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Community Question | What Is The Value Of A Certificate vs A Graduate Degree?

A graudate cap next to a diploma.

When it comes to careers and professional development, education is important. But just how important is it? If you are looking to make a career transition, it can be tough to figure out the best way to do that, and education can help. But what level of education should someone consider when trying to find a job in the nonprofit sector?

On the Idealist LinkedIn Group last week, group member Nicole asked this question:

"What is the opinion of a certificate verses a degree? I have a B.S. in geography and at this time do not want to nor can afford to do grad school. I am looking into possibly doing a nonprofit certificate program. I know I want to work in the nonprofit world but it seems very difficult to find a job."

The decision between graduate school and a professional certificate is one that is ongoing. There are definitely pros and cons to grad school, and certificates may not have the same “oomph” that a full degree might have on your resume. But if you are interested in a very specific part of working in nonprofits (fundraising, events) or just want to take a class or two to brush up on some skills, continuing studies classes and certificate programs may be a good idea.

Commongood Careers has a great post with some questions to consider when making this decision, including if a graduate degree is is necessary for your chosen field and how much a certificate or degree would boost your career.

Personally, I have taken a couple continuing studies classes and am now at the point where I must decide if I want to finish out a full certificate (in digital media marketing) or just move forward with the knowledge I’ve gained so far.

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