This report calls for more emphasis and investment to be placed on sub-baccalaureate certificate programs as a means to help the United States improve its postsecondary education performance and stimulate economic and job growth. Sub-baccalaureate certificates are practical and often underutilized credentials that can provide graduates with an appealing combination of rapid postsecondary achievement and portable skills and knowledge.
Research shows that certificate programs, specifically long-term programs that take more than one year to complete, can generate the same earning potential as an associate degree that takes two years to complete. This is especially true of programs in the health care field, which constitute 43 percent of all certificates. In fact, the median earnings of long-term certificate earners are higher than those who have obtained associate degrees in some fields.