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Which are the best online certificate programs?

These days everyone seems to be advertising online courses with certificates. What are these certificates good for? Are these web sites real schools? Are ASU or University of Phoenix even colleges? Do short term courses qualify students for accounting? Do an assortment of 3 month programs add up to credit toward a degree? Is Harvard Business School, which I read is not even accredited, the same “college” as Harvard Medical, and are Harvard Online Certificates counted as classes for that college? Can you help me sort out which are the top online courses?

Alexa Spicer

in Online Courses

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Aaron Lee on May 25, 2018

Everyone has a different idea of what makes an online certificate program “best,” though some programs definitely don’t qualify. Much depends on the student’s purpose.

Sometimes an online course with a certificate is offered to attract students to a degree program. Super-prestigious Harvard and M.I.T. currently team to offer a collection of short term, even “24 hours,” fun classes that offer certificates for learning about mitochondria, Stravinsky, or cooking. Successful students will be encouraged to sign up for additional classes for college degrees. Harvard’s Online Certificate program is not to be confused with the online courses that are part of Harvard degree programs. Some of these courses earn professional certification in fields like school or business management.

In the U.S. a “university” is often organized as a group of several affiliated “schools” or “colleges,” so technically Harvard Business School is separate from Harvard Medical College. Both are part of the same university. All thirteen schools are regionally accredited. Universities outside New England aren’t required to accept course credits from Harvard, but most will. Unfortunately this is not the case with some other regionally accredited schools.

Normally U.S. public schools are nationally accredited, but since each of the United States has its own regulations for professional practice, professional certification courses are often state-specific. Rating the best certification programs in fields like real estate is also state-specific, although in other fields, like accounting, national standards have been accepted.

ASU Online, based at Tempe, has been rated the best college for online courses, nationwide. Arizona State University offers a range of bachelors’, masters’, and professional programs, from karate and “sustainable tourism” to engineering, education, or business administration. National accreditation makes federal student aid available and credits transferable. Other top online course schools include PSU, OSU, and UCLA; meaningful ratings are course-specific. The University of Phoenix, also based in Tempe, is not highly rated.

When deciding whether to pay for any online course (unless it’s required for a degree program in which you’re enrolled), Internet users identified the “best answer” as, “Find out for yourself. Ask prospective employers how valuable a certain program will or won’t be.” Generally the best degree programs require some face time and networking with teachers, though this is not always true for test preparation or computer courses. Few programs are totally worthless...but a certificate that’s valuable in one state will not necessarily qualify you for testing in another state. 

Cynthia Bakera year ago

It totally pays to research whether a “top online course” is going to be any good where you intend to use the credit for taking it. Example: Search for that exact phrase online, and though search engines’ results may vary depending on where you are, you’ll get links for Phoenix, DeVry, Kaplan, the top SELLING online course providers. Before the Internet Kaplan was a test prep school, so for professional certification based on preparing you for a state test, it’s actually pretty succesful. That’s if you are in one of the states that recognize Kaplan or Brightwood at all. Florida does not. In order to give natives a chance against vacationers Florida recognizes Keiser University. No other state recognizes Keiser’s “regional accreditation.” Only Florida. But if you want to use your degree or certificate in Florida, even after four years at UV Charlottesville, Keiser online beats UV! Only in Florida! 


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