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Q&A - Certificates in English

Can I work while studying for my graduate certificate in English?

Since all English certificate programs require at least a bachelors degree, usually in English, applicants already have the skills required for many positions. Graduates of an English program often gravitate toward publishing, where entry-level jobs as a copywriter or an editorial assistant abound.

Similarly, any industry that sells a product requires marketing, and copywriting, editorial and web content jobs are commonplace in marketing departments. A graduate with a bachelors in English has many job prospects; in fact, if you have earned an online associates degree in English and are pursuing more study, salaried positions are already available. Students who want an English certificate often find that English degree salaries provide adequate means of support while they continue their education.

Should you work full-time or part-time? A graduate-level certificate program itself is relatively short and usually completed within 12 to 20 study hours. If your intent is to earn a certificate in English as a supplement to other postgraduate study, it would be wise to take your entire course load into consideration when committing to a full-time position. Fortunately, many writing, editing and proofreading positions are available on a part-time freelance or contract basis.

Alternatively, if you intend to earn a certificate solely to advance your career, evening classes or a program that offers online English certificates might allow you to study while you maintain a full-time job. However much you work, utilizing an online certificate program grants you more flexibility in scheduling work and classes.

Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online graduate English certificate program?

While not as commonly found as solely online English certificate programs, some campus-based universities do offer programs that are online or partially online.

East Carolina University offers a certificate in multicultural literature that focuses on diverse literature from ethnic American writers. These courses are all online and affiliated with East Carolina University in the city of Greenville. CollegeProwler.com, a student-based ratings website, awarded this school a B- in both academic quality and campus atmosphere.

Murray State University, located in Kentucky, offers a graduate certificate in professional writing. Classes focus on rhetoric and discourse and their effect on writing in specific situations. This English certificate online is available to students with bachelors and masters degrees. Murray State University is listed among the U.S. News and World Report’s top 25 universities in the south.

University of Cincinnati offers 2 English certificates. The creative writing certificate is primarily focused on poetry and fiction and seeks to help students improve their writing skills specifically within the realm of literature. The professional writing certificate is a broad program that enhances graduates’ skills in corporate communications, public relations and technical writing. Both of these certificate programs are a combination of online and campus-based classes. The university is a large, urban school that offers small student-to-faculty ratios.

What are common assumptions about students who choose to get a graduate certificate in English?

Some might think that an English certificate online program is only for students who want to tack a certification onto their PhD. However, English certificate programs are available to students who hold a bachelors degree and can be taken alongside a masters degree program.

Another misconception is that a graduate English certificate course is designed for teachers. The Graduate Certificate in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is a distinctly different English certification. The ESOL is a federal requirement for all English teachers in U.S. public schools and is layered upon other mandatory certifications. Though the ESOL covers subject matter that is relevant only to teachers, aspiring educators may still benefit from a graduate English certificate program.

It may also appear that English certificate online programs are only for students who are pursuing post-baccalaureate degrees. These programs can be equally useful for personal growth. An English certificate program can further develop the skills of an aspiring novelist, educate a lover of the arts or enhance the career potential of a publishing executive.

What is the hardest part of the application to an on-campus or online graduate English certificate program?

Admission to graduate English certificate programs is challenging. Most schools require an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, though it is often as high as 3.5. Any applicant who seeks admission to a program that is tied to a graduate degree must take the GRE exam; a required minimum score of 600 is not unusual. Letters of recommendation from up to 3 sources are required as well as, sometimes, a short creative writing sample.

The most important component is the letter of intent. Sometimes called a personal statement, this document is required to be anywhere from 250 words to 3 pages long. It must clearly and decisively state the applicant’s scholarly objectives in completing a graduate English certificate and therefore should be written with care.

The application process for online English certificates is generally no different than for campus-based programs. If a student applies as part of a graduate degree program, GRE requirements apply; however, if an applicant is choosing to independently acquire an English certificate, the GRE may not be necessary. Personal statements, recommendation letters and high GPAs in undergraduate study are generally expected for entrance to any graduate English certificate programs.