What Is a Graduate Certificate in Education?

Nov 29, 2019

Schools offer graduate certificates in education in a variety of specializations designed to help students gain knowledge in areas like technology, leadership, curriculum, special education, and others. Described are some of these certificates.

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A graduate certificate in education can give students who cannot, or do not wish to, complete a full master's degree program, the chance to advance their knowledge and careers. The certificate programs are focused on specific areas that enhance useful career skills and often improve the chances of being promoted.

Areas of Specialization for a Graduate Certificate in Education

Autism Spectrum Disorders

These certificate programs are designed to provide graduate students with expertise in teaching methods and learning interventions for students on the autism spectrum. Programs vary in length, ranging from 12 to 16 credit hours and taking up to a year to complete. Courses may include behavior and sensory support, communication development, medical aspects, and teaching methods.

Education to Gain Licensure

Some schools offer a graduate certificate in education to current graduate students enrolled in specialties like health or literature who want to earn a teaching license. For such a specific program, you will likely need a bachelor's degree in education or already be pursuing a closely related discipline as a graduate student. Some programs are focused on middle and high school level teaching, and they will likely include a teaching internship so can take up to three semesters to finish. Courses will cover traditional teaching concepts like pedagogy, special education, instructional methods, and class management.

Adult ESL, EFL, and Literacy Education

There are graduate certificate programs available to educators who want to teach adult learners in ESL, EFL, and literacy education programs in community colleges and other institutions. The courses may be focused on both teaching skills and Adult ESL/EFL program design. The programs often require about 12 credit hours which may count toward a master's degree if you decide to pursue one. Courses will likely include an Introduction to Adult Education, ESL Learning Strategies, Developmental Reading and Writing Strategies, and Understanding Adult Learners.

Educational Technology

Educators eager to improve their skills incorporating digital platforms in learning or those who want to advance in educational technology-related careers can complete a graduate certificate in this area. The programs can range in length from 12 to 15 credits, though it is possible to find shorter programs of just 9 credits. Common courses often include society and technology, technology integration, instructional strategies in technology, designing curriculum, creativity in K-12 technology, programming for educators, and technology fluency and leadership.

Entrance Requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Education

Programs may vary in their entrance requirements although generally, schools will require a bachelor's degree in education or a field related to the specific graduate certificate program. Some schools may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and transcripts are often required to support this. In addition to an application to the graduate school, prospective students should also look to submit applicable fees, minimum GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. Some programs such as the graduate certificate leading to teacher licensure will require a background check.

A graduate certificate in education can be a career-enhancing addition to your resume and to your teaching skillset in a variety of specializations. Program entrance requirements vary greatly but the more rigorous requirements can provide credit hours toward a future master's degree in one of these specialized education-related fields.

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