What is a Graduate Certificate? (And Can it Help My Career?)

Graduate Certificate programs are gaining popularity and for good reason! According to The Institute for College Access and Success, the number of people holding graduate certificates more than doubled between 2000 and 2014 and is predicted to continue to grow. In fact, the number of applicants to graduate certificate programs at Rowan has increased by 92% since 2017. Grad certificates are very appealing as they add advanced credentials to your resume, but without the time commitment or price tag of a master’s degree.


A graduate certificate is a short term of study that offers specialized training for professionals on a focused topic. Those two “s” words are key. Short - most Master’s programs take two years to complete, but a graduate certificate can be earned in much less time. Specialized - generally focus on a particular industry or skill set, so there are a wide range of program options available to those who are interested in earning one and enhancing their knowledge in a focused area or career path.

Read on to find out if a grad certificate might be the right fit for you:

  • Time commitment and cost. Most graduate certificates consist of just four to eight courses, compared to a master’s program that requires students to complete at least 10 courses. With fewer classes needed for completion, students save not only time, but also a lot of money. 
  • Get your feet wet! Not sure if you want to fully commit to a master’s program? Pursuing a grad certificate is a perfect opportunity to get a feel of what a master’s level program might require. In some cases, you may be able to use your certificate credits towards a master’s program if you do decide you want to pursue a master’s once you complete the certificate. A case in point: the credits achieved in Rowan’s Business Certificate of Graduate Study can be transferred into the MBA program. 
  • Become board certified in an area of expertise. The Certificate of Graduate Studies in Wellness Coaching at Rowan is an approved Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). The program is designed to prepare students to sit for the National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaching exam upon graduation. 
  • You already have a master’s degree, but want more. You have your master’s degree, and it’s just not the right time to pursue another master’s degree, or even a doctorate. A grad certificate gives you the opportunity to gain specialized credentials without pursuing another advanced degree. Rowan even offers a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, which is designed specifically for students who have already achieved their master’s degree.
  • Increased salary and job marketability. Those holding a graduate certificate can expect a 13% to 25% increase in their salary, according to Forbes. Grad certificates are a great way to advance your career with your in-demand skill set that helps set you apart in the job market.

Rowan University offers over 45 different Certificate of Graduate Study (COGS) or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) programs! Some of the most in-demand programs include Accounting, Business, Cyber Security, Engineering Analytics, and Networks. Whatever your goal is, Rowan has a certificate program that is sure to set you apart.

Are you ready to pursue a grad certificate? Request information for a specific program, attend an info session, or start your application.

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