Graduate Certificates Expand Options and Offer Graduate School Point of Entry

TAMPA, Fla. (March 19, 2009) -- On-campus and on-line courses leading to graduate certificates are growing in popularity with students who are looking for advanced training in a variety of fields or who are considering pursuing advanced degrees.

As a case in point, the graduate certificate program at the University of South Florida is celebrating its first decade with an impressive record of growth. The curriculum, administered through USF ECampus and in coordination with all of the University's nine colleges, has grown from 40 certificate programs in 2000 to 99 in 2009, 32 of which are offered either fully or partially online. The number of certificates awarded also has swelled to 1508 since inception.

USF launched its graduate certificate program in 1988 to help meet the demands of a rapidly changing society and to support workforce development in the Tampa Bay region. Certificates are offered in arts and sciences, behavioral and community sciences, business, education, engineering, medicine, nursing, public health, and the visual and performing arts. Two new certificates were introduced this year: global health and Latin American and Caribbean studies, and water, health and sustainability.

"Graduate certificates provide valuable education in more accessible formats than offered through traditional graduate degree programs," said Lagretta Lenker, director of metro Initiatives and graduate certificates at USF ECampus. "The certificates enable students to meet their specialized educational goals and at the same time complement university graduate degree programs by providing graduate certificate students with the option to convert to USF graduate degree programs."

Students from all walks of life are taking advantage of the opportunity to add to their skills and expand their career options.

"In 2007, my company closed," said Dan Stutzman, who plans to finish his master's degree this summer. "I completed the Museum Studies certificate program and was accepted into the graduate program in library and information sciences. The graduate certificate program was a great starting point for my second career."

For more information, visit the graduate certificates Web site. Additional information on credit and noncredit courses offered through USF ECampus is available at www.usf4you.org, or by calling 1-888-USF4YOU (873-4968).

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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