If you want to improve your skills and knowledge in your field or accelerate your career, you might think your only option is to get a master’s degree. But in today’s busy world, it can be hard to find time for yourself, let alone two years to dedicate to school.
The good news is that a master’s degree isn’t your only option for gaining new abilities and improving your existing skill set. A high-quality graduate certificate program can offer you similar opportunities for learning and advancement, and can often be completed in as little as one year.
Are Graduate Certificate Programs Worth It?
Because people are less familiar with graduate certificates than graduate degrees, many people wonder if a graduate certificate is worth the time and effort it takes to earn. The truth is, not only are graduate certificates a great way to boost your skills, they can make you more competitive in the job market and help demonstrate your readiness for a promotion.
If career advancement is your goal, here are five things you’ll gain from a graduate certificate program that will make it worthwhile:
1. An Opportunity to Demonstrate Your Initiative
Employers are always looking for versatile people who can pick up new skills and competencies when necessary. A graduate certificate is a great way to showcase your dedication to the field and your interest in staying up-to-date with the latest advancements.
2. Earn Promotions and Pay Increases
If your reason for considering a graduate certificate is to advance your career, you’ve come to the right place. Certificate programs are an excellent way to prepare yourself for new roles and responsibilities that can lead to a promotion or raise. Specifically, a graduate certificate in a leadership field can help you learn to motivate your team and operate more effectively, skills every good manager or director should have.
3. Differentiate Yourself from Competitors
In today’s competitive job market, employers favor candidates with advanced skills and experience. A graduate certificate demonstrates to employers that not only are you willing to seek new knowledge, you’ll also go above and beyond to gain new skills that can’t be gained on the job. Compared to candidates who lack official training or education, those with a certificate are more likely to meet employer expectations.
4. Expand Your Professional Network
A well designed certificate program will provide opportunities for you to connect with other professionals in your field and network with industry experts, like faculty, employers and guest lecturers. The connections you’ll make in a certificate program can offer helpful career advice or even help you land a new job.
5. Reduce Future Education Costs
One hallmark of a high-quality graduate certificate program is the ability to earn real credit hours that can be applied to a master’s degree down the line. The value of this is twofold: 1. It reduces your upfront tuition burden if you choose to pursue a master’s degree in the future and 2. It allows you to dip your toes into the water of a new field or career path without requiring you to commit to a full-time graduate program. That way, when you’re ready to earn your master’s degree, you know the field is a good fit for you.
Now that you know what you’ll gain from a certificate program, you’re ready to start finding the right one for your area of focus. However, you should keep in mind that not all certificate programs are created equal. The best graduate certificate programs (and the ones that will be worth it) are offered by accredited colleges or universities and are taught by expert faculty who’ve developed high-quality curriculum on the subject.
Find the Best Graduate Certificate For Your Goals at USD-SOLES
USD School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) offers five graduate certificate options that meet all the criteria to be a worthy investment of your time and money. Plus, students who complete a graduate certificate program at SOLES can apply earned credits toward a graduate degree program in a relevant field!
If you’re ready to find out how a graduate certificate can prepare you for career advancement and easily transfer to a master’s degree in the future, will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.