Guidelines for Certificates of Graduate Study and Graduate-Level Concentrations

Original Policy Source APPM Section III Item 24
Policy Approval Authority University Council
Responsible University Office Graduate School
Responsible Officer(s) Associate Vice President, Dean of Graduate School
Contact Person Ian Gawron
Primary Audience Faculty
Date Submitted to Policy Library Committee 01-21-2020
Status Active
Proposed Adoption Date 01-21-2020
Effective Adoption Date 01-21-2020
Last Review Date 03-06-2000
Policy Category/Categories Faculty & Academics
Governance / Administration

A graduate-level concentration or a certificate of graduate study is awarded for successful completion of a specified coherent set of courses around a specific theme, fewer courses than for a degree.

Certificates and concentrations may benefit students and address societal needs by providing broader training in areas related to the students' major fields and making those students more flexible to secure professional positions or to pursue additional postbaccalaureate studies. Their availability may also help attract students to NIU, including drawing some to specific degree programs here.

Approval Process: A proposal for a new concentration or certificate of graduate study, or modification of an existing one, may be developed by an appropriate curriculum committee. Upon approval by the relevant college curriculum committee(s), it will be considered by the normal curricular approval process, through the Board of Trustees.

Publication and Award: Upon final approval, a course of study leading to a concentration or a certificate of graduate study will be published in the Graduate Catalog and may be otherwise publicized. Successful completion of concentration or certificate requirements will be noted on students' transcripts.


  1. A course of study leading to a concentration or a certificate of graduate study shall consist of at least 12 semester hours, and normally not more than 18 semester hours, of specified course work; but if it is available only for post-master's students or is linked to a doctoral program it may consist of up to 30 semester hours.
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.00 must be earned in the courses used toward the concentration or certificate.
  3. A course of study linked to a graduate degree is a concentration; one not linked to a degree is a certificate of graduate study.
  4. Course work leading to a certificate must be completed within the six years immediately preceding awarding of the certificate; course work leading to a concentration must be completed within the limitation of time for the graduate program the student is pursuing.
  5. Only courses taken at NIU may be applied toward a concentration or certificate.
  6. With the approval of the major department, courses used to satisfy requirements of a concentration or a certificate may also be applied toward a graduate degree, unless the catalog specifies otherwise.


There shall be an office designated as the administrative home for each concentration or certificate of graduate study; this may be a department, interdisciplinary center, college, or similar academic office. There shall also be a body designated to act as curriculum committee for the concentration or certificate, to appraise the operation of and propose changes to the course of study; this may be an existing curriculum committee or one established specifically for this purpose.

Student Admission and Status

To pursue a certificate of graduate studies, a student must be admitted to the Graduate School or to the graduate-level classification of student-at-large. To pursue a concentration, a student must be admitted to a graduate program. A concentration or certificate course of study may, through the curricular approval process, have additional requirements to acquire the concentration or certificate (e.g., possession of a specified degree).

Approved by the Graduate Council March 2, 1998 
Modified by Graduate Council November 1, 1999; March 6, 2000


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