Apply to USF Now | Graduate Admissions | Events & Workshops | Giving to the Office of Graduate Studies

2018-2019 Graduate Catalog
Section 11 - Graduate Certificate Policies

Graduate Certificates Offered | Graduate Certificate Policies

Office of Graduate Certificates

University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave., SVC 1072
Tampa, FL 33620-8470

Web address:
Email address:
Coordinator: Kathy Barnes

Graduate Certificate Policies

The areas of study for the Graduate Certificates are created within the mission of graduate education. Students will be awarded certificates upon completion of specific course work, which has been approved by the Graduate Council. The graduate certificate is not defined as a degree by the Office of Graduate Studies; rather, it is a focused collection of courses that, when completed, affords the student some record of distinct academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines. Moreover, the graduate certificate is not viewed as a guaranteed means of entry into a graduate major. While the courses comprising a graduate certificate may be used as evidence in support of a student's application for admission to a graduate major, the certificate itself is not considered to be a prerequisite.

Process of Approval for New Graduate Certificates

Prior to submission of a new Graduate Certificate Proposal, a Concept Proposal form must be submitted through the College Dean to the Academic Program Advisory Council (APAC) for a 14-day posting. Once cleared through APAC the faculty sponsor may proceed with submission of the proposal through normal curriculum processing procedures. Proposals for new areas of study for graduate certificates are created and submitted by the academic unit that wishes to offer such a certificate. Proposals must be accompanied by endorsement from the department heads and deans of the colleges/schools in which the contributing course work is offered as well as from the academic unit or units whose students or majors could be impacted by the creation of the graduate certificate. The Graduate Council will consider all the proposals for new graduate certificates to assure proposal guidelines have been followed and that repetition and redundancy across areas of study for certificates are not evident. Those meeting the criteria set forth by the Graduate Council will then be recommended to the Provost for approval.

Criteria for Approval

The general principles applied to the assessment of the academic quality of proposals for new graduate areas of study for certificates include:

1. The proposed sequence of course work must offer a clear and appropriate educational objective at the post-baccalaureate level.

2. The curriculum will consist of at least two structured core graduate courses taken at USF, specific to the area of study. Substitutions to the core courses are not permitted. A minimum of nine unique credit hours is required for the certificate curriculum.

3. The proposed curriculum will achieve its educational objective in an efficient and well-defined manner.

4. A perceived need for such a certificate should exist. This provision might be defined in terms of either external markets (i.e., external demand for the skills associated with such a certificate) or internal academic means (i.e., the need for a critical mass of students in a given discipline).

5. An appropriate number of credit hours must comprise the area of study for the certificate, with the typical range being 12-15 hours. The number of graduate credits cannot be less than nine (9) or more than one-half of the credits necessary for a related master's degree offered at USFfrom the Office of Graduate Studies.

6. If the area of study for a certificate requires new courses, those courses must be approved by the appropriate College bodies or offices and the Graduate Council.

Student Eligibility and Admission Criteria

Students must apply and be accepted into the Graduate Certificate to be eligible to receive a certificate. The prerequisites and general criteria of eligibility for admission to any graduate certificate area of study include:

1. An earned baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university or enrollment in a USF Accelerated Major is required. Students in Accelerated Majors may be admitted upon completion of 120 semester hours.

2. Each Graduate Certificate specifies the requirements for admission, including minimum grade point average, standardized test scores, and other similar criteria as part of the application. However, prospective non‐degree seeking graduate certificate students must meet University Graduate Admissions grade point average requirements.

3. Graduate Certificate students will be held to the academic standards for all graduate students as specified in the Graduate Catalog, except for any additional requirements as noted in the section in the Graduate Catalog regarding Graduate Certificates.

Students who wish to pursue a Graduate Certificate must apply to the Graduate Certificate Office ( and be admitted to the Graduate Certificate. Students are encouraged to contact the coordinator prior to applying.

Non-Degree Seeking Students
All non-degree seeking students who wish to pursue approved graduate certificates should apply for admission to the Graduate Certificate program through the Graduate Certificate Office as soon as possible for maximum benefit, but must apply to the Certificate and complete required coursework within five years of taking the first course applicable to the certificate.

Students must submit a Completion Form to the department for approval and submission to the Office of Graduate Certificates for the Graduate Certificate to be awarded. Certificate-seeking-students will be classified as “Graduate Certificate Students.” As such, they are not eligible for financial aid and will receive a later registration date than degree-seeking students.

Degree Seeking Students

o Admission - All degree seeking students who wish to pursue approved graduate certificates must apply for admission to the Graduate Certificate program through the Graduate Certificate Office. Students must apply for admission to the certificate prior to the deadline to apply for graduation by the fourth week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate.


For Graduate Certificates within the Major, students must submit the Completion form by the fourth week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. For Graduate Certificates in a discipline outside the Major, students must submit the Completion form no later than ten years after starting the first course applied to the Certificate.

1. Students pursuing a graduate certificate are required to meet the same academic requirements as those defined for degree-seeking students to remain in “good standing”.

2. All graduate certificate students may apply one graduate course to a maximum of two graduate certificates.

3. All graduate certificate students must meet all prerequisites for courses in which they wish to enroll.

4. Should a graduate certificate student subsequently apply and be accepted to a graduate major, the University's Application of Internal Credit Policy applies. Any application of such credit must be approved by the degree-granting college and must be appropriate to the major. No courses taken outside of USF may be transferred into a Graduate Certificate at USF.

5. Students must have been awarded a bachelor's or higher degree to be eligible.