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200.2 - Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs

University Group Policy #200.2

I.  Policy Statement

Certificate programs benefit students and/or interest by providing greater flexibility and broader training in areas related to the students' major fields and making those students more flexible to secure professional positions or to pursue additional post-baccalaureate or post-masters studies. The post-baccalaureate certificate is not defined as a degree program by the School of Graduate Studies and Research, but is a focused collection of courses that offers the student a record of academic accomplishment within a discipline or a set of related disciplines. The certificate is no guaranteed means of entry into a graduate degree program.

II.    Guidelines

Proposals for new graduate certificate programs are created and submitted by Graduate Program Coordinators/Department Chairs/Deans and Graduate Faculty for review and approval by the Graduate Council. Each proposal must include a signed endorsement by the department chairperson(s), dean(s) of the college or professional school(s). The Graduate Council considers the merit of all graduate certificate proposals, and makes recommendations for approval/disapproval to the dean of the Graduate School. Prior to submitting the electronic notification to The University of North Carolina General Administration (hereinafter referred to as “GA”), the Graduate Dean will notify the SACS Accreditation Liaison Officer and the Office of the Provost for final review and approval. After such approvals, the Graduate School will forward, submit, or notify approved certificate programs to GA by posting the certificate to be included in the WSSU inventory of programs.

The Graduate School will award certificates upon completion to include the following signatures: the dean of the respective school/college; the dean of the Graduate School; the Provost; and the Chancellor.

Criteria for Approval of Certificate Programs

Criteria for approval of new graduate certificate programs must include the following:

  1. The proposed sequence of course work must meet a clear and appropriate educational objective at the post-baccalaureate level;
  2. The proposed program must achieve its education objective in a well designed, cohesive and timely manner;
  3. A demonstrated need for the certification program must exist, supported by externally or internally derived data;
  4. An appropriate number of credit hours must comprise the certificate program. The number of graduate credits may not be less than nine (9) semester hours nor more than one-half (1/2) of the semester hours necessary for a related graduate degree from the Graduate School.

Policies Governing Certificate Admission Criteria and Subsequent Admission to Graduate Degree Programs

The certificate admissions criteria and policies governing the relation of post-baccalaureate certificates to graduate degree programs include the following:

  1. An earned baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university is required for admission to a post-baccalaureate certificate program;
  2. Each certificate program sets the minimum admissions requirements for the certificate (e.g. grade point average, standardized test scores, work experience, etc.). All certificate candidates must be informed at the time of their acceptance that admission to and completion of a certificate program does not supersede the admission requirements to a degree program should they subsequently apply to a graduate degree program;
  3. Each graduate program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree if a certificate student is admitted into a graduate degree program. There may be limitations on the hours taken as a non-degree student that can be counted toward a particular graduate degree, as determined by the graduate degree-granting department;
  4. Graduate students currently enrolled in a graduate degree program, may simultaneously pursue a graduate certificate if approved by both their graduate advisory committee, (or graduate program director if no committee has been formed), and the Graduate School. No other application is necessary;
  5. Students who are currently enrolled in Graduate School and who wish to pursue approved graduate certificate programs must apply for admission to such programs before one-half of the required credits are completed. The Dean of the Graduate School, upon request by the program coordinator, may grant exceptions to this policy. Certificate-seeking graduate students who are not currently enrolled in a master's program will be admitted into a separate classification within the Graduate School, as "Certificate" students, as defined by the Graduate School. This separate classification will permit keeping of University-wide statistical and enrollment data for certificate programs, and will allow inclusion of such efforts in the quarterly reports, annual reports and academic planning. The Graduate School will contact the Registrar to note successful completion of a certificate program on the student's transcript upon completion and the Graduate School will award a certificate.
  6. No transfer credit from another institution will be counted toward the completion of a certificate program at WSSU with the exception of courses offered as part of a certificate program with a collaborating institution;
  7. Students pursuing a graduate certificate will be required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average as specified by the Graduate School. Graduate students may enroll on either a part-time or a full-time basis. Students enrolled in certificate programs or as non-degree students are not eligible for graduate assistantships or loans through the Financial Aid Office.

Requirements for Certificate and Licensure Programs

Authorization is not required for sequences of degree-credit courses that do not constitute a full degree program, such as certificate and licensure programs. However, licensure programs will require the additional approval of the appropriate North Carolina State Licensure Agency. This process can take from three to six months and can be submitted to GA and the licensure agency simultaneously. If 25% or more of a certificate program is offered online as a certificate program, then SACS must be notified prior to establishing program notifications and proposals for all online certificate programs must be sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) before implemented. Electronic notification of their establishment is required; however, an inventory of these offerings must be maintained so that GA can fulfill federal reporting requirements. The process for notification to G A of a certificate or a licensure program is as follows:

  1. The School of Graduate Studies and Research will submit an electronic notification for the program. This information must be entered by the Graduate School and not by individual departments/school/college.(Note: Appendix E is no longer required.)
  2. The School of Graduate Studies and Research will work with the Office of Institutional Research in submitting the needed information including:
    • CIP code (available from Institutional Research)
    • Program title and description o Required credit hours
    • Program type and level o Specialty code (Note: This is required for teaching licensure programs, and you should consult your campus teacher licensure officer to obtain the correct specialty code.)
    • Date of initiation
    • Mode of delivery
    • Site (Indicate “Internet” if program is online.)
    • County (Indicate “Statewide” if program is online.)
    • Whether program is on-campus or distance education
  3. If the program will have multiple versions (e.g., both on campus and at one or more distance sites), make a separate program listing for each version.
  4. When a certificate or licensure program (including particular versions of each program) is no longer offered, the School of Graduate Studies will contact UNC General Administration Academic Affairs and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to have the program removed from the inventory (and notifies the Office of Institutional Research). No special form is needed for this.

Application Procedure for a New Certificate Program

The Graduate Council will review all proposals submitted by the Department Graduate Faculty, Departmental Chairperson and the Dean of the school/college for all post-baccalaureate certificate programs. Proposals for new graduate certificate programs must contain the following information:

  1. A statement of the educational objectives of the program and how the program contributes to the mission of WSSU;
  2. A statement of the admission standards for the certificate program and a statement of the academic retention standards for the successful completion of the program;
  3. A statement of the proposed course sequence associated with the certificate, including titles and course descriptions both for existing courses and any new courses that may be developed;
  4. The Graduate Catalog copy for the certificate program;
  5. A statement of how the proposed course sequences associated with the certificate will meet the stated educational objectives;
  6. A statement of the demand for the proposed program and the basis for such a need, supported by either externally or internally derived data; a simple statement that there is a need for the certificate program is insufficient;
  7. The names and curriculum vita of the faculty, including adjuncts, associated with or contributing to the certificate program, either by teaching one or more of' the courses associated with the program or participating in the design of the course sequence;
  8. The name and curriculum vita of the faculty member who will be designated as the coordinator of the program for purposes of communication with the Graduate School;
  9. A specification of resources needed to implement the program;
  10. The proposal will be given expedited review in the approval process if the proposed graduate certificate program contains no new courses, no new faculty, no additional costs, and maintains the admissions and academic standing requirements of a related degree program; and
  11. The unit offering the certificate program must specify what professional license, if any, for which the certificate qualifies.

Approval Process

A proposal for a certificate, or modification of an existing one, may be developed by an appropriate department/school/college. Upon approval by the relevant department/school/college, it will be considered by the Graduate Council with subsequent approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).


Upon final approval, a course of study leading to a post-baccalaureate certificate will be published in the online Graduate Profile, Graduate Catalog (in-print and on website) and may be otherwise publicized.


  1. A course of study leading to a post-baccalaureate certificate shall consist of at least 12 semester hours, and not more than 18 semester hours, of specified course work. If the certificate is available only for post-masters students or is linked to a degree program, it may consist of up to 30 semester hours.
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.00 must be earned in the courses used toward the certificate.
  3. Course work leading to a certificate must be completed within the six years immediately preceding awarding of the certificate;
  4. Only courses taken at WSSU may be applied toward a concentration or certificate.

Student Admission and Status

To pursue a certificate, a student must be admitted to the Graduate School as a non-degree seeking student or directly to the certificate program which is not yet available in our Banner system.

III.     Applicability

This policy applies to academic departments at Winston-Salem State University.

Responsible Division: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Authority: Board of Trustees


  • Adopted: September 18, 2009