Graduate Certificates

Graduate Certificates and Micro-Credentials at the University of Pittsburgh 
University Council on Graduate Study 
December 21, 2018

Certificates Programs and Micro-Credentials

Graduate Certificates and Graduate Micro-Credentials are coherent sets of courses and related work specifically designed to provide depth of understanding or awareness in a particular area. For students enrolled in a graduate degree program, the pursuit and awarding of a given certificate or micro-credential allows for an explicit recognition of a specific set of skills or educational experiences that may not be readily apparent through the conferring of a given graduate degree. These offerings are distinctly different and are intended to impact traditional and non-traditional students. Students seeking enrollment into one of these offerings must hold a baccalaureate degree or other advanced degree and be subject to equivalent admission requirements for a graduate degree.

NOTE: This policy applies to newly created certificates created after 9/1/2018 or for existing certificates that are revised after 9/1/2018.

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificates are intended to provide depth of understanding in a given topic or area and must be comprised of greater than nine (9) University of Pittsburgh graduate level credits. Transfer credits from other universities may be applied toward a University of Pittsburgh graduate certificate, but at least ten Pitt credits must be earned towards the certificate. The certificate courses may be comprised from one academic unit or multiple academic units. At the discretion of the academic unit, graduate certificates may be offered to currently enrolled students or to Non-Degree Seeking students. Non-Degree Seeking students must hold a baccalaureate or other advanced degree and be subject to admission requirements as outlined and governed by the academic unit granting the certificate.

For graduate certificates created across two or more academic units, a cost-sharing plan must be articulated in the certificate proposal. Absent capacity constraints, enrolled students may pursue any graduate certificate at the sole discretion of the academic unit(s) offering the certificate.

The awarding of a graduate certificate will be annotated on the official transcript of student who successfully meets the requirements as set forth by the academic unit (s) offering the graduate certificate. It is the responsibility of the academic unit offering the graduate certificate to track, certify and award the certificate.

Academic units seeking to award graduate certificates are required to submit a formal proposal to the Office of the Provost. No graduate certificate shall be advertised, enrolled or awarded until a formal review by the University Council for Graduate Studies and subsequent approval by the Provost has been granted in writing. 

Graduate Micro-Credentials

Graduate micro-credentials are intended to indicate familiarity with a given topic or area and may be comprised of between four and nine credits.  Graduate micro credentials may include requirements for non-course educational activities such as workshops, projects or other milestones. The micro-credential courses may be comprised from one academic unit or multiple academic units. At the discretion of the academic unit, graduate micro-credentials  may be offered to currently enrolled students or to students who may be enrolled as Non-Degree Seeking. Students enrolled as Non-Degree Seeking must hold a baccalaureate or other advanced degree and be subject to admission requirements as outlined and governed by the academic unit offering the micro-credential.

For graduate micro-credentials created across two or more academic units, a revenue-sharing plan must be articulated in the micro-credential proposal. Absent capacity constraints, enrolled students may pursue any graduate micro-credential at the sole discretion of the academic unit(s) offering the micro-credential.

Graduate micro-credentials are intended to be flexible, adaptive and to impact the changing demands of enrollees and other stakeholders. While a student’s transcript will list the courses required for the micro-credential, the transcript will not have an annotation of the awarded micro-credential. It is the responsibility of the academic unit(s) offering the graduate micro-credential to track progress and provide verification upon completion.

At the discretion of the individual academic unit(s) offering the micro-credential, Non-Degree Seeking students successfully completing courses in a graduate micro-credential may apply some or all of those credits to an appropriate graduate certificate or degree if the student meets all admission requirements for that program.

Academic units seeking to create a graduate micro-credential shall issue a memorandum in writing from the Dean(s) to the Provost for approval. The memorandum should include the proposed name, rationale for the creation of the micro-credential, all requirements associated with the graduate micro-credential (including which requirements are for credit and how many credits), a description of the mechanism for verification of the credential, and a list of existing graduate certificates or degree programs that the micro-credential could potentially feed into. Any budgetary impact should also be described. The graduate micro-credential shall not be made available to students until approval in writing is received from the Office of the Provost.

  Graduate Certificate Graduate Micro-Credential
Required Credits 10 or More Between 4 and 9
Purpose Deep knowledge
​Anticipated long-term impact
Fundamental Awareness
Agile/Adaptive
Approval UCGS
​Provost
Provost/Provost's Delegate
Transcript Annotation Yes No