Returning to college (whether online or face-to-face) to expand one’s knowledge is done for many reasons; it could be for personal satisfaction, career change, or career growth. No matter the reason, it’s important to review options to determine if another degree or a certificate is the best fit for you.
How much time can you commit?
A graduate certificate is a short-term commitment offering long-term educational benefits. A graduate certificate typically takes 2-3 semesters to complete, so in as little as one year, you could have a new set of credentials to add to your résumé. If the certificate is offered online, you can make the most of your valuable time by studying from the convenience of your home or office instead of having to take time off to attend class on campus.
Are you concerned about the cost?
With a certificate, fewer credit hours means a lower cost to you when compared to a master’s degree. Combined with the lower tuition and fee rates typically charged for online programs, and you have an affordable opportunity for your higher education.
Are you considering pursuing a graduate degree?
If so, then a graduate certificate would serve as a flexible gateway to your future. You could finish your certificate and decide that you have accomplished all you set out to. Or, you may want to continue your education and pursue a master’s degree. If your certificate coursework is from a credit granting institution like UNCG, your coursework may count toward a master’s degree – depending on program compatibility.
Why are you returning to college?
If your education goals are geared toward career advancement, then a graduate certificate might be your best choice. A certificate’s curriculum is typically shorter than a graduate degree and focused on building specific, practical skills. You can then take those skills and apply them directly to your current field.
Or perhaps you are considering a career change. You already have the required degrees but need to develop expertise in your new field of choice. Again, a certificate is a convenient avenue for you to do just that.
Additionally, Georgetown University’s recent study, Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees, shows that 24% of male certificate holders earn more than the median male bachelor’s degree holder. Among women with certificates, 23% earn more than the median woman with a bachelor’s degree.