A graduate certificate is a course of study that is much less demanding and less expensive than a traditional graduate degree. Graduate certificates are often in specific fields of study, usually added onto an already-existing degree to enhance it. Those who possess a graduate degree and have already found work frequently head back to school to receive a graduate certificate, which can aid them in their particular line of work. Many of these certificates can be completed in just a year. Still, some people choose graduate certificates over graduate degrees (as opposed to getting a certificate in addition to a traditional degree). This can be done for a few reasons, including a need to get a career quickly and meeting certain licensing requirements within a profession. Read on to learn some of the benefits of getting graduate certificates versus graduate degrees.
Graduate certificates usually consist of anywhere from three to 12 courses, so many of them can be completed within a single year. A Bachelor's degree is a requirement for anyone who seeks a graduate certificate. For those who do not possess a graduate degree, a graduate certificate often represents a quick way to receive higher education and get into the workforce. Less expensive than a graduate degree, a graduate certificate is still valued by most companies and can help you land a job. Since graduate certificates are usually in a rather specific field of study, they can be especially useful to those who already know the exact sort of job they want. When applying to openings in that field, a graduate certificate shows you have knowledge that is specific to your future job, making you more valuable than someone who just recently completed their undergraduate degree.
Sometimes, those already in the workforce go back to school to receive more education. For them, a graduate certificate is superior to a degree because it can be completed much more easily due to the less demanding course load. If you need to work while completing coursework, a certificate is usually a better option than a degree. Many times, companies will pay for the education of their employees. If you already work and want to go back to school, look into potential education opportunities provided by your company. You may even be able to convince them to send you back to school. The extra knowledge you receive there will make you more valuable to your company, plus you will be more qualified for advancement.
Graduate certificates are also often a guideline by which you get judges for certain licenses. State licensing boards require a certificate for many careers, such as counseling. Thus, a graduate certificate is not only a luxury, but also a necessity for many. Without a graduate certificate, it can be impossible to break into certain fields of work.
An important thing for which to look when searching through graduate certificate programs is if the course work transfers toward a graduate degree. If you eventually want a Master's degree, you do not want all of the work you did for your certificate to go for naught. Thus, make sure your work transfers toward a degree if you think there is a chance you may want to earn that at a later time.