Process & Procedure

The new certificate approval process has several steps and points of review.  Certificate proposals follow a process through the Curriculum Information Management system (CIM).  Links to the forms and information on the process can be found on the academic programs page.

The program intent proposal form allows multiple stakeholders to review the proposed elements of the program at a high level and provide early feedback to utilize in crafting a full proposal. In your submission, you'll need to include an initial draft budget proposal and supporting documentation related to the new program's anticipated student and industry demand, university resources, etc.

Submitted forms are first reviewed and approved by your dean, then by the Office of Academic Affairs. If your program intent form is approved, you'll be notified by email and may continue to step 2 when you're ready.

Once your intent stage form is approved, use the new program proposal form to craft a full academic program proposal with detailed information. The new program proposal form will populate information from your intent form. 

In addition to instructions on the academic programs page, information is provided below to  explain graduate certificate requirements and to assist with completion of the fields in the certificate proposal form.  Contact the Graduate School with additional questions.

Graduate Certificate Program Requirements

  1. Students working toward an interdisciplinary certificate normally are enrolled in a campus master's or doctoral program and are awarded a certificate only after completing degree program requirements. Students working toward completion of a professional certificate may be enrolled with or without completing work toward a degree program.
  2. Prospective students who are not currently matriculated graduate students must be admitted through Continuing Education as non-degree students, and internally to the unit’s certificate program, per standard program admission guidelines.
  3. Students must have an awarded bachelor's degree to pursue a graduate certificate.
  4. Graduate Certificate proposals must include a minimum curriculum of 9 hours of graduate level coursework. In many disciplines, 12 hours is the appropriate minimum standard.  Students may not double count courses between multiple certificates.
  5. In order to earn a certificate, students must receive a minimum grade of a C or higher in each course.  The cumulative GPA for certificate courses must be 3.0 or higher. More stringent certificate program requirements may apply.
  6. Graduate certificate programs require the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the Executive Advisory Council of the Graduate School.

Required Information for Graduate Certificate Proposal

Application materials for graduate certificate programs should be prepared in consultation with the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, and require the endorsement of the home department chair and college dean, along with any other affected department chairs and college deans.

After the Intent Stage form for the proposed program is reviewed and deemed viable by the Office of the Provost, the proposer will develop the full proposal in the CIM proposal form.  Proposer is responsible for updating department chair(s) and college dean(s) as the full proposal is developed.

Enter information in CIM fields as requested.  While many fields are self-explanatory, the information below will help to provide specific information which should be gathered to ensure timely review of a graduate certificate proposal.  Please use this information while working through the corresponding fields in the CIM form.

Program Administration Section

  • Identify program director and director selection process
  • Identify group or committee responsible for overseeing the program and curriculum
  • Identify persons responsible for making admissions decisions, advising students and monitoring their progress
  • If proposed certificate is interdisciplinary, explain how units will work together to administer certificate

Admissions Section

  • Basic information about admissions to guide proposal:
    • All graduate certificate programs must adhere to Graduate School admissions standards
    • An internal process should be developed for review and admission, as certificates are not included on the university-wide application
    • Non-degree students must apply through Continuing Education and then utilize internal process.
  • When asked “Should this program be included on the standard application for admission” Select “No”
  • When asked to explain the intended admissions process, proposal should identify:
    • Any additional program specific admissions requirements
    • Internal admissions process including whether non-degree students may take certificate courses using the ACCESS program

Student Eligibility Section

  • Eligible students are matriculated graduate students and/or non-degree students with earned bachelor’s degree
  • Describe additional requirements (specific major/college/undergraduate degree/GPA etc.)

Budget Section

  • Certificate Proposals with resource and budget implications shall explain those in the form fields 
  • The required budget template and assistance for spreadsheet completion will be provided by Graduate School staff
  • Standalone certificate proposals aimed at non-degree seeking students must carefully address budget and resource implications

External Considerations Section

Duplicate Programs

  • Address duplication of the certificate or related courses within CU Boulder, CU System, and area
  • If duplication exists, the proposal should explain unique characteristics or features of this program

Impacts on Other Units

  • All chairs or directors whose departments or programs are taking part in the proposed certificate program or whose units will be affected by the certificate program must be consulted for endorsement
  • Units must submit statements of endorsement by their school or college Dean

Attach Additional Support Documentation

  • Letters of endorsement from each department chair and college dean should be attached following internal review processes
  • Letters of endorsement should be included for any impacted units
  • Attach market analysis for standalone certificates aimed at non-degree students


Graduate Certificate Proposal Policy December 2018, Procedure Updates 2021