A certificate program is a series of classes centered around a specific, specialized topic area. They are designed to either: equip students with the knowledge necessary to advance to higher level of study or prepare students to gain a credential necessary for their profession. Schools offer certificate programs at the undergraduate or graduate levels, though a number of institutions also offer continuing education certificate programs that are open to students at all levels. Certificate programs are typically completed in six months or less, requiring anywhere from 3 to 9 classes for completion.
Earning a certificate online provides a convenient, flexible way to learn, though the rigors of the coursework are certainly no less and no easier than the traditional classroom experience. Students can expect to spend approximately two and a half hours each week corresponding with instructors and classmates, as well as working on assignments. A range of portable media are used in certificate programs, such as videos, podcasts, and ebooks. Legitimate, accredited academic institutions offering online certificate programs have been evaluated by either a national or regional accreditation agency. Every accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) conducts a regular review of faculty, curricula, and administrative practices to ensure that schools uphold certain educational standards.
Enrollment into an online certificate program varies by level and topic of study. Schools offering certificate programs online also vary in their course requirements, such as class schedules, assignment deadlines, and classroom participation.