New Undergraduate Certificates

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New Undergraduate Certificates

To: Deans, Directors, Department Heads and Advisors


Gail Burd, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

George Gehrels, Chair, Undergraduate Council

Leslie Sult, Chair, Academic Programs Subcommittee

Subject: New Undergraduate Certificates

Date: February 28, 2014

The Undergraduate Council and Faculty Senate have approved the creation of official undergraduate certificates, which, when completed, will be posted to students' transcripts. An undergraduate certificate is a programmatic or topically-linked series of courses, either from a single field or across disciplinary boundaries. The certificate provides a focused, structured and deeply interrelated set of courses that can be used to enhance the undergraduate experience in areas of deep disciplinary, interdisciplinary, regional or global interest, or which may be targeted toward a defined professional development need. Creating strongly relevant but academically rigorous undergraduate certificates presents an opportunity to respond to the evolving environmental conditions in higher education and concurrent shifts in student needs.

Undergraduate certificates will create an additional path to a UA educational experience that is less costly to students in terms of financial expense and opportunity cost (time). It will also increase access to the UA by enhancing the student pipeline into formal UA undergraduate degree programs, particularly in the case of transfer and international students.

Requests to implement new certificates require only the approval of the college dean and Undergraduate Council which enables academic units to respond to market demand in a timely manner.


  1. Undergraduate certificates are available to degree seeking and non-degree seeking undergraduate students.
  2. Students who have been admitted to an undergraduate degree program may add a certificate prior to completing their degree requirements by contacting the offering unit and satisfying the admission requirements for the desired certificate.   Students who have been admitted to the UA in a non-degree seeking status are required to apply for admission to an undergraduate certificate by contacting the offering academic unit.
  3. Applicants for certificates must meet UA Undergraduate Admissions requirements and must have no less than a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent. The academic unit offering the certificate may set additional or more stringent admission criteria.
  4. The total number of units required for an undergraduate certificate may vary by academic discipline, but must require a minimum of nine (9) units of credit.  At least six (6) units of credit must be upper division units of UA course work. 
  5. All University policies apply, including academic, grading, admission, retention, contact hours, and faculty eligibility to teach.
  6. Offering units may determine whether course work taken to complete the certificate may also be applied to a degree program. There is no University maximum on the number of units completed for a certificate that may also apply toward a degree program. 
  7. Offering units may determine whether course work taken at another institution may be applied to a certificate. A minimum of three (3) units used to satisfy certificate requirements must be taken in residence at the UA.
  8. Maximum duplicate units from a previously awarded degree program applicable to a certificate shall be no more than six (6) units.
  9. Course work taken more than four (4) years prior to admission to a certificate may not be applied. 
  10. Time to complete the certificate shall not exceed four (4) years. The clock begins with the date of the earliest course work used for the certificate.
  11. Certificates may be structured as either discipline-specific or cross-disciplinary. Academic units applying for certificates must consult with and/or obtain support from related programs and departments to insure availability of courses required for the certificate, but offered by another department, and to avoid unnecessary duplication of content.
  12. Subplans/options may not be offered under an approved certificate. 
  13. Certificates may be stand-alone or linked to an existing degree program.
  14. Certificates may be offered by an academic unit that does not currently offer a related degree program. 
  15. Non-academic units may create certificates that are sponsored by an academic unit that undergoes an academic program review.
  16. Certificates should enhance existing programs, not take the place of them. Sufficient resources must exist to support the certificate without penalizing existing academic programs including subplans/options and minors.
  17. Officially approved certificates will be posted to UA transcripts.  The sponsoring unit may provide a paper certificate document if desired; it must not resemble a UA diploma in any way.

Guidelines for undergraduate certificates as well as the approval process and proposal template are also available on the Curricular Affairs web site:

Questions about undergraduate certificates may be directed to Patti King, Director, Curricular Affairs, at

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