What Are the Benefits of an Online Certificate Program?


Online certificate programs are gaining popularity as an affordable and flexible option in higher education.  

What is an online certificate program?  

Online certificate programs are college-level programs that offer students the opportunity to:

  • Study a focused topic in a shorter time frame than earning a degree 
  • Earn an affordable higher education experience to add to their resume
  • Maintain their edge in the job market
  • Schedule flexible courses around their lives
  • Attend classes from anywhere


There are two main types of online certificate programs offered at Ohio State: stand-alone and embedded certificates. Stand-alone programs do not require a student to be enrolled in a full undergraduate or graduate degree program at Ohio State to be able to receive an Academic Certificate upon completion.

Ohio State’s online certificate programs both at the undergraduate and graduate levels are a great way for students to gain knowledge in a chosen field of employment, learn about a specific topic in order to supplement their current degree program, earn credit or continuing education units for workforce development, and prepare for professional certification exams or licensure. 

We are dedicated to helping you choose the right decision for your future, so reach out to us with any questions you may have.


How long does a certificate take to complete? 

On average, Ohio State’s online certificates are 12 to 20 credit hours in length. Most programs can be completed in one year or less. For example, the online Public Management Certificate from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs is 13 credits in length (four or five courses) and can be completed in one year.

"It is a good way to grow and develop," says Robert Griffiths, Associate VP of Online Education at Ohio State. "Online certificates are flexible and are able to be scheduled around all of your life priorities and goals."

"Online certificates are flexible and are able to be scheduled around all of your life priorities and goals."

Online certificate courses are often taught asynchronously, meaning students can complete course material according to their own schedules while still keeping up with course due dates.

If live video lectures are required, class can be attended anywhere from your breakroom at your workplace to your living room couch. The stress of finding the time and resources for transportation to and from class is nonexistent in an online learning environment. 


How much does an online certificate cost?  

Online certificate programs have lower tuition compared to full degree programs since they are composed of fewer credit hours. Returning to the example of Ohio State's Public Management certificate, we estimate that an Ohio student in the program will pay around $4,000 per semester. Costs may vary depending on your specific program's fees, as well as your state of residence and time to completion.

Both students and employers can benefit from the lower cost and shorter time to completion of an online certificate program. Employers often look for ways to upskill employees and gravitate toward certificate programs because of these many benefits.  

For some students, an online certificate program can be the first step towards pursuing a full degree. Ohio State offers students the opportunity to apply credits gained through online certificates towards full degree programs. Students who earn the Public Management Certificate, for example, may apply some credits toward the Master of Public Administration and Leadership.

Calculate the cost of an Ohio State online Certificate >>


How do certificates lead to career growth? 

Online certificate programs offer a convenient way for students to further their education and “maintain your edge in the marketplace” without having to set aside years for a full degree, says Griffiths.

Courses can be completed while students work full time, allowing them to immediately apply their knowledge gained from their online certificate programs to their careers.

“We understand that people are no longer in lifelong careers,” says Griffiths. “There is too much change in the world right now to think that you can maintain your current level of education and still remain relevant and compete in the marketplace.”

Whether you are looking to move up in your career, seeking a career change, or looking to learn a new skill, an online certificate program provides the tools necessary to take that leap.  

Ready to learn more? Explore Ohio State's online certificate program offerings. 

Last modified: 
August 9, 2022