Overview of Graduate Certificates
Learn about graduate certificate programs and their admission requirements. We also discuss a few options for courses of study and some of the career expansion opportunities they offer.
Graduate certificates are short, multi-course academic programs available at the post baccalaureate level. They're offered in specialized areas to help professionals and students gain new skills and knowledge and advance their careers. Many accredited colleges and universities offer graduate certificate programs. They are generally one year in length, consist of roughly 3-6 courses, and range from 9-21 credits of advanced coursework. Credits earned can often be applied to a more advanced degree in a related field. In fact, some students enroll in graduate certificate programs instead of graduate school as a way to check out different career options before choosing a school. Many of these programs are available online for students working full-time or for those who need a more flexible schedule.
Students must have a bachelor's degree before applying to a graduate certificate program. Most schools allow students to be enrolled in a graduate certificate program and a master's or doctoral degree program simultaneously. Credits from the graduate certificate may also count toward the graduate degree program. Some applicants may need to meet minimum GPA requirements and submit letters of recommendation and a resume.
Courses of Study
Graduate certificate programs offered vary by school but can include accounting, finance, business, psychology, public policy, healthcare management, biotechnology, international studies, visual arts, and religious studies. Students pursue graduate certificates for both professional and academic reasons.
For example, an engineer may enroll in a graduate certificate program in biomedical engineering to increase his or her understanding of emerging treatment technology. Similarly, a chemist may study sustainable agriculture through a graduate certificate program in order to develop an environmentally-friendly pesticide. These programs and others allow students to augment or supplement their degree with focus in specialized areas.
Career Expansion Opportunities
On the professional side, graduate certificate programs provide continuing education credit opportunities for many careers. Those seeking to refocus or advance their careers without enrolling in an entirely new degree program may also benefit from graduate certificate programs. For example, a business person holding an MBA may pursue a graduate certificate in e-commerce, human resource management, or business acquisitions to expand his or her employment opportunities.
Graduate certificate programs are shorter programs offered to students who hold a bachelor's degree and wish to further their study in a particular area or explore a new area of interest. These programs are available online and on campus and cover a wide range of topics, including business, health care, and psychology.