Graduate Certificate Programs in Liberal Arts & Humanities

Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs encompass a full spectrum of course plans in mathematics, natural and social sciences related topics. While the liberal arts are known to encourage breadth of study, a graduate certificate typically targets a single theme. Students might therefore enroll in a certificate program to focus for research purposes, refresh a current CV or further their expertise in a specified subject.

written by Rana Waxman

What Is a Graduate Certificate in Liberal Arts & Humanities?

While non-degree awards, Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs are credentials above the undergraduate level. Most graduate certificates span about 12 to 15 credits and are shorter than full graduate degrees. Because of this, full time students may be able to complete their program in one year or less.

  • Average about 4 courses
  • Completion in one year or less full-time
  • Up to about 3 years to complete part-time

Study at the Masters Level

Graduate certificate programs in Liberal Arts and Humanities enable participants to study Masters-level course material without the commitment of a full degree. That stated, in some grad schools, credits taken for the Certificate could be rolled over towards completion of the other degree requirements in a related Masters program. If this is your goal, refer to the universities on your list for details.

Add Emphasis to a Masters Degree

Post-masters (also, advanced) certificates are typically a formed group of courses that build expertise onto a Masters degree. These are often planned-out to help students develop expertise in the context of their field of study and may be tacked onto a degree that is in progress or earned later on.

Build Transferable Skills

Liberal arts and humanities coursework could help students develop an ability to innovate and piece together

different viewpoints to solve problems in diverse fields. Consequent skills could include adaptability, cross-cultural competence, and effective communication. i


Per O’Net, 17% of Women's Studies Professors indicate they have a post-masters certificate.ii

Application Information

Each graduate school has their own application process, and the level of certificate is usually a good measure of what prior education is needed for the program. Typically, a Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required unless the certificate caters to those who have a Masters or PhD degree.

Applicants often complete a form to apply directly into the graduate school and may need to submit several things aside from the form, fee and transcripts. Since standards differ, refer to the general guidelines listed below, then clarify the procedure at the schools on your list.

  • Minimum GPA
  • Personal Essay
  • Letter(s) of Reference
  • Sample of Writing
  • A Resume or CV
  • English Proficiency (for International Students)
  • Interview or Consult with Program Director

Types of Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs

Curricula for Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs often include both a compulsory core and student-selected elective(s). Students may also have to complete assignments which could include directed study, an internship or capstone project.

Known for its multi-disciplinary approach, the liberal arts often lends itself to a discussion-based format. Participants might read extensively, then discuss texts in literature, philosophy, history, religion and other related subjects.

This type of learning could promote an enhanced ability to formulate and ask questions, engage in constructive conversation, and develop arguments. Participants might take away a deeper grasp of the questions that occur in ethical debate, research, academic writing, and thinking.

What Is Liberal Arts?

The major categories within the liberal arts include the humanities, social sciences, creative arts and sciences.

  • Humanities - English Literature, Modern Languages, History, and Philosophy
  • Social Sciences - Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Political Science, and Sociology
  • Creative Arts - Fine Art, Theatre, Speech, and Creative Writing
  • Sciences – Business, Technology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics

Many graduate certificate programs have a particular focus on issues that stem from these broader categories. For instance, they might highlight concepts such as justice, cultural diversity or globalization. For the searcher, it may be simpler to review the big picture category, then look to see what is available that lines up with a personal or professional goal.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Area, Ethnic & Cultural Studies

A Graduate Certificate in Area, Ethnic and Cultural Studies could cover a subject related to the culture and development of a certain location or population group.

One example is a Graduate Certificate Program in Peace Studies. In this type of program, participants might discuss diversity and conflict resolution. A course in violence and prevention might put into perspective some of the approaches used at the interpersonal, intergroup, and societal levels. 

Students might also investigate the relationships that human nature and culture have with peace, war, and violence. In addition, coursework could take a look at how international bodies promote peace and mitigate the effects of war. Students might therefore examine the causes of war and war theory.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Communications and Public Relations

A Graduate Certificate in Communications and Public Relations might help build knowledge suitable for today’s digital, social and mobile marketplace. Depending on the school, one might find certificates that go into more detail about editing, publishing, journalism or new media.

Coursework could engage the learner with theory and research methods. In some cases, the curriculum might broadly cover the five pillars of communication - written, oral, interpersonal and group, social media, and technology. Participants might therefore have the opportunity to harness their creativity and hone an ability to think critically.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Economics

Frequently, a Graduate Certificate Program in Economics is offered at the post-master’s level. For instance, a Post-Master’s Certificate in Quantitative Methods in Applied Economics is intended for those who hold a Masters in Economics or in Statistics, and who wish to expand or update their knowledge.

Coursework could cover topics such as advanced economic modeling, forecasting, analysis of rapidly incoming data, and econometrics. Students might have the freedom to choose their electives so that they strengthen skills that line up with career goals. For instance, a course in financial econometrics could familiarize students with the methods most commonly used in empirical finance.

Graduate Certificate Programs in English

Graduate Certificate Programs in English might enable students to teach English as a Second Language (TESOL) or examine literary works. Depending on the course theme, participants might take courses in rhetoric, language, theory and pedagogy.

Graduate Certificate Programs in History

A Graduate Certificate in History could cover a specific time period, or a method related to cultural heritage and preservation. Within their coursework, students might address issues and practices within local, national, and global contexts.

For example, at partner school, Rutgers, prospective students might choose a PhD concentration in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS). This type of graduate certificate might provide participants with the opportunity to more broadly and deeply explore areas in art history and archaeology.

Coursework could feature an exploration of cross-disciplinary and global approaches to the analysis of monuments, sites and works of art within the context of World Heritage. Participants might be encouraged to think cross-culturally, and to integrate relevant theory and practice into their art historical research, writing, and teaching.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Humanities

Frequently interdisciplinary, Graduate Certificate Programs in Humanities could promote expanded intellectual curiosity. Students might be encouraged to inquire and discuss challenging questions about issues that shape individual and collective life. This could include topics in law, religion, literature, critique and digital media.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Languages

A Graduate Certificate in Languages might either delve into a foreign language, linguistics or the romance languages. Participants might study to gain a deeper and broader point of view through a blend of foreign language training and multidisciplinary area studies. This could parlay into effective communication and appreciation for diverse cultures and their expressions.

Graduate Certificate Program in Liberal Arts & Sciences

Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Certificates could cover programs that address the how science and technology shape society and culture. Also, how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology. Students might explore these dynamics to develop sensitivity to issues of gender, race, and justice across disciplines such as engineering, medicine, environment, cognition, security, innovation, design.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Literature & Writing

Graduate Certificate Programs in Literature and Writing could immerse participants in the literary works of an author such as Shakespeare. Or, coursework might serve to hone students’ creative and professional writing skills. These are sometimes interactive and collaborative curricula which may meld theory with hands-on experiences.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Philosophy & Ethics

A Graduate Certificate in Philosophy and Ethics Explore might explore questions of human existence and knowledge, truth, morals, as well as the nature and meaning of life. Coursework might address this inquiry through the eyes of some of history’s greatest thinkers. As a result, students might enhance their grasp of philosophical ideas and application to real-life issues, such as medical or business ethics, the environment, and science.

In some graduate schools, an ethics certificate might also complement another degree. For example, MBA students might seek a Graduate Certificate in Business Ethics to add on more focused insight. The types of courses that might accompany this type of program could include ethics in finance and international business ethics. Participants might also conduct some independent study in management.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Women’s Studies

Graduate Certificate Programs in Women’s Studies might tackle women’s health, gender issues, feminism, reproductive technologies or a related topic. This type of program might be planned-out for those who want to develop some expertise or credentials in the field but don't want to commit to a M.A. program.

A course in feminist ethics and reproductive technologies might explore modern social policy questions about human procreation. Other coursework could help students understand the impact of works by global feminists on issues such as human rights, violence against women and transgender individuals, sex workers and exploitation. ​

Earn a Liberal Arts Certificate Online or On-Campus

Do you prefer to attend class in person? Some universities offer their Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs in the evenings and weekends, which could make them accessible to the busier adult. Find grad schools that are walkable from work or browse our directory by location.

Too busy to attend class on a schedule? Distance learners might log into their courses from anywhere they have Internet. Plus, this flexible format often allows students to self-pace, as long as deadlines are met. Choose ‘online’ from the menu bar to see what is available and how these certificates might work into your timetable.

Apply to Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs

Search for Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Certificate Programs in the category of your choice next! It’s easy to get started. Use the menu to choose the subject, program format and/or location. A list of partner programs allows you to review options, select the ones you want to apply to, and contact schools directly.

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