Should certificate programs be standardized by some agency?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by bazonkers, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    The other thread about the mini-MBA offered by the University of Buffalo got me thinking about a few things. RA degree programs are relatively standardized across different schools. A BS in Chemistry from Penn State can be expected to be pretty close to the one might receive when earning a BS in Chemistry from the University of Florida. Same goes for MBA programs, etc.

    If schools that are RA offer certificate programs, should the certificates fall under some sort of RA oversight as well? The mini-MBA offered by the University of Buffalo takes a minimum of 8 1/2 hours to complete. The mini-MBA offered by Rutgers takes around 40 hours to complete. I'm not opposed to the mini-MBA idea as it offers a good crash course to non-business majors. What is interesting to me is that they are both offered by RA schools but there is no consistency. As an employer, I would have no idea how much work one actually did for the certificate.

    Also, I see the same thing in regards to online certificates in distance education. Central Michigan University offers a 4 week course that earns 1 graduate credit. Indiana University offers a program that is non-credit but earns 30 CEUs. The Indiana program seems to involve a bit more work but in the end, both programs award the same certificate. Technically, one could take the program from CMU that awards one graduate credit and honestly list it on their resume as "Graduate Certificate, Online Instruction" as it could be argued that is a graduate certificate. It's not even close to other schools graduate certificates that require, 18 credits, however.

    Any ideas how schools can regain some consistency in regards to the above?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2009
  2. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Excellent questions.

    The bottom line is that no matter what kind of a certificate a person gets, he still needs 18 graduate-level hours in the discipline that he wants to teach. Thus, if he gets a Certificate in Underwater Basket Weaving that is only 15 graduate-level credits in duration, then it is insufficient for teaching purposes. However, it may make him more marketable in the underwater basket weaving industry.

    The regional accredators have standardized what is required to teach, but as far as standardizing certification programs: The market will be the determining factor and the accreditators don't need to get involved in this arena. If there is a demand for certain kinds of certificates, then colleges and universities should be allowed to provide them.

    I've seen a 15 graduate-level certificate in Criminal Justice Administration. It's certainly not good for teaching, but it definitely helps law enforcement executives to climb the promotional ladder, especially when their chief or sheriff expects them to complete the course-of-instruction; it proves something to the chief.

    Certificates are basically an industry requirement that colleges and universities are glad to provide.
  3. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    I agree but wouldn't be advantageous for schools to want this sort of involvement? If the University of Pittsburgh suddenly offered a mini-MBA that only took 2 hours to complete, wouldn't that cheapen the other schools version of the mini-MBA? Eventually, I'd think that employers would learn of these low requirement certificates and would start viewing all with the same name in a bad light. If that happens, the cashcow gets killed as employers (who probably pay for most of these) will stop paying for these "easy" certificates.

    As for my question about the graduate certificate, without looking at the curriculum, which sounds better?

    Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching, Central Michigan University


    Certificate in Distance Education, School of Continuing Studies, Indiana University

    I think the first one looks more impressive on a resume but in reality, I think that someone that does the second program ends up doing more work and learning a bit more based on reading over the requirements. It's misleading as the "Graduate Certificate" implies advanced coursework in education but they really teach the same thing. I'm not sure anyone would guess that the Graduate Certificate consists of one credit.

    As someone humorously stated in the other thread, they can't wait for the mini-PhD. What's the thought on that? If the market suddenly demands people with original research skills and perhaps some statistics knowledge, is it OK for schools to put together a 13-week crash course and call it a mini-PhD?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2009
  4. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    It depends on (1) how many credits the course is worth and (2) what the course is in. A course in finance will unequivocally be harder and take longer to complete than a course in general management. Also, some of the mini MPA certificates aren't even worth college credits and, thus, it's irrelevant if it takes two hours to complete.

    That's possible or, more likely, industries will have a proclivity to send their employees to specific programs. For example, does your employer have a certain graduate-level course that he likes to send his executive-level employees to? Mine does.

    Probably the first one. Having said that, the second one is probably equally as valuable!

    I have soooooo man hokey certificates that aren't worth the paper that they're printed on!

    A mini-PhD? Is that sort of like a mini-headache? ;) Eeeeegad, that's like comparing apples to oranges because soooo much more goes into obtaining a doctorate i.e. the dissertation process and all the heartaches and headaches that go along with it. A mini-headache? lollololol
  5. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    I guess the real question is how diligent are employers scrutinizing the contents of the certificate? In your example above, what if someone took a certificate program in Criminal Justice that awarded the same type for certificate but was only 3 credits? I'd imagine that many employers are just going to "check the box" putting the 3cr and 15cr certificate earners on the same eligibility list for promotion.

    I guess this put the onus on employers to make sure they know what they are paying for.
  6. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    They scrutinize it either from personal experience because they went through the program or their friends have gone through it and they come back with stories i.e. it was easy or it was hard or it was a drunk fest or...

    A savvy employer would know the difference because he has researched it to see what is required. If your employer is going to send you to one of those schools, then he's probably intelligent enough to inquire what the requirements are for completion of it. There are all different kinds of Cadillacs, but not all Cadillacs cost the same. There are all different kinds of certificates, but not all certificates are the same, even if they have the same general name. Caveat Emptor.

    It also seems that in the 21st Century, people are becoming ever more saavy about educational standards and educational differences, such as business accreditations, regional accreditation, etc. Twenty years ago, it seems like NOBODY knew what those standards or differences were.

  7. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    The whole new world of regionally accredited schools awarding certificates seems a little like the wild west to me. :) Maybe in time someone will publish suggested guidelines for schools to follow to help make sure the names of the certificates issued follow some sort of ethical standardization. In the meantime, hopefully employers will due their research.

    Some of the places I worked (Fortune 500 companies) allowed us so many dollars for tuition reimbursement. We were free to use it how we wished as long as it was pre-approved. They didn't have specific certificate programs they perferred you to use so you could sign up for any that you wished as long as your manager signed off. The certificates weren't required to keep your job but they did play a role down the line when it came time for promotion. They never bothered to look at or request transcripts. They just asked for a copy of the certificate upon completion for your file. I can't imagine that this is a rare occurrence. I'm lucky to be knowledgeable about these sorts of things but most of the people I worked with had no idea about certificates, let alone RA/NA/Mill degrees.

    Maybe I should hang my consulting shingle out and market my services to companies to educate them about various certification/degree programs. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2009
  8. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    It doesn't make sense to call a certificate a mini-MBA. Could you imagine if we had the mini-JD or Mini-MD? I believe that universities are cashing in on the instant recognition of the MBA without either caring about or considering the long term consequences to the university's brand.

    I do understand the doctoral process. I don't believe it is comparing apples to oranges when most of us took 2 or more years to complete our MBAs versus the nominal effort for the certificate. My point being that if you wouldn't consider doing a mini whatever in another field or degree title why do so for the MBA? (ok, that was a rhetorical question $$$)

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