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Undergraduate Certificates: Approval and Review


To outline the process and criteria for creating undergraduate certificate programs, as well as the process by which such programs will be evaluated.

Applies to: 

Undergraduate students, faculty and staff

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 

The term “undergraduate certificate program” is used at the University of Kansas to mean a defined set of courses and/or experiences united under a particular theme. A certificate program generally requires the equivalent of 12 or more credit hours of coursework.  A certificate program’s curriculum may include non-credit-bearing educational experiences in place of some credit-bearing coursework; in these instances, a certificate may include as few as six credit hours of coursework combined with an approved education experience. Such educational experiences must meet clearly defined criteria; entail a significant investment of student time; and be designed to complement the remainder of the certificate requirements.

Completion of an undergraduate certificate will be indicated on a student’s transcript.  In order to complete a certificate, students should apply and be admitted, or declare their intent to complete a certificate program with the sponsoring unit (e.g., academic department, Center for Undergraduate Research, Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, etc.), in conjunction with the University Registrar. Policy and procedures may vary by unit. Undergraduate certificates will not be granted retroactively post-graduation. 

Approval of new undergraduate certificate programs

The development of certificate programs is encouraged where they may enhance the educational experience of students in existing undergraduate degree programs; provide a needed educational opportunity for students; allow degree- or non-degree-seeking students to develop skills in a particular area; or combine with other components to support progress toward a degree.  Proposals for new undergraduate certificate programs may be created and submitted in the same manner as proposals for new degree programs.  Approvals for certificate programs are made internally at the University of Kansas.  A detailed description of the steps in the approval process is outlined on the Academic Affairs website for new program proposals.
Each approved undergraduate certificate program will be assigned a UCERT designation by the Office of the University Registrar for enrollment and tracking purposes. A listing of all undergraduate certificate programs is at www.ku.edu/academics. 

Certificate Program Criteria

Undergraduate certificate programs must:

  1. Meet the definition above.
  2. Have a clear and appropriate educational objective and achieve this objective in an efficient and well-defined manner.
  3. Require the number of credit hours that, in combination with any non-credit-bearing educational experiences, is appropriate to accomplish the program's educational objective.
  4. Have a maximum time to completion of four full academic years and require all coursework to be completed at KU. (However, a department may permit students to substitute one course if that course is a direct transfer equivalent to a KU course.) Proposals should include the maximum time allowed for certificate program completion.
  5. Maintain a list of courses associated with the certificate. (A department should guarantee that required courses will be offered routinely.)
  6. In the case of requirements supplemental to coursework (e.g., experiential learning opportunities such as laboratories, practica, internships, and projects), maintain appropriate oversight and conduct evaluation.
  7. In cases of potential overlap with existing KU programs, not detract from existing programs.

Review of Undergraduate Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs will be reviewed on an eight-year cycle.

If a program expires or is discontinued, no new students may be enrolled in the program, and those students currently in the program will be allowed to continue until completion.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

This policy does not apply to minors, professional certifications, or graduate certificates, which differ from undergraduate certificates in the following ways:

  • A minor usually requires 18 credit hours; is not designed to incorporate non-credit bearing educational experience; and usually requires coursework at the junior/senior level. An undergraduate certificate requires fewer credit hours; may incorporate non-credit-bearing educational experiences; and can require coursework at any undergraduate level.
  • A professional certification offered through Continuing Education (e.g., through the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute) and the School of Health Professions (e.g.' nuclear medicine technology certificate) authorizes the recipient to engage in certain professional activities.
  • Graduate certificates require the completion of graduate-level courses, whereas undergraduate certificates are offered with courses at the undergraduate level.

Strong Hall, Room 156
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045

Approved by: 
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Approved on: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Effective on: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Certificate program
Change History: 

This policy was drafted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies, reviewed by the Office of the University Registrar, Student Information Systems, and deans prior to final approval.

Academic Categories: 
Academic Programs

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