Undergraduate Certificate Definition and Guidelines
An undergraduate certificate is a programmatic or topically-linked series of courses, either from a single field or across disciplinary boundaries. The certificate provides a focused, structured and deeply interrelated set of courses that enhances the undergraduate experience in areas of deep disciplinary, interdisciplinary, regional or global interest, or which may be targeted toward a defined professional development need. Creating strongly relevant but academically rigorous undergraduate certificates present an opportunity to respond to the evolving environmental conditions in higher education and concurrent shifts in student needs. Interested applicants should check the list of current undergraduate certificates and contact the sponsoring academic unit for more information.
- Undergraduate certificates are available to degree seeking and certificate only seeking undergraduate students.
- Students who have been admitted to an undergraduate degree program may add a certificate before completing their degree requirements by contacting the offering unit and satisfying the admission requirements for the desired certificate.
- Applicants for certificates only must meet UA Undergraduate Admissions requirements and must have no less than a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent. The academic unit offering the certificate may set additional or more stringent admission criteria.
- The total number of units required for an undergraduate certificate may vary by academic discipline, but must require a minimum of nine (9) units of credit. At least six (6) units of credit must be upper division units of UA course work.
- All University policies apply, including academic, grading, admission, retention, contact hours, and faculty eligibility to teach.
- Offering units may determine whether course work taken to complete the certificate may also be applied to a degree program. There is no University maximum on the number of units completed for a certificate that may also apply toward a degree program.
- Offering units may determine whether course work taken at another institution may be applied to a certificate. A minimum of six (6) units used to satisfy certificate requirements must be taken in residence at the UA.
- Maximum duplicate units from a previously awarded degree program applicable to a certificate shall be no more than six (6) units.
- Course work taken more than four (4) years before admission to a certificate may not be applied.
- Time to complete the certificate shall not exceed four (4) years. The clock begins with the date of the earliest course work used for the certificate.
- Certificates may be structured as either discipline-specific or cross-disciplinary. Academic units applying for certificates must consult with and/or obtain support from related programs and departments to insure availability of courses required for the certificate, but offered by another department, and to avoid unnecessary duplication of content.
- Subplans/options may not be offered under an approved certificate.
- Certificates may be stand-alone or linked to an existing degree program.
- Certificates may be offered by an academic unit that does not currently offer a related degree program.
- Non-academic units may create certificates that are sponsored by an academic unit that undergoes an academic program review.
- Certificates should enhance existing programs, not take the place of them. Sufficient resources must exist to support the certificate without penalizing existing academic programs including subplans/options and minors.
- Upon completion of requirements, an officially approved certificate will be posted to the student’s UA transcript, and the student will receive an official certificate document (similar to a degree diploma). For the undergraduate certificate filing procedure and fee, see the Graduation Services site.
For information about proposing a new undergraduate certificate - application procedures and approval process - as well as procedures for managing approved certificates, see the Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs site.
Related Guidelines and Links
* Please note that sections titled Frequently Asked Questions, Related Guidelines and links, Related Policies, Information for Advisors and Revision History are provided solely for the convenience of users and are not part of the official University policy.