Certificate Programs for International Students

Certificate vs. Master’s Degrees

The advantages of a certificate program.

Certificate Programs offer specialized training and education that help you improve your skills in a particular field of study or explore a new career. For international students with professional goals, certificates can offer many advantages over a traditional master’s degree. Below, you can explore the differences between certificates and master’s programs.

  UCLA Extension Certificate Most Master’s Degrees*
Enrollment Entry Flexibility Four enrollment entry dates per year—one every three months Typically one enrollment entry date per year
Application Deadline Two months before program begins Typically one year before program begins
Academic Requirements Varies: Prerequisite courses, and/or college transcripts; some require degree Undergraduate degree and transcripts; examinations: GRE, GMAT, etc.
English Proficiency TOEFL, IELTS, iTEP, TOEIC, Duolingo, CAE, CPE 
(view complete list)
Duration Most are nine months Most are two years
Selection All who qualify are admitted; no wait lists Admission limits; wait lists
Internships Available for most programs during the program Available for most programs during the program
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for International Students Available on program completion (3 quarters or more) Available on program completion
Program Focus Professional program emphasizing career-centered, practical workplace application Academic program emphasizing theory, research, and some application
Classmates Mostly working professionals Mostly full-time students
Course Schedule Mostly evenings Daytime
Instructors Highly regarded industry professionals and UCLA faculty University faculty
University Recognition Coursework and instructors approved by UCLA Academic Senate and UCLA academic departments; professional level Coursework and instructors approved by University faculty and academic departments; graduate level
Academic Testimonial Certificate with university seal; transcript Degree with university seal
Transfer Credit Some courses transfer to master’s by decision of receiving institution Some courses transfer to other master’s by decision of receiving institution
*Degree programs are not standardized in the U.S. Information will differ by institution. The information on master’s degrees is general, and represents what would take place at most institutions.

Learn more about our international programs.


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