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Graduate Certificate Programs

Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard

Just as in the bricks and mortar schools, there are a wide variety of programs offered by distance education today. Therefore it is possible to find many different graduate certificate programs that are offered online. These, just like most online courses, allow you to study from home and at times that are most convenient to you. If you happen to live close to a university, there are some courses that are offered by distance learning with a requirement to attend campus sessions occasionally. I also came across one college which was offering 50/50 programs where half of the coursework would be done on campus and half at home. So there are a lot of choices for earning a graduate certificate.

What is a graduate certificate? – A graduate certificate is one that is earned after the completion of a degree program. That means that the admission requirements for a graduate certificate include at least a baccalaureate degree. Many of the colleges have the same admission requirements for a graduate certificate as they have for a graduate degree program. That means you may require a very good grade point average and references as well as a statement of intention.

Most graduate certificates consist of three to six courses (nine to eighteen credits). It usually takes about a year of full time study to complete but you can usually work on them part time if you want to. In that case you are given a longer time to complete them, such as three years. Often the credits earned for a graduate certificate can be transferred towards your master’s degree later, but if you think you may want to do that, you need to check with the school before you enroll.

Why do people earn a graduate certificate? –

  1. They save you time. The graduate certificate can be completed in about half the time as a master’s degree can.

  2. They save you money because you pay for only about half the number of courses to earn the certificate rather than a degree.

  3. It is a great way to quickly learn the skills and/or knowledge needed for a career change.

  4. If you have earned a bachelor’s degree but want to learn the skills and /or knowledge for a specific career, a graduate certificate will do that.

  5. In some fields a graduate certificate gives you the professional certification required to work in that field.

  6. A graduate certificate is one way to help you to stay current in your field of work.

  7. A graduate certificate can give you the skills to expand your expertise in your field thereby increasing your career options substantially. For example health care professionals might earn a graduate certificate in business to allow them to move into administration or a certificate in psychology to be able to do some counselling if they choose.


Graduate certificates can add much value to your resume or career portfolio in a relatively short period of time and for less cost than a graduate degree. Since there are so many choices available through distance learning programs, it is well worthwhile to do some research to find the one that will help you to meet your goals and fit into your schedule well.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Stuttard. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Elizabeth Stuttard. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger for details.

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