Post Secondary certificate Definition

Defining and Reporting Subbaccalaureate Certificates in IPEDS

Subbaccalaureate certificates, postsecondary awards conferred as the result of successful completion of a formal program of study below the baccalaureate level, have become more prominent in higher education over the last decade. Institutions of all sectors offer subbaccalaureate certificates, which can range in length from a few months to more than 2 years. Subbaccalaureate certificates provide individuals with a means for gaining specific skills and knowledge that can be readily transferred to the workforce.

Each year institutions report the number of awards conferred in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Completions component. The current IPEDS instructions state that institutions should report: “Formal awards conferred by the institution as the result of completion of an academic or occupational program of study. The instructional activity completed as part of the program of study must be credit-bearing, but can be measured in credit hours, contact hours, or some other unit of measurement.” Subbaccalaureate certificates are reported in three categories based on the program length, and measured in terms of an academic year, with a clock and credit hour equivalency. The three categories are defined as programs that are:

  • Less than 1 academic year (referred to in this report as short-term):
    Less than 900 clock hours, less than 30 semester credit hours, or less than 45 quarter credit hours.
  • At least 1 but less than 2 academic years (referred to in this report as moderate-term):
    At least 900 but less than 1, 800 clock hours, at least 30 but less than 60 semester credit hours, or at least 45 but less than 90 quarter hours.
  • At least 2 but less than 4 academic years (referred to in this report as long-term):
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