Undergraduate Certificates

Undergraduate Certificate Policies and Procedures
Proposal Guidelines for a New Certificate
Approval Process
Making Significant Changes to a Certificate

CLAS undergraduate 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.)

Undergraduate Certificate Policies and Procedures


These policies and procedures apply to undergraduate certificates with their administrative home in CLAS and to any UI student earning a certificate awarded by CLAS.

  • Students in CLAS may choose to earn a CLAS undergraduate certificate with or without earning or having earned a baccalaureate degree.
  • The requirements for a particular certificate are the same for all students, regardless of the student’s UI college affiliation; the student’s status as a degree-seeking student earning an online certificate only; as a Des Moines Center student; or as a traditional on campus student. (Note: the number of course options for some certificate requirements could vary but the requirements themselves will remain the same.)
  • Students may double count a maximum of 6 s.h. for a certificate and a second program of study; this 6 s.h. excludes GE courses which may be counted multiple times for different programs of study.
  • Students earning a certificate program are held to the same CLAS academic standards as all CLAS students, including the GPA standards and the probation and dismissal policies; the drop and add deadlines; the grading policies; the Code of Academic Honesty; and others.
  • 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.

Mode of Offering
Some certificates use only face-to-face courses and are not available to distance learners. Other certificates use a variety of offering modes but with the primary goal of reaching on-campus students. Some certificates are designed primary for distance learners with the course work offered only online but with on-campus students welcome to take these courses and to earn the certificate. The mode of offering of a certificate might be in flux, but the policies and procedures for certificates remain the same.

Exclusion of Students in Graduate and Professional Programs
According to current UI Graduate School policy, students enrolled in a University of Iowa graduate or professional program may not earn an undergraduate certificate during this graduate enrollment except where exceptions have been made (such as in the case of Pharmacy students being allowed to earn the undergraduate Global Health Certificate) and approved by the Graduate School. Questions may be directed to the Graduate College.

Students in a UI graduate or professional program may earn an undergraduate certificate before or after the completion of a graduate or professional program.

Students enrolled in a non-UI graduate or professional program may earn the certificate while enrolled in the graduate or professional program but should be advised that the certificate is considered to be at the undergraduate level.

Admissions Policies and Procedures for CLAS Certificates
Students not already admitted to UI but wanting to earn a certificate without a degree apply to CLAS as a non-degree seeking student.

Students entering as non-degree students will be asked by Admissions if their intent is to declare a certificate.
Distance learners seeking to complete a certificate online without being on-campus should be advised to also declare the appropriate program of study with the online qualifier.
Students may enroll for three consecutive semesters under the non-degree seeking status and then must reapply.
International students must present the appropriate TOEFL score for admission.

Students with the AA or AS Degree
Students with an Associate of Arts (AA) Degree from an Iowa community college or Waldorf College must have a cumulative transfer GPA of 2.00 or higher on acceptable graded credit from all colleges attended (AA holders from Black Hawk College in Illinois must have a cumulative transfer GPA of 2.25 or higher from all colleges attended).

Students with an Associate of Science (AS) Degree from an Iowa community college must have a cumulative transfer GPA of 2.00 or higher on acceptable graded credit from all colleges attended.

Students with 24 s.h. of Transfer Work
Students who have taken course work at another college must present a cumulative grade-point average of 2.50 or higher if they have taken at least 24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) of acceptable graded credit.

Students with Fewer than 24 s.h. of Transfer Work
Students with fewer than 24 semester hours will be considered for admission as a non-degree seeking student based on a combination of high school and college academic records, as well as ACT or SAT scores

High School Students
Students in high school who wish to apply to the University as a non-degree seeking student must have a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.50 or higher with the GPA reported each semester to Admissions.

Note: High school students will declare two programs of study, the High School program of study (POS) and the specific certificate POS so that the students may be tracked and offered advising for the certificate.

Role of Transfer Credit for Certificates
Transfer work will not be evaluated by Admissions for certificates nor will these courses or credits be added to the student’s record or degree audit by Admissions.

Students who have completed a requirement for a certificate at another institution and have proof of their accomplishment may request a waiver of the requirement from the department or unit offering the certificate. The department will notify the Graduation Analysis of the waiver.

The administrative home of the certificate sets the number of transfer credits accepted for a certificate. The College recommends that transfer credit should be limited to 3 s.h. as is the case for minors.

Transcripts and Transfer GPAs Once Admitted
A student will submit the initial transcript showing that the required admission GPA is met according to the type of admission status sought (such as a non-degree seeking student in high school which requires the 3.50).

A student concurrently enrolled as an undergraduate in another institution of higher education will not be asked to send transcripts each year or semester to verify this GPA. The GPA at the time of admission will suffice except for those students also currently in high school.

High school students will continue to send transcripts and be held to the high school student standard to allow continuing enrollment in UI and CLAS as is now the practice.

Standards for Awarding a Certificate
Students must earn a 2.00 in all UI certificate classes and a 2.00 in all UI classes to be awarded a certificate.

The GPA standard of 2.00 in all college work (i.e. the UI GPA including transfer work) needed for a CLAS baccalaureate will be applied only during the admission process.

Conferral of Certificate Award
Most students will earn the certificate at the same time as the baccalaureate degree, with these awarded using the current process. That is, when applying for graduation, the certificate earned will be included on the degree application by the student.

A student who enrolls and completes the certificate as an online learner without earning a baccalaureate will be awarded the certificate when completed. Degree-seeking students who leave UI before earning a degree may be awarded the certificate but must notify the Registrar of the earned certificate. The Registrar will develop the following process for these requests. Each semester the Registrar will send certificate advisors and/or certificate coordinators a link to a form for requesting that a certificate be conferred without the degree. A student must complete the form and submit it to the Registrar; the Registrar will check to make sure all requirements are completed and will then add the certificate to the transcript. The Registrar is currently creating an online form to facilitate this process.

Enforcement of Non-Duplication Rules
CLAS has never allowed students to earn duplicative credentials.

Obvious and traditional areas of duplication involving, for example, a minor and certificate with the same title or as having the same content as indicated by CLAS will continue to be monitored by the Registrar as well as by the College.

Some interdisciplinary certificates may have very different names from related majors or minors, but may still require a significant number of courses that might overlap with other programs of study. In these cases, CLAS will generally allow only 6 s.h. to overlap for both credentials. However, GE courses are excluded from this rule and may be used multiple times for multiple credentials.

CLAS professional academic advisors help to ensure that students do not apply more than 6 s.h. of duplicative course work to a major, minor, or certificate.

Students Returning to CLAS to Earn a Degree
Students returning to CLAS after earning a certificate without a degree likewise may not earn a duplicative certificate, minor, or major on their return.

Currently, CLAS allows returning students who have previously earned a minor or certificate to drop that award and apply the credit hours to the new program of study (i.e. if duplication is involved and a drop is necessary for this reason). This policy remains in effect.

Tuition for Online Certificates
Students who are admitted to CLAS with the purpose of pursuing a certificate online (such the Certificate in Writing) are charged tuition according to the Liberal Arts and Sciences tuition rate with the technology fee added. The other fees are not charged. The rates are currently the same for both resident and non-resident students. (For current rates, see https://www.maui.uiowa.edu/maui/pub/tuition/rates.page).

Review by College of Existing Certificates

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.

Proposal Guidelines for a New Certificate

No certificate will be approved which duplicates an existing major, minor, or certificate. No more than 6 s.h. may overlap with another credential. Please see Approval Process below before writing the proposal; also review the above policies and procedures related to certificates, above.

The following points should be addressed in the proposal:

  • Please note the department or departments and programs sponsoring the proposal; please include the current date on the proposal.
  • Background information should be given, such as the impetuous for the certificate and those involved in proposing it. Please designate one contact person and include a phone number and email address.Include the anticipated start date, noting that the traditional implementation date for any new CLAS program is the first day of the fall semester.
  • A specific rationale for the certificate should be included and must explain why the certificate is needed and by whom. The primary audience for the certificate should be defined, including whether or not the certificate is primarily for on-campus students or more for learners who will complete the certificate online.
  • Give an estimate for enrollment numbers from implementation through year 5 of the certificate; include an explanation for the basis of the estimate.
  • Include an anticipated start-up date, noting that the traditional implementation date for any new CLAS program is the first day of the fall semester.
  • List the student learning outcomes of the certificate.
  • The requirements (18 to 21 s.h.) should be listed in table form with course numbers, course titles, semester hours, course description (shorter version in the Catalog is fine), any prerequisites, and number of times offered per year. Generally, courses listed as part of the certificate should be offered at least once a year or at the most every other year.Discuss the administrative home and structure for the certificate. Certificates that are interdisciplinary usually have an advisory board with key departments represented. If an advisory board is needed, indicate the members. Give the name of the program coordinator.
  • Discuss how advising will be handled.
  • List faculty members affiliated with the certificate program who will teach required courses.
  • Indicate a plan for assessing the certificate.
  • Describe plans for disseminating information about the certificate to the campus community and the population must likely to enroll in the certificate.
  • Include letters of support from departments  participating in the certificate or experts or other DEOs in a position to recommend the certificate's curriculum or purpose..

Approval Process

Because of the steps involved, it takes a year or more for a certificate 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 those proposing the certificate should begin asking for letters of support from related departments or other units or offices.

Once finished, the proposal will be placed on the agenda of 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) recommends to the Associate Dean approval of the proposal, it will be moved to the Faculty Assembly for further discussion.

When a proposal is recommended for 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.

Making Significant Changes to a Certificate

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.