Why This Matters

  • 87% OF THOSE WHO PURSUE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS REPORT PROMOTIONS, RAISES

    The knowledge you gain by taking a professional development class kick starts your career and makes you more marketable and attractive to employers.

  • OVER ONE MILLION CERTIFICATES ARE AWARDED EACH YEAR

    According to a study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, certificates have grown from 6% of postsecondary awards in 1980 to 22% of awards today and are the second most common postsecondary award in the United States. Approximately 52% of certificates are awarded by public two-year colleges, while technical and vocational schools award 44% and private nonprofit schools award 4%.

  • CERTIFICATE HOLDERS EARN $240,000 MORE IN LIFETIME EARNINGS

    Certificate holders earn 20% more than high school-educated workers, and certificate holders earn more than 24% of individuals with Bachelor’s degrees if they work in their field of study. More than 60% of certificates have a clearly demonstrated economic payoff, including becoming more employable.

Our Research

Certificate programs are postsecondary nondegree awards that confirm completion of schooling or training in a specific field. They are offered for a wide range of professions and industries, offering both an introduction to the field and an opportunity to expand upon existing knowledge in a specialized area. The list that we have assembled here includes programs ranging from six credits to fifty credits, both in-person and online. Many offer the opportunity for flexible learning schedules so that students can access pre-recorded lectures and course materials while continuing to earn a living.

Certificate programs have shorter completion times and greater flexibility than pursuing a traditional undergraduate or graduate degree, but you still want to choose a program that is committed to rigorous standards. The best way to have confidence in the quality of a certificate program is to choose one that has been accredited by a higher education accreditation agency. The most common accreditation that certificate programs seek comes from one of the regional accreditation agencies that oversee the programs offered by public and private postsecondary schools throughout the U.S, though there are also programmatic accreditation agencies that may focus on a specific industry. These accreditations are generally bestowed to curriculum offered within a school that also has a regional accreditation.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 70 hours to write this article
  • 1,202 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 1,310 education programs we compared

The Top 42 Accredited Certificate Programs

Best Accredited Certificate Programs
01
North Central Missouri College

intelligent score 99.79

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 15 - 36 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: In-state: $186 per credit; Out-of-state: $217 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 660-359-3948

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 15 - 36 credits

01
Coastline College

intelligent score 99.29

Award Best Community College

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Community College

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 6 - 30 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: In-state: $100 per credit; Out-of-state: $290 per credit

accreditation Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 714-241-6176

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 6 - 30 credits

01
Georgetown University

intelligent score 98.58

Award Best for Biomedical Sciences

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

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No

Award Best for Biomedical Sciences

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12 - 35 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: $600 - $1434.6 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 202-687-3600

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12 - 35 credits

01
Boston University

intelligent score 97

Award Best Four-Year University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

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No

Award Best Four-Year University

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 16 - 32 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: $300 - $900 per credit

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 617-353-2300

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 16 - 32 credits

01
Cornell University

intelligent score 96.28

Award Best Ivy League Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Ivy League Programs

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 9 - 35 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: $500 $1,260 per credit

accreditation Human Resource Certification Institute

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 866-326-7635

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 9 - 35 credits

01
Harvard University

intelligent score 95.82

Award Best Private Research University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Private Research University

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 9 - 55 credits Certificate-Graduate: 12 - 35 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate-Undergraduate: $1,880 per credit
Certificate-Graduate: $1,740 per credit

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 617-495-4024

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 9 - 55 credits Certificate-Graduate: 12 - 35 credits

01
Dakota State University

intelligent score 95.56

Award Best Public University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Public University

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 12 - 31 credits Certificate-Graduate: 9 - 12 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate-Undergraduate: In-state: $351.25 per credit; Out-of-state: $460.85 per credit
Certificate-Graduate: In-state: $465.80 per credit; Out-of-state: $575.40 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-378-9988

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 12 - 31 credits Certificate-Graduate: 9 - 12 credits

01
Southern New Hampshire University

intelligent score 94.26

Award Best Private University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Private University

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12 - 35 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: $320 per credit

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-387-0861

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12 - 35 credits

01
Dickinson State University

intelligent score 94.24

Award Best in the Midwest

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Midwest

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 15 - 38 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate: In-state: $249 per credit; Out-of-state: $319 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 701-483-2175

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 15 - 38 credits

01
Arkansas State University

intelligent score 93.87

Award Most Affordable Graduate Tuition

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Most Affordable Graduate Tuition

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 9- 35 credits Certificate-Graduate: 15 - 50 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Certificate-Undergraduate: In-state: $296.66 per credit; Out-of-state: $528.66 per credit
Certificate-Graduate: In-state: $356 per credit; Out-of-state: $633 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 870-972-2782

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate-Undergraduate: 9- 35 credits Certificate-Graduate: 15 - 50 credits

01
Most Affordable In-State Tuition
Washtenaw Community College
01
Best Liberal Arts University
Baker University
01
Best For-Profit University
California Southern University
01
Best Christian University
Concordia University, St. Paul
01
Best in the Southeast
Duke University
01
Student Recommended
Ferris State University
01
Best for Spanish-Language Certificates
Keiser University
01
Best in the South
Lamar University
01
Best for Graduate Certificates
Louisiana State University
01
Best in the Northeast
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
01
Best for Health Sciences Certificates
Michigan State University
01
Best for Education Certificates
University of Notre Dame
01
Best For-Profit School
Penn Foster College
01
Best for Theology Certificates
Regent University
01
Best in the Northwest
University of Washington
01
Best Research Focus
The University of Kansas
01
Best Social Justice Focus
Christian Brothers University
01
Best Small University
University of Puget Sound
01
Best for Agricultural Certificates
Shepherd University
01
Best in the Southwest
UNM Continuing Education
01
Best for Business Certificates
University of Cincinnati
01
Best Large University
University of Illinois Springfield
01
Best Junior College
Santa Rosa Junior College
01
Best Job Placement Rate
Farmingdale State College
01
Best for Financial Aid Eligible Certificates
Bristol Community College
01
Best Technical College
Coastal Pines Technical College
01
Best for Technician Certificates
Georgia Piedmont Technical College
01
Best for Hybrid Classes
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
01
Best for Small Class Sizes
Bismarck State College
01
Best for Continuing Education
Pamlico Community College
01
Best for IT Certificates
Regis University
01
Best for Administrative Certificates
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

What You Should Know About This Degree

There is a significant difference between a certificate program and certification. A certificate is earned by attending a program and awarded by an educational institution. Certification comes from a professional organization or certifying body within a given industry and is usually bestowed after an individual has accumulated a specified amount of time working within the industry in addition to having taken a standardized professional exam.

Accredited certificate programs open the doors to a wide range of opportunities. The programs that we have included offer options in the fields of healthcare, construction, law enforcement and firefighting, computer information technology, and trade and manufacturing. They represent a cost-effective way of getting a quick education that leads to employment, as well as a method of transitioning into a college education. By selecting a certificate program that has been accredited, you not only have the opportunity for financial aid through the federal student aid program, but also the ability to transfer credits from certificate programs that you have completed into a future baccalaureate program if you choose to pursue that option.

Earning a certificate has been directly associated with higher earnings in several different fields, including: healthcare; business/office work; cosmetology; auto mechanics; construction; electronics; transportation; refrigeration, heating and air conditioning; drafting; and aviation.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching accredited certificate programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Applying for admission to an accredited certificate program is much less arduous than the process of applying for a bachelor’s degree or associate degree. In most cases, the school to which you are applying will allow you to complete the process online by providing some basic information, including your contact information, the name and contact information for your high school, the year of your graduation, and information about the classes you took and the grades you achieved if your graduation was within the last ten years. If you have taken any college classes, you will be asked to submit that information, too.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Almost all certificate programs are offered online and asynchronously, though many colleges also offer the opportunity to attend classes in person. Students who are seeking online certificates for which an internship or a certain number of hours of real-world experience are needed will be provided the opportunity to fulfill that requirement in their own locale.

The application process for entry into an accredited certificate program is generally flexible, although some programs will follow a typical, semester-based calendar.

By selecting an accredited certificate program, you give yourself the opportunity to apply for financial support through federal, state, and local student aid programs. If you need help, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to determine what kind of tuition assistance you may be eligible for. You may also be able to get tuition reimbursement from your employer.