At the graduate level, a business certificate is a short-term program that often consists of about three to seven thematic courses.
While a business graduate certificate is a non-degree, it may still serve various purposes. For instance, some students may work towards a certificate to expand their current knowledge base, build expertise and enhance skills in one area. Others might use a graduate certificate in business to prepare for a future graduate degree.
Finally, the credits from a certificate may help an individual fulfill national license requirements.
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The type of business certificate program you gravitate to should help you update your professional profile, develop new skills, and potentially advance your career. That said, business is both a field in and of itself, as well as an umbrella term for other programs – operations, IT, finance, hospitality management, e-commerce, entrepreneurship, international business and so on. Moreover, there are certificates in business programs for different levels of education. Although some students may hold a Bachelors in Business, others may come from diverse business disciplines and educational backgrounds.
Both the business certificate and the masters degree in business expose students to graduate-level knowledge, so how do you know which one to choose? First off, a masters degree is often a two-year, full time commitment beyond the bachelors degree in a field of study. Students may earn a Master of Arts, Master of Science, or a highly-focused degree such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA).
On the other hand, the average full-time student may complete a graduate business certificate in a year or less, as there are fewer courses. While it does not take the place of a degree, business certificates may provide a great forum to come up to speed with new research, best practices or current theory. At the same time, a certificate may offer a way to take the next step in one’s education and keep the door open to future studies at the same time.
According to O*NET, 12% of Business Analysts have a post-bachelors certificate.
Some business certificates are geared for non-business students who may seek more familiarity with general practices in a specific field. In some universities, a graduate Business Certificate program consists of the about six courses that may total about 18 credits. In this case, students who successfully complete their certificate may apply into the school’s MBA program later. Below is a sample course of study.
Often, a university will propose a business certificate as a concentration area. Students in a degree program focus several courses around one theme along with core courses. Those who work towards a certificate as non-degree students may at some point transfer those credits forward into a full degree. Make sure to evaluate each school and syllabus to see what is required as programs may be unique.
An Accounting Certificate may help students to grasp some of the basic principles needed to make informed managerial decisions. While there may only be about four courses in a program, these often consist of a core topic and electives, such as nonprofit accounting. Graduates may be able to apply this type of certificate to a Masters in Finance or Masters in Management degree.
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A Certificate of Business Administration (CBA) program may provide non-business students a chance to obtain a versatile, practical business education. Some programs may consist of about four or six courses that highlight functions central to any business operation. One or more of these courses may also serve as part of a more focused masters degree such as the MBA. As an alternative, a management certificate could also be designed to add value to a business student's resume without the time commitment of a full MBA program.
A Graduate Certificate in Business Information Systems may be designed for people who work with IT departments, have clients or customers in technology fields, or who want to take a wide lens to grasp information systems. Through it, students may gain expertise in business software applications and develop a deeper knowledge of how information systems support company business functions. A future degree might be a Master of Science in Information Systems.
A post-masters Certificate in Economics may help a grad student with a degree in statistics or economics refine their niche in a much broader field. Courses may revolve around topics such as forecasting, analysis, and econometrics.
Students in a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Practices program may explore topics such as the basics of energy modeling and life cycle assessment. For current professionals, this may be a great way to build up credentials in the field of sustainable design. At the same time, when time permits, credits might be transferrable to a Master of Science in Sustainable Design Program.
Healthcare Administration & Management certificates may help students to address one type of industry, such as elder care management. This type of certificate may mix courses in financial management, business processes and gerontology. As part of a broader Master of Science in Management degree, this area of emphasis may help graduates refine the type of managerial career they hope to pursue.
Students who earn a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management may develop enhanced strategic HR skills. Some universities offer 12-credit certificate programs that take students through topics such as compensation, employment law and international staffing. Plus, credits can sometimes be transferred within the same college to a Master of Science in Human Resource Management degree.
A Marketing & Advertising certificate may address current strategies, trends and tactics to reach key audiences. Whether it is marketing analytics or integrated marketing communications, this type of short-term program may help current professionals. Through targeted courses, they may add on skills to their resume, or help drive results in their work environment. Future degrees might include Master of Science in Marketing Analytics or Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications among others.
Current and future managers who want to understand the ins and outs of the nonprofit sector might choose a Nonprofit Management Certificate. In some universities, the certificate is linked to a Masters in Public Management or Master of Science in Management degree.
Students who want to build practical leadership skills might opt for a graduate certificate in Organizational Leadership. In some schools, this type of certificate might cover advanced topics such as how human behavior applies to leadership activities. Often, these courses may be applied towards a full Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior Program.
As an add on to a Master of Science in Management, a Project Management Certificate may provide students with a specific skillset. Through their courses, students could develop the ability to manage a project plan, define project goals and objectives, specify tasks of how goals will be achieved, and ensure the plan is well-carried out.
Students in a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program may be able to refine their expertise with a Graduate Certificate in nonprofit management, public sector service, healthcare policy or government analytics.
A Graduate Certificate in Sport Management may be designed for students from varied Bachelors programs to gain the essential business and marketing principles of sport hospitality. Coursework may stress topics specific to sport facilities, sport events, and sport sales. As part of a full degree, options might include the MBA as well as Master of Science in Sport Management.
Many universities offer students a choice of an on-campus or online business certificate program. An important thing to consider is to earn your credits at a regionally accredited school. One of the reasons for this is that should you decide to return to university for a Masters or Doctorate degree, your future school is likely to look at this side of your transcripts. Aside from that, an institution whose quality is assured is likely to teach relevant courses.
Next steps would include researching and reaching out to accredited schools. Reaching out to more than one school will allow you to compare and contrast which features are right for you. The more you research what each school offers, you increase your chances of finding a school that is right for you.
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