Certificates: Frequently Asked Questions

A single location for all FAQ relating to certificates.

Pertains to all types of certificates:

Q: What does low-award producing mean for a certificate program?

Low-award producing certificate programs are those certificate programs that award fewer than 10 certificates in 5 years. Dean’s offices will be asked to conduct a review of certificate programs that are low-award producing, even if a review has been completed recently. Certificates that have not been awarded in a five year period will be automatically discontinued.

You may access APIR’s annual report of trends in certificate awards at https://apir.wisc.edu/students/degrees/.

 For more information, see:

Q: How do I declare or cancel students in the certificate program?

Declaration or cancellation of certificates is available in the student information system that allows authorized faculty/staff/advisors to complete the information online. It is important to note that students do not have access to this process. This document provides an overview of certificate declaring or canceling, adding or removing options, or changing a declaration date.  The form for requesting access to the student information page is here: https://sis.wisc.edu/access.htm

  1. Fill out the top section with your contact information
  2. On the lower portion of the form under “Additional Roles,” Indicate A for Add Additional Roles with the code: UPG_SR_MAJ_DECL
  3. Also on the lower portion of the form indicate all programs you are requesting authorization for (i.e. CERT, GCRT, SCERT).
  4. Obtain signatures of approval
  5. Fax or Send form to: Security Authorizations, 1210 W Dayton St., FAX 265-0667

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Q: What are the limits on overlap with closely-related majors or other certificate programs?

Students may not earn a certificate and a major or another certificate with the same name/subject area (example, Math majors may not earn the Math certificate). Undergraduate certificates may not require more than half of the credits required for a major or certificate in a related field. Certificate programs wishing to limit combinations of certificates and majors must enforce those limits at the time of declaration in the student information system.

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Q: May certificates be rewarded retroactively?

Certificates may not be retroactively awarded to graduated students who completed all of the certificate requirements before the certificate program was approved. Certificates will not be awarded to students who completed certificate requirements, but did not declare the certificate before graduating.

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Q: May we delay students' graduation so that they can complete our certificate program?

A student in my certificate needs x more courses to fulfill the certificate requirements - but they are eligible to graduate before they complete our requirements.  May we delay students' graduate so that they may complete the certificate?

No.  The certificate should not hinder students’ timely progress to degree.  Graduation must not be delayed simply to allow an undergraduate student who has otherwise fulfilled degree/major requirements to complete a certificate.  Rather, the student might enroll after graduation as a University Special student (non-degree seeking student) to complete the remaining requirements, if the certificate program has been authorized to serve University Special students in this way.

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Pertains to undergraduate certificates:

Q: How many learning outcomes should an undergraduate certificate have?

               At UW-Madison, all academic programs are required to articulate, adopt, and report on student learning outcomes. This requirement furthers the university’s effort to develop and sustain high-quality academic programs. One learning outcome is required for undergraduate certificates. Most undergraduate certificate programs have between one and five learning outcomes.

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Q: What is the residence requirement for undergraduate certificates?

At least half (50%) of certificate credits must be taken in residence at UW-Madison as a degree-seeking undergraduate. Credits earned by participation in a UW-Madison study abroad program are counted as residence credits unless the program faculty specifically exclude such credits. Credits earned in distance-delivered UW-Madison courses also count as credits earned in residence. Exceptions to the minimum residency requirement are not permitted.

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Q: What type of courses may be used to satisfy undergraduate certificate degree requirements?

Courses for undergraduate certificates are to be those numbered 699 or lower. Special topics courses will only be included if all offerings of the given special topics course will satisfy the requirement. Courses in which a student elects the pass/fail option will not meet certificate requirements. 

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Q: What is the minimum GPA requirement for undergraduate certificate programs?

Students who participate in certificate programs should be in good academic standing according to the standards set by their school/college degree or major requirements. In the absence of other specifications, a minimum average 2.000 GPA must be earned on all course work attempted to meet the requirements of the certificate program. Completed courses listed within the certificate curriculum, whether or not they meet a specific requirement, are included in the calculation of the GPA.

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Q: Must undergraduate certificate requirements be encoded in DARS?

               Yes.  Course requirements for an undergraduate certificate program must be defined discretely enough so that the certificate requirements can be encoded in the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS). The requirements for completion of the certificate should include specifically defined, regularly offered courses that are applicable to all students that are pursuing the certificate.

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Q: How many credits are in undergraduate certificates?

               Undergraduate certificates typically require 12-18 credits. Undergraduate certificates may require up to 21 credits in exceptional circumstances. Credit requirements in excess of 21 credits must be explicitly acknowledged and approved by the school/college academic planning council and the University Academic Planning Council.

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Q: Can graduate students earn undergraduate certificates?

No, graduate and professional students may not earn undergraduate certificates.

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Q: Who is eligible to earn an undergraduate certificate?

Undergraduate certificates are available to degree-seeking UW-Madison undergraduates; they are offered at an undergraduate level of content and intensity are designed to complement undergraduate degree/majors. 

Undergraduate certificates may be open to University Special (non-degree seeking) students who hold a bachelor's degree if provisions for these students are planned and approved by program faculty, school/college academic planning council and the University Academic Planning Council. Please refer to your implementation form to discern if your certificate program is eligible to serve Special students.

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Q: How is undergraduate certificate progress tracked?

Undergraduate certificate progress is tracked with the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS). The Office of the Registrar, with certificate program faculty/staff, develops a DARS audit that accurately reflects all certificate requirements for students, advisors, and the certificate program to track student progress.

If your certificate is approved to serve University Special students: Certificate programs must manually track University Special students; DARS is not available for special students. The certificate program is responsible for manually tracking University Special students and reporting completion to the Registrar's Office.

For more information, see:

Pertains to undergraduate/special certificates:


Q: How does an undergraduate certificate seek approval to serve University Special students?

First, consult your school/college academic dean concerning interest in providing the undergraduate certificate to University Special students.  Certain schools/colleges have policy limiting certificates’ availability in extending enrollment to Special students.

If a certificate program’s faculty wish to commit to serving University Special students, and they have consulted their relevant school/college academic dean, they may submit a proposal for approval through Lumen Programs.  With department, school/college, and UAPC approval, the infrastructure to serve University Special students is created and placed in the student information system.

A proposal of this nature must be explicit that this opportunity is intended by the faculty, and must explain how the certificate is designed and resourced to accommodate the extra University Special students, keeping in mind that Special students enroll in courses as space allows, and that the program is making commitment to an increased academic administration and advising responsibility.

For more detailed information regarding what will be required in a proposal requesting ability to serve University Special students, please consult section 12 of the certificate guidelines.

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Q: How is serving University Special students different than serving undergraduate students?

               Special students require from the certificate program additional capacity, ability, personnel and time to administer. As with undergraduate students, certificate program faculty and staff must electronically declare Special students in the student information system. When special students complete certificates, certificate program faculty and staff must email degreeaudit@em.wisc.edu an excel spreadsheet containing the names, campus IDs, completion term and student information system certificate code for university special students who have completed the undergraduate certificate program. 

               There is no DARS system for Special students.

               When students return as University Specials, the Division of Continuing Studies (their new dean's office) needs to know that the student is applying as a Special student for purposes of completing a specific certificate program (to which they were admitted as an undergraduate).

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    Keywords:Certificate, Capstone, SCRT, CERT, GCRT, Graduate Certificate, Undergraduate Certificate, Special Certificate   Doc ID:87995
    Owner:Melissa S.Group:Courses and Academic Programs
    Created:2018-11-27 15:43 CDTUpdated:2019-03-26 15:53 CDT
    Sites:Courses and Academic Programs
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