Most agree pursuing a full master’s degree largely depends on career goals and financial capability. We’ve found sometimes these career goals can be met with a much simpler certificate option. Graduate certificates are forms of advanced education that offer some of the same benefits of graduate degrees. However, certificates require much less financial investment in the long run.
Five major benefits of graduate certificates
1. Gain specialized knowledge in less time
Yes, you read that correctly. Less time. Also, ultimately less money out of your bank account (or loan-debt). Most graduate degree programs take at least two years to complete. Conversely, often a graduate certificate takes just 12 months to earn. You’ll spend that year focusing on courses that directly relate to your certificate and goals. Full degrees instead seek to produce a graduate with a well-rounded education. While this is valuable, some students prefer to focus on the quickest pathway to their career goals.
2. Develop expertise for your current job
Here’s an example, Linda earned her undergraduate degree in business. As her career progressed, she increasingly found herself in roles dealing with environmental and business sustainability challenges. Linda realizes a graduate certificate in Sustainability Management and Analytics would provide the extra bit of knowledge and expertise she needs to be confident in her role.
Graduate certificates enable you to gain a focused understanding of concepts you may need for your career goals. Thereby, gaining education without requiring the time or financial commitment of pursuing a full graduate degree. Grad certificates can also be a way for you to meet state or federal licensing requirements, depending on your career or industry.
3. Prepare for a career shift
John wants to leave his business communications job to start his own nonprofit, but he’s not exactly sure what goes with running a nonprofit. A graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership would help pave the way for John to set out on his own. He can start that nonprofit and have the tools to succeed. He already has the drive; he just needs that foundation of specific knowledge. A graduate certificate can set him up for a smooth career shift. In the same way, graduate certificates will help you develop the skills and understanding you need to enter a work-world different from the one you’re in right now.
4. Broaden your professional network
Similar to a master’s degree program, graduate certificates connect you with professors and other students who you likely wouldn’t meet otherwise. These same connections often become valuable mentors and peers in your current or future field. They even sometimes open the door to additional employment or business opportunities. Don’t take any interaction for granted. Should you decide to pursue a graduate certificate, do so with a mindset that values every person the program places in front of you.
5. Use the graduate certificate to trial a full graduate program
Keontay has been thinking of pursuing an MBA, but he wasn’t willing to jump in to a program blind. A graduate certificate in Business Administration allowed him to try the program out and get the benefit of a certificate (slap that on your resume!). Then, if he decides to continue beyond the graduate certificate, Concordia University allows him to roll those certificate credits into our MBA program. No wasted time or money. In fact, any of Concordia School of Business’s 17 graduate certificate programs can count toward an MBA.
Graduate certificates enable you to further your education without the upfront commitment to a master’s degree—while allowing room for you to change your mind later on and get the advanced degree. You won’t have to retake classes or pay for them twice. You can take classes in-person or online.
If you’re considering what a grad-certificate can do for you, explore our graduate certificate offerings. Then, let our team of program experts help you decide if the certificate is right for you and your goals.
This blog was originally published on November 19, 2019. It has been updated to reflect current information.