Academic Programs — Proposing an Undergraduate Certificate

Certificates engage students in a focused study of a topic that may complement the major or provide specialized training unavailable from other programs. Certificates generally require between 18-21 s.h. of course work. Many certificates are interdisciplinary but may also focus on a single area offered by one department.

CLAS students may earn a CLAS certificate without earning a degree; this applies to both on-campus students and to distant learners. Students who have earned a certificate and want that notation to appear on the transcript without the degree completed must ask the Registrar to review the completion of the certificate's requirements so that it may be added to the transcript.

CLAS students may earn certificates offered by the College and by other colleges in the University. Links to descriptions of existing certificate programs are available on the College's Departments and Divisions webpage.

Certificates are usually designed for undergraduate students but may also be developed for graduate students, with those proposals needing approval from the Graduate College. Please confer with that College about certificates for graduate students. (See the Graduate Manual for procedures for new graduate programs, including certificates and minors.)

Proposal Guidelines

No certificate will be approved which duplicates an existing major, minor, or certificate. The following points should be addressed in the proposal:

  • A detailed description of the certificate and its focus, including a rationale for the certificate and how it differs from existing programs of study.
  • A curriculum of around 18 to 21 s.h. of coursework, with a discussion of prerequisites.
  • An assurance that courses listed as part of the certificate will be offered at least every two years if not more often.
  • A list of faculty members affiliated with the certificate program who will teach courses and be available for advising if needed.
  • A discussion of resources, both those already available and those that will be requested.
  • A five-year enrollment projection (with explanation for the basis of the estimate).
  • A plan for assessing the certificate.
  • An anticipated start-up date, noting that the traditional implementation date for any new CLAS program is the first day of the Fall semester.
  • Plans for disseminating information about the certificate to the campus community (the Registrar, Admissions, the Academic Advising Center and departmental academic advisors, and other departments).

Please note that any certificate offered online is also made available to on-campus learners, with the same requirements and standards.

Other Policies

  • In completing the requirements specified for multiple programs of study, such as a minor, certificate, or major, the double counting of course work is limited to 6 s.h. [Note: The General Education Program courses are not included in this policy; students may count GE courses multiple times.]
  • A grade point average of at least 2.00 must be earned in all work attempted as part of the certificate.
  • No course taken Pass/Nonpass may be used as part of a certificate. Courses graded S/F may be used at the discretion of the offering department or program.
  • A newly approved certificate will receive approval for five years, with those administering the certificate asked to report on the certificate to the Undergraduate Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee in the third year after the approval of the certificate.
  • In the fifth year, the College will review the certificate for renewal, reconfiguration, or discontinuation and will recommend to the Provost any changes deemed necessary.


Because of the steps involved, it takes a year or more for a proposal to go from draft to implementation.

One or more members of the group proposing the certificate should meet with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum to discuss initial ideas and the procedures for obtaining certificate status before completing the proposal. When the Associate Dean agrees that the proposal is ready for further consideration, the faculty committee will approach DEOs of participating departments for letters of support. Once finished, the proposal and supporting letters will be discussed by the Undergraduate Educational Policy Committee and Curriculum Committee. (If significant resources are requested, the Executive Committee will also be consulted.) Once the Undergraduate Educational Policy Committee and Curriculum Committee (and if needed, the Executive Committee) approve the proposal, it will be presented to the Faculty Assembly for further discussion.

When a proposal is approved by the Faculty Assembly, the Dean of the College will determine when to forward the proposal to the Provost.

A new certificate may be implemented  after approved by the Provost. Approval by the Regents is not required. However, if a certificate is transformed into a major, the major must receive approval by the Regents, with the appropriate forms and letters of recommendation submitted.

Significant Changes to a Certificate: Process

Significant changes to a certificate follow the same process as significant changes to a major.

Please remember that students are never held to requirements changed after the student has declared a certificate. If requirements are changed, students may choose to complete the new requirements but are not obligated to do so. A department making curricular changes should ensure that students understand this option.