What Is a Vocational Graduate Certificate?

Oct 29, 2019

This article defines a vocational graduate certificate and explains program admittance and graduation requirements. It also compares a vocational graduate certificate to a master's degree to give a better indication as to the purpose of this type of program.

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A vocational graduate certificate, or simply a graduate certificate, is a credential awarded by universities for short-term studies in a specialized area. The graduate certificate is less expensive and less time consuming than a degree and hones in on a specific vocation within a broader field of study. This article aims to further delve into what a vocational graduate certificate is and what some standard admission requirements may be.

Vocational Graduate Certificate Programs

A graduate certificate, also known as a professional certificate at the graduate level, is most sought after by professionals who want specific skills and recognition in their vocation. These professional certificates can be earned online or in a traditional classroom setting. Although each school has its own requirements, typically nine to eighteen credits are required in a graduate certificate program. Students usually have to carry a 3.0 GPA or higher in all the program's coursework to be awarded the certificate.

Graduate certificates can focus on any number of fields. For instance, individuals may choose to pursue a Graduate Certificate of Military and Veteran Culture. Pertinent to the field of social work, the certificate increases competency for working with veteran and military clients and their families. Anyone involved in assessments, diagnoses, interventions, resources, support and evaluations can benefit from this certificate program, whether as a professional practicing in the social work industry or as a student considering a Master of Social Work.

Another example of a certificate program is for the non-technical individual in the IT field is a Graduate Certificate in Business Information Systems. This certificate educates students on business intelligence, project management, and IT management. Gaining skills needed in a technical environment and working on a technical team, the student becomes better prepared to work as an IT leader.

Vocational Graduate Certificates vs. Master's Degrees

When students decide to pursue education past the undergraduate level, there are two immediate choices available: a graduate certificate or a master's degree, both of which serve different purposes. This section will provide more information on some of the main differences between the two.

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificates are the shortest and typically least expensive option for graduate studies, with students completing an average of four courses in a narrow area of study. Professionals often choose to pursue a graduate certificate to advance their current career, deepen knowledge in their current vocation to improve their job performance, or even to prepare for a career change.

In order to pursue a graduate certificate, most universities require students to have a bachelor's degree in a related field, and transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA or higher. Graduate certificate program applicants have a shorter application process than those applying for degree programs, and the GRE is usually not required. Sometimes, graduates of a master's degree program want to focus on a more specialized area of study and will opt to pursue a graduate certificate as well.

Master's Degrees

Students choose to pursue a master's degree for several reasons, like to meet the educational requirements for a career, or to prepare for a doctorate degree. Students may also seek a master's degree to improve their job standing and acquire new skills in their current field. The average time to earn a master's degree is one and a half to two years for the typical full-time student, but the exact amount of time depends on the course of study; part-time degree programs can last five years. Oftentimes, coursework completed to satisfy the requirements of a graduate certificate can also be used at the same university towards completion of a degree.

Common requirements for entering a master's degree program include a bachelor's degree in a related field or in any field with coursework in the subject of the master's program, standardized admission tests like the GRE, transcripts showing at least a 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statement and a resume.

A vocational graduate certificate focuses on a very specific area of study at the graduate level. A graduate certificate costs less money and takes less time to earn than a master's degree.

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