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Best Graduate Certificate Schools

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2021 Best Graduate Certificate Schools

438 Schools Ranked
$45,165 Avg Student Debt

When it comes to higher education, there are a lot of options for students. Along with traditional schools that require in-person attendence, you can attend one of many reputable online schools. Some programs even offer a hybrid experience. Also, there are a number of trade schools and bootcamp with offerings that you might find attractive.

To help you arm yourself with the information you need to make your decision, Course Advisor has developed this Best Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. Our analysis looked at 438 schools in the United States to see which graduate certificate programs offered the best educational experiences for students. To come up with a school's ranking, we analyzed numerous factors related to post-graduation wages, the quality of education offered by the school, average accumulated student debt, and more.

View our full ranking methodology.

Top Graduate Certificate Schools in the United States

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Fielding Graduate University

Santa Barbara, California
$17,292 Average Tuition & Fees
$30,689 Avg Student Debt

Our analysis found Fielding Graduate University to be the best school for students who want to pursue a graduate certificate in the United States.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $30,689 in loans while pursuing their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Fielding does offer online graduate classes in some areas. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 96% took at least some of their classes online.

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#2

The College of Saint Rose

Albany, New York
$15,268 Average Tuition & Fees
$37,587 Avg Student Debt

Out of the 438 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, The College of Saint Rose landed the # 2 spot on the list.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $37,587 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at The College of Saint Rose. In 2017-2018 about 14% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

Full The College of Saint Rose Report

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#3

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Charlottesville, Virginia
$19,528 Average Tuition & Fees

The excellent graduate certificate programs at University of Virginia - Main Campus helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the United States.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at University of Virginia. During the 2017-2018 year, about 11% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full University of Virginia - Main Campus Report

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#4

Norwich University

Northfield, Vermont
$19,554 Average Tuition & Fees

The excellent graduate certificate programs at Norwich University helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the United States.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Norwich does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In fact, around 99% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#5

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania
$20,606 Average Tuition & Fees

A rank of #5 on this year’s list means Villanova University is a great place for students working on their graduate certificate.

Villanova does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In fact, around 42% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#6

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland
$57,556 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,566 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #6, Johns Hopkins University did quite well on this year’s best schools for students working on their graduate certificate.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Johns Hopkins accumulate an average of $33,566 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Johns Hopkins does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In fact, around 54% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#7

Michigan Technological University

Houghton, Michigan
$20,759 Average Tuition & Fees

Michigan Technological University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #7 on the list.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at Michigan Tech. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 18% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Michigan Technological University Report

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#8

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois
$56,567 Average Tuition & Fees

Northwestern University landed the #8 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

Northwestern U does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 5% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#9

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts
$49,214 Average Tuition & Fees
$210,244 Avg Student Debt

Harvard University landed the #9 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $210,244 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Harvard does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. During the 2017-2018 year, about 20% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#10

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
$61,548 Average Tuition & Fees
$66,933 Avg Student Debt

University of Chicago did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #10 on the list.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $66,933 in student loans.

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$9,546 Average Tuition & Fees

University of Nebraska Medical Center landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since UNMC does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 19% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full University of Nebraska Medical Center Report

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#12

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
$40,182 Average Tuition & Fees

University of Pennsylvania came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Graduate Certificate Schools ranking.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at UPenn. In fact, around 3% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#13

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, Massachusetts
$28,248 Average Tuition & Fees

Worcester Polytechnic Institute did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #13 on the list.

WPI does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 44% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Worcester Polytechnic Institute Report

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#14

Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts
$53,658 Average Tuition & Fees
$253,747 Avg Student Debt

Tufts University came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Graduate Certificate Schools ranking.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Tufts accumulate an average of $253,747 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Tufts does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In 2017-2018 about 5% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

Full Tufts University Report

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$9,401 Average Tuition & Fees

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Graduate Certificate Schools ranking.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 49% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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$41,736 Average Tuition & Fees

With a ranking of #16, Teachers College at Columbia University did quite well on this year’s best schools for students working on their graduate certificate.

Online graduate courses are available at Teachers College, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In fact, around 14% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Full Teachers College at Columbia University Report

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#17

Bentley University

Waltham, Massachusetts
$39,180 Average Tuition & Fees
$23,746 Avg Student Debt

Bentley University landed the #17 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Bentley accumulate an average of $23,746 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Bentley does offer online graduate classes in some areas. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 2% took at least some of their classes online.

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$9,535 Average Tuition & Fees
$85,329 Avg Student Debt

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston landed the #18 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $85,329 in loans while pursuing their degree.

UTHealth does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 21% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Report

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#19

University of Maryland - Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland
$17,038 Average Tuition & Fees
$189,769 Avg Student Debt

University of Maryland - Baltimore ranked #19 on this year’s Best Graduate Certificate Schools list.

Graduate Certificate recipients from University of Maryland - Baltimore accumulate an average of $189,769 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at University of Maryland - Baltimore. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 27% took at least some of their classes online.

Read full report on University of Maryland - Baltimore

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$8,754 Average Tuition & Fees

The University of Texas Medical Branch came in at #20 in this year’s edition of the Best Graduate Certificate Schools ranking.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 24% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#21

New York Medical College

Valhalla, New York
$29,992 Average Tuition & Fees

New York Medical College landed the #21 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at New York Medical College. In 2017-2018 about 19% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

Full New York Medical College Report

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#22

Bethel University Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota
$11,700 Average Tuition & Fees
$24,911 Avg Student Debt

Bethel University Minnesota did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #22 on the list.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Bethel University Minnesota accumulate an average of $24,911 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Bethel University Minnesota does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 74% took at least some of their classes online.

Read full report on Bethel University Minnesota

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#23

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California
$47,107 Average Tuition & Fees
$104,326 Avg Student Debt

University of Southern California did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #23 on the list.

Graduate Certificate recipients from USC accumulate an average of $104,326 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at USC. During the 2017-2018 year, about 29% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Read full report on University of Southern California

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#24

Creighton University

Omaha, Nebraska
$17,898 Average Tuition & Fees
$12,679 Avg Student Debt

Creighton University landed the #24 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $12,679 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Creighton, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 46% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Creighton University Report

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#25

Syracuse University

Syracuse, New York
$40,188 Average Tuition & Fees
$21,649 Avg Student Debt

Syracuse University landed the #25 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate programs.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $21,649 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Syracuse does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In fact, around 31% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Read full report on Syracuse University

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Graduate Certificate Schools in the United States

Not only did these schools make the top 50 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee
#27

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York
#28

McDaniel College

Westminster, Maryland
#29

Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

University Park, Pennsylvania
#30

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, Indiana
#31

University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, Maryland
#32

Stevens Institute of Technology

Hoboken, New Jersey
#33

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana
#35

Washington State University

Pullman, Washington
#36

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia
#37

Hamline University

Saint Paul, Minnesota
#39

Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri
#40

Fairfield University

Fairfield, Connecticut
#41

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, Wisconsin
#44

George Washington University

Washington, District of Columbia
#45

Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
#46

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, California
#47

Frontier Nursing University

Hyden, Kentucky
#48

University of California - San Francisco

San Francisco, California
#49

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
#50

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Rest of the Top 15% Best Graduate Certificate Schools in the United States

To learn more about the schools below, just click on their names:

Rank School Location
51 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
52 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
53 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA
54 Rider University Lawrenceville, NJ
55 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
56 Clarkson University Potsdam, NY
57 University of Oklahoma - Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City, OK
58 University of St Thomas Minnesota Saint Paul, MN
59 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio, TX
60 Iowa State University Ames, IA
61 Winona State University Winona, MN
62 University of Scranton Scranton, PA
63 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
64 St John’s University - New York Queens, NY
65 Oregon Health & Science University Portland, OR
66 The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our best schools ranking:

Rank School Location
67 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
68 Endicott College Beverly, MA
69 The University of Tennessee-Health Science Center Memphis, TN
70 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA
71 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
72 Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA
73 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
74 Clemson University Clemson, SC
75 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
76 University of Georgia Athens, GA
77 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY
78 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL
79 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
80 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR
81 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
82 Chamberlain University - Illinois Addison, IL
83 Salve Regina University Newport, RI
84 University of Massachusetts - Lowell Lowell, MA
85 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
86 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI
87 Utica College Utica, NY
88 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • Read more about our ranking methodology.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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