • Accessibility to instructor


Course Tuition Status
Administrative Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateAll administrative agencies are regulated.  The laws governing agencies are called rules or regulations.  This class instructs students in the legislative power of agencies, agency enforcement, adjudication within the agency... $2,395.00 Available
Alternative Dispute Resolution - Paralegal Specialist CertificateADR is the catch-all phrase for methods of resolving legal conflicts outside of the formal judicial process. This course covers methods of resolution, unilateral and bilateral actions, third party evaluation and adjudication, and... $2,395.00 Available
Bankruptcy Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateMore than anything else, bankruptcy law offers a legislated second chance. Students in this course will learn the history of the bankruptcy process, debtor and creditor considerations, the role of the courts and the trustee,... $2,395.00 Available
Business Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThis course of study includes Principals and Agents, Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, the Rise of the Corporation, Creating a Corporation, the Participants in the... $2,395.00 Available
Contract Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThis course of study includes Principals and Agents, Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, the Rise of the Corporation, Creating a Corporation, the Participants in the... $2,395.00 Available
Criminal Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThis course trains students in the many aspects of criminal law including arrest, search and seizure, post arrest issues, grand jury considerations, evidentiary matters, prosecution, interrogations and confessions, arraignment,... $2,395.00 Available
Elder Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateWith the growing population, elder law is fast becoming an important area of specialization for lawyers and paralegals. This course includes the drafting of wills, advance directives, health care, euthanasia, guardianship,... $2,395.00 Available
Employment Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThe employer-employee relationship is often the subject of conflict related to the rights of the employer and the employee. This course of study covers the establishment of the employment relationship, employee benefits,... $2,395.00 Available
Entertainment Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateIn this media-saturated society entertainment law is a fast-growing area of legal representation. Students will study First Amendment issues, prior restraint and obscenity, freedom of the press v. free trial, defamation, libel,... $2,395.00 Available
Environmental Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateOne of the fastest growing areas of representation, environmental law is a great area of knowledge for any paralegal.This course includes study in the Legal Foundations of Environmental Law, History, Standing, Local Government... $2,395.00 Available
Family Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThose who choose to work in the area of family law will find that the career is rewarding and that job growth will most likely continue to expand. This course covers premarital agreements, traditional marriage and alternatives,... $2,395.00 Available
Federal Tax Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateThis specialized area continues to grow in terms of paralegal opportunities. It is especially helpful for law office managers, paralegal/accountants, business law paralegals, and some corporate paralegals. The program includes... $2,395.00 Available
Health Care Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateAs society continues to age, health care has not only become a medical issue, but a legal issue as well. Protection of rights in the health care field makes this an important and relatively new area of law. This course provides the... $2,395.00 Available
Immigration Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateIf you have ever traveled abroad, you will notice that it is much easier for Americans to enter other countries than vice-versa. This also means that there is a need for adequate legal representation for immigration issues in the... $2,395.00 Available
Intellectual Property Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateOne of the newest areas of legal practice, “IP” law is sure to grow in terms of job opportunities over the next several years. This course will include foundations of trademark law, the trademark registration process, post-... $2,395.00 Available
Juvenile Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateClosely related to both criminal law and family law, juvenile law has become a specialty in its own right. Areas of study include jurisdiction, delinquency, custody of juveniles, interrogation, detention, youth court, transfer to... $2,395.00 Available
Law Office Administration - Paralegal Specialist CertificateAs a general rule, attorneys are not necessarily good law office administrators. A paralegal with administrative skills can be a great asset to a law firm, combining business, administrative, and legal skills into one person. This... $2,395.00 Available
Personal Injury Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateA tort is a civil wrong. Most litigation deals with some form of tort issue. Tort law studies is the foundation for the litigation or personal injury paralegal. In this course, you will study legal analysis, negligence, defenses to... $2,395.00 Available
Real Estate Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateLand ownership is the dream of most Americans, and if not properly represented an individual may see that dream become a nightmare. This course includes, among other areas of study, ethics in real property practice, basic principles... $2,395.00 Available
Sports Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateSports law is a hybrid area of law mixing contract law, tort law, agency law, criminal law, and entertainment law. The areas of study in this program include sports agents, contracts, torts related to sports, crimes related to... $2,395.00 Available
Wills and Estate Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateEnd-of-life issues will be faced by everyone. In short, it is one of the most important aspects of legal representation because it not only affects the client, but the client's family and heirs. This course covers many topics... $2,395.00 Available
Worker's Compensation Law - Paralegal Specialist CertificateInjury in the workplace sets in motion many legal and non-legal issues. A worker’s compensation paralegal can be an integral part of the representative process for the injured party, and for the employer. This course includes... $2,395.00 Available
show the curriculum
hide the curriculum



In order to enroll in any of the Online Paralegal Specialist Certificates, students must have one of the following:

  1.  A degree or certificate in paralegal studies (transcript required)


  1. A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in any field AND a minimum of three years work experience as a paralegal under the direct supervision of an attorney (résumé required)

Once registered, students must have a copy of their transcript mailed to Duke Continuing Studies to verify a paralegal certificate or degree.  Any student who does not have a certificate or degree in paralegal studies must verify work experience by submitting an updated copy of their résumé listing previous employment.  By submitting a résumé, students grant permission for Duke Continuing Studies to contact past or present employers to verify employment.

Admission is discretionary. Duke Continuing Studies-Professional Certificate Programs- requires students be a least 18 years of age and meet minimum suitability standards. Students are not matriculated Duke University students and university student privileges do not apply to Continuing Studies students.

Duke Continuing Studies reserves the exclusive right, at its sole and absolute discretion, to withhold registration or require withdrawal from the program of, any student or applicant

Certificate requirements

Students must achieve a minimum grade of 80% in each of the four courses and must also complete coursework within six months from their individual enrollment date.  Any student who wishes to be granted an extension beyond the stated six-month completion date must submit a written request to the Program Director. Approval of extensions will be at the discretion of the Program Director. Fees for all extensions will apply.

Please note: The program is pass/fail and grades are not issued.

Technical requirements

  1. A computer with Internet access available
  2. Word processing and comprehensive internet skills
  3. Fluency in the English language
  4. A valid email address
show the requirements
hide the requirements

Schedule & Registration


Before registering, be sure to visit the student website, where you can read more about how the program works.

Registration Methods

  1. REGISTER ONLINE using a credit card with our secure, real-time registration system.  Add the Specialist Certificate to your shopping cart and follow the instructions for checking out.

  2. Register by Phone at 919-684-6259 or 1-866-edu-Duke during our business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm EST) to register.  Please note that loan applicants or students who plan to use the payment plan must call to register.

show the schedule and registration
hide the schedule and registration

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in each Specialist Certificate?

Each Specialist Certificate includes four individual courses: three required and one elective.

What is the cost for books?

Students are required to pay for their books separately. An online textbook link is provided to students after they register for the program. The books vary from course to course, but average anywhere from $45 to $160 per book. Used books and e-books are often available at a lower cost.

What are the prerequisites for the program?

In order to enroll in the Online Paralegal Specialist Certificate, students must have a degree or certificate in paralegal studies (transcript required) or must have worked for a minimum of three years as a paralegal under the direct supervision of an attorney (resume required).

Will I have contact with an instructor?

Each student is assigned an online instructor who will be available for questions throughout the program. All instructors are practicing attorneys. In addition, students are provided with online technical support.

Can I see what the courses look like online?

Yes. Students can view a complete list of Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificates and access a sample from each of the courses that comprise the content of the program. Simply click on any of the Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificates in order to access the Test Drive at the bottom of the page.

If I have already taken a required course, can I make a substitution?

No. The Online Paralegal Specialist Certificate Program must be taken in its entirety. While it is divided into separate courses, when students enroll in the program, they are enrolling in the entire program and must complete all parts in order to earn the certificate. 

Please note: Students who enroll in more than one Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificate will be permitted to make substitutions if there is a duplication in required course offerings.

Can I take more than one Paralegal Specialist Certificate?

Yes.  A discount of  $200 off each subsequent program is offered for any student who registers for more than one Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificate simultaneously.  This discount cannot be combined with the Duke Paralegal Alumni discount.

How long do I have to complete the program?

Students have six months from the time of enrollment to complete the program.  Any student who wishes to be granted an extension beyond the stated six-month completion date must submit a written request to the Program Director. Approval of extensions will be at the discretion of the Program Director.

What will I receive upon completion of the program?

Upon successful completion of a Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificate Program, the student will receive the Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificate for that legal specialty.

Will I receive credit for this program?

The Duke Paralegal Specialist Certificate Program is a non-credit program (not applicable to a post-secondary degree).

Is the curriculum designed only for residents of North Carolina?

No. The Duke Paralegal Online Specialist Certificate Program was designed with a national audience in mind. The skills and knowledge that you will acquire during the program will be transferable to any relative paralegal position in any state. As well, the program is housed entirely online, so students can complete the program from anywhere in the world.

When can I enroll?

The Duke Paralegal Online Specialist Certificate Program has ongoing enrollment, so students may sign up at any time and are given individualized completion deadlines based on their start date. Students are NOT considered fully enrolled, i.e., able to begin, until payment is received in full as well as either a transcript or resume. Once a student has paid in full for the program, they will receive passwords, access codes, and information on purchasing books within three business days.

Can I take individual classes?

No. The Online Paralegal Specialist Certificate Program must be taken in its entirety. While it is divided into separate courses, when students enroll in the program, they are enrolling in the entire program and must complete all parts in order to earn the certificate. Students will have the opportunity to choose which elective classes they wish to complete when more than the minimum number required are offered.

Will I be able to get a job after completing the program?

While we can’t guarantee you a position upon completion of the program, we can assure you that you will receive excellent training and be well prepared to further your paralegal career. In addition, you’ll have a Paralegal Specialist Certificate from one of the top ten universities in the nation. Duke University stands for excellence in education, so law firms all over the U.S. will know you are a well-trained paralegal.

What is your refund policy?

We do not offer refunds for the online program.

show the frequently asked questions
hide the frequently asked questions

Tuition & Funding Sources



Tuition must be paid in full before a student can start the program. Books are purchased separately ($45 - $160 per book). When registration is complete, the student will receive an email containing a username and password to the program's website, information on purchasing textbooks, and instructor and support contact information.

Duke Paralegal Alumni receive a discount of $800.

Funding Sources

Our Professional Certificate programs are non-credit (not degree applicable); therefore, they are NOT eligible for federal education loans. DO NOT SUBMIT FAFSA FORMS for these programs. Some of our programs may offer payment plans. Please see individual program web pages for those details.

No loans (Wells Fargo Graduate loan, Sallie Mae Smart Option Undergraduate loan, etc.) can be construed to imply any degree-seeking status for students of Duke Continuing studies. Duke Continuing Studies courses are non-credit.

Duke Continuing Studies (DCS) will not certify (approve) loan amounts greater than the amount of the tuition regardless of the amount approved by the lending agency. DCS reserves the right to reject any loan which exceeds the tuition amount. DCS will not be responsible for refunding monies in excess of the tuition. Students needing to secure loan funding for books or other items in relation to the program are responsible for making separate loan arrangements with the funding agency. No loan funds will be refunded to the student.

Should a student choose to borrow less than the tuition amount, the balance must be paid prior to the close of the registration period.

Please note that DCS will not certify amounts that include separate fees for books, materials, etc.  Should you choose to borrow less than the amount of the program, you are responsible for paying the balance prior to the program start date.

Loan Options

Your local bank may offer other options for loans or a "line of credit" service. Contact your bank for more information on financing choices.

Other Funding Sources

The funding options listed below may not be applicable to all programs at this time. Please contact the organization offering the funding to see if you qualify and if the funds can be used for the program in which you are interested.

Sallie Mae Smart Option Loan

To apply for this private student loan, visit Sallie Mae’s website, select the Undergraduate Student Loan and then click Apply Now.   The following application should populate with the pertinent information for Duke Continuing Studies.

Wells Fargo Graduate Loan

To apply for this loan, visit Wells Fargo. Duke Continuing Studies will be required to certify your loan application for the Graduate Loan should you be approved by Wells Fargo.

You will need to enter the following information after clicking on Apply Now in the Before Starting Your Application section:

  • Find a loan for: Graduate School Expenses
  • I am a: Student
  • School state: North Carolina
  • School name: please type Duke University Continuing Education
  • Grade Level: Beyond 3rd Year Graduate
  • Field of Study: Undecided or select Other and type in the field of study
  • Citizenship: Select as appropriate

Duke Hospital Employees

Duke University Hospital employees may be eligible for support from the Employee Development Initiative (EDI), which helps employees pay for short-term career-related programs, workshops, and seminars. For more information, visit the Employee Development Initiative site or call Duke Hospital Human Resources at (919) 668-2170.

Workforce Investment Act

The WIA provides professional and basic skills training services to those who have been unable to find employment. Please keep in mind that this process can be lengthy, so plan to apply well in advance of the program start date.  For more information on eligibility, the application process, or to find your local Workforce Development Board, visit the NC JobLink Career Center website.


AmeriCorps Education Awards are available only for AmeriCorps volunteers and can be used for educational expenses for non-degree courses, such as Continuing Education courses offered by qualified schools. For more information on qualified schools and programs, contact the National Service Trust at 1-800-942-2677, or visit the FAQ page of the AmeriCorps website.

show tuition and payment options
less tuition and payment options

Policies & Procedures

There are no refunds for the Online Paralegal Specialist Certificate program.

Students have six months from the time of enrollment to complete the program. Any student who wishes to be granted an extension beyond the stated six-month completion date must submit a written request to the Program Director. Approval of extensions will be at the discretion of the Program Director. Fees for all extensions will apply.

Tax Deductions

Course fees and expenses are sometimes tax deductible. Please consult an accountant concerning this matter. Non-credit programs at Duke Continuing Studies do not generate 1098-T forms, in accordance with the following IRS guideline:

Instructions for Forms 1098-E and 1098-T published by the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, states “You do not have to file Form 1098-T or furnish a statement for: Courses for which no academic credit is offered, even if the student is otherwise enrolled in a degree program…”

show policies and procedures
hide policies and procedures