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Overview of Graduate Certificate Programs

Higher Education Articles January 22, 2013

Graduate certificate programs are designed to improve student’s skills in a specific area of specialization or subject through short and focused programs. In this article, we will look at different types of graduate certificate programs offered by universities and colleges in the United States.

Various online and campus Graduate certificate programs are offered by accredited colleges and universities. These programs usually run for the duration of a year and have a syllabus consisting of three to twelve courses; students enrolling in these programs can earn nine to twelve credits in advanced coursework. They can use the credits to pursue a more advanced degree program in a related area. Different schools offer different programs that could include programs like international studies, biotechnology, multimedia technology, healthcare management, psychology, business, finance and accounting, among others. Majority of schools allows simultaneous enrollment in a master or doctoral program alongside a graduate certificate program. Some schools allow the credits earned by students for graduate certificate programs to count toward graduate degrees.

Academic and professional reasons are common motivations for students pursuing graduate certificates. For instance, a medical school student who wants a better understanding of emerging treatment technology could seek admission to a graduate certificate course with a biomedical engineering concentration. Similarly, a chemist who aspires to produce a pesticide that is environmentally friendly can join a graduate certificate program to learn about sustainable agriculture. Students can seek to supplement or augment their degree with greater focus on concentrated areas by enrolling in these and other programs. Additionally, some students choose to check out different career choices by enrolling in a graduate certificate program rather than graduate school.

Students can enjoy many additional career opportunities thanks to the continuing credit educational opportunities they are provided by graduate certificate programs. They can also use these programs to change their career focus or otherwise advance their career prospects without having to enroll in an entirely new master degree program. For instance, a business person who holds a Master of Business Administration degree may choose to improve their career opportunities by completing a graduate certificate program in business acquisitions, human resource management or e-commerce.

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