Study: Adult Learners See Certification as a Career Springboard

Certificate programs are growing in popularity within the continuing and professional education departments of colleges and universities. For adult learners, these programs provide career advancement without a lengthy — and costly — traditional degree program.

In fact, according to a report from Eduventures, an education research and consulting firm, nearly half of all certificate students are motivated by the outcomes of their program — they view certificates as a tool to facilitate changing careers or meet minimum entry requirements or continuing education requirements for their employment.

The report, “Consumer Preferences for Certificate Programs,” also found the next most important motivation to pursuing a certificate program was earning a higher education credential. A majority of students in a certificate program — 66.2 percent — indicated they are interested in counting their certificate credits toward a degree.

According to the report, students employed in professional fields and disciplines that are more practice-oriented (such as business and finance, architecture, arts and entertainment) are more receptive to certificates versus those in the fields or studying disciplines that highly prioritize educational credentialing in career advancement that tend to prefer degrees (such as the sciences, engineering and health care).

According to Sean Gallagher, senior analyst for Eduventures Learning Collaborative for Continuing and Professional Education program, the results from the report give new insight into the continuing and professional education market.

“These priorities emphasize that prospective certificate students are evaluating an institution and program from within a professional rubric, heavily weighted toward professional outcomes, practice-orientation and labor market value,” Gallagher said.

He also said report brings light to an area often overlooked within the industry.

“Despite certificate programs representing a major area of investment and revenue for continuing and professional education divisions of colleges and universities, relatively little market research has historically been available in this area,” Gallagher said. “This research identifies emerging opportunities in the certificate market and most importantly, tests fundamental assumptions about the market value of certificate programs.”

For more information, see http://www.eduventures.com.

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