Definition and Context
Certificates are undergraduate or graduate academic plans that are typically interdisciplinary in nature. Certificates are formally approved by the CU Boulder through either the Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education or the Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Undergraduate certificates require a minimum of 12 credits and graduate certificates require a minimum of 9 credits. Certificates are recorded in student records and displayed on transcripts upon completion. At the undergraduate level, the number of discipline-specific credits required for a certificate may not exceed those required for a major. Approved certificates are designated on official diploma-like documents.
A certificate generally signifies either (a) a concentrated study in a narrow sub-discipline not offered by standard academic options or (b) an interdisciplinary focus of study, also not offered by standard academic options.
Certificate Program Requirements
- Each formal undergraduate certificate must require a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 24 semester hours of academic credit as specified by the originating faculty oversight unit. Certificates may include requirements in addition to formal coursework, and, in those cases, the usual customary guidelines for time and effort for approximately equivalent coursework should apply if the additional credits are credit-bearing.
- Degree-seeking students pursuing a certificate will have both degree and certificate plans active in the student information system.
- Academic units determine the requirements for certificates and may choose whether they are only available to students in a degree-seeking status.
- If an academic unit chooses to accept nondegree students into their certificate programs, those students must be admitted and administered through Continuing Education. Students who decide to complete certificate requirements, but not continue in their degree program, also must be changed to a nondegree status with Continuing Education.
- Students working toward an interdisciplinary graduate certificate ordinarily are enrolled in a campus master's or doctoral program. Students working toward completion of a professional certificate may be enrolled with or without completing work toward a degree program.
- 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.
- Students must have an awarded bachelor's degree to pursue a graduate certificate.
- 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.
- 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.
The certificate approval process has several steps and points of review. Similar to degree proposals, certificate proposals follow a process through the Curriculum Inventory 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. The intent proposal must include an initial draft budget 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 appropriate dean(s), then by the Office of Academic Affairs. If the program intent form is approved, proposers are notified by email and may continue to step 2 when ready.
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 using the new program proposal form in CIM. The form will populate information from the intent form. The 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 certificate proposal. Please use this information while working through the corresponding fields in the CIM form.
Certificate programs require the approval of the relevant department chair(s), academic Dean(s), the Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (for undergraduate certificates) or the Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education (upon recommendation of the Executive Advisory Council for graduate certificates), and the Senior Vice Provost.
Academic certificates, both undergraduate and graduate, are reviewed along with degree programs as part of the Academic Review and Planning Advisory Committee (ARPAC) assessment process. Contact ARPAC administration with any questions.
Required Information for Certificate Proposals
- Include description along with context and academic rationale, including academic value to students
- Identify program director and director selection process.
- Identify group or committee responsible for overseeing the program and curriculum and updating appropriate catalog and websites.
- Identify person(s) 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.
- Basic information about admissions to guide proposal:
- All graduate certificate programs must adhere to college or 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.
- Specify whether students must be matriculated in a CU Boulder degree program or may be non-degree students.
- Certificate proposals with resource and budget implications shall explain those in the form fields.
- Utilize the required budget template and financial planning document to prepare. Contact the office of budget and fiscal planning if assistance is needed.
- Standalone certificate proposals aimed at non-degree seeking students must carefully address budget and resource implications.
- 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, whose classes or activities are included in the certificate, 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 nondegree students.
- Class Enrollment
- Class & Facility Scheduling
- Curriculum & Catalog
- Faculty & Staff Calendar
- Grade Processing
- Program Enrollment
- Records & Privacy
- Student Data & Systems Access
- Training & Support