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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 NC State according to the On Campus Routing Form. Upon completion of the certificate requirements, the GCP will be designated on the student’s transcript and the student shall receive a certificate from Registration and Records entitled “Graduate Certificate in…”. In most cases, certificate students are not eligible for federal financial aid, although some students in teaching certificate programs may be eligible (contact the Financial Aid Office for specific eligibility requirements).

The procedures for establishing a Graduate Certificate Program are outlined below. Also consult the Graduate Handbook’s section on Graduate Certificate Programs. See 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
  • approved at the department/program, college, and Administrative Board of the Graduate School levels
  • approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, and Chancellor

Minimum Requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs

Below are the minimum requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs, as outlined in the Graduate Handbook. Individual programs may develop additional requirements.

  1. All students enrolled in a GCP must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education; the transcript of this degree indicating conferral date must be submitted to the Graduate School.
  2. All GCP coursework must be taken at NC State. Transfer credit from other institutions is not allowed.
  3. The minimum number of credits required for a GCP is 12.
  4. For most GCP, required courses must be regular graduate-level academic courses; 400-level courses may only be used for those certificates where a course at that level has been approved by the Administrative Board as part of the GCP’s approval process.
  5. All courses should be letter graded, although three credits of S/U-graded coursework can be used where the courses are relevant to the certificate and S/U is the only grading option.
  6. GCP students do not have the option of taking the courses for “credit only” if they intend for the course to be part of their GCP.
  7. To receive a Graduate Certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.000 grade point average (GPA) on all certificate coursework. All grades on courses taken towards the certificate program in courses numbered 400 and above are included in the GPA.
  8. A minimum grade of a C- is required to receive certificate credit for a course, although departments/programs may require a higher minimum and the overall GPA requirement must still be maintained.
  9. GCPs must be completed within four years, beginning with the date the student commences courses applicable to the GCP, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the program or academic college/school.
  10. Students can obtain multiple certificates from NC State. Each certificate must have at least nine credit hours that are unique to it; see Section D for certificates taken by students in a degree program.

Graduate Certificates and Graduate Degree Programs

Internal and Shared Credit

  • Graduate certificate courses taken while enrolled in a degree program at NC State may be double-counted with the degree courses to the extent that the courses unique to the degree remains eighteen hours for a master’s or thirty-six hours for a doctorate.
  • Interinstitutional courses count as NC State courses.
  • Certificate and graduate minor coursework shall not be shared. For example, a student getting a minor using a set of coursework may not also get a certificate using that same coursework.

Transferring Certificate Coursework into a Degree Program

  • Up to twelve hours of certificate credit taken prior to enrollment in an NC State master’s or doctoral degree program (while enrolled as PBS) may be transferred into that degree program as long as eighteen hours remain unique to the master’s and thirty-six hours to the doctorate.

Proposal Requirements

All Graduate Certificate proposals should address the minimum requirements as listed above, in addition to the following:

  • Identify a program coordinator who will be responsible for administration of the certificate program. This is comparable to the Graduate Services Coordinator (GSC) role for graduate programs.
  • Identify a program director, similar to the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) for graduate programs. The Director of the Graduate Certificate Program (DGCP) may or may not be a DGP, but the DGCP must have Graduate Faculty status.
  • Outline admission requirements, as established by the department/program.
  • Outline the curriculum requirements for the GCP. If the curriculum includes proposed  new courses, the department/program must submit course actions to create those new courses.
  • 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.
  • Include a list of learning outcomes and an outcomes assessment plan. All GCPs will be subject to review as part of the regular graduate program review cycle.

Approval Process

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

  • Faculty should work with the appropriate department(s), college(s), and the Graduate School during the early planning process. Examples of recent proposals can be provided upon request for assistance in developing the proposal.
  • 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), (meeting frequencies vary by college).
  • College Dean(s) endorses and submits the proposal to the Graduate School.
  • DELTA endorses the proposal (for distance education GCPs only)
  • Substantive Change Review Team reviews and SACSCOC is notified, if necessary.
  • The Administrative Board of the Graduate School recommends (meets twice per month).
  • Graduate Operations Council is informed (meets monthly)
  • Dean of the Graduate School endorses and submits the proposal to the Provost’s Office.
  • Vice Provosts informed.
  • Deans Council recommends (meets twice per month).
  • Chancellor’s Executive Officers recommend.
  • University Council informed (meets September, November, January, and April).
  • Board of Trustees informed (meets September, November, February, and April).
  • Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost approves.
  • Chancellor approves.

Required Forms:

The proposal document may route for approval electronically, but a hard copy Signature Page and Routing Form should be routed by campus mail for endorsement.

Administrative Procedures for Approved Certificates

  • The program coordinator will monitor admission cycle of the GCP.
  • Unless otherwise requested in the proposal to establish the GCP, 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 academic structure code (in SIS) will be created for each Graduate Certificate Program 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.
  • 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.
  • As with all graduate programs, curriculum changes should route for approval through the appropriate college graduate committee and the Administrative Board of the Graduate School.
  • If at the time of the regular program review of the GCP (or at any time the offering department/program determines appropriate), it is deemed the certificate program should be terminated, an official request, including teach-out plans, should be submitted to the Administrative Board.

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.