35 Best Online Certificate Programs 2024

In this article, we profile the 35 best online certificate programs nationwide.

Want to advance your career in the short-term? Accredited online certificate programs allow students to explore a discipline without having to commit the time it takes to earn a degree. Students may earn a certificate by taking non-degree courses. Undergraduate certificate programs online have become a popular way to explore a discipline. In many certificate programs, students may also earn transfer credits that can be applied to a degree at a later date. This article highlights some of the best online certificates in the country.

35 Most Affordable Online Certificate Programs Methodology

We reviewed approximately 180 colleges and universities for this ranking. These are schools offering online certificate programs accredited at the undergraduate level. Our selection was based on accreditation and affordability. We gathered pertinent information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. We then verified accreditation on the school’s website. Next, we selected schools that cost less than $20,000 per year for undergraduate tuition. Finally, we ranked them according to our site-wide ranking methodology for undergraduate programs. Below is our ranking of the year’s best online certificates.

Featured Programs

Ranking the 35 Most Affordable Online Certificate Programs for Undergraduates

#35—Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800

Grand Canyon University - logo

The online certificate program at Grand Canyon University can be the next step in pursuing your career. At GCU, online learners may earn an undergraduate certificate program in:

  • Cybersecurity Foundations
  • Java Programming

The undergraduate certificate can be earned in just a few months depending on the program. For example, the cybersecurity certificate requires 16 credits (four classes). It can be earned in 15 weeks, as online certificate courses run eight weeks in length. The Java programming certificate also requires 16 credits and four classes. Since classes run seven weeks in length instead of eight, the undergraduate certificate may be earned in 16 weeks. GCU is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

Related: Best Colleges Online

#34—Southern Illinois University- Carbondale

Carbondale, Illinois

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $15,416

Southern Illinois University - logo

Southern Illinois University- Carbondale offers ten fully online undergraduate certificate programs. Popular undergraduate certificates include:

  • Public Health
  • Analytics for Managers
  • Learning and Performance Technology
  • Cybersecurity

Besides undergraduate certificate programs, several online diploma programs are also available. Online programs at SIU-Carbondale mimic the curricula of traditional in-person programs. The school holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.

#33—University of Minnesota- Duluth

Duluth, Minnesota

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,126

University of Minnesota-Duluth- logo

Students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth can pursue one of nine different undergraduate certificate programs. Sample certificates include:

  • Business Administration
  • Health Management
  • Finance
  • Sport and Recreation Management
  • Long Term Care Management

No campus visits are required to complete a certificate program. Plus, courses required for these undergraduate certificates are self-paced. The University of Minnesota- Duluth is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. US News & World Report has ranked it among the top 35 regional universities in the Midwest.  

Related: Fast Online Degrees

#32—Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,076

Ferris State University- logo

Ferris State University offers a wide range of undergraduate certificate programs. These are available via distance learning. Standout options include:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Human Resource Management
  • International Business
  • Machine Learning
  • Small Business Management

These undergraduate certificate programs are web-native. That means they’re specifically designed for online students. Ferris State is fully accredited to offer these certificate programs. Accreditation is awarded by the Higher Learning Commission.

#31—University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,951

University of North Dakota - logo

UND is a prolific online learning provider. It is home to twenty-one distinct undergraduate certificate programs. Standout programs include:

  • Social Media Strategies in Communication
  • International Relations and National Security
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Human Resource Management

Some of these undergraduate certificates are web-native. Others are also offered on campus. The school is also home to several online degrees in childhood education. NDU holds its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.

#30—Louisiana Tech University

Ruston, Louisiana

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,065

Louisiana Tech - logo

Two robust undergraduate certificate programs are available through Louisiana Tech University:

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Lean Six Sigma

Aside from professional certificates, the school also offers two distinct bachelor’s degree options. Distance learning at Louisiana Tech is designed to be interactive and engaging. Still, all coursework is self-paced and can be completed 100% online. Online students pay a flat tuition rate, making this one of the most affordable schools in our ranking. Louisiana Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award these undergraduate certificates.

#29—South Dakota State University

Brookings, South Dakota

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,299

South Dakota State University - logo

Students interested in career advancement have many options at South Dakota State University. They can pursue one of seven undergraduate certificate programs. These include:

  • New Product and Venture Development
  • Geographic Information Sciences
  • Workplace Intercultural Competence
  • Agricultural and Environmental Law

Nearly a dozen online bachelor’s degree programs are also available. Online and on-campus students students can expect the same rigor and engagement. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited South Dakota State to offer these undergraduate certificate programs as well as college degree programs.

#28—Wichita State University

Wichita, Kansas

Website

Points: 5

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,866

Wichita State University - logo

Wichita State University is home to five distinct undergraduate certificate programs. Each of these can be completed online:

  • Health Science
  • Public Health Science
  • Aging Studies
  • Tilford Diversity Studies
  • Interdisciplinary Studies

These undergraduate certificate programs can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree. They may also be used to advance a student’s career. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Wichita State to offer these online programs for undergraduates.

#27—University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Lowell, Massachusetts

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $16,182

University of Massachusetts- Lowell- logo

At UMass-Lowell, students may pursue undergraduate certificates in a wide range of disciplines. Certificates are designed to improve employability and showcase skills to potential employers. Undergraduate certificate programs are available in areas like:

  • Accounting
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Computer Assisted Manufacturing
  • Graphic Design & Digital Imaging
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Security Management & Homeland Security
  • Digital Marketing
  • Criminal Justice

For those seeking IT certificates, several are offered in areas like:

  • Information Technology
  • Java Development
  • Multimedia Applications

Nearly a dozen bachelor’s degree programs are also offered online. Aside from being fully accredited to award undergraduate certificates, UMass Lowell is ranked by U.S. News and World Report. It’s #176 on their list of best national universities.

#26 – Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,664

Oregon State University - logo

Oregon State University offers affordable undergraduate certificate programs. These are available in a dozen different areas of study. For example, students may earn an undergraduate certificate in:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Geographic Information Science (GIScience)
  • Medical Humanities
  • Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
  • Urban Agriculture

Some undergraduate certificates have prerequisites that must be met before enrolling. Anyone enrolled in an OSU bachelor degree program can enroll in an online undergraduate certificate program. Five distinct online bachelor’s degree programs are available. OSU is accredited and also ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. OSU’s rankings include #151 in best national universities, #150 in best value schools, and #100 in best colleges for veterans.

#25—Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,485

Ohio State University - logo

The accredited undergraduate certificate programs at Ohio State University include various areas of study. Examples include arts & sciences, education, nursing, and public affairs. These programs are open to undergraduate students seeking online certificates. Students gain valuable skills in niche areas that can benefit their employer. Areas of study for undergraduate certificates include:

  • Assistive & Rehabilitative Technology
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Medical Coding and Health Care Data Analytics for Practice
  • Swift Coding and App Development

Ohio State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 49th best national university.

#24—The University of Akron

Akron, Ohio

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,427

University of Akron- logo

The University of Akron offers students a wide range of undergraduate certificates. These programs are available through its Continuing and Professional Education division. This includes legal certificate programs as well as certificates offered in collaboration with Coursera and Ed2Go. Examples include:

  • Accounts Payable Manager Certification
  • Marketing Design Certificate
  • CompTIA+ Certification
  • Cybersecurity Analyst Certificate

These undergraduate certificates can be pursued entirely online. This makes them ideal for busy adults looking for professional development, advancement, or a new career. Nine different online bachelor’s degree options are also available. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the University of Akron to offer these undergraduate certificate programs online.

#23—Indiana University- Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,447

Indiana University - Bloomington- logo

Indiana University’s undergraduate certificates are designed for busy students. Programs are ideal for those who are seeking knowledge and skills in a niche discipline. Certificates may be completed entirely online in various areas of study. Complete coursework is available online in more than three dozen areas of study. Examples include:

  • Analog Audio Electronics
  • Applied Computer Science
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Business Foundations
  • Cultural Heritage Tourism
  • Rehabilitation & Disability Studies
  • Events Management
  • E-commerce Development

Certificate program requirements range from 12 to 21 credits, depending on the program. Indiana University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. It’s listed as the 72nd best national university and 176th best value school. Also, IU ranks #41 in best colleges for veterans.

#22—Dakota State University

Madison, South Dakota

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,633

Dakota State University- logo

Nearly two dozen undergraduate certificate programs are available through Dakota State University. Some of these include:

  • Software Development Certificate
  • Network and Telecommunications Administration Certificate
  • Health Care Coding Certificate
  • Data Analytics Certificate
  • Project Management Certificate

Nearly two dozen bachelor’s degree programs are also available via online learning. The school offers various support services to online students, including tutoring. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Dakota State to offer these undergraduate certificates.

#21—University of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,172

University of New Orleans - logo

The University of New Orleans offers three undergraduate certificate programs online. These programs are available through the school’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education:

  • Software Product Management
  • Agile Application Development
  • E-Learning and Instructional Design

Courses required to complete each certificate online are self-paced. Classes are also primarily asynchronous in nature. These undergraduate certificates are available, thanks to accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Related: What is the Right Teacher Certification Program?

#20—Alfred State College of Technology

Alfred, New York

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,862

Alfred State College of Technology - logo

Students can pursue two online undergraduate certificates from Alfred State College of Technology:

  • Court Reporting and Captioning
  • Medical Imaging: Computed Tomography

Both part-time and full-time tracks are supported. Distance learning students enjoy the same student support services as on-campus students. This includes career services, academic advising, and tutoring. Alfred State is accredited to offer these undergraduate certificates by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#19—University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,750

University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee logo

Four undergraduate certificate programs are available through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. These online certificates include:

  • Crime Analysis
  • Digital Arts and Culture
  • Health Care Informatics
  • Study of Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches

Each undergraduate certificate requires five courses. Coursework can be completed entirely online. UW-Milwaukee is accredited to offer undergraduate certificates and degrees by The Higher Learning Commission.

#18—Florida International University

Miami, Florida

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,565

Florida International University- logo

Florida International University offers some of the leading undergraduate certificate programs. Some of these undergraduate certificates for online learners include:

  • African Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • Conflict Dispute Resolution
  • Global Black Studies
  • Health and Fitness Marketing
  • Labor Studies
  • National Security Studies
  • Women’s & Gender Studies

Besides being fully accredited, FIU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #151 in best national universities, #140 in best value schools, and #100 in best colleges for veterans.

#17—Florida State College at Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Florida

Website

Points: 6

Undergraduate Tuition: $2,938

Florida State College at Jacksonville- logo

More than two dozen undergraduate certificates are offered at Florida State College. Some popular undergraduate certificate programs include:

  • Business Entrepreneurship
  • Database Development Specialist
  • Healthcare Informatics Specialist
  • Network Enterprise Administration
  • Web Development Specialist

Accelerated options are available for some of these online certificates. Florida State College at Jacksonville is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#16—Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,618

Arizona State University - logo

Arizona State University’s undergraduate certificate program is designed for students seeking skills and knowledge to stand out as valuable assets to employers. Affordable undergraduate certificates are available in three different areas:

  • Geographic Information Science
  • Applied Business Data Analytics
  • Mathematical Concepts of Engineering

Online certificates can be completed in conjunction with a degree program. Or, they can be pursued as a stand-alone undergraduate certificate. ASU, a fully accredited institution, ranks with U.S. News and World Report as #121 in the list of best national universities. Other rankings include #76 in best colleges for veterans and #18 in best undergraduate teaching programs.

#15—University of Wisconsin- Stout

Stout, Wisconsin

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,663

University of Wisconsin- Stout- logo

The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers nearly 20 different undergraduate certificate programs. Most of these programs are available to both on-campus and online students. Examples of available undergraduate certificates include:

  • Occupational Safety and Risk Control
  • Project Management: Organizational Performance
  • Social Work
  • Enterprise Technology

Most students complete their undergraduate certificate within 6 to 9 months of online study. U.S. News & World Report has ranked UW-Stout among the top 65 regional universities in the Midwest. The school has been certified for excellence in distance education.

#14—University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,656

University of Arkansas - logo

Some exceptional undergraduate certificate programs are available at the University of Arkansas. These certificates are designed to equip students for both their degree program and career goals. Undergraduate certificates are available in:

  • Music Industry Studies
  • Geospatial Technologies

All undergraduate certificate programs at the University of Arkansas are led by nationally recognized faculty. An online graduate certificate in operations management is also available. Aside from being accredited, University of Arkansas ranks #176 in best national universities and #202 in best value schools.

#13—Minnesota State University- Mankato

Mankato, Minnesota

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,444

Minnesota State University- Mankato

Minnesota State University- Mankato offers two distinct undergraduate certificate programs. These are offered entirely online:

  • Nonprofit Leadership Online Certificate Program
  • Technical Communication Online Certificate Program

Online courses required for these undergraduate certificate programs are just as rigorous as in-person classes. Still, all coursework is self-paced and can be completed via distance learning technology. Minnesota State University- Mankato is accredited to offer undergraduate certificates online by The Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top 75 regional universities in the Midwest.

#12—Boise State University

Boise, Idaho

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,364

Boise State University- logo

Boise State University offers some of the top undergraduate certificate programs. This is based on both affordability and flexibility. The accredited online certificates are offered to undergraduates in areas of discipline like:

  • Applied Leadership
  • Business
  • Communication Management
  • Cyber Operations
  • Media Content Management
  • Public Health

Students pursuing an undergraduate certificate focus their studies in a particular subject area. Boise State is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

Related: Best Accredited Online Colleges

#11—CUNY Hunter College

New York, New York

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,382

CUNY Hunter-logo

CUNY Hunter College offers undergraduate certificate programs in a variety of in-demand fields. Examples include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Project Management
  • Data Analytics
  • Human Resources Management
  • Entrepreneurship

Courses required for undergraduate certificates are fully online and self-paced. This makes these career training programs ideal for the busy or working professional with career goals. Qualified students may be eligible to receive the school’s in-house Career Success Scholarship. This award is sponsored by the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. CUNY Hunter College holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#10—University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,381

University of Florida- logo

Some of the most affordable undergraduate certificate programs on our list are offered by the University of Florida. UF is a top-ranked institution. UF’s undergraduate certificates are available in disciplines like:

  • Emergency Management
  • EMS Management
  • Environmental Horticulture Management
  • Geology
  • Horticultural Therapy
  • Medical Entomology
  • Urban Pest Management

Credit for some of these undergraduate certificate programs may be transferrable. This means they can be applied towards an advanced degree program. The University of Florida ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. It’s been named the 29th best national university and 88th best value school. UF is fully accredited.

Related: Best Trade School Careers for the Future

#9—University of North Georgia

Dahlonega, North Georgia

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $4,995

University of North Georgia - logo

The University of North Georgia offers two standout undergraduate certificate programs. These certificates can be completed online:

  • Compliance and Ethics Online Certificate Program
  • Gerontology Online Certificate Program

These undergraduate certificates are web-native programs. That is, they were specifically designed for distance learners. Several endorsements for teachers are also available online.  U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of North Georgia among the top 50 regional universities in the South.

Related: Highest Paying Nursing Jobs

#8—Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, Florida

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $4,879

Florida Atlantic University- logo

Florida Atlantic University offers half a dozen undergraduate certificate programs. These certificates are for online students with specific career goals. Offerings include:

  • Hospitality and Tourism Management Certificate
  • Certificate in Data Science: Computer Science and Analytics Track
  • Geographic Information Systems Certificate
  • Casino and Gaming Industry Management Certificate
  • Meeting and Events Management Certificate
  • Club Management Certificate

Courses are self-paced. Plus, all coursework required for the undergraduate certificate can be completed online. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has fully accredited FAU to offer these undergraduate certificates online. Eight different graduate certificates are also available online. This includes a standout graduate certificate in K-12 online teaching.

#7—Bellevue College

Bellevue, Washington

Website

Points: 7

Undergraduate Tuition: $4,159

Bellevue College- logo

Bellevue College offers a certificate of achievement in healthcare informatics. The online certificate program is available on both a part-time and full-time basis. Coursework for the program can be completed fully online. The curriculum for the program mimics a typical bachelor’s program in healthcare informatics. Still, it does not include general education courses. This makes it ideal for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree before enrollment. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited Bellevue College to offer undergraduate certificates.

#6 – North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website

Points: 8

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,128

North Carolina State University- logo

North Carolina State University offers various associate and undergraduate certificates. These programs are designed to equip students with specific skills in their career. Available professional certification includes:

  • Agricultural Business Management
  • Agricultural Leadership
  • Business Essentials
  • Computer Programming
  • Food Safety & Quality Management
  • General Horticulture
  • Microbiology
  • Renewable Energy Assessment

NC State offers one of the largest groups of undergraduate certificates of any school on our list. Several graduate certificates are also available. NC State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 72nd best national university.

Related: Great Food Science Jobs

#5—CUNY Queens College

Queens, New York

Website

Points: 8

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,538

CUNY Queens-logo

CUNY Queens College is home to several undergraduate certificate programs. These span the professional fields of education and psychology. Examples include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Family and Consumer Science Teacher, All Grades
  • Special Education: Childhood Education, Grades 1-6
  • Bilingual Education Extension

These undergraduate certificates are designed to advance careers in these in-demand fields. All courses can be completed fully online. CUNY Queens College is fully accredited to offer both certificates and degrees for undergraduate students by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#4—CUNY City College

New York, New York

Website

Points: 8

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,340

CUNY- City College- logo

Three online undergraduate certificate programs are available through CUNY City College. These options include:

  • Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and Science
  • Teaching Students With Disabilities, Grades 1-6
  • Teaching Students With Disabilities, Grades 7-12 (Generalist)

Students enjoy one-on-one support from faculty mentors. They progress through self-paced online courses required for the undergraduate certificate.The Middle States Commission on Higher Education fully accredits CUNY City College to offer these certificate programs for undergraduates. Graduate certificates in teaching and nursing are also available.

#3—College of Staten Island

Staten Island, New York

Website

Points: 9

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,490

College of Staten Island- logo

The College of Staten Island offers several undergraduate certificate programs. These are available through the school’s self-paced career training program. Popular undergraduate certificates include:

  • Medical Interpreter Training
  • CompTIA Certification Training: A+, Network+, Security+
  • Human Resources Professional
  • Physical Therapy Aide
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Three separate scholarship programs are available to eligible students to help pay for the cost of tuition. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has fully accredited CUNY College of Staten Island to offer these undergraduate certificate programs.

Related: Important Considerations for Trade School Graduates

#2—Weber State University

Ogden, Utah

Website

Points: 9

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,391

Weber State University - logo


Prospective students interested in undergraduate certificate programs will find several options at Weber State University. This includes four online options:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Systems Engineering & Sustainable Engineering
  • Health Information Management
  • Healthcare Coding & Classification

Coursework for the undergraduate certificate is self-paced. Most programs can be completed within just six months of fully online study. A post-graduate certificate in nursing is also available. U.S. News & World Report ranks Weber State among the top 65 regional universities in the West.

#1—Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia

Website

Points: 9

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,786

kennesaw-state-university- logo

Kennesaw State University students have seven different undergraduate certificate programs to choose from. These include:

  • Information Security & Assurance
  • Geographic Information Sciences
  • Cybersecurity
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Financial Planning

Distance learners at Kennesaw State have access to the same student support services as on-campus students. These undergraduate certificates are available, thanks to accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. A wide range of graduate certificates are also available.

______________

Frequently Asked Questions

Why earn an online certificate?

Both personal and professional reasons can push students to earn an online certificate. Online certificates emphasize an area of interest. Students do not have to commit to enrolling in a degree program, but can explore their studies by taking only a few courses in an area of interest.

Online learning is known for making education accessible. Below are several benefits of earning an online certificate.

Affordability

The online certificate programs on our list are chosen for their affordability. Also, online programs offer a unique set of benefits. Since students are not expected to travel or live on-campus, they don’t incur costs associated with room, board, or transportation. Online certificate programs are much more affordable than traditional on-site programs. Those from community colleges and state universities tend to be the most affordable.

Flexibility

Aside from affordability, online certificate programs are flexible. Online learning includes asynchronous classes and online forums. These features make attendance flexible and convenient. Students earning an online certificate often have full-time jobs as well. Online students are able to juggle other tasks such as family responsibilities while earning a degree or certificate.

Focused learning

Certificate programs allow students to focus their studies on a specific area. They gain marketable skills in an area of their interest. Meanwhile, they enjoy the same student services afforded to on-campus students.

Shorter completion time

Online certificate programs are shorter than degree programs. Most online certificates can be earned in less than one year, while bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete. This accelerated completion time can lower tuition costs as well.

Is earning a certificate something you’re considering? A list of popular online certificate programs that are valued by employers is important in your search. Below, we’ve detailed several popular online certificate programs. We’ve also included some certificates with a favorable earnings potential. This is according to median annual salary projections.

Popular online certificate programs

Computer information technology:

Popular computer information technology programs include classes to prepare students for various careers.

Examples include:

  • computer support specialist
  • cybersecurity specialist
  • data services specialist
  • information security specialist
  • programmer

Construction trades:

The selection of construction trades is vast. Still, certificate programs can help students learn skills in a specific area. Certificate programs available in the construction industry include:

  • building inspection
  • electrician
  • hazardous waste & materials removal

Healthcare:

Well-trained healthcare workers are in demand. This should come as no surprise as the population ages and current healthcare workers reach retirement age. Popular healthcare certificate programs include licensed vocational nurse, medical assistant, and pharmacy tech.

Protective and safety services:

Protective and safety services include firefighters, law enforcement, and private security officers. These individuals often have credentials, such as an online certificate in a specialty area. The homeland security certification is one of the most popular certificates in this field.

High-paying certificate programs (according to median annual salary)

  • Dental assistant
  • Licensed vocational nurse
  • Massage therapist
  • Medical assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Wind turbine technician

Are there admission requirements for accredited online certificate programs?

Like degree programs, online certificate programs have particular admission requirements for all applicants. The online certificate programs on our list ask for at least a high school diploma or GED. Other admission requirements vary by program.

Take, for example, manufacturing and trade certificate programs. These typically ask only for a high school diploma equivalent. But some computer technology and IT certificate programs have prerequisites. These must be taken in high school. Then there are computer-related online certificate programs. These may specify that certain math courses be taken before enrollment. If you’re unsure which courses may be required, reach out to the program you are interested in to discuss prerequisites. Most programs inform applicants of the prerequisites on their website.

Accredited community colleges and universities offering online certificate programs will ask for the submission of transcripts from each school attended. This includes both high school and postsecondary schools. Transcripts may need to be mailed directly from the school to the college or university you are applying to.

If you are seeking financial help for your online certificate program, you must complete the FAFSA. This application for federal student aid will determine your financial aid eligibility. Also, it is important to remember that federal funds are only awarded through accredited institutions.

Are certificate programs online worth it?

There are several benefits offered by online certificate programs. One of the most significant benefits is that the time it takes to complete a certificate program is less than that required to get a degree. In fact, most online certificate programs can be completed in less than a year. Still, certificate programs online are only worth it if you attend an accredited school.

Attending an accredited institution for your online certificate can make all the difference. It can impact financial aid eligibility, future employment, and transfer credits. Accredited programs like the ones on our list allow you to get financial aid to help pay for the certificate. Remember, federal funds are only issued to accredited institutions and programs. As long as you are sure to choose an accredited online certificate program, you will be eligible for financial aid.


That’s not all, though. Choosing an accredited online certificate program can offer focused learning and valuable skills. Employers value both the accreditation and the marketable skills gained in an area of interest. Certificate programs allow students to gain specific skills required in a job or industry.

Does accreditation matter when it comes to online certificate programs?

As with any college program, accreditation matters. Employers and career advisors value accredited programs, whether they are degrees or certificates. Accreditation from a reputable governing agency is significant. It means the school or program has met the principles and standards set forth by the governing body.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies a certificate as a non-degree, postsecondary award. A professional certificate program does not mean certification. Certification is often awarded by a certifying body or professional organization. A certificate is awarded by the institution or by a department within the institution. The certificate is awarded upon completion of the requirements stipulated by the school or program.

So, why does accreditation matter?

When you graduate from an online certificate program, potential employers consider the school you attended. They often ask if you’ve attended an accredited institution. If your certificate was earned from a school or program with a questionable reputation, this could reflect poorly on you.


Another factor to consider when choosing an online certificate program is transfer credit. If you plan, at any time in your academic career to transfer credit earned toward a degree to meet your professional goals, then your program must be accredited from a reputable governing agency. This includes accredited community colleges. No institution will take transfer credits from an unaccredited college or university.

CVO Staff

This concludes our list of the 35 best online certificate programs.