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Business Certificate: Program Overview

Business certificates are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Find out more about these programs to decide whether one of them meets your educational needs.

Essential Information

Undergraduate business certificates may be open to anyone with a high school education or limited to those who have completed a certain number of college-level courses. Graduate-level certificates require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree. Some programs are designed for experienced business professionals, while others are intended for those who have a background in other subjects.


Undergraduate Business Certificate

Earning an undergraduate business certificate may lead to promotional opportunities as well as entry-level employment in businesses and non-profit organizations. Many certificate programs are general in nature, but some schools allow students to specialize in particular fields, like human resource management or accounting. Depending on the program, it may take three to nine months to earn a certificate. While most programs only require a high school diploma or the equivalent for enrollment, some are designed specifically for students who are already enrolled in bachelor's degree programs, so students are expected to have already completed college courses.

Programs might help students improve their business vocabularies, management abilities, and decision-making skills. In addition to lecture-based classes, students may also work on presentations and group projects. Depending on an individual's prior experience and education, he or she may be able to waive certain classes. Common topics include:

  • Negotiation
  • Business strategy
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Business analysis
  • Employee engagement

Graduate Business Certificate

Graduate certificate programs in business often teach students how to navigate the modern-day business world. Some graduate certificate programs are designed to help students with an educational background in non-business fields make a smooth transition to graduate-level business programs or apply business concepts to careers in a different field.

Graduate certificate programs may focus on certain business areas, such as business administration, human resource management, marketing management, and business ethics. Depending on the school, courses taken in certificate programs may be applied towards graduate degrees. Other coursework may include:

  • Financial accounting
  • Organizational behavior
  • Marketing
  • Information technology
  • Business strategy

Popular Career Options

Undergraduate business certificate programs may give students the knowledge necessary for management positions in education, nonprofit organizations, government, and more. Other career options include:

  • Advertising
  • Consulting
  • Underwriting
  • Banking

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Students who have extensive professional experience and hold graduate business certificates may pursue business executive positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that from 2014-2024, chief executives could expect to see a 1% decline in jobs. The BLS also reported that executives often face fierce competition when it comes to obtaining a job due to the lucrative salaries associated with top executive positions. As of 2015, the BLS reported that chief executives made a median salary of $175,110 a year.

Continuing Education

Training beyond the graduate certificate level is available through master's degree programs in business administration, management, or related fields. In some cases, credits earned through certificate programs can be applied towards master's degrees. Job applicants who hold master's degrees may find better job prospects than applicants with bachelor's degrees or graduate certificates.

No matter what your educational background, there is a business certificate program that can meet your needs. Both undergraduate and graduate-level programs are available depending on your career goals.

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