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Should You Earn a Graduate Certificate? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Online certificates can lift you to new career heights.

Your bachelor’s degree equipped you with the tools and knowledge you needed to move with confidence and proficiency down your chosen career path. But now you have your sights set on acquiring new skills to qualify for an advancement opportunity. Or perhaps you’re ready to shift the direction of your career. Online certificate programs may be the career-boosting option you’re looking for. These online programs are structured to provide specific skill sets and certifications. They are building blocks for career enhancements and enrichment. If you’re considering a graduate certificate, here are five questions to ask yourself:

What is my career goal?
This can be the simplest—or hardest—question to answer. Simple: At your most recent performance review, you and your manager agreed on the specific skills you need to advance to the next pay grade. Done! You are ready to find the online certificate program that aligns with your goals. More challenging: You’re interested in moving in a new career direction but are torn between two exciting options. Discussions with a manager, mentor, or human resources representative can help you clarify your next right move. CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, also offers helpful career development resources and assessment tools.

Should You Earn a Graduate Certificate? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

What should I look for in an online certificate program?
To find the graduate certificate that is most relevant to your career goals, make a list of the skills you want to add to your portfolio and match it with the program that is the best fit. An accredited online college like Walden will have a range of options to meet your needs. An enrollment advisor or career services office can help explain the various graduate degree opportunities and where those paths may lead.

Can I fit a graduate certificate into my already busy lifestyle?
Pursuing a certificate program online offers the flexibility you need to balance your career, family, and other responsibilities while providing a relevant, stimulating learning experience. With online learning, you’ll find formats you can customize to fit your schedule and timeline. And online certification programs are affordable, which is another important consideration for adult learners with other financial commitments.

How long will it take me to complete a graduate certificate?
One of the advantages of an online certificate program is that it’s up to you to determine your time to completion. After taking the first course in Walden University’s Graduate Certificate in Special Education program, for example, you have the option of continuing with one course at a time, or taking two if speedier completion is desired. And with the Graduate Certificate in Special Education, you can alter your pace—returning to one course or stepping up to two. Each certificate will have different course and credit requirements, but they are all designed to convey deep educational benefits in as economical a time frame as possible.

What if I decide to pursue a master’s degree?
As you build your skill set with an online graduate certificate program, you can be earning valuable credits that can transfer into a master’s degree program—or toward a doctoral degree if you’re working at the post-master’s level—saving you time and money. For example, upon completing Walden University’s Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management, you may apply credits toward the MS in Human Resource Management. Pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Public Health? Those courses directly transfer to Walden’s Master of Public Health program. Those are just two of the more than 60 options available among Walden University’s online certificate programs.

As you’ve been exploring certificate programs online, you may have heard the term “stackable credentials.” This refers to the portfolio of skills you begin building with your first graduate certificate. Given the flexibility and affordability of online certifications, you can start building the portfolio that’s right for you today. Level up your skills or start laying the groundwork for a new career. With online learning, the choices are at your fingertips.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering over 60 graduate, post-baccalaureate, post-master’s, and post-doctoral certificate programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,