Apply and Register

To apply to the Paralegal Studies certificate program, please complete the Cal State Apply online application.

Not sure if you're ready to apply for the certificate program? PLS 300 and PLS 320 may be taken before applying.

Application Periods for Domestic Students

Fall: June 1 - August 7
Spring: October 1 - January 7
Summer: March 1 - May 7

To Apply:

  • Online Application
    • Review Cal State Apply Application TIPS
    • Go to Cal State Apply, select the term you wish to apply for, and hit the Apply button.
    • Create your Cal State Apply account and complete your Extended Profile. Be sure to choose “Certificate” for the “Degree Goal” in this section.
    • Complete the Personal Information, Academic History and Supporting Materials sections of the application.
    • To add the Paralegal Studies Program application:
      • Click on “Add Program”
      • Search for “San Francisco State University” under campus and “Extended Education” for source and choose the term you are planning to apply for.
      • If you have a bachelor’s degree, choose the application designated for “Post-Bachelor Applicants.”
      • If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, choose the application designated for “Pre-Bachelor Applicants.”
      • Complete the Required and Optional Questions
      • Upload a copy of your Unofficial Transcript
      • Submit the application
  • Requirements
    Certificate applicants must meet the admission requirements.
  • Deadline
    See Important Dates. Applications received after the deadline will be processed for the following semester.
  • Transcripts*
    All students must supply official transcripts of their college work to be accepted into the program. Students with baccalaureate or academic associate degrees need to provide official transcripts from the college from which they graduated. Students without such a degree must provide college transcripts from all the colleges they attended. Submit any unofficial transcripts showing college coursework at the time you complete your Cal State Apply application.
    Please send hard copy original official transcript(s) to:
    College of Extended Learning
    San Francisco State University
    160 Spear Street, Suite 1220
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    Please send electronic original official transcript(s) to:
    Contact your school(s) and request that your official electronic transcripts be sent to the College of Extended Learning through a secure third-party transcript vendor. Please send electronic original official transcript(s) to
    *Current SF State degree seeking students and graduates are exempt from the Official Transcript submission requirement.
  • Select the class you want to take on the class schedule
  • Click the Add to Shopping Cart button and follow the instructions to register

Follow the admissions procedures listed on the Center for Global Engagement How to Apply for Academic Certificate Programs page. Students will be notified of their admission status by the admissions coordinator.

The total cost of the program is approximately $8,990. Most courses are $299 per unit. Lab fees are added for courses that require computer lab sessions. Students pay for courses on a semester-by-semester basis only. Additional costs for texts and materials vary by course from approximately $50 to $150.

Tuition/Fees & Cost of Living

Certificate Program Course Fees Annual Living Expenses* Total Fees*
Paralegal Studies $8,990 $25,262 $34,252

*Estimated costs presented. Actual costs may vary.

The 30 units required to earn the certificate may be completed in as short a time as 18 - 24 months — 4 or 5 semesters — or students may choose to take as long as four years.

International students and other students who are required to complete this program in one year; or students who wish to complete this program in 12 months (3 semesters); are encouraged to contact us for academic counseling.

The recommended course load per semester is 3 or 4 courses. Students are not permitted to register in more than 4 courses per semester.

Students are required to have a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter units of prior academic course credit to be admitted to the program. Students who hold a baccalaureate degree are automatically eligible for admission to the program. Students who do not have a BA/BS but have completed the required units of academic college work are eligible if their college work includes at least 30 semester or 45 quarter units of academic general education courses in four basic skills courses: oral communication, written composition, critical thinking, and mathematics or quantitative reasoning; and have completed those courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better, within ten years of their application to SF State Paralegal program.

Students with at least three years of legal experience who have at least 45 semester or 68 quarter units of college work may petition for conditional admission. Transcripts verifying units must be accompanied by an attorney declaration attesting to their legal work experience, which must have been within five years of their application to SF State Paralegal program. Students with conditional admission do not qualify for federal financial aid.

Students must reside in California or an authorized state. See State Authorization.

Non-Certificate Students

Those who already have experience in the legal field and who wish to take selected courses without applying to the program may register for courses with the permission of the individual instructor, and the program director. Non-certificate students are required to provide documentation (transcripts) of course work taken and/or legal experience (attorney letter) which satisfies PLS prerequisites for the course(s) they wish to take.

Transfer of Credits

A maximum of nine upper-division, academic semester units may be transferred from another ABA-approved paralegal program; if the student received a grade of 'B' or better. Transfer units must have the same three semester unit weight and be a substantial match for course content to SF State courses in order to replace a required SF State course. Students who wish to transfer units from another ABA-approved Paralegal Program must submit transcripts and full course descriptions of each course at the time they're submitting their application to the Paralegal Program. We reserve the right to accept courses based on how closely they match SF State Paralegal courses. Courses that are not an exact match may, at our discretion, count as electives. Courses that are quarter units will be converted to semester units for transfer credit. Courses must have been completed with five years of application to the SF State Paralegal Studies program. Law school classes from an ABA-approved law school are not transferable with the sole exception of Legal Research & Writing.

English Proficiency

Paralegal courses require strong writing skills. Certificate students who do not have a bachelor's degree are required to register for PLS 414 Introduction to Professional Legal Writing, which counts for credit as a elective course and also satisfies the literacy requirement. At the discretion of the Program Director, students who are non-native English speakers are encouraged to take PLS 414 to develop their written and oral communication skills in English.

Computer Proficiency

Basic computer proficiency is essential in the legal workplace and all new students are subject to the following requirements:

  • New students must verify that they have basic computer literacy, including the ability to use a common word processing program, email, and the Internet, or develop these skills before they graduate. Students without basic computer literacy must attain these skills through self-study or adult education or junior college.
  • Computer Applications in Law Practice, PLS 430, is strongly recommended, but not required, for students who have not worked in a legal setting. Any student may take this course as an elective. Students must have basic computer literacy skills, including word-processing, email, and the Internet, before they enroll in this course.

An academic certificate is awarded after successful completion of 30 units (including all required courses and elective courses).

At least 21 units must be graded on an A-F basis. Required courses, PLS 300, 305, 310, 320, and 395 must be completed with a letter grade. See Grades for information on registering for courses on a credit/no credit basis.Students must earn a minimum grade of C in all courses and have a cumulative average of C+ to earn the certificate. All coursework must be completed within a four-year period and financial obligations to the university must be cleared. Students who graduate with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher will have honors recognition on their certificates.

Certificate Award Application

Grades must be posted before you apply for the certificate. Once grades are posted, you can apply for the certificate by submitting the Certificate of Completion Request Form: 

Important Dates

Important Dates - Fall 2022

Fall 2022 Important Dates
Date Event
June 6 Fall application cycle opens for the certificate program
July 15 Deadline to apply to the certificate program for students seeking financial aid*
July 18 Advance registration begins for certificate students and students with disabilities
July 19 Open registration begins
July 20 Online Information Session
August 7 Deadline to apply to the certificate program
August 22 Fall semester begins
December 9 Fall semester ends
January 6 Grades are posted; Start date to apply for a certificate of completion

*Students seeking financial aid can apply after this date, but we can't guarantee disbursement in time to pay for classes.

Important Dates

Summer 2022 Important Dates
Date Event
April 14 Online Information Session
April 18 Advance registration begins for certificate students and students with disabilities
April 19 Open registration begins
May 20 Deadline to apply to the certificate program
May 31 Summer semester begins
August 5 Summer semester ends
August 11 Grades are posted; Start date to apply for a certificate of completion

Document Readers are required to view documents.