For years, educators have stressed the importance of earning a college degree,
but a big buzzword in many academic circles today is “certificates,” which use a laser-like focus to acquire new skills. Wilmington University offers about 80 different certificate programs. The university’s certificate programs are extremely subject-specific, resulting in highly specialized professionals who are qualified for positions that employers may otherwise find it challenging to fill.
Q: How does a certificate differ from a degree?
Dr. James D. Wilson Jr.: A bachelor’s degree requires 120 or more credit hours. A certificate program is five courses, the equivalent of 15 credits.
Q: Why are certificate programs popular?
JW: People are looking for micro-credentials. An employer might want you to have training in a specific area, but you don’t need an entire degree. It’s a response to changes in the job market and to the needs of students who want to advance their careers. People want to add to their knowledge, and to do it in a very focused way.
Q: Can you provide an example of how a certificate made one of your students more attractive to an employer?
JW: The Human Resource Management certificate is one of our most popular certificates because it provides focused skills in HR planning, employee labor relations, and training and development. Tammy Brewer added this certificate as part of her completed bachelor’s degree while she was in job transition. She had little to no prior experience in human resources but found her calling. . . . I’m happy to report that she recently accepted the position of recruitment manager for Goodwill Staffing Service at Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County.
Q: At what academic level are certificate programs offered?
JW: They are offered at all levels. A person with very little college experience could take something like health information technology. At the other end, we offer a couple of certificates at the doctoral or post-doctoral level. You can even earn a certificate while studying for a bachelor’s degree.