You've decided to further your education, but you're not sure what type of program is right for you. Understanding the differences between a degree and a professional certificate can help ensure that your investment in your future aligns with your ultimate goals.
Specific, Focused Career Study With a Professional Certificate
A professional certificate program usually consists of focused training for a specific career, such as a health care technologist or auto mechanic. Alternatively, you can earn a certificate in an area that will bolster your existing career, such as security management or communications and media studies. Most certificate programs last less than two years. They do not result in a college degree, but depending on your specific certificate area you may be able to receive a state license for your profession.
Undergraduate certificate programs are designed for students who have not yet earned a college degree, while graduate certificate programs are taken in lieu of or along with graduate degree programs. Some certificate programs may be stacked in order to apply credits toward an eventual master's degree.