Appendix - C: Graduate Certificate Programs

Return to Table of Contents

C.1 What is a Graduate Certificate?

A graduate certificate provides a mechanism for bestowing formal recognition of focused graduate study in a specialized area that is less comprehensive than required for a master's degree. At Iowa State University, a graduate certificate may be earned either before, after, or concurrently with the master’s or doctoral degree. As such, the standards of admission and the standards to which a certificate student is held are equivalent to those expected of a master's student.

Candidates for a graduate certificate must be admitted to the desired graduate certificate program in the Graduate College. All courses for a graduate certificate must be acceptable for graduate credit and each graduate certificate must require at least 12 graduate credits. A graduate faculty supervisor will be appointed to oversee the certification for each student.

If a person who receives a graduate certificate decides to continue for a graduate degree, the person needs to seek approval from that degree program. Credits earned for the graduate certificate may also be used to meet degree requirements for the graduate degree if approved by the Program of Study Committee.

C.2 Academic Procedures for Graduate Certificates


Supervision and Program of Study


C.3 Establishing a Certificate Program

The first step in establishing a new graduate certificate is the preparation of a proposal by qualified group of faculty (a Word version of the proposal below is also available on the Graduate College website at If the proposed program will be focused in an existing department, program or college, the proposal should be routed through the corresponding curriculum committees. College curriculum committees will forward the appropriately amended proposal to the Graduate College Catalog and Curriculum Committee. Proposals for interdisciplinary programs should also be routed through the cooperating departmental and college committee before being submitted to the Graduate College Catalog and Curriculum Committee.

Required Background Information

  1. Name of the proposed graduate certificate.
  2. Name of the departments and/or programs involved.
  3. Name of contact person.
  4. Need for the graduate certificate.
  5. Objective of the graduate certificate.
  6. General description of the graduate certificate.
  7. Graduate certificate requirements including:
    1. Admissions standards and prerequisites for the certificate program.
    2. Courses and seminars
  8. General description of the resources currently available and future resource needs:
    1. A list of supporting faculty members including a brief description of their expertise relating to the graduate certificate.
    2. The effects of any new courses on faculty workload.< /li >
    3. Other resources required for the program including graduate assistants, laboratories and other facilities, supplies, etc.
  9. Relationship of the proposed graduate certificate to the strategic plans of the department, college and the university.
  10. Plan for periodic review of the certificate program.

C.4 Programs Offering Graduate Certificates

Certifications can be found on the master programs page.