Graduate certificate

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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, for example a graduate certificate is at bachelor's degree level in the United Kingdom but is at master's degree level in Ireland, in both cases representing less work than a degree at the same level.



A graduate certificate [1] (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. [2]

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). [3]

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, [4] 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.


A graduate certificate is a master's-level qualification indicating the successful completion of a postgraduate programme of education. On the National Framework for Qualifications the qualification is at Level 9 or Level 7 on the European Qualifications Framework, normally with a size of 30 ECTS credits. The terms 'graduate certificate' and 'postgraduate certificate' are used interchangeably. [5]


In support of the SkillsFuture movement, the autonomous university in Singapore[ clarification needed ] has launched a graduate certificate programme (GradCert). This is a higher education qualification at an equivalent level to a bachelor's degree but more limited in scope, taking less time to complete.[ citation needed ]

The graduate certificates is designed with working professionals in mind, helping these learners acquire knowledge and skills essential for their workplace.[ citation needed ]

SMU Academy the professional training arm of Singapore Management University has launched "Bite Sized Credit Bearing" modules that can be combined towards earning a graduate certificate and subsequently a master's degree.[ citation needed ]

The National University of Singapore, Institute of Systems Science appointed for National Continuing Education & Training (CET) Institute (NCI) for the National Infocomm Competency Framework (NICF) by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) also launches its Stackable Certificate Programmes that provide alternative pathway for continuing education. The series consist of certificates that can be stacked towards earning a graduate certificate and subsequently the graduate diploma or a master's degree.


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[ clarification needed ].[ citation needed ] 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 coursework required for obtaining a Master's degree. [6]

United States

In the United States, a graduate certificate can be awarded by universities upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastery of a specific subject area. Graduate certificates represent training at the Master's degree or doctoral level, generally consisting of 12 to 18 semester units of coursework. An accredited bachelor's degree in a related field is a standard prerequisite for entry into a graduate certificate program. [7] In some cases, the graduate certificate can represent part of the coursework required for obtaining a Master's degree or Doctorate.

In teaching, holding a graduate certificate may satisfy program specific education requirements not met with some interdisciplinary degrees. [8]


In Australia, a Graduate Certificate is a Level 8 qualification alongside the Bachelor (Honours) degree. Entry to a Graduate Certificate typically requires completion of a bachelor's degree or higher. In some cases, admission may be on the basis of significant work experience. Graduate Certificates typically take six months of full-time study to complete.

These courses are usually delivered by universities and private providers.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Postgraduate education</span> Phase of higher education

Postgraduate or graduate education refers to academic or professional degrees, certificates, diplomas, or other qualifications pursued by post-secondary students who have earned an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including undergraduate degrees, master's, and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower-level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Master's degree</span> Postgraduate academic degree

A master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diploma</span> Educational document

A diploma is a document awarded by an educational institution testifying the recipient has graduated by successfully completing their courses of studies. Historically, it has also referred to a charter or official document of diplomacy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British undergraduate degree classification</span> Academic grading structure in the United Kingdom

The British undergraduate degree classification system is a grading structure for undergraduate degrees or bachelor's degrees and integrated master's degrees in the United Kingdom. The system has been applied in other countries and regions.

A graduate diploma is generally a qualification taken after completion of a first degree, although the level of study varies in different countries from being at the same level as the final year of a bachelor's degree to being at a level between a master's degree and a doctorate. In some countries the graduate diploma and postgraduate diploma are synonymous, while in others the postgraduate diploma is a higher qualification.

The National Certificate is a higher education qualification in a technology discipline offered by higher institutions across the globe. Each country has its own specifications about the certificate.

A postgraduate diploma is a postgraduate qualification awarded after a university degree, which supplements the original degree and awards them with a graduate diploma. Countries that award postgraduate diplomas include but are not limited to Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Spain, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Republic of Panama the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe. Level of education and recognition differ per issuing country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Australian Qualifications Framework</span>

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Australian Government's Department of Industry, with oversight from the States and Territories, through the Standing Council of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment. While the AQF specifies the standards, education and training organisations are authorised by accrediting authorities to issue a qualification.

Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate bachelor's degree containing a larger volume of material or a higher standard of study, or both, rather than an "ordinary", "general" or "pass" bachelor's degree. Honours degrees are sometimes indicated by "Hons" after the degree abbreviation, with various punctuation according to local custom, e.g. "BA (Hons)", "B.A., Hons", etc. In Canada, honours degrees may be indicated with an "H" preceding the degree abbreviation, e.g. "HBA" for Honours Bachelor of Arts or Honours Business Administration.

The specialist degree is an academic degree conferred by a college or university. The degree is formatted differently worldwide and may be either a five-year program or a doctoral level graduate program that occurs after a master's degree but before a doctoral degree.

A Diplom is an academic degree in the German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and a similarly named degree in some other European countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine and only for engineers in France, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Brazil.

A Certificate of Higher Education (Cert.H.E./CertHE) is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom.

A postgraduate certificate (abbreviated as PGCert, PG Cert or PGC is a postgraduate qualification at the level of a master's degree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic certificate</span> Document that certifies having received specific education

An academic certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.

The Malaysian Qualifications Framework or the MQF is a unified system of post secondary qualifications offered on a national basis in Malaysia. It is administered by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), a statutory body under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).

In the UK education sector, there are a wide range of qualification types offered by the United Kingdom awarding bodies. Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and Qualifications Wales in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Scottish Higher Education Qualifications are on both the SCQF and the FHEQ.

Alternative pathways in education are alternative means of obtaining educational qualifications, other than the traditional means of gaining access to or completing the required study to obtain the educational qualifications.

Post-secondary qualifications are qualifications typically studied for after successful completion of secondary school. In Mauritius, this is usually after successful completion of the Higher School Certificate or its equivalent, although select qualifications may permit early school leaving or require additional study. A variety of different post-secondary qualifications are offered in Mauritius.

The national qualification frameworks in the United Kingdom are qualifications frameworks that define and link the levels and credit values of different qualifications.


  1. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Glossary definition of 'graduate certificate', archived from the original on 2018-05-21, retrieved 2016-06-05,
    graduate certificate
    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).
  2. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 36, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05, 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).
  3. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), pp. 17–18, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05, 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
  4. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 35, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05, 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
  5. "Irish Register of Qualifications" . Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  6. Roy, Dave (2006-12-01). "MET – "What is this laddering thing?" And certificate admission standards". PDCE Online. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  7. Gobel, Reyna (2013-03-20). "Consider Graduate Certificates to Save Time, Money". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
  8. Polly, Drew; Putman, Michael; Petty, Teresa; Good, Amy (2017-12-15). Innovative Practices in Teacher Preparation and Graduate-Level Teacher Education Programs. IGI Global. pp. 350–357. ISBN   9781522530695.