Graduate school is often the end of a journey for students eager to start their careers. For experienced professionals, it offers the chance to move up the corporate ladder or pivot into a new direction. Yet no matter how necessary a graduate education may be for improving a person’s career prospects or satisfaction, it doesn’t come cheap. On average, a master’s degree costs $66,340. There is, however, a more flexible alternative for students interested in enrolling in the same courses as master’s degree students without the financial burden. 

What Is a Graduate Certificate?

A graduate certificate is a specialized credential that provides students with foundational or supplemental knowledge in a particular area. For instance, students at The University of Texas Permian Basin can earn graduate certificates in Cyber Security, Engineering Project Management or Energy Business, among others.

There’s very little that separates a graduate certificate program from a master’s degree program, at least at first glance. Graduate certificate students can enroll in many of the same courses as master’s degree students, and if they’re enrolled in one of UT Permian Basin’s online programs, they’ll be able to view lectures, complete assignments, and engage in online discussions with other students in their cohort. They’ll also benefit from the many online resources we offer, including online academic advising and academic support. However, there are some qualities unique to graduate certificate programs that make them the preferred option for many of our students.

An Accelerated Graduate Program

A master’s degree can be earned in as little as two years, assuming students are enrolled full time. Unfortunately, not every student can commit to a two-year degree program. A graduate certificate program can usually be completed in as little as one year, sometimes even faster. This is because graduate certificate students take on far fewer credit hours than their peers in master’s degree programs.

For example, our Graduate Certificate in Energy Business is a 12-credit program that provides industry-relevant knowledge unique to the energy field in less than one year. Students can earn a career-enhancing credential in a fraction of the time it would take to earn a master’s degree. Many of our online students have responsibilities outside of their studies, including caring for loved ones and maintaining their careers. UT Permian Basin’s online graduate certificate programs allow students to earn a graduate credential on their terms without unduly impacting their personal or professional lives.

A Cost-Effective Investment

The cost of pursuing a master’s degree is always top of mind for students. As mentioned, a graduate degree can set students back well over $50,000—and that’s before taking into account additional expenses, such as books, supplies, and fees. Here at UT Permian Basin, we strive to keep our graduate programs as accessible and affordable as possible. Tuition for most our master’s degree programs is less than $15,000, but we understand that that cost may still pose a challenge for some students.

Tuition for a graduate certificate program, by comparison, is more affordable because students are taking fewer credit hours. The estimated cost of tuition for UT Permian Basin graduate students is $355.99 per credit hour, so the total cost of tuition for our 12-credit-hour Graduate Cyber Security Certificate is $4,271: a fraction of the cost of a traditional master’s degree program. Either credential can help students open doors to new, rewarding opportunities, but a graduate certificate is a smaller commitment that can result in advancement far exceeding students’ expectations. 

A Concentrated Course of Study

A master’s degree—and the time, dedication, and effort spent earning one—is generally more respected by employers than a graduate certificate. Master’s degree programs also tend to provide a broad course of study to help ensure that students are prepared for any number of situations they may encounter in their career field. Still, as impressive as a master’s degree is on paper, it may be overkill when it comes to securing a more rewarding career. 

A graduate certificate is no replacement for a master’s degree. Rather, it’s designed to provide students with a particular skill set that can help advance or kick-start their careers. Due to their accelerated time to completion, graduate certificates provide a highly concentrated course of study that allows students to focus on topics that align with their interests and goals. Professionals in pursuit of a raise or promotion will find this option especially appealing. A graduate certificate can provide the edge a candidate needs to rise above the competition and impress their employer, minus the need to devote time and money to subjects that may not pertain directly to their career.

Earn Your Graduate Certificate From UT Permian Basin

What is a graduate certificate program? An affordable alternative to traditional degree programs and an accelerated course of study exploring up-to-date, relevant topics. Above all, a graduate certificate is the next step on your academic path. UT Permian Basin offers four graduate certificate programs that can help you alter the trajectory of your career:

In addition to the benefits of a traditional graduate certificate program, our programs are entirely online and feature asynchronous elements. This flexible format allows you to complete coursework from the comfort of your own home whenever it’s convenient for you. At UT Permian Basin, we’re confident that we have a graduate certificate program that can cater to your needs, whether you’re interested in accelerating your career, balancing your academic and personal life, or both.

Ready to find out about our graduate certificate programs? Browse through our program offerings to find the online program that can help you take your career to the next level.