Graduate Certificate Programs

A Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) is a prescribed set of regular graduate level academic courses, designed by an academic department or program and taken for credit by post-baccalaureate students (PBS) and/or current degree program students. The proposed certificate program must be approved by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School. Upon completion, the GCP will be designated on the student’s transcript and the student shall receive a certificate from Registration and Records. Certain teaching certificate programs may be eligible for Federal financial aid. Students in teaching certificate programs should contact Financial Aid to determine eligibility. All other students in certificate programs are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Graduate Certificates for a listing of fields offering Graduate Certificates.

Establishing a Graduate Certificate Program

In order to be considered a Graduate Certificate Program by the University and to have completion of a required course of study designated on the official university transcript, certificate programs must be:

  • developed following the procedures and requirements outlined below
  • recommended at the department/program, college, and Administrative Board of the Graduate School level
  • approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, Provost, and Chancellor


  • Each Graduate Certificate Program will identify a program coordinator who will be responsible for administration of the certificate program.
  • An application for acceptance into a certificate program is required. The application process must be clearly outlined in the proposal and all promotional materials. At a minimum, the application should require the necessary information for tracking (name, student ID number, etc.), and proof of completion of a Bachelor’s degree (final transcript). The application will be handled at the department/program level.
  • Application fees set by and returned to the department will require approval by NC State University, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors. Fees collected will be classified as receipt income and subject to the same rules as state-appropriated funds.
  • The proposing department/program establishes admission requirements, which must be clearly outlined in the proposal and all application materials.
  • The program coordinator will monitor admission requirements.
  • Unless otherwise requested, the standard University tuition rate will apply for course work in certificate programs. Tuition other than the standard rate will require approval by NC State University, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, and will be classified as receipt income and subject to the same rules as state appropriated funds.
  • A new classification code (GR Code) for each Graduate Certificate Program should be established for tracking purposes. Student credit hours (SCH) will be assigned for certificate program students based on the instructor assigned to teach the courses that certificate students take.
  • For tracking purposes, the coordinator should be given access to students in this classification code.
  • All promotional literature for Graduate Certificate Programs should include a statement to the effect that “Academic success might have a strong bearing on admission to a degree program but completion of a certificate program in no way guarantees entry into a graduate degree program, which is done through a separate application process.”
  • If the Graduate Certificate Program uses a unique group of faculty participants, a list of such faculty program participants and a method for identification of future faculty should be included with the proposal. The list of current faculty will be approved at the College and Graduate School level.
  • As with all graduate programs, curriculum changes should be handled through the appropriate college graduate committee and the ABGS.
  • The Graduate Certificate Program coordinator will notify the Dean of the Graduate School of the student’s completion of certificate requirements.
  • The Graduate School will perform an audit of the student’s record of work in the Graduate Certificate Program and, once the record is approved, will notify Registration and Records to prepare a certificate and include notification of completion on the student’s official University transcript.
  • For existing programs to be considered a Graduate Certificate Program, they must complete a proposal following these Rules and Procedures and submit it to the College and Administrative Board for approval.
  • In accordance with Administrative Memorandum 406, notification of a Graduate Certificate Program, approved via this process, will be sent to Senior-Vice President for Academic Affairs, UNC-General Administration.

All Graduate Certificate Programs will be subject to review as part of the regular graduate program review cycle. If at that time (or at any time the offering department/program determines appropriate), it is deemed the certificate program should be terminated, an official request, including phase-out plans, should be submitted to the Administrative Board.

Minimum Requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs

Below are the minimum requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs. Individual programs may develop additional requirements.

  • Certificates will be titled “Graduate Certificate in….”
  • Courses required in the Graduate Certificate Program must be regular graduate level academic courses (approved by the Administrative Board). Up to one course (for a maximum of 4 credit hours) may be at the 400 level.
  • The minimum number of credits required for a Graduate Certificate Program is 12.
  • To receive a Graduate Certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.00 grade point average (GPA) on all certificate course work. All grades on courses taken towards the certificate program in courses numbered 400 and above are included in the GPA. Courses at the 300 level and below are not eligible for certificate credit and subsequently do not affect the graduate GPA.
  • The minimum grade to receive certificate credit should be established by the department/program but can be no lower than a grade of “C-“.
  • Graduate Certificate Program students who take letter-graded 400-, 500- and 700-level courses do not have the option of taking the courses for “credit only” if they intend for the course to be part of their certificate program.
  • Transfer credit from other institutions is not allowed for Graduate Certificate Program. All course work must be registered for through NC State University.
  • All Graduate Certificate Program requirements must be completed within four (4) calendar years, beginning with the date the student commences courses applicable to the Graduate Certificate Program, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the program or academic college/school.
  • A student may obtain more than one certificate. Each certificate must have at least nine (9) credit hours that are unique to it.

Transferring Graduate Certificate Program Courses to a Master’s Program

Transferring courses from a Graduate Certificate Program to a Master’s degree program will follow the official Graduate School guidelines, which state “at least 18 hours of the minimum 30 hours required for the Master’s degree must be graduate credits earned while the student is enrolled in a graduate classification at NC State.” The remaining 12 credit hours, or more depending on the requirements of the specific program, may be transferred from graduate credit earned while enrolled in a Graduate Certificate Program at NC State University.

Approval Process

The development and approval process for a new Graduate Certificate Program is as follows:

  • Departments/faculty should work with the appropriate College(s) and the Graduate School during the early planning process.
  • Department Head(s) (or program coordinator for interdisciplinary programs) endorse the proposal and submits to the College Dean(s).
  • College Graduate Committee(s) recommend(s).
  • College Dean(s) endorse and submit to the Graduate School an electronic file and one signed hard copy.
  • The Administrative Board of the Graduate School recommends (meets every two weeks during the academic year).
  • Graduate Operations Council is informed (meets 1st Wednesday of each month).
  • UPA informed (Graduate School). SACS notified if necessary (UPA).
  • Dean of the Graduate School approves and submits to Provost.
  • Vice Provosts informed.
  • Endorsed by the Deans Council (meets 2nds and 4th Thursday of each month).
  • Endorsed by Executive Officers.
  • University Council informed (meets September, November, January, and April).
  • Board of Trustees informed (meets September, November, February, and April).
  • Provost approves and notifies UNC-GA in writing so the new Certificate Program can be added to the UNC Inventory.

Required Forms:

Other Certificate Programs

Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.)
In addition to degree programs, some of the constituent institutions offer specific courses of study for professional licensure in education, which are not associated with the conferral of a particular degree. These programs usually require one year of study beyond the master’s degree and provide a higher level of licensure for public school teachers and administrators. The basic licensure requirements for public school teachers and administrators are defined by the State Board of Education. It is the policy of the Board of Governors to use the designation “Certificate of Advanced Study” with respect to all sixth-year programs established for public school personnel and to authorize no Ed.S. (Specialist in Education) degree programs beyond those now in existence. For guidelines on establishing a C.A.S. program, see UNC Notification of New Certificate and Licensure Programs.

Teacher Licensure Areas (T.L.A.)
Constituent institutions with teacher education programs approved by the State Board of Education may offer specific course clusters in approved teacher licensure areas, which meet licensure requirements of the State Board of Education but do not lead to the conferral of a particular degree or a Certificate of Advanced Study. These may be at the entry level or advanced level of teacher licensure. When an institution receives authorization to offer a T.L.A. from the State Board of Education, the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs should be notified. A current inventory of teacher licensure programs approved by the State Board of Education is available from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. For guidelines on establishing a teacher education program, see UNC Notification of New Certificate and Licensure Programs.

Establishing Certificate Programs
Authorization to establish new Certificates of Advanced Study is delegated to the Chancellor, who should notify the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs when the program has been approved by the State Board of Education and the date of program implementation established. The chancellor should also notify the Senior Vice President when other certificates (e.g., the combination of specific degree-credit courses to provide professional development for practitioners) are established, providing the title of the certificate and the title and level of courses included in the certificate. This will enable the Office of the President to maintain a complete inventory of certificates that are offered by individual campuses.