What Is A Graduate Certificate?
A graduate certificate is a short course of study designed to support working professionals who want to advance their skills or knowledge in their area of focus. Certificate programs are a great option if you don’t have the time or funds to commit to graduate school — they can often be completed in a few months to a year, resulting in a lower up-front cost. Graduate certificates are non-degree awards, meaning they offer masters-level courses but do not result in an academic degree.
Keep in mind that many companies and institutions offer certificates that are not equivalent to a graduate certificate. Free certificate or certification programs offered online can be a great way to boost specific skills, but the quality and depth of information you receive won’t be the same as a true graduate certificate that is taught at the master’s level.
Graduate certificates and graduate degree programs have a lot in common. A high-quality certificate program will often be taught by graduate school faculty and share elements of a master’s degree curriculum, which leads many to ask themselves “is a graduate certificate the same as a master’s degree?”
While the two programs are indeed similar, they’re not the same. However, you may find that after completing a graduate certificate program you feel prepared to complete a master’s degree (or maybe even higher!). Keep reading to learn the key differences between a master’s program and a graduate certificate and how a certificate can set you on the path to a graduate degree.