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Office of the Provost, Division of Academic Affairs, University of Maryland

Leadership Areas


General Policies for Certificate Programs

A proposal for a new upper-division certificate or a graduate certificate uses the same format as does a proposal for an ordinary degree program. Following are criteria set by the Institution. These are generally more stringent than the minimum standards set by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC).

Upper-Division Certificates

The following guidelines, prepared by the College Park Senate Committee on Programs, Curricula and Courses, provide procedures for approval, revision, and documentation of upper-division certificates. The award of a certificate validates the attainment of a minimal level of competence in an academic discipline. Issuing certificates fulfills two distinct educational needs. First, a certificate may verify specialized training, either vocational or professional, in a specific subject area. Second, a certificate may recognize qualification in a specific area of professional competence through the fulfillment of additional requirements within a degree program. Certification, therefore, documents specific achievement not otherwise covered by the award of a diploma or the choice of an area of concentration.

Eligibility: Eligibility is usually limited to students enrolled in good standing at the College Park campus. Applicants already possessing the Bachelor's degree may be admitted as special students in order to fulfill certificate requirements. Except under unusual circumstances, courses taken for credit toward a Bachelor's degree more than five years before enrollment in a certificate program will not be accepted. When all requirements for the certification have been completed with a minimum grade point average of 2.00, and after the chief administrative officer of the program has so recommended, the Registrar will issue a certificate. In no case, however, will the certificate be issued before the granting of the Bachelor's degree.

Program Requirements: An upper-division certificate program requires a minimum of twenty-one (21) credit hours of course work in a defined subject area, under the following guidelines:

  • The program must include a core requirement of at least twelve (12) credit hours chosen from a limited list.
  • Non-core courses must be chosen from a specific list of acceptable electives.
  • No more than nine (9) credit hours may be applied toward the major.
  • A minimum of twelve (12) credit hours must be taken in upper division courses (i.e., those numbered 300 or above).
  • A maximum of three (3) credit hours of "Special Topics" or "Selected Topics" courses may be taken.
  • No more than nine (9) credit hours may be taken at institutions other than UMD.

Graduate (Post-Baccalaureate) Certificates

The following guidelines prepared by the College Park Graduate Council Committee on Programs and Courses provide information on approval and documentation of graduate or post-baccalaureate certificates. Changes from previous versions were approved by the Graduate Council on February 25, 1999. 

The issuance of a graduate or post-baccalaureate certificate verifies and recognizes specialized interdisciplinary professional training not otherwise encompassed by a regular degree program. Like the granting of a diploma, the issuance of a certificate is a statement by the institution verifying attainment of a minimum level of competence.

Eligibility: Enrollment in graduate certificate programs will be limited to students admitted to the Graduate School at the University of Maryland College Park. Persons accepted into graduate certificate programs need not be simultaneously registered in a degree-granting program on campus. Students designated as Advanced Special Students may apply earned credits to a certificate-granting program according to the rules established by and with the advice and consent of the certificate program coordinator and the Program Advisory Committee.

Upon satisfactory completion of the certificate requirements and upon recommendation of the Graduate School, a certificate shall be issued by the Registrar.

Limitation on Enrollment: In certain cases, constraints on resources may require the limitation of enrollment in graduate certificate programs. Such limitations shall be considered on a program-by-program basis. If enrollment is limited, the catalog description of the program shall state those limitations, and describe the criteria for acceptance into the program.

Administration of the Program: The Dean for Graduate Studies and Research shall appoint a graduate certificate program coordinator on the recommendation of the program's Advisory Committee. The coordinator shall be assisted by a Committee designated by the Department, degree-granting Program, College or School, and shall be charged with examining individual cases to determine (1) the eligibility of applicants; (2) the applicability of credits of non-degree seeking students (e.g., Advanced Special Students); and (3) the structure of the student's program to ensure compliance with institution and Program requirements.

Program Requirements (revised 02/25/99) : A post-baccalaureate certificate is awarded for the successful completion of a minimum of 12 credit hours of graduate-level work in a defined subject area under the following conditions:

  • The program must include a minimum core requirement of nine (9) credit hours chosen from a limited list.
  • Non-core courses must be chosen from a specific list of acceptable options.
  • No fewer than nine (9) credit hours must be earned at the 600 level and above
  • In a twelve credit certificate program three credits may be earned at the 400 level; for certificate programs requiring more than 12 credits, a maximum of six credit hours may be at the 400 level
  • All credits for a certificate must be completed at the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required for the award of a graduate certificate.
  • All requirements for the graduate certificate must be completed within a five-(5) year period.

Other Graduate Certificates

MHEC also recognizes two other types of graduate certificates: the Post-Master's certificate and the Certificate of Advanced Study. The Post-Master's certificate is a certificate awarded for successful completion of at least 12 semester credit hours of graduate study beyond the master's degree. The Certificate of Advanced Study is awarded for the successful completion of at least 30 credit hours of graduate study beyond the master's degree.

Relevant Policies

Use CIM To Propose a New Certificate Program