What is a Graduate Certificate?
Graduate certificate programs provide working professionals and online students in the process of earning their degree a simpler way to hone new skills, gain more career-specific knowledge, meet licensing requirements, and move ahead in their careers. Such programs usually consist of several courses centered on a specific area of focus. They can be taken as part of pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, or as an accelerated trajectory that results in a certificate of completion.
The rise of online learning makes it easier than ever to earn a graduate certificate, with online courses available at places like [email protected] and Full Stack Academy. If you're looking for an efficient route to your professional and academic goals, there are considerable advantages to working toward a graduate certificate.
1. You’ll Make the Most of Your Time in College
Earning a graduate certificate generally takes less than a year and can usually be done by finishing 3-7 courses. And the good news is, even if you are already enrolled in a degree program and are spending ample time juggling your course work, employment, and family obligations, you can earn your graduate certificate quickly and easily. This will allow you to hold down your job or jump back into your career with less hassle and compromise, or continue along your path to a master’s or doctoral degree with little interruption.
2. You'll Gain Expertise in a Specific Subject
There are many advantages to being a specialist in one area, and the experience of earning a graduate certificate can give you a more nuanced awareness of what matters in a specific subject. You'll emerge with a concise and refined focus, larger than a single course but less than a full degree, which will give you a filter through which to interpret the world.
Some examples include:
- A non-profit management certification, which can help you transition into a social cause leadership role
- A social media certificate, which can advance your career in digital marketing
- An immersive coding certificate, which can bolster your technology or business focused master’s degree
3. You Can Learn Leadership Skills
Many graduate certificate programs are designed to prime students for success in the business world, including those that focus solely on management and leadership. Management roles require different skills from those of a lower-level employee, such as team-building, persuasion, ethical decision-making, and balancing responsibilities. Obtaining such a certificate can build your credibility with current and prospective employers. If you're angling for a promotion to a leadership role, a certification could be the key that unlocks your potential.
4. You'll Bolster Your Job Talents
A graduate certificate program is an opportunity to practice skills that aren't part of your current day-to-day job responsibilities or that are covered in your online degree program. When your employer is hiring internally for a new role, this experience can add to your leverage. Many of the best certificate programs can be completed entirely online, and hiring managers are becoming increasingly warm toward applicants with online educations.
5. You Can Bring In More Clients
If you're a full-time freelancer or building a side hustle, you can use a certificate to bring in more client work. It can even help you break into a new industry. A coding certificate, for example, can help you to understand the challenges tech companies face and align you with their needs.
6. You'll Grow Your Network
Whenever you try something new, you create an opportunity to open your mind, your heart, and your social circle.
When you pursue a graduate certificate, you'll meet a lot of new people, including mentors, experts, and peers in your chosen field. These new contacts can quickly become your colleagues, employers, partners, clients, and friends. Building a robust professional network is one of the best things you can do for your career. It can even help you develop a more savvy and confident personality, a more optimistic worldview, and a far more successful career.
How Do I Earn Higher Education Certificates?
Now that you’ve learned why earning a certificate supports a multitude of career and academic pursuits, here’s how to obtain one (or two, or three)!
There are a few questions to ask yourself. What specific subject do you most wish to explore in depth? What's your timeline - do you want to wrap it up this year or next, or will you need to wait a while? What's your budget? Is a certificate obtainable with your already busy schedule and other educational commitments? Be sure to compare plenty of different options. Take a serious inventory of your needs and your goals. Then, apply!
The right graduate certificate program can alter your career trajectory, bolster your academic ambitions, and open new professional possibilities you hadn't considered before.