UCLA Extension

Certificate vs. Master’s Degrees

Certificate Programs offer specialized training and education that help you improve your skills in a particular area or explore a new career. For international students with professional goals, certificates can offer many advantages over a traditional master’s degree.

UCLA Extension Certificate Most Master’s Degrees*
Entry Flexibility Four entry dates per year, every three months Typically one entry date per year
Application Deadline Two months before program begins Typically one year before program begins
Academic Requirements College transcripts; some require degree Undergraduate degree and transcripts; examinations: GRE, GMAT, etc.
English Proficiency TOEFL or IELTS TOEFL or IELTS
Duration Most are one year Most are two years
Selection All who qualify are admitted; no wait lists Admission limits; wait lists
Cost Course fees are same for international and local students Course fees are higher for international and out of state students than for local students
Internships Available for most programs during the program Available for most programs during the program
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for International Students Available on program completion Available on program completion
Program Focus Professional program emphasizing career-centered, practical workplace application Academic program emphasizing theory, research, and some application
American Classmates Mostly working professionals Mostly full-time students
Course Schedule Mostly Evenings Daytime
Instructors Highly regarded industry professionals and UCLA faculty University faculty
University Recognition Coursework and instructors approved by UCLA Academic Senate and UCLA academic departments; professional level Coursework and instructors approved by University faculty and academic departments; graduate level
Academic Testimonial Certificate with university seal; transcript Degree with university seal
Transfer Credit Some courses transfer to master’s by decision of receiving institution Some courses transfer to other master’s by decision of receiving institution

*Degree programs are not standardized in the U.S. Information will differ by institution. The information on master’s degrees is general, and represents what would take place at most institutions.