Certificate Structure, Rules and Regs

General Rules for Certificates

  • 12-18 hours with limitations as described below for POS
  • must have a clear market and address a specific need
  • must have sensible admission criteria: must require bachelor's but may also require master's; applicants must submit the application form, resume, and all transcripts; programs can require other items (test scores, writing samples, etc.). See the Admission information below for more detail on the process.


The process to be admitted to a certificate program is much the same as for a degree program and applied to both 1) students applying for a certificate program only, or 2) students applying for degree and certificate programs concurrently. 

For students who are applying as new graduate students (rather than adding a certificate to an existing degree program):


  1. Fill out the online application (two applications if applying for degree and certificate programs concurrently.)
  2. Submit a resume
  3. Submit required transcripts
  4. Submit the fee
  5. Submit any additional materials required (some require test scores or writing samples, etc.)
  6. Complete the process by the graduate school deadline for the term.
  7. Note: These applicants must undergo the same administrative screening as all types of applicants.


  1. Review the application after it has been referred
  2. Submit a decision electronically
  3. Orient and advise the student
  4. Complete the POS form and the Certificate Completion form

If the student is currently enrolled in a Degree program (in first term or later): The student can request to ADD the certificate via a form to the graduate school. In that case, the certificate director will receive a request to review the materials for admission and send us a decision.

Program of Study

The customization form for the Certificate POS can be submitted anytime, even at the end of the certificate. The usual process: The POS is submitted with the completion form once the student has completed the coursework. NOTE: This is NOT ideal, since if there is an expired course, a non-grad course or the courses do not meet the certificate requirements, the grad school will not award the certificate. It would be better to know this up front and fix it.

The standard rules for a student's certificate POS:

  • must follow approved curriculum (in bulletin) - no substitutions!
  • may not include more than 25% transfer hours (and all usual transfer rules apply)
  • may not include more than 9 hours work taken before admission to the certificate
  • may not include more than 25% independent study + selected topics
  • must be completed with at least a 3.0 GPA overall and no grades of F or U
  • must meet the 7 year time limit on course grades
  • there is no limit to double counting coursework for certificates (these are just pieces of paper! - i.e., a special form of non-degree enrollment), BUT a student may not earn a certificate with the same title as a major (e.g., Sociology MA and Sociology Certificate)