What Is a Graduate Certificate?
Do you need additional education to advance in your career, but don't have the time to complete a full degree program? Have you always wanted to earn a graduate-level education, but life keeps getting in the way? If so, a graduate certificate might be the answer you've been looking for.
Graduate Certificate Definition
Many colleges and universities offer graduate certificate programs. These programs generally address a focus area of a particular discipline and are composed of at least four graduate-level courses. Certificate programs may include required courses and electives. They may be part of a degree program or offered independently. The number of credits needed to complete the certificate is determined by the institution, generally ranging from 9 to 21 credit hours.
Graduate certificates may be offered in any discipline. To enroll in a graduate certificate program, you generally need a bachelor's degree and acceptance into graduate school. You don't need to be seeking a graduate degree. In addition, you must typically meet a specific grade in each course in order to graduate. Some certificate programs may also require an internship in addition to coursework
Important Facts About Graduate Certificates
|Online Availability||Available online and on campus|
|Fields of Study||Available across many disciplines, including communications, education, science, nursing, social sciences, humanities, and computer sciences|
|Possible Careers||Graduate certificates can prepare students for a certain specialty within the industry their field of study is based, such as cybersecurity within the computer science industry.|
|Continuing Education||You may be able to apply certificate credits towards full graduate programs|
Reasons to Earn a Graduate Certificate
You may choose to earn a graduate certificate to meet continuing education requirements for certification or licensure, maximize career prospects, learn new skills or keep up-to-date in your field. Often, credits earned in a certificate program can be transferred to a master's degree later if you so choose. In addition, earning a graduate certificate adds to your credentials in a particular field. Graduate certificates can be taken for professional development or personal reasons.
Comparison to a Graduate Degree
Graduate certificate programs are shorter and more specifically focused than master's degree programs. A master's degree program generally takes two years to complete. Just as with graduate programs, you usually need to complete a graduate certificate programs within a specific time frame.
Because graduate certificate programs are shorter than graduate degree programs, they tend to be less expensive. You gain experience in graduate-level coursework, so if you decide to pursue a graduate degree, you will have some familiarity with graduate school. Graduate certificate programs also provide a quicker way to change careers than graduate degree programs.