Array of New Certificate Programs Provide Another Level of Learning

Students learn about podcasting in Hamilton Hall.

William Paterson University has launched a variety of alternate credentials, including a host of new for-credit undergraduate certificate programs that provide opportunities for students to pursue a personalized learning path and gain a competitive edge in their careers by developing skills that are in demand in today’s job market.

“William Paterson University is a leader among four-year New Jersey institutions in providing new opportunities for students, including the state’s significant population of adult learners, to obtain credentials that are immediately relevant to their academic and professional goals and to gain a leading edge in their discipline,” says Joshua Powers, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.  

These credentials translate into tangible qualifications in the job market. “William Paterson students who complete a credit-bearing credential will receive a notation on their academic transcript, along with a digital badge that can be shared with potential employers on a resume or social media platform, such as LinkedIn,” explains Jonathan Lincoln, associate provost for curriculum and international education. “This enables students to start showing their value even before graduation, in a very concrete way, to help them get internships and jobs.”

One of the pillars of the University’s Strategic Plan, according to Powers, is to create a way for every student at William Paterson to not only earn a degree, but to also achieve an alternate credential along the route, with at least one to be earned in their first two years. In spring 2024, a total of 163 undergraduate students enrolled in 18 different undergraduate certificate programs, which include both on-campus and online offerings.

Most for-credit certificate programs require 12 or fewer credits and can be completed in one to three semesters. Non-credit options are also available. These new programs complement the University’s wide range of academic offerings that also include bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

“Our new certificate programs will help us attract not only students that are seeking a degree, but those who want something that isn't as time intensive but provides value that they either need in their current job, to get promoted in their job, or to take a new job,” Powers adds.

The array of certificate programs includes everything from data skills, business budgeting and reporting, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), to podcasting and digital marketing, among many others.

According to Powers, the new DEI certificate aligns particularly well with the University’s institutional mission, its designations as a Hispanic-Serving and Minority-Serving Institution, and a new core curriculum that emphasizes social justice. The DEI certificate--which includes study of race, gender, and social justice--is designed to enhance professional qualifications for students in all majors by providing knowledge and skills in areas including cultural identity, intercultural understanding, multiculturalism and difference, and the cultural aspects of globalization.

“Frankly, this certificate is something we think graduates ought to have for working in a diverse, complex world. It is something that is intentional and signals value,” Powers says.

For full-time students enrolled in a William Paterson bachelor’s degree program, credit-bearing certificate programs are available at no additional cost and the credits earned while completing the certificate may be applied to requirements and electives of a full degree program. This offers students flexible learning options that can help them customize their academic experience.

“Students can earn a credential that demonstrates specialized skills in their own field of study, or they can earn one from a different discipline that complements their field of study. This gives them the freedom to learn what they want, without the financial and time commitment of a full degree,” says Lincoln.


Jason Peralta

For example, environmental sustainability major Jason Peralta has enrolled in three certificate programs that complement his studies and will provide him with a multidimensional approach for a career as an environmental health scientist. A senior who is also minoring in health studies and anthropology along with the global public health track in the Honors College, Peralta is completing certificates in healthcare ethics; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and gender and sexuality studies.

“By integrating these certificates with my environmental sustainability major, I gain a holistic understanding of the complex interplay between environmental science and public health. These interdisciplinary insights enhance my ability to conduct comprehensive environmental health research, develop effective public health strategies, and advocate for sustainable policies that prioritize both ecological and human well-being,” says Peralta, who is also a student representative to the University Board of Trustees and a member of the swim team.

“In the future, these certificates will benefit me by providing a robust foundation in ethical reasoning, social justice, and gender equity, all of which are crucial for addressing the multifaceted challenges in environmental health science," he says.