Stackable certificates are becoming increasingly popular among students and working professionals—particularly those who want to acquire specific career skills without the long-term commitment and high costs of earning an additional degree. A Pew Research Center study shows that 54 percent of working adults feel that learning new, transferable skills in niche areas is now essential to keeping up with an ever-changing economy. Stackable credentials also provide a welcome alternative to young adults that cannot afford the rising tuition costs of full-time degree programs.

How Do Certificates Differ from Degrees?  

Undergraduate degrees require up to 120 credits, or four to five years of full-time commitment. Students receive a comprehensive and well-rounded education covering both broad fundamentals and some specialized studies. The average tuition for attending a college or university ranged from $9,400 to $37,600 in 2021.

Students who move on to earn a master’s degree usually commit to up to two more years of in-depth study in a broad field, accumulating more advanced knowledge that they can apply across multiple career paths. The average tuition cost is about $19,749 and graduates can expect to make 30% more in salary than their bachelor degree counterparts. Altogether, earning a master’s degree on top of your undergraduate degree can take up to six years.

In contrast, certificates are highly specialized and allow students or working adults to earn industry-recognized, non-degree credentials in a shorter timeframe (between 8 to 12 months) and at a lower cost. The average price of a certificate program is about $5,000. This built-in convenience and affordability lend stackable certificates much higher rates of completion.

Although you can immediately apply the knowledge you gain in a certificate program in the workforce, certificates do not count as a degree on their own and are best utilized in addition to your bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

 What Do Stackable Certificates Offer? 

A certificate can boost salaries for degree holders by anywhere from 12 to 25 percent and increase your marketability in a competitive job market. Depending on an employer’s individual requirements, a graduate certificate can be even more powerful than a master’s degree during the hiring process: by nature, certificate programs shape expertise in a very specific professional area, while a master’s degree tends to be more generalized knowledge. Students with an undergraduate degree in marketing, for example, may want to earn an additional digital marketing certificate or graduate cybersecurity certificate, allowing them to grow and re-skill without the hassle of earning a second degree. Working professionals can train in new specializations without needing to abandon their position to return to school.  

In addition, prospective students may earn more than one certificate at a time, building one credential on top of another. This allows them to gain specific career skills and head into the workforce before deciding on a degree. Courses taken toward a certificate can count towards an undergraduate or graduate degree.

Stackable certificates: 

  • boost transferable and variable skills, which is highly desired by employers. 
  • add specialization to your degree, helping you stand out in a competitive job market. 
  • result in a higher salary potential. 
  • help you gain expertise in specialized fields that can increase your chances of promotion. 
  • offer online training that is flexible, short-term and less expensive than starting a second or third full-time program. 

UT Permian Basin’s Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates 

The University of Texas Permian Basin makes it easier than ever to earn stackable certificates that can strengthen your degree, with certificate programs requiring just 9 to 14 credit hours. If you’re an online undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled at UT Permian Basin, you can apply for a certificate program through the Office of Continuing and Professional Education. Depending on the program, you may have additional admission requirements. 

If you’re an undergraduate student looking to boost your liberal arts, business, or computer science engineering degree, you may be interested in the following UT Permian Basin certificates: 

Students working towards or currently holding a master’s degree may want to consider boosting their skills with programs including: 

Maximize Your Skills Online 

Going back to school is a big decision that can greatly impact your career. Luckily, there are several options for students wanting to further their education. UT Permian Basin is committed to helping students develop lifelong skills and knowledge they can use personally and professionally. Our undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are entirely online and accessible from anywhere in the world.  

Maximize your skills at your own pace and convenience. Choose an online UT Permian Basin certificate program and pursue the career of your dreams!