March 31, 2023

What is Certification and What Are the Benefits of Certifications vs. a Master’s Degree?

What is a Certification?

A certificate program is a program of education resulting in a certificate of completion rather than a degree. These programs either prepare students to complete a specific task or allow them proficiency in one particular aspect of their field. A certificate is earned after taking a series of courses in a particular subject area. Students often choose to pursue certificates in order to get ahead in the professional field of their interest. A graduate certificate is a program of study in a particular subject and consists of three to seven courses, which can be completed in a year or less. Students generally must have a Bachelor’s Degree to qualify for a Graduate Certificate (although there are some colleges that will waive this requirement with relevant work experience). There are certificates in business, literature and technical fields and in some of the technical programs a certificate may be required. There are also graduate certificates taken alone or concurrent with their graduate degree program. In some programs, a student may choose to use their electives in order to fulfill a certificate allowing them to be more desirable to a potential employer.

What is a Masters Degree?

A Master’s Degree is the first level of graduate study and in order to apply to a Master’s Degree Program, you must have an undergraduate or Bachelor’s Degree. Typically a Master’s Degree requires 1-1/2 to 2 years of full-time study. Completion of a Master’s Degree usually requires students to complete from 36 to 54 semester credits (this is 12 to 18 college courses).

Advantages of Pursuing Certifications

Certificates are pursued for many reasons including:

  • Learning new skills in order to change careers
  • Seek enhanced skills in furthering a career or find another job.
  • Meet the state or national licensing requirements.
  • Cost: The cost of graduate certification is significantly less expensive than pursuing a graduate program in the same area of study. It is also the least expensive type of academic credential.

Traditionally, Certificates are focused on specific types of careers and positions. A Master’s Degree is aimed at a broader career or field.

What Some Areas Where Certification is Available?

Graduate Certificate Programs available vary by school and can include accounting, finance, business, psychology, public policy, healthcare management, biotechnology, and international studies. Students often choose to pursue graduate certificates for both professional and academic reasons. These certification programs allow students to enhance or supplement their degree with a focus in specialized areas.

  • Certificate in Human Resource Management
  • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
  • Healthcare Informatics Certificate
  • Certificate in Business Principles
  • Certificate in Nursing Health Science
  • Certificate in Human Resources
  • Certification in Project Management
  • Certificate in Non-Profit Management

For those individuals wanting to launch a new career path and need to acquire new skills, a certification may be the easiest and least expensive pathway. Others may have the need for a focus in a specific area of study. Certifications are available in a wide array of subjects and can boost your career to a higher level.