6,053: Curricula-Definition of Certificate Program-Graduate

Revised: November 2021

Graduate certificate programs are offered for academic credit by some departments/colleges.

Graduate certificate programs are defined as those consisting of graduate coursework and requiring a baccalaureate degree for admission. Graduate certificate programs that require a master's degree either for admission or as part of the certificate process are designated as advanced graduate certificate programs.

Certificate Purposes - Graduate Certificate programs should meet one or more of the following education needs:

1. Provide specialized professional training in a comparatively brief time frame,
2. Provide specialized professional training that leads to licensure by an outside agency (e.g. teacher licensure),
3. Provide a curriculum focused more on applied knowledge than research, and/or
4. Provide a curriculum that complements a particular graduate program.

Graduate Certificate programs should meet the Northwest Accreditation Standards; Standard 1.C - Student Learning:

1.C.1 The institution offers programs with appropriate content and rigor that are consistent with its mission; culminate in achievement of clearly identified student learning outcomes that lead to collegiate-level degrees, certificates, or credentials and include designators consistent with program content in recognized fields of study.

1.C.2 The institution awards credit, degrees, certificates, or credentials for programs that are based upon student learning and learning outcomes that offer an appropriate breadth, depth, sequencing, and synthesis of learning.

1.C.3 The institution identifies and publishes expected  program and degree learning outcomes for all degrees, certificates, and credentials. Information on expected student learning outcomes for all courses is provided to enrolled students.

Therefore, Graduate Certificate Programs should have the following characteristics:

a. A curriculum that is appropriate in terms of breadth, depth, sequencing of courses and total number of credits.
b. Identified program learning outcomes.
c. A plan for annual assessment.
d. In general, graduate certificate programs should offer a minimum of nine credits and not exceed 15 credits of course work. Certificate programs that lead to licensure must have curricula consistent with the requirements of the agency awarding licensure, and thus may exceed the 15 credit maximum.

Admissions Requirements - Certificate-seeking students who have not been admitted to a graduate degree program should complete the Graduate Special application and the Graduate Declaration/Change of Certificate form. Certificate-seeking students who have been admitted to a graduate degree program should complete the Graduate Declaration/Change of Certificate form.

Some certificate programs are open only to admitted graduate students in a particular degree program (e.g. nursing certificate programs), while others are open to students in multiple degree programs for which the certificate curriculum is complementary.

Advancement from Certificate Only to Graduate Program Admission - Graduate students in certificate programs only who wish to pursue a graduate degree must meet the minimum requirements for admission, apply to the graduate program, and be admitted. If admitted, they may request that nine credits of their certificate work be applied to their degree. Application of more than nine credits of certificate coursework to a graduate degree requires that the student submit a request for exception through the major advisor and graduate program director to the graduate dean, whose decision is final. Successful completion of a graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to a graduate degree program. However, courses comprising a graduate certificate may be used as evidence in support of a student's application to a graduate degree program.

Financial Aid Eligibility - Students who are enrolled in a graduate degree program as well as a certificate program are eligible to receive financial aid. Students who are enrolled only in a certificate program as a graduate student may receive financial aid only if the program has been determined by the Financial Aid Office to be financial aid eligible.

Academic Requirements - The program requirements for approved certificates are specified in the college and department sections of the General Catalog.

To be awarded the certificate, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in the courses/credits that constitute the certificate. A grade of C- or lower in a particular course is not counted towards completion of the certificate and if the course is required for the certificate, it must be repeated to earn a grade of C or better. Refer to the specific certificate program description in the colleges and departments section of the General Catalog for detail.

In cases where a graduate student is a candidate for both a graduate degree and graduate certificate, it will be at the discretion of a student's advisory/examining committee whether or not any of the credit hours, up to a maximum of nine credits, earned toward a graduate certificate may be counted in the graduate degree program of study.

Declaration/Change of Certificate Program; Completion - Continuing certificate-seeking students must declare a certificate program using the Graduate Declaration/Change of Certificate Form and securing the required signatures; students may change or remove the certificate program in which they are enrolled using the same form.

Students who complete the certificate requirements must complete an application for graduation in MyNEVADA, where a non-refundable $75 graduation fee will post to the student account approximately 24 hours after the application is submitted. Completion of certificates offered for academic credit are noted on the transcript. Documents of completion are prepared by the Office of Admissions and Records and mailed after the graduation term ends.

Approval of New Graduate Certificate Programs - Procedures for approval of a new graduate certificate program or elimination of an existing graduate certificate program are described in sections 6,030; 6,042; and 6,045 and include review by the New Program Pre-Proposal Committee, Graduate Council, University Courses and Curriculum Committee, and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Departments may not award certificates that have not been approved through the process detailed in these sections.

Review of Graduate Certificate Programs - Graduate certificate programs, like all other instructional programs, go through regular program review. Typically, this occurs in conjunction with the program review of the academic department or program offering the certificate.