3.14 Graduate Certificate Programs

[Recommended by the Administrative Board and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on 3/14/02.]

A. Definition
B. Establishing a Graduate Certificate Program
C. Minimum Requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs
D. Graduate Certificate Courses and Degrees

A. Definition
A Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) is a prescribed set of regular graduate-level academic courses, designed by an academic department or program and taken for credit while enrolled in an approved certificate program and/or current degree program students. Upon completion, the GCP will be designated on the student's transcript and the student shall receive a certificate from Registration and Records. Certain teaching certificate programs may be eligible for Federal financial aid. Students in teaching certificate programs should contact Financial Aid to determine eligibility. All other students in certificate programs are not eligible for Federal financial aid.

B. Establishing a Graduate Certificate Program
In order to be considered a GCP by the University and to have completion of a required course of study designated on the official university transcript, certificate programs must be:

  1. developed following the rules and procedures outlined below;
  2. recommended at the department/program, college, and Administrative Board of the Graduate School (ABGS) level; and
  3. approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.


  1. Each Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) will identify a program coordinator who will be responsible for administration of the certificate program. The coordinator must be a member of the graduate faculty.
  2. An application for acceptance into a certificate program is required. The application process must be clearly outlined in the proposal and all promotional materials. At a minimum, the application should require the necessary information for tracking (name, student ID number, etc.), and proof of completion of a bachelor's degree (final transcript). The application will be handled at the department/program level.
  3. Application fees set by and returned to the department will require approval by NC State University, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors. Fees collected will be classified as receipt income and subject to the same rules as state appropriated funds.
  4. Minimum admission requirements are established by the Graduate School, the same as for any other graduate program. The proposing department/program may establish stricter requirements, which must be clearly outlined in the proposal and all application materials.
  5. The program coordinator will make recommendations concerning admission to the Dean of the Graduate School as outlined in Section 2.3 of the Graduate Administrative Handbook.
  6. Unless otherwise requested, the standard University tuition rate will apply for course work in certificate programs. Tuition other than the standard rate will require approval by NC State University, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, and will be classified as receipt income and subject to the same rules as state appropriated funds.
  7. A new classification code (GR Code) for each GCP should be established for tracking purposes. Student credit hours (SCH) will be assigned for certificate program students based on the instructor assigned to teach the courses that certificate students take.
  8. For tracking purposes, the coordinator should be given access to students in this classification code.
  9. All promotional literature for GCPs should include a statement to the effect that "Academic success might have a strong bearing on admission to a degree program BUT completion of a certificate program in no way guarantees entry into a graduate degree program which is done through a separate application process."
  10. If the GCP uses a unique group of faculty participants a list of such faculty program participants and a method for identification of future faculty should be included with the proposal. The list of current faculty will be approved at the College and Graduate School level.
  11. As with all graduate programs, curriculum changes should be handled through the appropriate college graduate committee and the ABGS.
  12. The GCP coordinator will notify the Dean of the Graduate School of the student's completion of certificate requirements.
  13. The Graduate School will perform an audit of the student's record of work in the GCP, and once the record is approved, will notify Registration and Records to prepare a certificate and include notification of completion on the student's official University transcript.
  14. For existing programs to be considered a GCP, they must complete a proposal following these "Rules and Procedures" and submit it to the College and ABGS for approval.
  15. In accordance with the UNC Office of Academic Planning, notification of a GCP, approved via this process, will be sent to Senior-Vice President for Academic Affairs, UNC-OP.
  16. All GCPs will be subject to review as part of the regular graduate program review cycle. If at that time (or at any time the offering department/program determines appropriate), it is deemed the GCP should be terminated, an official request, including phase-out plans, should be submitted to the ABGS.

C. Minimum Requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs
Below are the minimum requirements for Graduate Certificate Programs. Individual programs may develop additional requirements.

  1. Certificates will be titled "Graduate Certificate in…."
  2. All students enrolled in a certificate program must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  3. Courses required in the GCP must be regular graduate level academic courses (approved by the ABGS). Up to one course (for a maximum of 4 credit hours) may be at the 400 level.
  4. The minimum number of credits required for a GCP is 12. No more than three of those credits may be S/U graded.
  5. To receive a Graduate Certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.000 grade point average (GPA) on all certificate course work. All grades on courses taken towards the certificate program in courses numbered 400 and above are included in the GPA. Courses at the 300 level and below are not eligible for certificate credit and subsequently do not affect the graduate GPA.
  6. The minimum grade to receive certificate credit should be established by the department/program but can be no lower than a grade of C-.
  7. GCP students who take 400-, 500- and 700-level courses which are letter graded do not have the option of taking the courses for "credit only" if they intend for the course to be part of their GCP.
  8. All GCP requirements must be completed within four (4) calendar years, beginning with the date the student commences courses applicable to the GCP, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the program or academic college/school.
  9. An individual can obtain multiple certificates from NC State University. Each certificate must have at least nine (9) credit hours that are unique to it.

D. Graduate Certificates and Degrees

  1. Transfer Credit
    1. Transfer credit from other institutions is not allowed for GCP. All course work must be registered for through NC State University.
    2. Up to six (6) hrs of PBS coursework, if not already used in another graduate program, may be transferred into a certificate program.
    3. Up to six (6) hrs of coursework taken while in undergraduate status at NCSU may be transferred into a certificate provided that the credit was not used for an undergraduate degree.
    4. The limit for transfer credit into a certificate program is six (6) hrs from all sources. All transfer credit must carry a grade of B or better (B- is not allowed).
    5. Up to twelve (12) hours of certificate credit taken prior to enrollment in a degree program (either master's or doctoral) may be transferred into that degree program (note: transfer totals into degree programs shall not exceed twelve (12) hours from all sources) so long as eighteen (18) hrs remain unique to the master's and thirty-six (36) hrs to the doctorate.
  2. Double-Counting
    1. Graduate certificate courses taken while enrolled in a degree program may be double-counted with the degree courses to the extent that the courses unique to the degree remains eighteen (18) hours for each master’s or thirty-six (36) hours for a doctorate.
    2. Courses used in a previous undergraduate degree shall not be used in a certificate.
    3. Certificate and graduate minor coursework shall not be shared. A student getting a minor using a set of coursework may not also get a certificate using that same coursework.
    4. Up to nine (9) hrs of coursework taken in a previous degree program may be used in a certificate (to the extent allowed by the double-counting rules in sub-section D), provided that there is no break between the degree and the certificate. Where there is a break of at least one term, only six (6) hrs taken while in the degree program may be used in the certificate. The time limit noted in C.8 still applies.