Online Certificate Programs

From Undergraduate to Graduate, Find Online Certificates in Fields like Paralegal, IT and Accounting

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A post-secondary certificate is a non-degree program offered by community colleges, four-year colleges and career schools. It represents completion of a specialized training program that focuses on the development of professional skills. Because certificate requirements do not include the core general education courses that make up an associate curriculum, programs are typically completed in less time than an associate degree program. This guide outlines the benefits of earning a certificate, the kinds of programs available, and how accreditation plays a role in establishing and maintaining the value of a certificate in the workplace.

Best Online Certificate Programs 2019

2-Year Colleges

Students can earn a variety of skills certificates and certificates of achievement in an online format from several schools around the country. Online learning is not only beneficial for students with busy schedules that may inhibit their attending traditional in-person class sessions, but also for students who are interested in attending an out-of-state school without relocating. Our methodology—based on class sizes, student services, student success rates, and more—has allowed us to compile a list of schools from around the country that offer online certificate programs. Look below to find our list of available schools offering online certificate programs.

Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Lone Star College System $2,736 5 8% 10% Yes Yes Yes

Online certificate programs at Lone Star College include 18 options - teacher certification, payroll assistant, business administration with a marketing specialization, autoCAD draftsman, computer programmer and clinical medical assistant. Certificates are specialized credit programs that train students in a specific field. Some certificates can be "stacked" and earned credits can be applied toward an associate degree. LSC also offers "FastTrack" non-credit programs. This industry training results in a workforce certificate and quick entry into the workforce. All new online students participate in an online orientation session and can have a live chat with an online advisor. Online tutoring is also available 24/7 with access to practice quizzes, flashcards and an online writing center. Courses are taught through Desire2Learn, LSC's learning management system. Some online courses require proctored exams, which can be taken with a remote service approved by the instructor. Students can do coursework and exams when convenient for them but must adhere to deadlines. Online certificate programs can generally be completed in two years or less. Students can find financial aid information through the Financial Aid Department. LSC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.

2 Hutchinson Community College $2,688 15 33% 66% Yes Yes Yes

Hutchinson Community College offers a variety of online certificate programs, including business technologies, accounting or office support, early childhood education, health coding specialist, IT in health care, medical transcription, pharmacy technician and paralegal. Online classes at HCC begin monthly and use the same syllabus and course outcomes as used in face-to-face classes. Some online classes require that exams or papers be proctored. Students who cannot get to the HCC campus must find an appropriate individual to proctor their work, such as a local school principal, public librarian or full-time instructor at another college. Time to complete certificate programs varies, for example, a health care coding specialist certificate requires 45 credit hours, a paralegal certificate requires 36 credit hours, and a pharmacy technician program requires 33 credit hours. HCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

3 San Joaquin Delta College $1,104 14 31% - Yes Yes Yes

San Joaquin Delta College offers online certificate programs in 35 areas, including business administration, culinary arts, electrical technology, engineering, graphic arts and photography. Certificate requirements vary by program. For example, students in the engineering program must complete 53 units of coursework, culinary arts 24 units, graphic arts 21 units and photography 20 units. Live tutoring services for English composition and math are available to all Delta students 24 hours a day through NetTutor; tutoring is also available for most other subjects as is essay review. Detailed financial aid information can be found through Student Services. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

4 Central Texas College $2,940 32 9% 19% Yes Yes Yes

Central Texas College offers 33 online certificate programs, including chemical dependency counseling, cybersecurity, emergency management, medical coding and billing, network server and cloud administration, office technology specialist and web technologies. CTC online classes have monthly start dates and class lengths that range from 8-16 weeks. Certificate program completion time varies by program. A team of student services advisors in the school's Eagles on Call Center assist prospective and current students through the admission and course enrollment process, helping with course schedules and general academic and financial advising Free online English and math tutorials are available to online students. Online classes are eligible for tuition assistance and are transferable. CTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College $2,800 10 28% 42% Yes Yes Yes

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers online associate degrees as well as certificate and diploma programs, serving students bound for a 4-year degree as well as those who want to enter the workforce quickly through technical training. Gulf Coast offers over 350 online courses, but their partnership with the Mississippi Virtual Community College Consortium expands that number to nearly 3,000 courses. Prospective students should talk to enrollment specialists or a faculty adviser to discuss specific online certificate program options. For students interested in a 4-year degree after Gulf Coast, there is a strong transfer program, and Gulf Coast students have a proven track record of competitive GPAs. Coursework encompasses diverse subjects in the arts and humanities, business, education, healthcare, hospitality and human services, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and transportation.

6 Collin County Community College District $2,460 10 13% 3% Yes Yes Yes

The Collin County Community College District offers a wide variety of courses and programs. Students may earn an online associate degree or certificate through the online platform eCollin. Depending on the program, classes may be offered fully online; in a blended format that delivers most instruction online but includes some on-campus requirements; or in a hybrid format that offers some online components but requires students to primarily be on-campus. Class offerings include fundamentals such as biology, sociology and psychology as well as technical and professionally focused subjects such as hospitality and food service management, web and mobile development and office administration. Collins offers four types of certificate programs: a level 1 certificate (15-42 credit hours); a level 2 certificate (30-51 credit hours), an occupational skills award (9-14 credit hours) that is locally recognized by employers but does not qualify as a statewide credential; and an enhanced skills certificate, consisting of 6-12 credits, that is taken after the completion of an associate degree and provides technical proficiency in a specific program area. Certificates can be completed in a year or less and, because they consist of the same technical courses required for an associate degree, students can return to complete the full degree.

7 Williston State College $3,399 4 41% 91% Yes No Yes

Williston State College is a North Dakota public community college that offers certification programs and 2-year associate degrees to both in-state students as well as those from other states in which the institution is authorized. Williston's online programs are designed specifically to prepare students for the workplace. It offers one certificate program in medical coding for students who are interested in working in records management or other facilities in the healthcare field. This certificate requires 38 credit hours, and consists of courses on topics such as medical disorders, basic diagnosis coding, healthcare law and ethics, concepts of anatomy and physiology, and introduction to pharmacology. Course offerings change when necessary to adapt to updated industry standards to ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce. Students who complete the certificate program will also be eligible to sit for the Certified Coding Associate examination administered by the American Health Information Management Association.

8 Ivy Tech Community College $4,055 22 11% 11% Yes Yes Yes

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's only full-fledged community college, offering more than 1,000 online classes in 150 programs to students working toward associate degrees or professional certifications. Over 15 programs, including 10 certificate programs, can be completed entirely online. Ivy Tech also offers 3 hybrid programs - in paralegal studies, early childhood education and human services - that mix face-to-face interactions with online assignments and video instruction, with the bulk of the work being done online. Online class sizes are kept small, with an average of 22 students per class, and the emphasis is on learning specific skills that transfer to the workplace. Among the certificates and certifications available are ones in business administration, cybersecurity/information assurance, database management and administration, entrepreneurship, informatics, information technology support, manufacturing production and operations, software development, general education core and supply chain management/logistics. Attending school full time, students can complete certain certificates in as few as 4 months, but more intensive programs can take up to 12 months to finish.

9 Coastline Community College $1,104 8 26% - Yes Yes Yes

Coastline Community College offers more than 30 online certificate programs in the areas of accounting, business, digital media design, emergency management/homeland security, gerontology, human services, logistics/supply chain management, office technology, real estate and more. CCC recommends students study 3 hours per week for each course unit during a typical 16-week course. Length of time to achieve a certificate varies by program. Students can complete coursework via the school's Canvas learning management system at any time convenient for them, as long as they meet course deadlines. Some courses may require students to complete exams in person or through a pre-approved proctor. CCC's Info Center provides informaiton about application and registration, financial aid, counseling and more. The Student Success Center offers email-based tutoring and appointment-based live online tutoring via Skype and the Career Center offers video appointments. Coastline is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

10 Barton Community College $2,304 11 29% 69% Yes Yes Yes

A large and diverse group of online certificate programs can be found at Barton Community College. Options include business management and leadership, networking specialist, child development, dietary manager, medical coding, pharmacy technician, corrections, emergency management/homeland security, hazardous materials and occupational safety and health. Online students have access to an academic advisor, instructors and classmates via email, telephone or BARTonline. One-on-one tutoring sessions are available for online students as well. Courses can be accessed 24/7 and students can work at their own pace to complete weekly assignments. With 15 sessions throughout the year, online students can start at any time. Certificate programs range from 16 to 59 hours. Financial aid information can be found through Barton's Financial Aid Office. Barton County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Assocation of Schools and Colleges.

11 State Fair Community College $3,600 8 22% 20% Yes Yes Yes

The online certificate programs at State Fair Community College are career-focused, with stackable programs available in pharmacy technician and nurse aide. These programs are designed to get students working in entry-level positions as quickly as possible, while providing stepping stone programs from one level to the next, depending on career goals. For example, pharmacy technician students can earn a skills certificate, professional certificate and AAS degree at SFCC. Programs such as the medical coding and medical assisting also provide opportunities for further education while preparing students for professional credential exams upon program completion. A "C" or better average is required to graduate, with credits required ranging from 18-35, depending on program chosen. Programs may have competitive admission with specific start dates, so students should get applications in as early as possible. Students Navigators can help with this along with continual advisement to ensure student success. Online students also have access to 24/7 tech support, online math tutoring, writing help, career services and on-campus counseling.

12 North Hennepin Community College $3,922 23 13% 3% Yes Yes Yes

At North Hennepin Community College, students can choose from several online certificate programs in areas such as accounting, business, computer information technology and computer science, with several concentration options. Online courses are administered through the learning management system D2L Brightspace and may be offered both on campus and online, depending on the program. Students can apply online or on campus, and are required to take a placement test, with possibility of a test waiver if previous testing has been done. Graduation requirements and program length vary, but programs are typically 9-30 credits, and require a 2.0 grade average or better for completion. Programs are designed for both professional development and career exploration. Several can be applied to NHCC associate degrees, and many will accept transfer credits, with one-third of certificate credit completion required at NHCC. Students have access to a wealth of resources, including career services, such as job postings, fairs and search assistance, tutoring, online test proctoring, free on-site counseling and medical services, legal services and a food cupboard.

13 Irvine Valley College $1,104 9 44% - Yes Yes Yes

Irvine Valley College offers online certificates through Ed2go, which is a large, online network of colleges and educators offering online programs. Programs are career-oriented, with several geared towards those seeking entry-level positions, or to those wanting increased job skills for certification and further career advancement. Since programs are non-credit, federal financial aid isn't available, however payment plans are an option. Areas of study include records management, home inspector, mediation, multimedia arts, tax professional, medical coding, child development and information security. Required credit hours vary, and programs may be self-paced, with deadlines to complete the work in 6-12 months, or in 12-lesson, 6-week blocks for 6, 12 or 18 months. Students will have several opportunities to interact with the instructor, other students and complete assignment-related virtual exercises and lab work. IVC students can also choose a certificate program directly from the college, and complete part of the program online, as several individual online courses can be chosen towards certificate completion.

14 Tulsa Community College $2,327 12 14% 44% Yes Yes Yes

Tulsa Community College offers online certificate programs in the areas of business and child development, with part-time and full-time enrollments options. Programs may have special admission criteria, such as the child development certificate of mastery program, which requires that students be currently working in childcare. This is designed as a career advancement certificate, for those interested in positions such as assistant teacher, professional nanny or in-home childcare provider. There are 18 credits required for completion, which includes a credentials preparation course, in which students will apply to the Council for Professional Recognition to earn CDA credentials. For online business students, concentrations are available in accounting, business application specialist, business computer user, income tax specialist and payroll administration specialist. These are geared towards entry-level positions, but are also useful for small business managers, owners and those looking for career advancement. Students work with academic advisers each step of the way to create and complete a program map to ensure successful certificate completion along with guidance towards additional schooling, depending on individual's needs.

15 Tarrant County College $2,544 5 12% 13% Yes Yes Yes

Online certificate programs at Tarrant County College are offered through TCC Connect, TCC's online campus, using the Blackboard Learn course management system. If a course or program needed isn't available at TCC, students may find it through Texas community college courses that are offered through the Virtual College of Texas (VCT) at the same tuition rate. VCT offers student resources along with those at TCC, such as academic advisement, counseling and library services. Online certificate programs at TCC include accounting information management, business administration and office technology professional. Most programs offer areas of specialization, like the technology professional program, which has tracks in administration, applications, or office technology. Accounting students can achieve different levels of certification, such as accounting clerk I, II or III, or business administration/accounting assistant I, II or III. Students can bypass introductory courses, such as beginning keyboard, through credit by exam. Completion requirements vary, with credits ranging from 15-45, depending on the program chosen and certification level.

16 Eastern Gateway Community College $3,510 11 19% 22% Yes No Yes

Certificate of Completion programs offered both on campus and online at Eastern Gateway Community College. Offerings include business management, accounting, medical scribe, paralegal, patient home navigator and medical coding, which is online only. These programs vary in length and credits required, with a C or better average needed for completion. For example, the medical coding specialist program is 2 semesters, plus summer session, with 39 required credits. The patient home navigator program, which can lead to patient advocacy-related jobs, is 2 semesters, with 30 credits. Admission to EGCC is open to high school graduates, with only transcripts and placement testing required, however programs may have additional requirements. Students are assigned to an enrollment specialist at admission, who will help establish an academic plan, and provide academic advisement from start to finish. Other resources include the College Central Network, an online career building tool available 24/7 for students, alumni and potential employers, and online tutoring through Brainfuse.

17 Metropolitan Community College $2,625 8 13% 31% Yes Yes Yes

Metropolitan Community College has certificate of achievement programs in accounting, business, IT technician, health information management and versatilist information technology. Within these programs, students can choose an area of concentration, such as financial planning, data center technician, office technology or computer programming. Career certificate/special certifications are also available in customer service, management, web development, global perspectives and immigration laws, policies and procedures. The career certificates require less credits for graduation than the certificate of achievements, as length of program and major course requirements differ, but all are considered pathway to associate programs. Students interested in these programs can work with an advisor and sign up for an optional Career Exploration course, which gives students an introduction to specific career paths, while also counting toward general education credits. Although some certificate programs may have additional admission requirements, MCC has an open enrollment policy, with typical college admission requirements such as a GED or high school diploma, and high school or college transcripts.

18 Southeast Community College Area $2,952 7 27% 37% Yes Yes Yes

The online certificate programs at Southeast Community College are career-focused, and can lead to professional licensure, entry level positions or further education. Examples of certificate programs leading to entry level positions are the Geographic Information Systems technician and the polysomnographic technology programs. Other online certificates are available in areas such as business, computers, education, EMS and culinary. Some of these programs may have capstone, practicum, lab, workshop or clinical rotation requirements, which can be completed near the student's home prior to graduation. Online students may also enroll in either the Internship Education course, or the Cooperative Experience, which is a paid work experience. Students can work with admissions counselors and academic advisers to help determine their best options prior to enrollment. Students can apply online, and must have a GED or high school diploma, high school or college transcripts and complete an assessment/placement test, along with anything additional that may be needed depending on program chosen.

19 Mesa Community College $2,064 18 13% 25% Yes Yes Yes

Mesa Community College offers several Certificate of Completion programs fully online, with the majority being career and technical certificates. Program length varies from 1-2 terms, and credits earned range from about 5-40, with all programs requiring a C average or better for completion. Admission requirements will also vary based on program, and may include pre-requisites, as is the case with the 31-credit advanced web design program, which requires students to have a certificate of completion in web designer. Other programs include business, landscaping, international trade, project management, music business, firefighting and victimology. MCC also offers academic certificates in Spanish and Spanish Culture and Women's Studies. These programs are considered foundational and often lead to further schooling, however students looking to advance their current skills can also benefit by earning an academic certificate. All off MCC's online courses are worth full academic credit, which means they can be transferred to other schools.

20 Pitt Community College $1,824 19 10% 16% Yes Yes Yes

Pitt Community College currently has 30 online certificate program options in areas such as accounting, business, computers, education, allied health, management and office administration. Programs vary in length, admission requirements, graduation requirements and career outcome. Some have clinical rotation and internship requirements, and several prepare students for professional licensure exams. These certificate programs are geared towards students just starting out, students seeking a career change and those looking for career advancement. For example, the breast sonography and CT certificates are for licensed professionals already working in radiology-related modalities, and the Early Childhood Education certificate program is for students with no previous training. Pitt offers a variety of unique student resources for all types of students, including mentoring and first year assistance through Success Navigators, career services, both online and in-person counseling through SAP, men's and women's resource centers, the NEXT LEVEL Minority Male Success Initiative and the VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program.

21 Crowder College $3,072 11 25% 14% Yes Yes Yes

Crowder College is a community college with over 80 certificate programs, including the 5-semester Hybrid Paramedic program. Courses are in 8-week blocks, and can be completed online, with fieldwork in Southern Missouri hospitals and paramedic settings required during the last 2 semesters. Students need 42 credits to complete the program, with 1200 hours divided between didactic training, clinical rotations and field internships, along with a capstone project. Upon completion, students are prepared to sit for the National Paramedic Exam for professional licensure and may also continue to the AAS in Paramedicine program. Also available in hybrid format is the 8-week RN-Paramedic program, designed for experienced RN's wanting paramedic training and licensure. This certification can lead to jobs such as flight, ICU or ER nurse, EMS instructor or local EMS provider. Students can get assistance with the admission process, academic and career advisement, tutoring, disability services and other resources through the Student Success Center. Free counseling is also available to all Crowder students.

22 Western Wyoming Community College $2,136 10 38% 72% Yes Yes Yes

Western Wyoming Community College currently offers 4 certificates obtainable through online study. The Accounting Certificate program offers an introduction to foundational accounting principles and related skills such as technical writing, English composition and interpersonal communication. The program requires 35-36 credit hours of study and is designed to be completed in 2 semesters (1 year). The 21-credit-hour Emergency Management Certificate is designed to enhance the emergency planning and coordinating capabilities of government officials, volunteers and others throughout the public and private sectors. WWCC's 15-credit-hour Web Site Development Certificate prepares students for positions as web developers, designers and editors. Students learn basic web functional operations, as well how to design, develop and maintain web pages. The Digital Design Technologies Certificate offers students a solid foundation in web design and development, as well as the creation and editing of digital content such as documents, images and moving content. The program consists of 8 courses (20 credit hours) completed over 3 semesters. Coursework for these certificate programs is available 100% online. However, online courses are not self-paced, have specific deadlines, and include interaction with the instructor and fellow classmates.

23 Fayetteville Technical Community College $2,432 17 12% 2% Yes Yes Yes

Fayetteville Technical Community College offers an impressive 65 certificates that can be earned 100% through online study. Certificate programs are available in a wide range of fields including business, computers and information, criminal justice, emergency management, engineering and applied technology, fire protection, health, intelligence studies and public service. Most certificate programs are 2 semesters in length, meaning that all coursework can be completed in 1 year. Some certificates require only 1 semester of study for completion. In many cases, credits earned in a certificate program can be used toward obtaining a FTCC associate degree in the same field of study. FTCC employs an "open door policy" regarding admissions aimed at ensuring that anyone interested in attending may take FTCC classes. Prospective students are required to submit a completed admissions application and official transcripts of prior high school and post-secondary coursework. Absent a test exemption, all FTCC applicants must also take the North Carolina Diagnostic Assessment and Placement test in order to evaluate any areas in the foundational subjects of math, English and reading that may require refresher help.

24 Highland Community College $2,218 7 28% 66% Yes Yes Yes
25 Ozarks Technical Community College $3,564 1 24% 4% Yes Yes Yes

Ozark Technical Community College currently offers 2 certificates that can be earned via distance learning through its OTC Online program. The 30-credit-hour Business and Marketing Certificate offers a foundation in the basics of business for entry-level positions in marketing, management, retail and accounting. The 31-credit-hour Administrative Certificate provides knowledge and skills related to current business procedures and technologies. OTC's online certificate programs provide the same content and follow the same academic calendar as their on-campus counterparts. All coursework is available entirely online. However, all online courses require proctored assessments of certain specified assignments, quizzes and exams. Students may choose to attend their proctored assessments in person at an OTC facility or other designated testing location. Students can also opt for proctoring at home via remote automated proctoring, which requires payment of a nominal fee and use of a personal webcam. OTC employs an open-door admissions policy, meaning that first-time students will qualify for admission if they have either graduated or will soon graduate from high school. Students who have obtained a GED or satisfactorily completed the High School Equivalency Test (HiSet) will also be admitted. Students with 24 transferrable college credits earned with a minimum overall 2.0 GPA automatically qualify for admissions.

26 Northeast Community College $2,700 6 48% 40% Yes Yes Yes
27 Western Texas College $2,088 2 43% 44% Yes Yes Yes
28 Central Community College $2,520 12 32% 34% Yes Yes Yes
29 New Mexico Junior College $1,296 2 26% 31% Yes Yes Yes
30 Wake Technical Community College $2,432 19 16% 2% Yes Yes Yes
31 Chandler-Gilbert Community College $2,064 8 22% 18% Yes Yes Yes
32 North Central Missouri College $3,270 11 37% 30% Yes No Yes
33 Sinclair Community College $3,169 20 16% 44% Yes Yes Yes
34 Shoreline Community College $3,328 11 32% 30% Yes Yes Yes
35 Western Nebraska Community College $2,280 3 25% 73% Yes No Yes
36 Hinds Community College $2,640 11 18% 25% Yes Yes Yes
37 Craven Community College $1,824 14 14% 15% Yes No Yes
38 Southwestern Oregon Community College $4,092 27 29% 44% Yes Yes Yes
39 Columbus State Community College $3,808 22 15% 7% Yes Yes Yes
40 Washtenaw Community College $3,720 5 15% 16% Yes Yes Yes
41 Cochise College $1,896 2 21% 16% Yes No Yes
42 Central New Mexico Community College $1,248 6 16% 10% Yes Yes Yes
43 Jefferson College $3,504 4 26% 13% Yes Yes Yes
44 Neosho County Community College $2,144 4 23% 75% Yes No Yes
45 Ozarka College $2,112 13 24% 18% Yes No Yes
46 Carl Albert State College $2,177 2 34% 35% Yes Yes Yes
47 Albany Technical College $2,140 30 39% 6% Yes Yes Yes
48 Hillsborough Community College $1,931 3 30% 16% Yes Yes Yes
49 Itawamba Community College $2,500 4 37% 47% Yes Yes Yes
50 San Juan College $1,104 4 15% 33% Yes Yes Yes

Undergraduate Online Certificate Programs Learning Center

It makes sense to pursue a certificate that is offered at an undergraduate and post-graduate advanced level when they’re required for entry to a career or advancement within a profession. The major certificate disciplines include business and management, technology, education, healthcare and legal studies. Check out some popular certificate program options below.

Earning an Online Certificate

Programs may contain between four and eight courses that can be completed in between three months to a year. Students typically need only a high school diploma to enroll in an undergraduate level certificate program. Graduate certificate programs have their own class entry requirements, which can include a completed bachelor’s degree and/or graduate test scores, professional experience, or a combination of elements. Online certificate programs contain the same career focus and specialized skill components as on-campus ones, but they add exceptional class flexibility and accelerated programs.

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How Online Certificates Are Taking Off

Undergraduate certificate programs offer exceptional options for students who wish to train for a new career and enter the workplace in as little as a year. Post-graduate certificate programs are gaining popularity among professionals who need additional career training to receive promotions or apply for mid-level positions in their fields.

icn 1
63% of all jobs

in America by 2018 will require applicants to have completed some form of post-secondary education or career training. (CEW).

icn 2

of postsecondary awards are certificates. (CEW)

icn 3
20% of certificate holders

go on to earn associate degrees, while 13 percent earn bachelor’s degrees. (CEW)

icn 4
More than 10%

of Americans reported a certificate as their top level of education. (CEW)

icn 5
More than 1 million certificates

were awarded in 2010-2011 – that’s more than the number of associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral certificates awarded during that same time. (NCES)

icn 6
Nearly half of all certificates

awarded in 2010-2011 were for healthcare professions. (BLS)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Georgetown University, Center on Education in the Workforce (CEW)
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Post-graduate certifications in healthcare, business management and technology are gaining in popularity for building existing professional skills in project management, Six Sigma, human resources, healthcare administration, or computer engineering. The following table shows the variety of undergraduate and post-graduate certification programs:

Dental Assisting Certificate

A comprehensive 44-hour certification program that includes classroom and laboratory (internship) practice. Courses include oral health, dental science, chair-side ethics and assisting, radiology, infection control, office operations and management.

Automotive Technology Certificate

Students must complete 32 hours of training in engines, braking systems, suspension/steering, electrical systems, diagnostics and welding.

Certificate in Property Management

In this 19-credit program, students learn fundamental skills and techniques for management and marketing of residential, office, retail and industrial properties.

Medical Billing and Coding Certification

An 18-credit online program leading to a certification in the principles of medical coding set forward in the commonly accepted CPT, HCPCS and ICD-9-CM manuals.

Network & Communications Management Certificate

Students earn a post-secondary certificate through 21 hours of advanced education in networking security, applications, wireless, communications law, IP/VOIP telephony and network design.

Principles of Criminal Investigation

Examination of techniques and theories in the detecting, preserving and presentation of physical and forensic evidence. Includes laboratory sections. Prerequisite: Introduction to Criminology.

CPA Preparation

Post-secondary 30-hour program in specialty fields required for the CPA examination including ethics, international accounting, information systems and taxation.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Certificate

Post-master nursing students undertake 38 hours of advanced coursework in areas including advanced pharmacology, primary care across the entire age spectrum, and an integrative practicum.

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • Dental Assisting Certificate Undergraduate

    A comprehensive 44-hour certification program that includes classroom and laboratory (internship) practice. Courses include oral health, dental science, chair-side ethics and assisting, radiology, infection control, office operations and management.

  • Automotive Technology Certificate Undergraduate

    Students must complete 32 hours of training in engines, braking systems, suspension/steering, electrical systems, diagnostics and welding.

  • Certificate in Property Management Undergraduate

    In this 19-credit program, students learn fundamental skills and techniques for management and marketing of residential, office, retail and industrial properties.

  • Medical Billing and Coding Certification Undergraduate

    An 18-credit online program leading to a certification in the principles of medical coding set forward in the commonly accepted CPT, HCPCS and ICD-9-CM manuals.

  • Network & Communications Management Certificate Undergraduate

    Students earn a post-secondary certificate through 21 hours of advanced education in networking security, applications, wireless, communications law, IP/VOIP telephony and network design.

  • Principles of Criminal Investigation Undergraduate

    Examination of techniques and theories in the detecting, preserving and presentation of physical and forensic evidence. Includes laboratory sections. Prerequisite: Introduction to Criminology.

  • CPA Preparation Graduate

    Post-secondary 30-hour program in specialty fields required for the CPA examination including ethics, international accounting, information systems and taxation.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Certificate Graduate

    Post-master nursing students undertake 38 hours of advanced coursework in areas including advanced pharmacology, primary care across the entire age spectrum, and an integrative practicum.

Transferring to a Degree Program

Students who intend to transfer to a degree-conferring program should speak with academic advisors at their certificate program and at their target college. In most cases, undergraduates seeking certificates that wish to continue their college education would do well to consider earning an academic degree (associate) instead of — or in addition to — their certificate. The associate degree is divided between general education courses required of all college undergrads along with a concentration of courses in major fields. Colleges accepting academic transfers are traditionally more willing to accept credits for core education courses, rather than for majors or specialty classes.

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For post-graduate certificate seekers, their advanced credentials are meant to stand alone as benchmarks of experience and career skill attainment. Many professionals in business, technology, and healthcare fields that earn a master’s degree or MBA also pursue certificates that illustrate skills beyond the scope of their degrees.

Online Certificate Programs


Students looking for the convenience of an accredited, flexible distance education should search for online certificate programs at community colleges, adult schools, public and private colleges and universities, trade and vocational schools and for-profit online schools.

Online certificate programs at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels may be accelerated and relatively brief in nature. But don’t be misled: the academic requirements and certificate coursework can be extremely strenuous and technically challenging.

Students preparing online for a new career at the undergraduate level may also fulfil laboratory or internship requirements to complete certificates. In those cases, schools and colleges may have partnerships with local businesses or organizations where students can complete lab or hands-on instruction.

Post-graduate online certificate seekers find a number of benefits including opportunities to coordinate their studies with their current professional roles as well as potentially receive tuition reimbursement from their employers.

Online certificate programs dovetail with students’ work and family schedules, providing 24/7 access to their course materials. Classes are delivered through an online college interface that typically includes web browsers, chat tools, email and discussion boards. Communications can also be facilitated by programs such as Skype, other video conferencing tools, and through conference calls. Students only need a computer, pad, or smart device to view their courses, email communications and grades. In some cases, online colleges offer laptops are part of their total fee and tuition package. Depending on the school, technical support for the learning platforms is readily available, 24/7.

College Accreditation

Accreditation is a means for systematizing, evaluating and maintaining academic standards for integrity and educational quality. While accreditation is voluntary, it can be an indispensable asset for the college and student. Accreditation is often the benchmark by which student’s certificates are judged and accepted in the workplace. A college or university offering post-graduate certificates may already hold accreditation for their degree programs or for their departments offering specialized training. The accreditation process, which can take up to several years, includes an initial college self-assessment followed by an on-campus evaluation by an independent accreditation association or agency. If the school or college offers federal financial aid, the accrediting organization must be approved by the Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both.

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Seven regional accreditation agencies serve the nation’s two-year schools through The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Specialized accreditation is often undertaken by school departments or colleges offering a single discipline. For example, American National Standards Institute Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP) is a popular accreditation sought by technical certification programs. Schools that offer certifications entirely through distance learning or campus-based colleges that offer online certificates may also seek and receive National Distance Learning Association accreditation that attests to the quality of content and delivery of online courses.