A graduate certificate is an educational credential representing completion of specialized training at the college or university level. A graduate certificate can be awarded by universities upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastering of a specific subject area. Graduate certificates represent training at different levels in different countries and can be at bachelor's degree or master's degree level.
A graduate certificate (GradCert, GCert, GradC) is a higher education qualification at the same level as a bachelor's degree but more limited in scope, taking less time to complete - normally between one third and two thirds of an academic year (or full-time equivalent). A longer period of work (but still less than required for a degree) would lead to a graduate diploma.
The graduate certificate is positioned at Level 6 (bachelor's degree level) of The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and at Level 9 or 10 (bachelor's degree at ordinary or honours level) of The framework for qualifications of higher education institutions in Scotland. In reference to the European Qualifications Framework, it is a 'first-cycle' qualification at the same level of knowledge and challenge as a first or bachelor's degree but without the same depth and breadth of study. Successful students will typically demonstrate some, but not all, of the kinds of skills, knowledge and capabilities that would be expected for a Bachelor's candidate. Hence this certificate is not considered to be an 'end-of-cycle' qualification (it demonstrates only some of the 'first-cycle' learning outcomes).
Graduate certificates are available in a limited range of subjects that are typically work-related, for example psychology, management, counselling or law.
Graduate certificates are normally taken by those who have already graduated with a bachelor's degree in another discipline (hence the name). This qualification should not be confused with postgraduate certificates or postgraduate diplomas, which are master's degree-level qualification, or with certificates of Higher Education, which are lower-level qualifications normally taken by those without previous HE qualification.
In Canada, a graduate certificate is a university credential usually offered to students who have completed an average of 15 credits of graduate course work. Admission requirements vary tremendously among Canadian universities, but in general both graduate students, as well as undergraduate students having completed a Bachelor's degree, can apply to such a program. In some cases, the graduate certificate can represent part of the work required for obtaining a Master's degree.
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In the United States, a graduate certificate can be awarded by universities upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastering of a specific subject area. Graduate certificates represent training at the Master's degree level, generally consisting of 12 to 18 credit hours of coursework. An accredited bachelor's degree in a related field is a standard prerequisite for entry into a Graduate Certificate program.
- Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Glossary definition of 'graduate certificate', retrieved 2016-06-05,
A higher education qualification at level 6 in The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 6 in the Credit and qualifications framework for Wales, and at levels 9-10 in the Scottish credit and qualifications framework (9 for ordinary, 10 with honours).
- Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 36, retrieved 2016-06-05,
Graduate diplomas and certificates are at the same level (6 on the FHEQ/SCQF level 10 on the FQHEIS) but are differentiated from each other by volume of study and learning outcomes. The title 'certificate' normally signifies learning outcomes which would imply study equivalent to at least one-third of a full-time academic year, and the title 'diploma' normally signifies study equivalent to at least two-thirds of a full-time academic year at the relevant level (and/or, where credit is awarded, the volume of credit specified by the relevant credit framework).
- Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), pp. 17–18, retrieved 2016-06-05,
In addition to bachelor's degrees at this level are short courses and professional 'conversion' courses, based largely on undergraduate material, and taken usually by those who are already graduates in another discipline, leading to, for example, graduate certificates or graduate diplomas
- Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 35, retrieved 2016-06-05,
titles with the stem 'graduate' (for example, 'graduate diploma') are used for qualifications from programmes of study that typically require graduate entry, or its equivalent, and have learning outcomes that match relevant parts of the descriptor for a qualification at level 6 on the FHEQ or SCQF levels 9 or 10 on the FQHEIS
- Gobel, Reyna (2013-03-20). "Consider Graduate Certificates to Save Time, Money". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2014-12-06.