Graduate Studies

Graduate Faculty and Staff - New Certificate Proposal UMS

Graduate Certificate Program Proposals

Please note: The Graduate Council proposes that the following designations of academic credit-bearing certificates be adopted and used by USM, for consistency and clarity:

  • Certificate of Undergraduate Study (prerequisite: high school diploma or equivalent)
  • Certificate of Graduate Study (prerequisite: bachelor's degree from accredited institution)
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (prerequisite: master's degree from accredited institution)

The following document pertains only to the second of these categories, Certificates of Graduate Study.

Policies Relating to Certificates of Graduate Study

I. General Principles

  1. The University of Southern Maine offers selected certificate programs at the graduate level. A certificate is not a degree; rather, it represents a focused collection of courses proposed by the faculty and formally recommended by the Graduate Council and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Provost. USM awards certificates upon the student's satisfactory completion of the approved program of coursework. The certificate affords the student a record of coherent academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines.

  2. Certificates of Graduate Study are generally a part of and/or offered by a graduate degree program. The certificate may be earned independently of a graduate degree or as part of a program leading to a graduate degree, depending on the relationship between certificate and degree program, as specified by the program. The academic content of a certificate program often represents a practice-oriented subset of a discipline.

  3. The student's official transcript shall contain not only the listing of courses taken for the Certificate of Graduate Study, but shall also indicate successful completion of the certificate program.

  4. A USM Certificate of Graduate Study will be presented to students upon completion of an approved Graduate Certificate program. Such certificates will display the USM logo, the student's name, the certificate program completed, and will be signed by the appropriate dean. These certificates will be awarded within the department or college. Names of students receiving Certificates of Graduate Study will be listed in the USM commencement program.


II. Procedures for Initiating Certificate Programs

The University of Southern Maine Faculty create proposals for new graduate certificate programs following guidelines adopted by the Office of Graduate Studies. Each proposal must be accompanied by endorsements from the department chair, a college graduate curriculum review committee, and dean of the college offering the coursework comprising the program. The Dean of Graduate Studies receives all proposals for new certificate programs and brings them to the Graduate Council for review and recommendation to the Provost.


III. Guidelines for the Development of Graduate Certificate Programs

  1. The Graduate Council shall examine and consider all graduate certificate program proposals for merit.

  2. Those proposals meeting the criteria set forth by the Office of Graduate Studies will then be recommended to the Provost for approval.

  3. Graduate certificate programs must be affiliated with a degree program will be administered by that degree program, with participation of the Office of Graduate Studies as needed. A designated member of the USM graduate faculty must coordinate and oversee the graduate certificate program. Typically this faculty leader will serve as the advisor to students in the graduate certificate program and will also be responsible for the certificate program review and evaluation.

    For consideration by the Graduate Council, proposals for new graduate certificate programs must contain the following:

    1. The completed University of Maine System form for new academic credit bearing certificate programs.

    2. A statement addressing whether new courses, new faculty lines, and additional costs to the university will be required.

    3. A statement of the demonstrated need for the proposed new certificate program. Evidence of demand may relate to external markets (i.e., external demand for the skills associated with such a certificate) or to internal academic needs (i.e., the needs of students in a given discipline). If new resources are required (see b. above), documented projections of numbers of potential students should be included.

    4. A statement of the educational objectives and student outcomes for the program;

    5. A statement of and rationale for the proposed course sequence associated with the certificate, including titles and course descriptions both for existing courses and any new courses that may be developed;

    6. Assurance that the college level graduate curriculum review committee has determined that proposed faculty are qualified to teach at the graduate level, and that all proposed courses meet the standards of graduate coursework.


IV. Curricular Criteria

  1. Programs may be adopted for an initial period of no more than five years. If the program is approved for a period of less than five years, it expires at the end of the period unless a program review specifically recommends its continuation (which may be for an indefinite period or for an additional fixed period). The appropriate college graduate curriculum committee must review any certificate program extending beyond five years to determine that the program is meeting its stated objectives. The committee will send its recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

  2. An appropriate number of credit hours must comprise the graduate certificate program and may not be fewer than 9 nor more than 18 credits. The course work for the certificate must be at the 500-level or above. The proposal will address the timeframe in which the certificate program can be completed.


V. Student Eligibility and Admission Criteria

  1. An earned baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university is required for admission to a graduate certificate program.

  2. Students who are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program and who wish to pursue an approved graduate certificate program simultaneously must inform the Office of Graduate Studies and the faculty leader of the graduate certificate program of their intention to apply for admission to the certificate program before or at the time of completion of two courses included in the certificate.

  3. A maximum of 2 courses (6 credits) towards any certificate program may be accepted as transfer credit, dependent upon review by the faculty of the graduate certificate program to which the course credit(s) would be applied.

  4. Each unit offering a graduate certificate shall establish the minimum grade point average, minimum TOEFL score, requirements for standardized test scores, whether or not certificate courses may be counted towards a related master's degree program, and/or other similar criteria. Greater flexibility than that found in graduate degree admission requirements is intentionally built into graduate certificate programs so that the needs of the target student population may be met, as appropriate.

  5. Completion of a graduate certificate does not guarantee admission into a graduate degree program.

  6. The student will be required to complete the certificate program within the time limit specified for the program; if no time limit is specified, it shall be the same as that for completion of the master's degree.


VI. Fiscal Criteria

  1. The proposal will address the fiscal arrangements for the program.

  2. Certificate students will not be eligible for financial aid unless they are simultaneously enrolled in a graduate degree program.