Certificate Programs

The University offers both noncredit and credit certificates that reflect emerging, academic areas, professional development requirements, or groups of courses that do not constitute a degree program. Credit certificate programs may supplement a degree program or they may provide a stepping-stone toward a degree or a minor.

A student can complete the requirements for a certificate at any campus location if the required courses are available. The Registrar's office provides details on the Certificate Process.

Information about credit certificates is provided in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin under Certificate Programs. Certificate programs can also be identified by interest area. Additional information can be obtained from the academic unit responsible for a certificate and/or the point of contact listed in the bulletin description.

Credit and Grade Requirements

Undergraduate credit certificates typically consist of 9 to 15 credits. At least two-thirds of credits used to complete a certificate must be earned at Penn State.

All credit courses for a certificate require a grade of 'C' or higher. All noncredit courses for a certificate require satisfactory completion, as defined by the unit offering the certificate.

Student Action

  1. Identify and learn about certificates using the alphabetical list in the bulletin or the list by interest area in this handbook.
  2. If you identify a certificate of interest, determine if you can complete it: Required courses may be controlled, have prerequisites, or be unavailable at your campus. Before beginning coursework to meet certificate requirements, use the Minor Planning Checklist and Minor Worksheet to determine if the certificate is attainable.
  3. Discuss the certificate that interests you with your adviser to determine how the certificate could be incorporated into your academic plan.
  4. Request enrollment in the certificate program by contacting the person listed in the bulletin under the description of each certificate program.
  5. When you have completed all the requirements for the certificate, request that it be approved and recorded by notifying the person listed in the bulletin description.

If you completed certificate requirements but were not enrolled in the program, you may submit a request for retroactive approval to the academic unit offering the certificate.

Records and Documentation

After a student has completed a certificate and has approval, a notation is made on his/her transcript that includes the semester of completion and the certificate title, for example:

SP15 UNDERGRADUATE CERTIFICATE AWARDED - NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY - IST

The notation is made for both noncredit and credit certificates.

Certificates are prepared by the Registrar's office. The certificate includes signatures of the dean or chancellor of the academic unit offering the certificate and the professor in charge of the certificate. The certificate is issued to the student with his/her diploma as long as the certificate was approved by the end of the thirteenth week of classes of the semester the student is graduating.


Last Update: November 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policy 59-00

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