UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

What is a Certificate Program?

A certificate program is a sequential series of credit or non-credit courses that constitutes a coherent body of study in a discipline. Certificate programs are intended for adult learners seeking career change, career advancement, or development of personal interests. Spanning a variety of fields, these programs are designed to meet the needs of working adults.

The program is usually organized into a structured progression of courses so that students achieve specific learning objectives upon successful completion within six to nine months. There is emphasis on practical, real-world knowledge and application that is immediately useful on the job. All certificate programs have clearly published admission standards for entering students to ensure the quality of instruction and that learning objectives can be met.

Each certificate program provides a minimum of 90 hours of classroom work or equivalent distance learning contact hours. This is typically delivered in a series of three courses but varies depending on length and design of program. Some programs may require more than 90 hours depending on the subject matter and may also require students to perform academic and/or clinical activity outside of the classroom.


Features of Certificate Programs

  • A valued academic credential from the UW
  • In-depth study of a focused subject (90+ hours of instruction)
  • UW approved instructors who are top industry professionals in touch with the latest developments in the field
  • Class sessions scheduled primarily in the evenings, weekends and online
  • Tightly integrated programs designed to be completed in six to nine months
  • Emphasis on practical, real-world knowledge and application immediately useful on the job
  • Courses that are project-based or offer preparation for industry certification
  • Open to all qualified applicants who meet program prerequisites; admittance to the UW undergraduate or graduate program is not required
  • Ongoing review by advisory boards to keep programs relevant and cutting edge
  • Opportunities for networking


Certificate Program Advisory Boards

Each of UW PCE’s more than 125 certificate programs has an advisory board consisting of representatives from the University and the professional community. Depending on the program, the board may define the target audience, admission standards, the overall program design and course curricula, instructional qualifications, and on an ongoing basis, monitor the progress and quality of the program. The advisory board for each program is featured on the program web page.