If you’re strapped for time and cash, a cer­tifi­cate can be the next best alter­na­tive to the long-​​term invest­ment of a master’s degree.

The cer­tifi­cate is great for a career pro­fes­sional that’s already expe­ri­enced to some degree, looks to broaden and deepen their knowl­edge and seeks to have the oppor­tu­nity to under­stand leading prac­tices,” says Janet Riz­zuto, man­aging director of human resource studies at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, ILR school in New York City.

Kelly Otter, asso­ciate dean of grad­uate aca­d­emic and fac­ulty affairs at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies, agrees. “They are also expe­dient for those who need to quickly gain a spe­cific pro­fes­sional cre­den­tial.” Plus, they’re appro­priate for pro­fes­sionals con­sid­ering a master’s degree but don’t know if the area of study is right for them and for gaining “new skill sets to change careers.” For instance, a cer­tifi­cate in lead­er­ship can lead to skills in man­aging teams, ethics, strategic thinking and under­standing and nego­ti­ating orga­ni­za­tional culture.

Each school’s pro­grams and admis­sions process vary; North­eastern offers brick-​​and-​​mortar classes as well as online that take about a year to com­plete. They don’t require GMAT scores. “Rather, we place strong emphasis on pre­vious course­work, grade point average, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion, and per­sonal essays that describe the ratio­nale for the pro­gram for which they are applying and how it will help them achieve their career goals,” explains Otter.

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