Two Unexpected Ways to Get a Graduate Education

Here’s a solution for soon-to-be and recent college graduates who want to move ahead professionally despite the challenges of finding a job in today’s weak economy: Get more education credentials.

And I don’t mean grad school in the traditional sense.

Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a master’s degree (it can certainly help you make more money). But for many, going to typical graduate school may not be a realistic option because of other obligations or cost. That reality shouldn’t prevent you from getting the specialized knowledge you need to get a job or get ahead in the one you have.

So how do you expand the list of educational credentials you bring to the table without breaking the bank or devoting a year or more to school? Enroll in a Certificate Program or an Accelerated Program.

Many colleges and universities are offering programs like these, both online and in the classroom, that can help you develop specific career competencies. They are each distinct in their offerings but either can provide you with the additional skills or knowledge that can make you more relevant or marketable in the career that you would like to pursue.

Thinking this might be a good option for you? Here’s some information about each program:

Certificate Graduate Program

Not only can you take courses targeted to specific disciplines and enhance your professional development, but sometimes these courses can be applied toward getting a graduate degree if you decide to make that commitment later on. These programs are generally one year; require three to 12 courses and generally about nine to 21 credits.  A bachelor’s degree is a pre-requisite and there is no admission or selection process.  The benefit of these programs is that they can help you advance your career or change your career in a short period of time.

Accelerated Graduate Programs

These are degree programs where you study multiple subjects at the same time, thereby saving you time and money.  Be careful–this is an intense commitment but you can earn your degree much faster than you can in a regular program. Unlike the Certificate Programs, there is an application process and you’ll probably need to submit standardized test scores.  Some colleges offer these accelerated graduate programs in combination with an undergraduate bachelor’s program, allowing you to finish both in a relatively short period of time.


Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs.   Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations.  Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now.  An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio.   Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.

Related posts:

  1. How Grad Students Should Approach the Job Search
  2. 4 Ways to Maximize Your Chances of Getting Into a Top MBA Program
  3. How to Select the Best Graduate Program

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