Saturday, December 8, 2012
Is a certificate program worth it?
Research shows that certificates can have a lot of value both academically and economically. For example, research by The Georgetown University Center on the Education and the Workforce shows that workers can earn over a quarter million more dollars over their lifetime by earning a certificate and 20% more than workers with only a high school diploma(1). Recently the State of Virginia released the earnings of the state’s public college graduates and the data showed that those with post-baccalaureate certificates actually earned more than those a master’s degree (2).
The value of a certificate much like a 4 year degree still requires a detailed analysis because it’s dependent on the need of employers. Some fields like Paralegals have a gold standard such as the American Bar Association Accreditation however in many career fields there’s no clear standard. Some fields such as healthcare have more certificates than there are job titles and conversely the return on investment is less than a more technical field such as Aviation or engineering(1). The key is to look long term at both investment and academic goals. Research shows that completing a certificate can enhance thier chances of completing a college degree because it acts a stepping stone towards completion and enhances earning power even if the college degree isn’t finished.
Name recognition plays a powerful role and high quality colleges offer a variety of certificate options. Cornell offers over 20 certificates online through their program at http://www.ecornell.com and Harvard University offers online certificates through their extension studies school that may count towards a degree later at http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates. Public universities are just starting to get into the awarding of certificates which has traditionally been frowned upon by academia. Some public colleges that are leaders in distance education such as SUNY Empire State College are offering an ever increasing variety of certificates at http://www.esc.edu/degrees-programs/graduate-certificates/veterans-services/ .