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How to Determine if a Certificate or a Minor Is Best for You

How to Determine if a Certificate or a Minor Is Best for You

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By Amanda Riggs
Academic Advising Quality Control and Training Specialist, APUS

Many students tell us that they are interested in studying a second subject during their college education. Certificates and minors allow students to pursue multiple subjects or to add an additional area of specialty to their studies.

APUS offers standalone certificates or the option of adding a certificate or minor to your degree. With over 100 certificate programs and 20 minors from which to choose, it can be challenging to decide what is best for you.

Many students are interested in certificates and minors to fulfill personal or professional goals or to grow their knowledge in a specific field. The ability to earn an additional credential for your resume might also make you a standout job candidate in today’s competitive workplace.

Certificates and minors are also fairly short programs, typically ranging from six to eight classes in length. That adds to their popularity among students.

What to Consider as You’re Choosing a Certificate or a Minor

When you’re deciding whether to pursue a certificate or a minor, it’s helpful to keep the following factors in mind:

  • Certificates can be added to associate, bachelor or graduate programs and can overlap with other program requirements.
  • Minors can only be added to bachelor’s degrees and must include three unique courses that do not overlap with your program requirements.
  • Adding a certificate or a minor to your program is considered a program change. Program changes may require your academic advisor’s review and become permanent changes to your academic plan.
  • APUS certificates tend to be in specific areas of study, but minors are broader in their range of available topics. Generally speaking, students with technical interests might prefer certificates, while students pursuing arts degrees enjoy minors.
  • Minors and certificates are not mentioned on your associate, bachelor’s or master’s diploma. Any certificate you earn will be printed separately from your diploma. Minors are not noted on your diploma, but they will appear on your official transcript.
  • If you complete a certificate and decide to return for an associate or bachelor’s degree later, we will apply as much credit from the certificate as possible toward your new program.
  • If you are disenrolled, you won’t be able to add a certificate or minor to your program until after your readmission.
  • Certificates are not equivalent to industry certifications. Completion of a certificate program will not result in any type of licensure or certification from APUS.

Finally, it is important to know that certificate and minor coursework will take the place of your available electives. For example, if your bachelor’s degree has room for 12 elective courses (36 semester hours) and you decide to add a six-class minor (18 semester hours), then you will have six elective courses remaining. If there is not enough room in your electives to accommodate the classes required for a minor or certificate, the total number of credits needed for your degree will increase.

Contact Us if You Need More Information

As with any change to your program, it is best to speak with an academic advisor about your specific situation. You can reach an academic advisor today by emailing counseling@apus.edu or calling 877-755-2787 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. We look forward to hearing from you!

About the Author

Amanda Riggs has worked for the Academic Advising Department since 2009. She has held several roles, including Academic Advisor, First Year Advising Manager and Training Manager. Amanda has a bachelor of arts in criminal justice from Roanoke College and a master of business administration and a master of arts in management from APU.

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