Top 5 Certificate Programs for Career Advancement

Updated October 12, 2022 · 5 Min Read

A ranking of the best online professional certificates for career advancement. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

If you're lucky enough to find a fulfilling career you enjoy, there is great incentive to keep climbing the proverbial ladder.

One of the ways professionals enhance their worth to the company is by earning certifications related to their field; this ambitious choice will keep them current with industry trends, technology, and many other topic areas that are continually evolving. By remaining relevant and educated, you are giving yourself the best chance to advance your career.

Below are 5 of the best certifications for career advancement; these certifications and schools were selected following research on the following criteria:

  • Current employment trends
  • Academic reputation
  • Published career guidance from trusted voices in field
  • Statistical evidence of increased salary rates associated with certifications

Take note: Most of these certificate course programs are available online, with some exceptions where indicated. For more general information concerning distance learning see our ranking of the top online colleges.

Featured Online Schools

1. Leadership and Management Certificate

A leadership and management certification can take form in multiple specialties, depending on your specific business area. This versatile certificate will enhance your business credentials, making you a more competitive candidate for new jobs, salary increases, and promotions within your current company. Most any workplace benefits from a team member who can confidently strategize, motivate, and problem-solve at a high skill-level.

Cornell University: eCornell Executive Leadership Certificate

The esteemed Cornell University has an Executive Leadership and Strategic Management program that fits best with upper or senior level managers with at least five years in team management, mid-level managers eager to become executive leaders, or VP / C-Level professionals wanting to hone their skills.

Cornell’s online certificate program is developed and assessed by scholar-level, Ivy League instructor faculty. The associated courses include quality and service excellence, leading collaborative teams, strategic decision making, leading with credibility, motivating people for high performance, and coaching skills for leaders.

Cost: $4,800.00 or $650.00 per month

Notre Dame Online: Mendoza College of Business

A school-name synonymous with success, Notre Dame’s Mendoza’s College of Business has both a Professional Certificate in Management and Executive Certificate in Leadership. Both of these certificates can be attained entirely online, ideal for working professionals who want to expand their education without disrupting their current career responsibilities.

The Professional Certificate in Management is two-course training series for supervisors, managers, or anyone else seeking to strengthen command over their leadership skills; these courses are Foundations in Management Critical Management skills. Students enrolled in this certificate program leave with a solid grasp of fundamental concepts in management such as conflict resolution, managing for results, legal aspects of business, and more.

Cost: $2,400.00

Michigan State University: Eli Broad College of Business

Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business is a trusted name in numerous business industries. MSU has multiple Strategic Leadership and Management certificate options, depending on your background and previous education.

Michigan State’s Master Certificate in Business Leadership and Management is 100% online, consisting of three eight-week courses; these courses are strategic decision making, strategic management, and strategic leadership. Business professionals who complete this certification learn to execute strategies efficiently, build market resilience and remain a confident leader both individually and within a group.

Cost: $4,995.00 for the three-course package

2. Risk Management

A certified risk manager can be an invaluable part of a business environment. This designation represents a high level of skill and professionalism in management. Savvy risk managers are prepared for loss exposures, employee injuries, financial uncertainties, and innumerable other scenarios where an educated leader is needed.

New York Institute of Finance: Risk Management Professional Certificate

New York Institute of Management’s Risk Management Professional Certificate covers the essential components of risk reports within publicly traded financial institutes. Through the learning tool of case-studies, program participants gain strength in their analytical skill set. Students also become more versatile in effective communication to team members all matters related to risk reports. To qualify for this program, applicants must have necessary skills in MS Excel as well as basic probability and statistics.

NYIF’s certificate courses occur over a five-day period, with a specific aspect of risk management addressed each day; these courses can be taken either in the classroom or online. These courses include Introduction to Risk Management (Day 1), Measuring Risk: Equity, Fixed Income, Derivatives and FX (Day 2), Risk Management Tools and Practices (Day 3), Introduction to Stress Testing (Day 4), and Risk Regulation (Day 5).

Cost: $3,500.00 – $4,300.00

Boston University

A trusted name in education, the Boston University has an Online Enterprise Risk Management Graduate Certificate at a competitive tuition rate. This comprehensive program includes four courses for a total of 16 credits. This course can also be taken on the BU campus, or in an online/on-campus hybrid learning model. Students enrolled in this program are immersed in subject areas related to crisis management, supply chain disruptions, logistics in emergency management, risk assessment, among others.

Boston University’s Enterprise Risk Management is led by a faculty of experts in both public and private sectors. BU’s online business programs are considered highly competitive in the field. Students earn their certificate having built a broader spectrum of knowledge in the industry.

Cost: $860.00 per credit hour

3. Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification

When one earns a Project Management Professional Certification, it speaks volumes on your level of education, skill, and persistence. A PMP requires three-to-five years of professional experience, with an accumulation of approximately 7,500 hours of leadership. A PMP can be called upon to implement both short and long-term business endeavors, making certain any complications have been anticipated and resolved.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Project Management. This program provides the necessary credits to qualify for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. SNHU offers extensive flexibility, allowing students to take five 10-week courses over one year. This PMP program focuses on risk assessment, budget planning, negotiation, conflict resolution, scheduling, and other aspects of project management that require confident leadership.

SNHU’s project management curriculum includes career-building courses such as Quantitative Analysis for Decision Making, Six Sigma Quality Management, Supply Chain Management, and a dedicated course to preparing for the PMP exam itself. Additionally, Southern New Hampshire integrates extensive networking opportunities throughout the certificate program.

Cost: under $10,000

Rutgers University: School of Business / Executive Education

Rutgers University’s Certification in Project Management program is a series of courses that emphasize the key practical skills needed to keep both small and large-scale projects running without errors. This PMP exam preparation is 100% online, allowing for ultimate flexibility within a busy career.

Rutgers University’s online courses are taught by accomplished industry professionals, all of whom are available for one-to-one guidance throughout the program. Associated curriculum with this 61 credit-hour program includes project quality planning, work breakdown structures, controlling costs, communication management, among many others.

Cost: $2,200.00

4. International Business Management Certificate

An International Business Management Certificate will benefit multiple types of professionals, in particular, those eager to enhance business acumen in an ever-increasingly global market. Whether it be in import/export companies, finance, or any multicultural business setting, an IBC will indicate broadened knowledge and a valuable global mindset.

Georgetown University: School of Continuing Studies

A globally renowned school, Georgetown University has expanded its academics to meet the needs of continuing education students. GU’s Certificate in International Business Management explores the increasingly global business environment and changing needs of the international marketplace. This six-credit program can be completed between six months and two years and accounts for 10.80 Continuing Education Units (CEU).

The majority of GU’s certificate courses are classroom-based, though a few are also made available online. Georgetown’s International Business Management curriculum combines five required and one elective course; a few of these courses include International Marketing Management, Communication in Organizations, and Global Organizational Behavior and International Human Resource Management.

Cost: $6,570.00

California Southern University: School of Business

CalSouthern’s Certificate in International Business is designed for managers, executive professionals or a recent graduate weighing their options for graduate school. This program consists of six three-credit courses encompassing the pertinent concepts in international business, multicultural business practices, marketing, and more.

CalSouthern’s comprehensive course series includes Ethics in Business, International Marketing, Cultural Environment of International Business, International Business Law, among others. This college provides the same resources to online certificate students as their full-time campus student body.

Cost: $375.00 per-credit-hour

5. Microsoft Certified Professional

Microsoft software is the most ubiquitous program in most business environments. It serves well to have an in-house certified expert to provide guidance for the team. Microsoft offers numerous types of specialty certifications for different components of the program; these certifications are under five primary categories, Microsoft Developer, Microsoft Applications, Microsoft Trainer and Educator, Microsoft Server, and Microsoft Desktop.

Depending on which Microsoft Certification you choose, you are increasing your value and marketability in the job force. Among the many careers that can benefit from these certifications include IT professionals, system analysts, help desk technicians, database administrators, and other similar capacities.

There are no specific pre-requisites to take a Microsoft Certified Professional exam, but to acquire this expert status, it is essential to be certain you know the material. There are both in-person and online programs available to support your preparation. Microsoft has recently launched flexible on-demand courses that blend video, text, and other available media for hands-on training; these courses are led by Microsoft Certified Trainers, the most qualified experts in developing skill proficiency.

Cost: Varied, depending on choice of training method

While pursuing any of the certifications above, it is worthwhile to investigate whether or not your place of employment will pay the bill; many companies designate money for continuing education and the certifications of its employees.

The preceding represents 5 of the best certifications to advance your career.

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