Benefits of Graduate Certificates: 5 Ways to Boost Your Skills and Value

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A businesswoman leads a meeting.

For those interested in advancing their careers, higher education can be a logical step. There are a number of ways for those pursuing careers in business and other industries to approach advanced education, with a master’s degree standing out as one popular degree option. While a master’s degree can provide certain advantages, professionals looking for flexible, valued opportunities to strengthen their skills and become industry leaders should also consider the benefits of graduate certificates.

Why Choose a Graduate Certificate?

Graduate business certificates are designed to provide a foundation of important knowledge and help students cultivate practical skills that will serve them well in the working world. Depending on a student’s career trajectory, a graduate certificate may be preferable to a master’s degree.

Graduate Certificate vs. Master’s Degree

Master’s degrees typically involve a fairly intensive two-year academic commitment, one in which the student will carefully study various areas of their chosen field. The typical MBA, for example, involves at least 12 courses and usually represents a full-time pursuit.

Meanwhile, a graduate certificate represents a shorter time commitment and a more defined field of study. Obtaining a graduate certificate may require the completion of anywhere from three to seven courses, and it can often be accomplished in a single year. Those who enroll in a graduate certificate program may not study the field of business as broadly, but rather will focus their studies on a few specific areas of practical application.

Graduate Certificates Are Becoming More Highly Regarded

A graduate certificate is designed to be a more finely honed, practical, and economical alternative to a full master’s program. Graduate certificates require less time and are also more affordably priced than master’s degrees. As such, they have gained considerably in popularity and acclaim. The Institute for College Access and Success notes that the number of people who hold graduate certificates has increased by 50% since 2005.

Benefits of Graduate Certificates

With a graduate certificate in business, students can boost their skills and value in a number of ways. Consider these five advantages that business certificates offer.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

The completion of a graduate certificate program can position students for career advancement, potentially making them more attractive candidates than their peers. A graduate certificate provides an additional certification on top of undergraduate education. This may give an additional advantage to qualifying for more sought-after and higher-paying jobs.

Develop a Specific Skill Set

The courses in graduate certificate programs tend to focus less on general information in favor of learning and developing more specialized skill sets. As such, students in these programs can cultivate tools and abilities that are highly valued in the workplace.

Make a Seamless Career Change

Another of the benefits of graduate certificates is that they provide working professionals with a high level of flexibility. Courses are generally online and don’t come with the full-time demands of obtaining a master’s degree. This means that anyone who is seeking a change in their career trajectory can pursue a graduate certificate even while working.

Invest in Further Education

Graduate certificates and master’s degrees don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Students who earn graduate certificates can potentially apply their coursework later on to a master’s program. Additionally, students who have already earned a graduate degree can earn a specialized certification that they add to their educational accomplishments.

Become an Effective Leader

By taking courses that emphasize practical business, communication, and critical thinking skills, those who earn certificates can become more capable of leading teams and inspiring change within their field of employment.

Earning a Graduate Certificate

How should students claim the unique benefits of graduate certificates? Enrollment in a graduate certificate program is usually seamless and straightforward. Courses can be completed in virtual classrooms, at the student’s own pace and schedule.

Our Online Graduate Business Certificates at Ohio University include a suite of seven certificate programs. Each is targeted to a specific skill set and can be completed in as few as 21 weeks:

  • Business Analytics — focuses on the analysis of data and the formation of metrics-driven business solutions
  • Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship — explore venture capital and other issues related to the formation of new businesses
  • Finance — addresses problems, questions, and concepts related to financial decision-making
  • Human Resources Management — offers a comprehensive understanding of the human resources value chain
  • Management and Leadership — focus on spearheading organizational success
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management — is about managing risks and disruptions to the supply chain
  • Strategic Sales and Sales Leadership — provides students with key insights into sales management and analytics

Discover the Benefits of Graduate Certificates

Professionals considering their options for development and career advancement should seek additional information about earning a graduate certificate. An excellent place to start is to explore the Online Graduate Business Certificates program at Ohio University. The program caters to the needs of working professionals and is designed to provide the practical knowledge and skills to move careers forward.

Recommended Reading

Ohio University Blog, “What Is a Graduate Certificate and How Can It Benefit My Professional Development?”
Ohio University Blog, “10 Steps to Starting a Business”
Ohio University Blog, “Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Business Plan, and How to Write One”


Bankrate, “Master’s Degree or Business Certificate?”

Forbes, “Are Online Business Courses Worth It?”

Forbes, “2 Reasons Why a Certificate Is Better Than An Expensive Graduate Degree”

Forbes, “8 Proven Ways to Increase Your Productivity as a Leader”

Ohio University, Online Graduate Business Certificates