Interdisciplinary study at the graduate level may involve coursework and formal requirements that complement and extend those of the established degree programs. In addition, faculty may wish to develop a program for professional development and training apart from a degree program. To recognize this work by graduate students and professionals, faculty may wish to award a certificate. This certificate is not a substitute for a degree, and the recognition of a certificate program is not equivalent to the establishment of a degree program. Guidelines and procedures for establishing graduate certificate programs are described below.

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 should be admitted through Continuing Education as non-degree students, and internally to the unit’s certificate program, per standard program admission guidelines.
  3. 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.
  4. Graduate certificate programs require the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the Executive Advisory Council of the Graduate School.

Procedures and Template for Establishing a Graduate Certificate Program

Application materials for graduate certificate programs should be prepared in consultation with the Dean of the Graduate School and the proposal should include the following information:

  1. Description and Statement of Purpose.
    The description should name the certificate, the sponsoring unit, and indicate whether it is being proposed as a professional certificate. The statement of purpose should address educational and scholarly goals of the proposed program and the relation between the proposed program and existing degree programs on campus.
  2. Statement of Need.
    The statement of need should provide evidence of sufficient student interest to justify implementation and continued support of the program. The potential student population should be described. Will the certificate be open to currently matriculated graduate students, non-degree students, or both?
  3. Statement of Congruence with Campus Goals.
    The statement of congruence should indicate how the proposed certificate is related to the mission and master plan of the campus.
  4. Information Regarding Issues of Duplication.
    The proposal should address duplication of the certificate or related courses within CU Boulder.  If duplication exists, the proposal should explain unique characteristics or features of this program.
  5. Statement of Resources.
    The statement of resources should describe in detail the personnel and facilities needed for the operation of the program and their sources. The statement should include present and projected needs in faculty, facilities, equipment, library holdings, space, course capacity in existing courses, and new course creation. If no resources are needed, this fact should be stated.  Certificate proposals with resource or budget implications (including all professional certificate proposals) should include a budget spreadsheet. A budget template can be provided by Graduate School staff as part of the proposal process.
  6. Description of Curriculum.
    The description of curriculum should detail the program requirements, including the total number of graduate credits required, any specific course requirements, and specific academic standards for successful completion of the certificate. The description should identify all courses which may be taken as part of the certificate program, their frequency of offering, and any new courses proposed. A rationale describing the curriculum in relation to the goals of the program should also be provided.
  7. List of Faculty.
    All teaching and research faculty involved in the certificate program should be listed, along with their graduate faculty status.
  8. Description of Program Administration.
    The description of program administration should include the following details:
    1. program director and director selection process
    2. group or committee responsible for overseeing the program and curriculum
    3. persons of committee responsible for advising students and monitoring their progress
    4. procedure and person responsible for reviewing students’ academic records for certificate completion and requesting the awarding of certificates to the Registrar’s Office
  9. Admission Requirements.
    The proposal should describe specific admission requirements for current graduate students, non-degree students, and for potential transfers as applicable. If there will be applicants from outside the University, the internal process should be described along with acknowledging that students need to be admitted as non-degree students through Continuing Education. It should also discuss the projected enrollments for the program.
  10. Endorsements.
    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 and must submit statements of endorsement by their school or college Dean.