I’ve been doing some soul searching lately leading to research around graduate certificates vs a full on Masters degree. But, my dilemma is that I don’t want to go deeper into debt unless the return is worth it.
My answer? Get started on a graduate certificate and get my feet wet. The plus for me is that I found a program, fully accredited, even top ranked that allows me to complete their certificate online and the tuition is dirt cheap. So cheap, I plan to pay for the whole thing myself! I already have two Masters degrees and this field while related, will require further education to prove that I have the basics needed to succeed.
I’m psyched to say the least because this achieves my goal of getting my feet wet while keeping costs low. That said, some of my research included reasons as to why a graduate certificate would be beneficial to one’s career.
Here ya go:
1. Demonstrates initiative. You’re taking your pursuit one step further than most, this is a plus to most employers.
2. Builds on what you already know and takes it one step further.
3. Credits are often transferable to the attached or related Masters program.
4. Strengthens and updates your overall skill set.
5. Connects you with other professionals in your field giving you a new perspective and opportunities for networking.
6. Gets you in the door for an interview. This is the most a certificate or any graduate program can do. Once there you need to sell yourself on why you are the woman for the job.
7. You gain admission to a field you were heretofore
not qualified to enter.
8. You become informed about your intended profession thereby grounding yourself in the basics needed to succeed in your new field.
9. Minimal financial risk. Certificates typically require 12-18 credits instead of 36-60 as with most full Masters level programs. Consider that once you get your foot in the door you can decide if you need to finish with a Masters or leave the certificate as is. Alternatively, as you gain more experience and you decide that you want to continue, your work experience will bring real world to the classroom that you can build upon in your studies.
10. Flexibility. Graduate certificates offer flexibility in many ways. If you have a few interests but have neither time not the money to pursue a few Masters degrees then you can take the course online or even take courses from another certificate program while still getting the best of both worlds: flexible learning format (classroom or online) while dipping your feet into several pools to test the waters.
What a graduate certificate is is not:
1. Trump card. This does not guarantee you open admission into that field. You must work hard to gain experience in addition to the certificate since the certificate gets you in the door.
1. Find a mentor.
2. Couple the certificate with experience such as an internship or volunteer work.
3. Find people via LinkedIn who are where you want to be. The search and filtering tools are great to find people who share your intended career path. Send them a message requesting an informational interview.
Have you completed a graduate certificate? How has it helped you (or not)?