Certificate programs are designed to give students mastery over a narrow subject area or topic. These programs are offered in many trades, professional fields and academic areas, including automotive repair, health care, business and entrepreneurship.
Certificate Programs Overview
Certificate programs are generally geared towards adult students and students looking for short-term training leading to immediate employment. These non-degree programs are usually provided at two main levels: undergraduate and graduate. They may be offered in a wide variety of subjects, from trade occupations, like plumbing and air conditioning repair, to academic subjects, like accounting and communication.
Certificate programs for students who haven’t previously completed an undergraduate degree are available through many community colleges, universities and career schools. Certificates are available in skilled trades, career-oriented fields and academic fields. Examples of undergraduate certificate programs include heating and air conditioning repair, medical and dental assisting, office management, business and accounting.
While the entry requirements for undergraduate certificate programs vary by school and by program, most students who hold a high school diploma or GED qualify for admittance. Schools may have additional requirements, such as basic math skills, English language skills and basic technology proficiency.
Requirements for completing an undergraduate certificate programs also vary, but most can be finished in less than one year on a full-time basis. A sample of the course requirements for an accounting certificate is included below:
- Financial accounting
- Managerial accounting
- Strategic cost analysis
- Financial reporting
Graduate certificate programs are commonly offered in both professional and academic subject areas. They are not the same as graduate degree programs, but are instead designed to show that a student has attained mastery of a specific topic or area. Examples of subject areas in which students can complete a graduate certificate include applied statistics, health communication, nursing studies, project management and social work.
Graduate certificate programs are designed for students who already hold an undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts of Bachelor of Science. Students may also need to meet a minimum GPA requirement set forth by the school. Applicants to a graduate certificate program usually must turn in an application and their transcripts, and some programs require standardized test scores and/or a personal statement.
These certificate programs are shorter than graduate degree programs and can usually be completed in less than one year on a full-time schedule. Some schools may allow students earning credits in a graduate certificate program to transfer those credits to a graduate degree program at a later date. Included below are a few courses in a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship:
- Venture funding
- Organizational leadership
- Project management
- Negotiation strategy