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Certificates Account for 22 Percent of All Postsecondary Awards, Report Says

A new report from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that, if certificates counted towards college completion metrics, the United States would leap forward in international rankings from 15th to 10th place for total postsecondary completions.

The number of certificates awarded in the United States now makes up 22 percent of all postsecondary awards. Certificate programs, which generally take around one year to complete, offer shorter term, occupation-focused programs. According to Georgetown’s study, certificate-holders spend less time in the classroom but often earn more than those with associate degrees, and, sometimes, even those with four-year degrees.

Further, more than one-third of certificate holders also hold an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. Of these individuals, two-thirds earned their certificate first before completing further education.

Experts agree that many jobs in the future will require at least some postsecondary education and training, yet only half students who start college complete a degree. Certificates offer shorter term, occupation-focused programs, most of which take less than a year to complete and can open doors to promotions and new job opportunities for workers.

In 2010, over one million certificates were awarded, up from 300,000 certificates awarded in 1994.

Click here to view the report.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

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