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Certificates - General Resources - Guidelines/Policy

Overview of policy and guidelines for certificate programs, including undergraduate certificates, graduate and professional certificates, Capstone certificates, and non-credit certificate offerings

UW-Madison faculty adopted new policy guidelines governing certificate programs in spring 2012 (revised spring 2014 and summer 2016). 

Full guidelines are available at

A certificate program is a designated set of for-credit courses focused upon a specific topic or theme.  Certificates give students the opportunity to pursue a subject of interest in a formalized way and to have completion of the course of study recognized by the awarding of the certificate.  After approval, the for-credit certificate is documented on the student’s UW-Madison transcript and becomes part of the official student record.  Certificates add opportunities for flexibility not available in majors and degrees. 

The guidelines cover the following types of certificates:

Undergraduate Certificates:  Available to degree-seeking UW-Madison undergraduates; are offered at an undergraduate level of content and intensity are designed to complement undergraduate degree/majors; 12-21 credits.  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 University Academic Planning Council.

Graduate and Professional Student Certificates:  Available to degree-seeking graduate and professional students (GRAD, LAW, MED, PHARM, VMED “careers” and any careers that may be added at the post-baccalaureate level); designed to complement graduate or professional programs of study; usually 9-12 credits.

Capstone Certificates (Post-baccalaureate level):  For University Special (non-degree seeking) students who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent; at least 9 graduate/professional level credits (rarely more than 16 credits); designed to "cap off" undergraduate educational experience or to offer a focused professionally oriented educational experience.  Students apply, are admitted, and enroll as prescribed by the Capstone Program.

Non-credit certificates:  Offered by various units; not formally approved through this process; based on not-for-cedit activity; may carry continuing education units (CEUs); not posted to the UW-Madison student transcript.  Consult the Division of Continuing Studies.  Policy guidelines for Non-Credit Certificates were approved in June 2011. 


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Keywords:certificates, capstones   Doc ID:25463
Owner:Melissa S.Group:Courses and Academic Programs
Created:2012-08-03 11:35 CSTUpdated:2019-11-14 08:07 CST
Sites:Courses and Academic Programs
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