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Complete Guide to Accredited Online Certificate Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 11/14/2023

There are many certificate programs available online. The variety of options may be overwhelming at first, but students can conduct research to determine the program that will best meet their goals. With a certificate in hand, students may be able to enter into a relevant career quickly, depending on their goals.

Our extensive list of accredited online certificate programs includes 514 online schools and 8,094 online certificate programs. For each program, we calculated average salaries using earnings in the first year after graduation sourced from the 2020 release of the Department of Education's College Scorecard.

We also show a list of highlighted non-profit schools that offer online certificates and diplomas.

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Popular Online Certificate Programs

Jump to a Program: a b c d e g h l m p s

a Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
364 686 $27,290
b Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
619 1,897 $39,440
c Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
26 59 $37,610
11 11 Not reported
186 303 $37,490
d Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
6 8 $24,220
e Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
338 652 $55,660
187 253 $25,880
g Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
4 5 $52,350
h Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
229 346 $27,600
4 6 $33,140
l Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
3 3 $43,980
m Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
771 2,673 $41,260
179 216 $26,170
117 217 $26,170
p Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
79 104 $38,650
22 24 $25,490
5 5 $30,690
150 245 $40,190
s Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
81 122 $32,590
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All schools included in our highlighted list offer the most online certificate programs in addition to being non-profit and regionally accredited. Schools such as Drexel University and University of California - Los Angeles have over 60 online certificate program options. For consideration in our highlighted list, schools needed to meet the following guidelines:

  • Non-profit status
  • Regional accreditation
  • Strong student support services

Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

Dallas Baptist University

This Christian-based university utilizes small online class sizes, expert instructors, and thorough education to provide students with a rich experience. There are 61 programs available, and a 92% student course completion rate. Curriculum is self-propelled, so individuals can complete their coursework on their own time, never having to log in at a specific time. Undergraduate certificate programs include health care management, lay leadership for education or sports ministries, and criminal justice for organizational security or law enforcement, among others. Graduate certificate can be earned in the areas of education, health services, and leadership, just to name a few. One post-master's certificate program is available, school superintendency, which is designed for individual's who hold their master's degree and a principal certification with the desire to become a school superintendent. Applicants to Dallas Baptist University are required to craft a letter of intent that includes which certificate they desire to pursue and why, personal goals, and reasoning behind the decision to apply to the university. In addition a minimum 2.5 GPA is required for undergraduate programs, and a 3.0 for graduate-level coursework.

Dallas Baptist University logo
  • Annual Tuition: $33,620
  • School Type: Private, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 25

Drexel University

Professionals are able to engage in nearly 50 online certification courses taught by nationally-recognized and tenured on-campus faculty to assure that the curricula is equal. Drexel University focuses on connecting peers through online forums. Undergraduate and graduate programs cover a broad range of curriculum, including business, computer science, education, engineering, and public health, among others. Courses are taught by industry professionals that bring public and private sector work experience to the highly interactive online learning classrooms. Currently, Drexel University partners with over 500 corporations, school districts, professional associations, and health systems throughout the country to offer employees opportunity for career advancement. With reduced tuition fees and on or off-site events that cater to professional development, earning a certification that meets an organization's needs is conveniently streamlined through Drexel.

Drexel University logo
  • Annual Tuition: $57,136
  • School Type: Private, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Online Certificate Programs: 103

Fort Hays State University

For online programs with flexible learning options and schedules, Fort Hays State University is an affordable option. Tuition ranges from $207.24 per credit hour for undergraduate certificates to $272.71 per credit hour for graduate programs. There are certificates available in departments including interdisciplinary studies, management & marketing, nursing, and political science, among others. Students over the age of 21 do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores during the admission process; all students must complete an application and submit their official high school and, if necessary, college transcripts. Programs range from 9-16 credit hours and curriculum is delivered via CD-ROMs, DVD, guided study, the internet, and internet protocol television (IPTV). Certifications awarded to students do not contain information that identifies the program as online or virtual, as the curriculum is equal to coursework that would be completed on campus.

Fort Hays State University logo
  • Annual Tuition: $15,870
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 75

Indiana University - Bloomington

There are over 50 online undergraduate and graduate certificates available to professionals looking to supplement their work experience or degree. Additionally, there is a full resource center available to adult long-distance students to assist with the transition into academia and provide academic and career advisors. Professionals can earn undergraduate certificates in the fields of leadership, human resources, and applied mathematics, just to name a few. Graduate certificates are available in education, business, and public health. The Business Foundations Certificate allows students to complete 21 credit hours of coursework in accounting, operations management, and human resource management taught by business professionals.

Indiana University - Bloomington logo
  • Annual Tuition: $38,352
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 47

Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

Ranked as the No. 1 school in the nation for educating the most well-rounded and best-prepared graduates by The Wall Street Journal, students are prepared for success as they complete undergraduate and graduate programs. Undergraduate programs range from organizational communication to earth sustainability, and financial planning to digital arts. Graduate programs include applied statistics, business analytics, educational technology integration, and philanthropic leadership, among others. The online programs are taught by the on-campus faculty and the curriculum is the same that traditional students receive. Programs range from 12-30 credit hours for both undergraduate and graduate curriculums to facilitate flexible, accelerated learning for working professionals. Students are able to utilize a combination of self-study and peer-to-peer interaction in an online learning network to enhance their education with a schedule that is convenient for them.

Pennsylvania State University - World Campus logo
  • Annual Tuition:
  • School Type: N/A
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Online Certificate Programs: 82

Rio Salado College

At Rio Salado University, students can choose between a Certificate of Completion and an Academic Certificate to enhance their professional career. There are programs available in the field of Early Childhood Education, Mobile Apps Programming, Human Development, and Language and Literary Culture of the USA. Students take courses in a variety of language courses, Course duration ranges between 16 and 21 credit hours, and students must maintain a 2.0 minimum GPA. For online learners Maricopa County, tuition is very affordable, at $84 per credit hour, and only $215 per credit hour for out-of-state students. In addition to being cost effective, Rio Salado University offers 24/7 tutoring and online support services to their distance learners so students are able to get the academic and career help that they need.

Rio Salado College logo
  • Annual Tuition: $7,854
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 47

University of California - Los Angeles

UCLA offers over 60 online certificate programs ranging from business studies to education, entertainment studies to engineering & technology, with a myriad of programs in between. Professionals can earn a certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis, Parent Education & Training, or Credit Analysis & Management. The competitive pricing and flexible schedules affords students the ability to enhance their career or gain entry into a new one. With over 100 years of continuing education service, UCLA has experienced professors that provide strengths-based learning and the ability to customize programs for corporate certification training. Individuals are able to choose their pace of learning from one day to 12 weeks and engage in project-based curriculum.

University of California - Los Angeles logo
  • Annual Tuition: $43,012
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 62

University of South Florida Online

Referred to by the University of South Florida as Innovative Education, the online graduate degree program provides students with valuable educational experience in a focused and accessible format. Completing a graduate certificate increases a professional's competitiveness in the workforce, enhances their performance with newly acquired skills, and helps keep them relevant with ever-changing businesses. Most of the certificate programs take one to two years to complete depending on pace and how many credit hours were transferred. Program fields include behavioral, counseling, and community engagement, crime investigation/cybersecurity, engineering and technology, and education. Florida residents can expect to pay $481.43 per credit hour, while non-residents living outside of Florida pay $502.65. The graduate certificate program requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, have a minimum GPA and GRE scores, and meet individual program specifications.

University of South Florida Online logo
  • Annual Tuition: $17,324
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Certificate Programs: 58

University of Washington - Seattle

The University of Washington offers over 50 online certificate programs to give working professionals the ability to advance in their career. From business to social sciences, to liberal arts, the certificate programs utilize novel technology and user-friendly e-learning tools to ensure that students are absorbing the material and taking advantage of practical application opportunities despite the fully online curriculum. Some unique certifications include applied animal behavior, business intelligence: building the data warehouse, cloud data management & analytics, and drug discovery & design. Program duration ranges from 4-15 months, with the majority being completed within 8 months. Students are able to attend many of the course sessions in real time by using Adobe Connect Web conferencing software, which affords them the ability to ask questions and interact with peers or professors. The sessions are also recorded to give students the opportunity to review the material at a later time.

University of Washington - Seattle logo
  • Annual Tuition: $39,906
  • School Type: Public, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Online Certificate Programs: 14

Overview of Online Certificate Programs

Attending online certificate programs is an excellent option for those wanting a fast track to a new career. Students receive practical training that's more narrowly focused and shorter in length than associate degrees or bachelor's programs. Many online certifications only require a high school diploma or equivalent and take two years or less to complete. This can help with accessibility for students who are already working or have additional responsibilities at home. Most programs require 30 credits or less and consist of courses worth one to four credits. Earning a certificate shows that students have learned specialized job skills to work as paralegals, accountants, dental assistants, or nurses.

Online certificates are available in fields like business administration, medical or dental assistance, computer-aided drafting, and HVAC. They are delivered by various institutions, including universities, trade schools, community colleges, and for-profit schools, allowing students to choose how and where they earn certifications for jobs. However, when considering online courses from for-profit schools in particular, students should make sure the programs are accredited. Not only does this mean the professors and coursework have been evaluated for quality, but federal aid requirements state that students must be enrolled in an accredited school to receive benefits.

Professional Certificates vs. Degree Programs: Key Differences

Certificates and degree programs serve different purposes. Vocational certificates usually cost less than a degree and require fewer credits, allowing students to gain the necessary skills for a particular occupation at a quicker pace and without incurring much student debt. A college degree takes longer because it provides a more general, theoretical education. Both programs can help students meet professional goals but in different ways.

The curriculum of each area of study is different as well. A certificate program is very targeted and occupation-focused, meaning that core classes or prerequisites aren't usually required. On the other hand, many degree programs offer a broader education, where students not only learn about their field of study but may also be required to complete courses in other areas to graduate.

A certificate may be a good option if you are looking for faster results and have a specific job in mind that only requires a certificate. Some careers, such as registered nursing or engineering, require you to complete a degree in order to acquire an advanced skill set and practical training before entering the workforce. Students can also choose a broader degree program, such as liberal arts, which may open the door to a variety of positions. This route may be preferred by those who are still deciding the direction of their career.

What Certifications Can I Get Online?

There are various options to consider when it comes to an online certificate program. Most programs are designed to prepare graduates for specific careers, such as HVAC technician or paralegal. In contrast, others may offer broader training in management and business, allowing graduates to pursue different positions in different industries.


Accounting certificates prepare students for entry-level positions by providing training in accounting software, taxation, economics, and management. Career opportunities include bookkeepers, payroll assistants, and collections coordinators. Graduates may also pursue accounting and finance certifications, such as those for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).


Business certificates are among the most comprehensive non-degree options because they feature coursework in several disciplines. Students learn about financial tools, management applications, data analytics, and communication tactics. Graduates may seek entry-level management jobs in various industries or non-administrative roles in human resources and executive support. They may even choose to start their own business as entrepreneurs. 


In paralegal certificates, students explore the job responsibilities of legal assistants. This includes preparing court documents, tracking case assignments, recording notes for public records, and completing case research. They are most likely to gain employment at private law firms, but some graduates pursue positions at government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporate legal departments.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists require a master's degree and professional license, leading some graduate-level programs to offer licensure endorsements. Undergraduate students earn clinical psychology certificates to prepare for entry-level mental health roles or to learn specialized skills after completing their degrees. Typically, these curricula cover fundamental psychology principles related to psychological disorders, diagnosis techniques, and treatment plans. Students may go on to pursue roles in clinical research institutes, hospitals, and mental health clinics.


Counseling certificates are specialized programs that usually revolve around individual entry-level counseling careers. Many certificates also prepare students to take licensing exams in their state. Students may learn about treatment models for addiction and chemical dependency, adolescent behavioral health issues, or adult mental health disorders. Roles may be available as recovery coaches, youth counselors, or guidance counselors. 


Like counseling, psychology certificates allow students to explore different career paths while receiving a base-level education. There are courses in organizational psychology, sports psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and memory, as well as applied courses in patient assessment and intervention. Specialized training can lead to non-licensed careers as positive psychology coaches, wellness program coordinators, and human resources managers.

Educational Leadership

Educational leadership certificates are meant for professional teachers who already hold education licenses but wish to transition into leadership roles like principals and administrators. The curricula feature advanced coursework in the economic, legal, organizational, and ethical aspects of education. Once completed, these students will be eligible to pursue leadership positions in public and private schools, school district offices, and community colleges.

Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administration certificates are often taken at the graduate level because they prepare students for managerial roles with varying responsibilities. Students explore healthcare economics, management principles, project management, and healthcare policies. Job opportunities are as comprehensive as the coursework itself, with graduates working for community health organizations, hospital human resource departments, and healthcare insurance companies. 


Management certificates feature various business disciplines designed to train for supervisory roles. Business strategies, communication techniques, business law, software applications, human relations, and organizational behavior are all covered from a foundational perspective. Management graduates benefit from transferable skills, allowing them to choose which industry they work in. Roles may include operations manager, sales consultant, and administrative assistant.

Secondary Education

Secondary education certificates focus on teacher training for grades 7-12. There are post-graduate and post-baccalaureate options that apply to both current and future educators. Curricula differ from program to program but may cover literacy instruction, classroom management, adolescent behavior, and classroom assessment. Students can earn specialized teaching jobs in subjects like math, science, and geography or pursue roles as education specialists and librarians.


HVAC certificates prepare students for specialized roles as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians. The comprehensive curriculums feature coursework in HVAC, refrigeration, and electrical systems that work to prepare graduates to sit for professional certification exams. Employers are more likely to hire credentialed HVAC specialists to install and maintain systems.


CAD certificates cover computer aided drafting, otherwise known as computer aided design, which entails using software programs that translate technical drawings into digital images. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for these programs, where they can learn AutoCAD, 3D visualization, drafting technologies, and computer integrated machining. Drafters are the most common career path for CAD certificate graduates. 


Phlebotomy certificates teach healthcare students how to collect blood samples. Required coursework includes laboratory procedures, hazardous material handling, and medical terminology. While the job responsibilities may be simple, they are critical roles in many healthcare settings and therefore need serious training. In fact, many programs require students to undertake practical experience at local healthcare facilities before becoming phlebotomists.

Which Online Certificate Program is Best?

Salary expectations vary based on each individual's experience and education, but the average salary generally lands around $30,000 based on College Scorecard data (as listed in the chart above). Attending an online certification program can either increase the salary of existing professionals by providing advanced graduate-level training or offering foundational knowledge for undergraduate students seeking an entry-level career. Management, business, and CAD offer the highest average earnings at over $35,500 per year. HVAC and paralegal certificates aren't far behind, with salaries of $32,900 and $34,100, respectively. Other certificates, such as phlebotomy, psychology, and counseling, range from $26,700 to $28,300.

How To Get a Certification: Applying to an Online Certificate Program

When applying to an online certificate program, many of the requirements and processes are the same as applying to an in-person program. However, students should check each school's admission requirements to pick a college that meets their qualifications. Sometimes there are fewer application requirements for online certificates.

In general, applying to a certificate program may require the following:

  • An application fee, which is usually non-refundable and falls between $25-$50 but rarely exceeds $100.
  • A completed FAFSA to determine financial aid eligibility. Students can then work with their school's financial aid office to see what other assistance they may be eligible to receive.
  • An essay or letter of intentthat explains why a student is interested in a particular program and their plans after program completion. 
  • A copy of any high school and college transcripts that are available.
  • Math and reading assessment scores. (Some certificate programs, such as dental assistance programs, require that students have passed math and reading assessments to enroll in the program.)
  • College entrance exams, which allow admissions counselors to further evaluate their comprehension in specific academic areas.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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