There are two forms of Certificates. The first type is awarded after successfully completing a rigid short-term curriculum. The second variety is directed towards students holding a Bachelor’s Degree who wish to specialize in a specific aspect of their field.

A common example of the first category of a Certificate where the student is not required to have completed undergraduate studies is an Early Childhood Education Certificate. In programs of this nature, a high school diploma or GED is often the sole prerequisite.

Courses for an Early Childhood Education Certificate prepare students for state or federal licensing requirements. The curriculum focuses on child development and the student is required to undertake an internship. Dependent on association or state requirements, it may be necessary that the student has worked a specific number of hours with children to qualify for a certificate. Programs are generally one year in length. Graduates must apply for the Certificate from the appropriate licensing association.

Job opportunities with an Early Childhood Education Certificate are very limited and consist of entry-level positions in daycares with children under a specific age.

The second form of Certificate is known as a Graduate Certificate. To continue with the illustration of the differences between the two Certificates, a Graduate Certificate of English Education may be used as a precedent.

To qualify for entry into a Graduate Certificate program, students must hold, at a minimum, an undergraduate degree. Master’s Degree holders often enroll in Graduate Certificate programs and students currently studying for their Master’s Degree may be permitted to enter a Graduate Certificate program concurrently.

A student registered in a Graduate Certificate program undertakes a comprehensive and intense curriculum that specifically targets their specialization (i.e. English Education). Graduate Certificates generally comprise of 4 to 8 courses which must be taken in a formulated succession.

Prerequisites for a Graduate Certificate may include: