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What’s a Certificate?

Certificates are similar to a degree, but a bit different. Let’s break down what a certificate is and see if it’s right for you.

A certificate program requires fewer credits than a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but more credits than a minor. You can use a certificate to specialize in a certain area of study, gain skills for work or hone in on a specific interest in your area. And if you’ve already finished a degree program, it can easily serve as a great add-on to your skills.

There are a few different ways to earn a certificate at Portland State:

  1. Certificate: Admission to PSU is not required to enroll for a general certificate and anyone can take these courses. Once you finish the coursework, you will have earned your certificate. 
  2. Undergraduate Certificate at Completion: This coursework for this certificate is completed along with your degree. Once you complete the coursework for this certificate, you will have earned the certificate.
  3. Undergraduate Certificate with Baccalaureate: You will complete coursework for this certificate while studying for your degree, but you will not earn the certificate until you graduate with your degree.
  4. Post-Baccalaureate Certificate: You must have already completed a bachelor’s degree and be admitted as a post-baccalaureate student. Once you complete the coursework, you will have earned the certificate.

Certificates are often more employment-driven and can be great to add to a resume. The subject material is like a concentration you can use to focus your studies.

Our most popular certificates include: 

  • International Business Studies: You’ll develop specialized, highly marketable skills that complement your business major, including international business expertise focused on a specific industry, country, or region. The international business certificate includes the option of spending a term abroad.
  • Athletic & Outdoor Industry: You’ll gain hands-on experience, exposure to real-time case studies, and valuable connections to industry employers and fellow students who aspire to careers in the athletic and outdoor industry.
  • Teaching English as a Second Language: This program is designed to give you strong fundamentals in the workings of the English language together with practical skills and experience for teaching in a variety of settings.
  • Black Studies: This is an innovative program that incorporates courses from many departments and focuses on the historical and contemporary issues of people of African, African American, Afro-Latin@ and Caribbean descent. 

Other interesting certificates to read about: 

  • Intercultural Competence for the Workplace: This program prepares you for success in interculturally diverse and complex workplace environments.
  • Human Lactation: This program is run along with Oregon Health Sciences University and provides a diverse set of skills including for students who want to improve their lactation skills and students interested in politics, policy and research from the perspective of improving maternal and infant health outcomes
  • Real Estate Development: This is a Graduate Certificate that will build the technical and analytical knowledge of those who wish to enter the industry or to further develop the skills of industry professionals.
  • Communication Science and Disorders: This certificate has been developed to help post-baccalaureate students who wish to pursue a career in speech-language pathology or audiology but have an undergraduate degree in another field, or other undergraduate students who are interested in fields such as psychology, education, and special education but want a solid foundation in communication sciences and disorders.

View our full list of certificate programs and admission requirements at Portland State.