Graduate Certificate Guidelines

The following are provided as guidelines for Graduate School policy on the establishment and operation of Graduate Certificates.

Graduate Certificate Associates or Affiliates

A graduate certificate requires a viable group of faculty who participate in delivering the courses comprising the curriculum or who are otherwise associated with the curriculum or its topical area. At all times, a minimum of three of these Associates shall be members of the Graduate Faculty.

Graduate Certificate Director

A graduate certificate shall have a designated Director, who shall be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. The Director will speak for the certificate curriculum and its Associates on matters such as admission to and successful completion of the graduate certificate by students, enforcement of certificate requirements, maintenance of records, and so forth. The Director must be a member of the Graduate Faculty of the University.

Certificate Curriculum

A graduate certificate shall have a clear and focused academic topic or competency as its subject; meet a clearly defined educational need of a constituency group, such as required continuing-education or accreditation for a particular profession; respond to a specific state mandate; or provide a basic competency in an emerging, preferably interdisciplinary, topic.

A graduate certificate must be a minimum of nine graduate credits in length, and should be fewer than 18 graduate credits, so as to provide a minimum core content, yet be clearly distinguishable from a degree program. The courses involved must be offered sufficiently frequently so that the student may complete the certificate in a reasonable period of time.

Admission Requirements

The minimum Graduate School requirements for admission to a certificate curriculum are the same as those in effect for Post baccalaureate status. With the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Council, and the University Senate, the certificate curriculum may set reasonable admission requirements or restrictions beyond the minimum specified by the Graduate School.

Students who already are or will be enrolled in a degree program, or those who simply apply for Post baccalaureate (non-degree) status in order to complete the certificate, are eligible to apply for admission. However, a particular certificate curriculum may restrict admission eligibility to, for example, only those students who are or will be enrolled in a master's and/or doctoral degree program. Further, as with a degree program, a certificate curriculum may limit admissions so that the faculty and other resources available to the curriculum are not overwhelmed.

Applicants for admission to a graduate certificate must be approved for admission by the certificate Director, who shall notify the Graduate School in writing of the student’s admission. A student should apply and be admitted to the certificate curriculum prior to taking any classes that will be counted towards completion of the certificate.

Admission to or award of a graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to a degree program in the same or any other discipline.

Graduate Certificate Requirements

In addition to completion of the minimum number of graduate credit hours specified, all other requirements necessary for the successful completion of the certificate curriculum must be clearly stated in a manner to be readily understood by prospective and admitted students. It is recommended that admission and certificate requirements be made available in both printed form and posted on a certificate Web site.

A certificate curriculum may specify completion of a fixed set of courses or a combination of specifically required courses and approved electives in one or more categories. If elective courses are permitted, a full or partial listing of possible courses appropriate for the certificate must be provided. Elective courses must be approved by the certificate Director so as to ensure that the set of courses completed fulfills the stated objectives of the certificate.

The Graduate School requires that a student must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the set of courses required for completion of the graduate certificate in order to be awarded the certificate.

Graduate Certificate Establishment

A group that wishes to establish a new graduate certificate at the University of Kentucky must submit a proposal to the Dean of the Graduate School that adequately addresses the points or aspects summarized above; all such proposals must then be approved by the Graduate Council. The routing of a certificate proposal to the Graduate School follows the same general path as for a proposal for a new course or degree program. The proposal must contain approvals and/or letters of support from the chair or director of the unit(s) and the dean of the college(s) housing or directly affiliated with the certificate curriculum, if applicable.

On approval by the Graduate Council, the proposal is then sent for final review and approval by the University Senate.

Once established, any significant change in the basic focus or requirements of the certificate curriculum must be submitted to and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council.

Graduate Certificate Duration and Review/Renewal

A graduate certificate curriculum shall be approved or re-approved for operation for a period of 6 years (or a lesser period if requested). Toward the end of the 5th year of its duration, the curriculum Director shall prepare a report summarizing its status, operations, and certificate awardees during that period of time, and indicating its prospects for the future if renewal of the certificate curriculum is sought. If a certificate curriculum is suspended or terminated, students currently enrolled in the curriculum shall have a reasonable period of time, not to exceed two years, to complete the requirements for the certificate.

Award of the Certificate

When the student has successfully completed the last course required for a graduate certificate, the Director shall send a completed, signed Graduate Certificate Completion Form to the Dean of the Graduate School verifying that the student has fulfilled all the requirements for the certificate and requesting award of the certificate. The form requires a listing of the courses completed by the student for the certificate and the grades earned therein. The form is to be accompanied by the printed copy of the student's certificate prepared by the Director for signature by the Dean. The Graduate School shall officially notify the University Registrar of the award of the certificate for posting to the permanent transcript.

Certificate Terminology

A graduate certificate curriculum is never to be referred to as a "program," which has a precise, technical meaning defined by the Council on Post secondary Education (CPE). Use of the term "graduate certificate curriculum(a)" or simply "graduate certificate(s)" is recommended.