Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness

Assessment and Reporting: Certificate Programs

Certificate Definition[1]

A certificate is defined as a non-degree program complementary to a degree that requires at least 24 undergraduate or 12 graduate credits. For each undergraduate certificate, at least 15 credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of a major, concentration, minor, or another undergraduate certificate. The name of a completed certificate program appears on the transcript after the conferral of an undergraduate degree. Certificates are approved by the school or college at the undergraduate level and by the Graduate Council at the graduate level. Credits from a maximum of one graduate certificate may also apply to a master’s or doctoral degree program.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) identifies certificates as educational programs in the requirement for assessment of institutional effectiveness (Principle 3.3.1).[2]

Assessment of Certificates

All certificate programs will participate in assessment of program and student learning outcomes. Most certificates will be included as part of the APR self-study, while certain stand-alone programs will report independently.

Certificates Included in Academic Program Review (APR)

All units that participate in APR will include the assessment of certificate programs that are located in the unit, or cross-disciplinary certificates for which the unit has primary responsibility. Reporting in the APR self-study should include: the purpose of the certificate, enrollment and completion rates, and assessment of two outcomes (more information is in the Academic Program Review Guide).

Stand-alone Certificate Programs Report Independently

Certificates for which at least 50% of courses are not associated with a degree program (i.e. stand-alone certificates) are required to make a full report every 5 years in the Tk20 assessment management system. Certificates that qualify as Gainful Employment are also required to complete assessment reports every 5 years.

The report should include:

  • Description and purpose of the certificate
  • Certificate courses and options for completion
  • Enrollment and completion rates
  • Assessment of at least 2 outcomes
    • one must be a learning outcome; others may be program outcomes
    • assessment of learning outcomes must include direct assessment of student work

Planning for Assessment

Programs should plan for periodic assessment by maintaining files of student work samples from each semester. Student work may be compiled for the duration of the period between reporting deadlines.

 

 Reporting Timeline

Stand-alone Certificates

June 15, 2016  Enter purpose (mission), and at least two outcomes–one should be a program outcome and one should be a student learning outcome

June 15, 2019  Complete assessment of all outcomes and enter full report in Tk20

 

Certificates Reporting in APR

Included in the self-study for the reporting unit in the 7-year APR reporting cycle

 

[1] George Mason University 2015-16 Catalog, Academic Policies, AP.4 Degree Application, Conferral and Graduation, http://catalog.gmu.edu/policies/academic/degree-application-conferral-graduation/

[2] The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 2012, Fifth Edition, Second Printing, http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp (p. 112)