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Certificate vs. Microcredential: What’s the difference?

Newsroom | LSU Online News July 16, 2020
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Looking to get a promotion or change careers, but you need more training to get the job you want? The world of continuing education can be confusing and difficult to navigate, and when searching for a way to further your education and increase your skill set, it’s important to find the perfect program that fits your needs and works around your schedule. Through LSU Online & Continuing Education, learners can choose between micro-credential programs or certificate programs for professional development, but how do you know which type of program will be right for you?

To understand the differences between certificates and micro-credentials, it’s important to understand them individually. Let’s take a look at what micro-credentials are and what they do for learners, dive deep into certificate programs, and then compare the two.

What is a MicroCred®?

A MicroCred®, short for micro-credential, is a short-form, affordable professional development program made to supply working individuals with an understanding of new skills or a refresher on old skills. All MicroCred® programs at LSU are online and can be completed from the comfort of your home.

Certain MicroCred® programs are even credit-bearing, meaning that one or more of the courses in that particular MicroCred® can supply students with credit toward a degree program. Non-credit MicroCred® programs supply learners with Continuing Education Units, or CEUs, that can be applied to future professional certification programs, as well as help professionals continue to stay certified in their field.

When can I start?

There are two types of MicroCred® programs: self-paced or term-based. If you are enrolling in a self-paced MicroCred®, you can immediately enroll by purchasing the program and begin your course the very same day. If you are enrolling in a term-based MicroCred®, you can purchase the program at any point; however, you cannot begin your first course until the next term start date.

How long will it take me to complete?

Each MicroCred® program is made up of 2-6 professional development or college credit courses. Professional development courses usually must be completed within 2-6 weeks, whereas credit-bearing courses allow students to take as little as 4 weeks or as long as 6 months to complete their coursework. All MicroCred® programs are online and allow learners to structure their coursework around their daily schedule. Learners can complete their MicroCred® program at their own pace on their own schedule within the given time frame.

What can I do with a MicroCred?

After completing any microcred, students will earn a digital badge unique to that particular microcred program. This badge can be applied to an online résumé, LinkedIn profile, or personal website, and the badge comes encrypted with metadata to display the learner’s qualifications as well as verify authenticity.

For-credit MicroCred® programs allow learners to earn college credit for their MicroCred® coursework. Non-credit MicroCred® programs give learners CEUs, which could be used to shorten the length of time it would take to earn a professional development certification, or could help professionals hold their current certification.

Explore our MicroCred® offerings and find a program to fit your needs.

What is a certificate?

A certificate is a professional development program designed to offer an extensive, in-depth exploration of a subject to ensure expertise. Professionals looking for skills in business and management, technology and data analytics, paralegal studies, and safety management can find world-class training at LSU. Learners can apply for or enroll in on-campus certificate programs as well as 100% online programs, and find a program that best meets their needs.

When can I start?

Certificate programs vary greatly in format. For certain certificate programs, like the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, learners will have to complete an application process by a certain deadline, await acceptance, and then begin taking their courses in the upcoming semester on campus*. For other programs, like the online Tableau Business & Data Analytics Certificate, learners simply have to self-enroll in the program and they will be given access to the course materials for a certain amount of time, allowing them to complete their certificate on their own time, at their own pace.

*We are following LSU’s safety guidelines regarding on-campus courses. Please reference updates on their website.

How long will it take me to complete?

The length of a certificate program varies greatly and depends on the program, but typically, certificate programs take over 30 hours to complete. Not all certificate programs are online, so certain certificate programs require students to attend courses at the LSU A&M campus in Baton Rouge. In-person courses are normally held at night during the semester or are full-day programs that last no longer than a few days, allowing learners to continue to work full-time while earning their certificate.

What can I do with a certificate?

Upon completion of a certificate program, students will be sent a physical certificate or a downloadable PDF certificate to print and display their skills in that subject. Completion of the certificate can be listed on any resume, LinkedIn profile, or personal website to display subject matter expertise. In addition, through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), credits from certain certificate programs can be applied to undergraduate or graduate degree programs, saving learners time and money.

Explore our available certificate programs and find one that is right for you.

What are the differences?

Here’s a quick look into how MicroCred® programs and certificate programs stack up against each other:

photo of microcred chart

How do I pay?

For both certificate programs and MicroCred® programs, there are multiple ways to fund your education. Certain companies offer tuition reimbursement for employees seeking to further their education. Learners should contact their employer or check the list of LSU-partnered employers to seek tuition reimbursement for their program. Certain programs are eligible for continuing education loans from trusted institutions, such as Campus Federal Credit Union.

Visit our payment options page to learn more.

What do I do now?

Now that you know the differences between certificate programs and MicroCred® programs, you are ready to find a program that fits your needs in the field you are interested in. Visit our MicroCred® programs page if you think a MicroCred® would work best for you, or visit our Certificate programs page if you would rather apply for a certificate program.

Still can’t decide? Contact one of our enrolment specialists and receive advice from one of our trained professionals. Whether it’s a certificate program, MicroCred® program, or even a degree program, LSU Online & Continuing Education is dedicated to providing high-quality learning experiences with world-class customer service.

Ready to reach your goals?

Take the first step forward by completing the form and our enrollment team will contact you soon to discuss:

  • What program meets your academic and career goals
  • Financial aid options (employer funding, military benefits)
  • Receiving credit for past education (transfer, professional development)
  • The admissions process and timeline
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