Why This Matters

  • 37% OF JOBS REQUIRE SOME COLLEGE EDUCATION

    The number of jobs requiring a postsecondary non-degree award like a certificate is expected to increase by 11.5 % over the next five years, according to predictions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • WORK IN ONE OF 6 FAST-GROWING INDUSTRIES

    There are several career fields with increasing opportunities for those with postsecondary certificates, including healthcare, computers, engineering, legal support, and transportation and repair.

  • EARN YOUR CERTIFICATE IN LESS THAN 1 YEAR

    Most certificate programs require between 12 and 30 credits, and are designed to be completed relatively quickly. This means you can start applying your knowledge to new jobs in as little as one year.

Our Research

We specifically reviewed the online certificate programs at a variety of schools for this list. Schools typically offer two levels of certificate programs. For post-secondary certificates, students only need a high school diploma or equivalent to be eligible. For post-baccalaureate or graduate certificates, it is expected that students already have an undergraduate degree, whether it is in a related or non-related field. This list includes certificate programs in a broad range of subjects.

All coursework for these programs can be completed online. Some are also offered on-campus. Most of the schools on this list are regionally accredited, although there are some nationally accredited schools as well. Individual certificate programs may also have programmatic accreditation.

We evaluated school’s online certificate program offerings on the basis of cost, flexibility, faculty, and reputation. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each school on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online certificate degree programs are highly regarded, customizable, and cost-effective.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 64 hours to write this article
  • 127 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 372 education programs we compared

The Top 60 Online Certificate Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Many students seek certificate programs as a fast, flexible way to learn new skills, prepare for career advancement, or test whether they want to pursue a full degree in a particular subject.

If you are enrolling in a certificate program with the intention of applying those credits to a degree at a future point in time, it is important that you attend a program at a regionally accredited institution. Credits from regionally accredited institutions are more widely recognized and transferable between regionally accredited schools. If you enroll in a program at a nationally accredited school, be advised that you may have difficulty transferring credits to other institutions.

When considering attending an online program, you will want to confirm that the school you plan to attend is authorized to grant degrees to students who live where you do. Regulations for degree-granting online programs vary by state, so it’s in your best interest to get this information before enrolling in a program.

A post-secondary certificate is the minimum level of education required for a number of careers, but many industries require at least a bachelor’s degree for higher paying jobs, and professional credentials. Think carefully about your career goals, and if investing the time and money into a certificate is the best route to achieving them.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Certificate programs:

  • How are online courses delivered? Online courses allow students to learn from anywhere, but some programs offer more flexibility than others. In courses that are delivered synchronously, students must still attend classes at set times, although they do so remotely. Asynchronous courses are more flexible, as students complete lessons and assignments according to their own schedules. Make sure you select a program with a course delivery method that works for your schedule.
  • Do you need financial aid? While certificate programs are a flexible and fast way to gain new skills, not all certificate programs are eligible for federal financial aid like loans and grants. Talk to a program representative or financial aid counselor to find out if you will be eligible to receive aid based on the program in which you enroll. Otherwise, be prepared to find other means of paying for your program.

The enrollment process for certificate programs can vary. Some may require an application, while you can simply register and pay for others. As you research certificate programs, take a look at their enrollment requirements, and gather any necessary paperwork (applications, transcripts, etc.) well ahead of registration deadlines.