This is a question that is frequently asked by college students right now. In fact, I had to make this decision myself recently and it was not easy; there were pros and cons for both options. However, I eventually chose to pursue a graduate certificate because it made more sense for me personally: my goals and the job opportunities available to me after graduation.
If you are in a similar situation and asking yourself, “should I get a graduate certificate or a master’s degree?” then this article is for you! Here we will explore the similarities and differences between these two types of degrees so that you can make an informed decision.
Similarities between Graduate Certificates and Masters Degrees
1. Both generally take between one to three years to complete.
2. Both are generally more advanced studies for people already working in the field, or with previous education and experience in that field. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in business, then getting an MBA would be considered an advanced study because it builds on what you already know from your bachelor’s degree.
3. Both degrees will improve your resume and open more job opportunities for you.
4. The cost of a master’s degree is usually greater than that of a certificate program because it takes longer to complete, but the same amount or even less can be paid if a student were to get a scholarship.
5. Both degrees have a similar level of accreditation and are eligible for financial aid.
6. Even if you can’t get a master’s degree, a certificate may still provide the knowledge and skills needed to advance your career in that field or stand out from other applicants when it comes time to look for employment.
Differences between a Graduate Certificate and a Masters Degree
1. The main difference is that a master’s degree generally has a more specific focus than a certificate program. For instance, you might get an MBA in Marketing while the graduate certificate could have the concentrations of marketing, finance, or entrepreneurship – among others.
2. A master’s degree requires you to write a thesis that certifies that you have completed the degree. A graduate certificate does not require this.
3. Earning a master’s degree takes longer than earning a certificate and therefore costs more money in the long run. However, if you get a scholarship for whatever reason and it does not cover 100% of the cost, then getting a graduate certificate may actually be more expensive than getting a master’s degree.
4. The application process for each degree is different as well. For example, you can apply to an MBA program after earning your bachelor’s degree, but you do not apply directly to get a graduate certificate – this applies to most master’s programs. In order to apply for a certificate, you must have already completed at least half of your bachelor’s degree with high enough grades to get in.
5. Most master’s degrees have an expected graduation date that you need to meet in order to finish the program within the expected time frame. Graduate certificates can be finished faster or slower depending on how many courses per semester each student takes and when they start taking their courses. This means that some students could potentially graduate from a master’s degree faster than others if they were able to take more credits in one semester.
6. There are a lot more master’s degrees available for study than there are certificate programs offered by colleges and universities, but this varies depending on where you live and the academic institution that you would like to attend.
7. A certificate can be a great way to start off your education or enhance the knowledge that you have already obtained while you work towards earning a master’s degree at some point in the future, while a masters degree will not provide any further knowledge other than what is required for the degree itself.
if you are thinking about getting an advanced degree or certificate, either one could help to improve your career opportunities if chosen wisely because of their relative similarities and differences. The best thing for you to do is research all of your options so that you can make informed decisions that fit your needs better. For example, deciding which program fits into your schedule based on how many courses you can take per semester is a great way to make sure your studies are manageable and you do not have to stress out about getting behind. Talk to an enrollment counselor at the school of your choice or another academic institution if needed to get additional information on how these degrees work. If they cannot answer any of your questions, they should still be able to refer you to someone who can help.