Not Sure About MBA? Try a Certificate First!

Often times, recent graduates (or even the not so recent ones) tend to not want to go back to school for another year or two. Graduate life can sometimes be tiring and quite time consuming, Therefore a lot of individuals opt out of an MBA and rather go with the certificate route. Certificates allow you to boost your career without having to commit or pay tremendous educational fees for the next year or two.

If you are not sure whether you would like to continue your education with a lengthy MBA but would still like to push your career forward, try a Certificate. Brentwood University offers 3 different certificates that suit the demands for all: Project Management, Entrepreneurship and Business Administration are all certificates that are provided by our institution. If you ever do change your mind about the MBA, then go right on, you certificate credit can transfer towards your MBA.


Jordan Friedman wrote for the US News “Develop Business Skills Through Online Certificate Programs.” Here is his article:

When Allison Bonner was wrapping up her senior year at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill in 2013, she desired business skills to round out her resume and supplement her double major in classical music and communications.

The 25-year-old, who now works in human resources, turned to UNC’s self-paced Business Essentials online certificate program to learn the subject without having to pursue a full MBA – a step she wasn’t ready for at that point, she says.

“The certificate program allowed me a way to get that kind of high-level, overview, foundational business knowledge at the time that I needed it, without having to try and find a job without anything on my resume that showed I understood the business world,” Bonner says.

Bonner isn’t alone, as business certificates, in some cases referred to as “mini MBAs,” become increasingly popular in online education. Experts say the trend is no surprise given that smaller credentials – ranging from digital badges to these certificates – are now prevalent in online learning.

“The speed of change in today’s business environment is unprecedented. That sounds like a cliche, but it’s a reality,” says Joe Schaffer, associate dean of executive education at Rutgers Business School. Lifelong business skills, he says, are beneficial for employees who want a competitive advantage.


Online business certificate programs, experts say, aim to provide a credential that gives deeper insight into the field than a free online course, for instance, but with less of a time commitment than a full MBA.

Prospective online students should consider their career goals when determining whether this type of program is right for them, experts say. For example, a certificate might not hold as much weight as a degree but can provide more immediate job advancement.


“It takes some self-awareness and self-assessment, and understanding of where you are in your career and what your goals are, to best assess what opportunity is going to be best for you,” says Dan Bursch, program director of MBA@UNC. The university’s online MBA program also offers business certificates in subjects like data analytics and leadership development.


While some online certificate programs offer foundational business knowledge across a range of subject areas, others explore specific subjects like digital marketing or business management.

The University of Buffalo—SUNY’s School of Management offers an example of the former. The school has a completely self-paced, non-credit-bearing online mini-MBA certificate program that costs about $1,000 and focuses on multiple subject areas ranging from technology to general management.

Courtney J. Walsh, assistant dean of executive education at the business school, says four or five years ago, says online mini-MBAs at Buffalo appealed to those already working in business looking to update skills and potentially search for new jobs. But that’s changed as online learners, including those without prior business knowledge, seek faster learning outcomes and career boosts.

“I think it’s about quicker gratification – quicker showing of results for themselves and potential employers,” Walsh says. “By results I don’t just mean the certificate, I mean the actual learning.” 

While Rutgers offers a similar broader online mini-MBA in “business essentials,” it also has mini-MBA options in certain subject areas including social media marketing and BioPharma Innovation.

The desire for greater social media knowledge in particular is what drew Kerry Donovan to online education a few years ago. He already had general marketing experience going into the program, earned his mini-MBA in social media marketing through Rutgers in fall 2014.

“There are times when you need to pick up your skills in a lifelong learning context, but maybe you don’t need a full master’s degree in (pick a topic),” says the 64-year-old, who manages a media consulting and services firm in the Hudson Valley region of New York State.

The concept of mini-MBAs isn’t new, but they have in the past few years begun shifting to the online space, allowing for greater flexibility for students juggling their education with other commitments.

For example, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, which offers an online mini-MBA for about $3,000 and provides opportunities for both live and self-paced learning, launched its on-ground mini-MBA in 1974. To meet the needs of busy students with jobs, it opened its online mini-MBA option in 2012.

“It serves people who have work-life balance challenges,” says Jacque Anderson, assistant dean of executive education at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business, which offers an online mini-MBA degree.

For some students, an online graduate certificate might help them decide if they eventually want to get a full MBA degree, says Bursch, of MBA@UNC. This was the case for Bonner, the UNC student, who now pursues an MBA in the evenings.

“An MBA is a much longer endeavor, and when evaluating programs, you need to really be sure that that’s the path you want to take,” she says. “