More students are choosing graduate certificates as an alternative to acquiring another degree. According to an article in The Washington Post, approximately 4 million workers, or 3% of the workforce, had certificates. Graduate certificates can provide extra knowledge or training without the time and money commitment required for a master’s degree.
A Council of Graduate Schools/Graduate Record Examinations Board survey showed that top fields to issue graduate certificates were in education (32.8% of certificates) and business (13.5%).
Graduate certificates are shorter than a full degree, ranging from a few months to a year in length. Certificates are typically driven by the market, in that higher education takes note of changing workplace needs and business opportunities.
Graduate certificates can provide:
Graduate certificates differ from master’s degrees in that they are a more focused, cost-effective alternative to gaining new or specialized knowledge in a particular area. Students interested in the possibility of earning a master’s degree but unable to make the time and financial commitment may find a certificate preferable to graduate school. Many schools offer programs that allow students to apply certificate credit hours towards a master’s degree.
A graduate certificate allows students to bolster their knowledge of a particular subject by taking the same courses as degree-seeking students. For instance, earning an MSU graduate certificate in Strategic Management can be applied toward a Master of Science in Management, Strategy and Leadership. Depending on the career field, graduate certificates can provide advanced training in fields such as healthcare, business, engineering and technology that could boost career prospects without requiring a master’s degree.