Chapter 4: Graduate Certificate Programs
A certificate of graduate study is a non-degree credential designed to provide students with specialized knowledge that is less extensive than, and different from, a master's program. A certificate program represents a focused collection of courses that, when completed, affords the student some record of coherent academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines.
In the preferred model, students are enrolled in both a graduate degree program (master's or doctoral) and a graduate certificate program; the academic experience provided by the graduate certificate program is, therefore, interdisciplinary in nature. Some certificate programs are linked to specific graduate degree programs, such that they provide an interdisciplinary experience within a defined body of knowledge. It is equally acceptable that the certificate program should be appropriate for students in a range of academic programs. If a certificate program is free standing (i.e. not linked to a graduate degree program), students are admitted to the Graduate School as non-degree students.
To gain admission to a certificate program, the student must be approved for admission both by the graduate faculty of the program and by the Graduate School. Under most circumstances, language proficiency requirements for a graduate certificate are the same as those for other graduate studies. Programs may request an exception to waive the language proficiency requirement and provide strong justification such as extensive work experience when the individual has been continuously employed in the United States or another English speaking country for an extended period of time.
In most instances, students will apply to a graduate certificate program after they are accepted into a graduate degree program within the Graduate School. In this case, the student should apply directly to the coordinator of the graduate certificate program, using the standard Graduate School application form.
In instances where the graduate certificate program is not linked with a graduate degree program, students will apply directly to the graduate certificate program. Upon approval by the program, the program coordinator will forward to the Graduate School a recommendation regarding admission as a non-degree student. In this case, the student must meet the entrance requirements for graduate study, including English language proficiency requirements as specified in Chapter 1; relevant documentation must be forwarded to the Graduate School before the student can be admitted.
The general requirements for graduate certificate programs are:
- The program must include between 12 and 20 hours of graduate credit. Certificates linked to specific doctoral programs may have requirements above the 20 hour maximum only if those additional hours would normally be a part of the program of study for the student's doctoral degree.
- In any graduate certificate program, a minimum of 12 hours at the 600 level or above is required. A maximum of 3 hours of independent study course, such as readings or problems courses may be included in a certificate program requiring 12-15 hours. A maximum of 6 hours of independent study courses, such as readings or problems courses may be included in a certificate program requiring 16 or more hours.
- A minimum of two-thirds of the required credit hours for a graduate certificate must be completed at Kansas State University.
- Upon approval of the student's supervisory committee, credit from a certificate program may be applied to a graduate degree program.
- Courses may be used to fulfill requirements of more than one certificate program contingent on the requirements of each graduate certificate program.
- Upon approval of the coordinator of the certificate program, credits earned before the student entered the certificate program may be applied to that program.
- The minimum grade requirements for certificate programs are the same as those for graduate degrees. For graduate credit, the grade in a course must be C or higher. To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- A student may retake a course with subsequent removal of the prior grade only once for each course and for a total of two courses for the approved list of courses in the certificate program. An approved list of courses must be on file in the Graduate School at the time the retake request is submitted. If the course is retaken by the direction of the certificate program coordinator, the original grade is noted as retaken and removed from the grade point average. The retake grade will always be used in computing the grade point average regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the original grade.
- Students dismissed from a Graduate Certificate Program must petition for readmission. For the reinstatement procedure refer to Chapter 2, Section G, G.2 or Chapter 3, Section G, G.2.
- To be awarded a graduate certificate, the student (a) must have earned all the required credits in the six years prior to the semester in which the certificate plan is submitted, (b) must not be on probation, (c) must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on graduate coursework and on coursework applied to the certificate, (d) must meet all the requirements of the Graduate School and the student's certificate program, (e) must be enrolled during the semester in which the certificate requirements are completed, and (f) must provide official transcripts for any approved transfer credits. Transfer credit must be from an accredited institution. Certificate programs may specify higher requirements.
Graduate certificate programs may be created within the structure of the Graduate School. A certificate of graduate study is a non-degree credential designed to provide students with specialized knowledge that is less extensive than, and different from, a master's program. A certificate program represents a focused collection of courses that, when completed, affords the student some record of coherent academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines.
In the preferred model, students are enrolled in both a graduate degree program (master's or doctoral) and a graduate certificate program; the academic experience provided by the graduate certificate program is, therefore, interdisciplinary in nature. Some certificate programs are linked to specific graduate degree programs, such that they provide an interdisciplinary experience within a defined body of knowledge. It is equally acceptable that the certificate program should be appropriate for students in a range of academic programs. If a certificate program is free standing (i.e. not linked to a graduate degree program), students are admitted to the Graduate School as non-degree students. Whether linked or free-standing, certificate programs are not encouraged where they might detract from or cannibalize existing graduate degree programs. Rather, certificate programs are encouraged where they might provide value-added benefits to students in existing graduate degree programs or provide a needed educational initiative for post-baccalaureate students in an area not currently addressed by a graduate degree program.
C.2 Process of Approval for New Graduate Certificate Programs
Proposals for new graduate certificate programs may be created and submitted by constituent graduate faculty in the same manner as proposals for new graduate degree programs, except that all approvals are made internally at Kansas State University. Proposals must be accompanied by endorsement from the department heads and deans of the colleges in which the contributing coursework is administered, as well as from those academic units whose students, courses, or programs could be impacted by the creation of the new graduate certificate. Proposals must be endorsed by the relevant College faculty in accordance with normal routing procedures for changes in curriculum.
New graduate certificates in areas where joint graduate programs are conducted with other universities will normally be endorsed by the collaborating departments at the other institution as well. The Graduate Council considers all graduate certificate program proposals on their academic merit. Those meeting the criteria set forth by the Graduate Council are then recommended to the Faculty Senate for final approval.
C.3 Criteria for Approval
The following information should be included in the proposal for a new certificate program:
a. The proposed sequence of coursework must offer a clear and appropriate educational objective at the post-baccalaureate level.
b. The proposed program must achieve its educational objective in an efficient and well-defined manner.
c. A demonstrated need or demand for such a program must exist. This provision may be defined in terms of either external markets (e.g., external demand for the skills associated with such a certificate) or internal academic needs (e.g., the need for a critical mass of students in a given discipline).
d. The certificate program must include an appropriate number of credit hours, normally between 12 and 20.
e. The Assessment of Student Learning Plan must be approved by the Graduate Council Assessment and Review Committee.
The proposal is approved based on need and perceived program quality.
C.4 Application Procedure for a New Certificate Program
For consideration by the Graduate Council, proposed new graduate certificate programs must contain the following information:
a. A statement of the educational objectives of the certificate program;
b. A list of the courses associated with the certificate, including titles and course descriptions both for existing courses and any new courses that may be developed (course approval by normal channels may follow at a later date, as long as the resources are committed);
c. A statement of how the courses associated with the certificate will meet the stated educational objectives;
d. A statement of the need for the proposed certificate and the basis for such a need, supported by either externally or internally derived data;
e. A description of the certificate program's administration, including coordinating/governing committees, additional requirements for membership on student supervisory committees if the certificate is linked with graduate degree programs, etc.;
f. Estimated budget to support the certificate program;
g. The names of the faculty associated with or contributing to the certificate program, either by teaching one or more of' the courses associated with the program or participating in the design of the curriculum. Adjunct faculty members associated with the program should provide a current curriculum vitae;
h. The name and address of the faculty member designated as the coordinator of the program; and;
i. Student learning outcomes and assessment plan for the program;
j. Endorsements from those academic units (including extension) whose students, courses, or programs could be impacted by the creation of the new graduate certificate.