Top Certificate Courses in USA for International Students; What to know about certificate courses

The certificate courses in the USA for international students are basically for students who are not able to avail of degree programs. Usually, these certificate courses last between six to one year of duration whereas some certificate courses also last 1.5 to 2 years of duration, and of course, that varies from one course to another.

In the United States, there is a wide range of certificate courses in USA for international students ranging from banking, computer, fashion, agriculture, medical, arts, commerce, and many more.

We suggest students do Certificate Programs that are at least 9-12 months long. Such programs generally allow you to use the Optional Practical Training (OPT) period and you can work in the US after your course.

In general, certificate programs can take approximately two years to complete if you take one course per quarter.

Intensive Certificate Programs are typically completed in 10-12 weeks of full-time study. Customized Certificate Programs may take up to five years to complete.

In this article, we look at what you should know about the top certificate courses in the USA for international students and some commonly asked questions.

Is a certificate the same as a degree?

Higher education is more valued in the workplace today than it was in the time past. According to, it is being reported that individuals who have Bachelor’s degrees have 57% more job opportunities and also earn 57% more than individuals who only have a high school diploma.

This data has encouraged so many who dropped out of school to find their way back to the classroom.

With the benefit of going back to school so clear, the more difficult question is: what are the two most common choices for students going back to school?

Degree and certificate programs are the two most common choices for students who are returning back to school.

These two educational paths are designed to expose students to a specific field or skill set that can help broaden their knowledge in that subject area.

As you may know, the purpose of both programs is to help students to understand the depth of their industry and to walk away with the tactical skills and experiences needed to expand their career options, advance at work, or even switch to a new industry altogether.

People earn certificates to:

  • make a career change
  • seek a promotion
  • explore new fields
  • document formal application-based education and stay current with new technologies

These programs may fulfill licensure or certification requirements of professional associations, industry groups, state agencies, or specific corporations. Certificate programs also may prepare students for advanced degree programs and some institutions accept certificate program courses.

Degree vs. Certificate: What You’ll Learn

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when weighing these options is what is actually covered in the classroom within the curriculum of certificate and degree programs.

What will you learn in a certificate program?

Certificate courses are narrowly focused and most importantly, they explore the actionable skills that are needed to work in a particular industry.

Depending on the type of the certificate, classes may only cover a broad view of essential industry-related topics or practices to ensure you have a working knowledge of the field.

There are more advanced certificate programs as well and they dive more deeply into the subject or on the other hand review more sophisticated methods for the work.

In either of them, graduates leave their certificate programs with skills well-developed; enough to apply what they have learned in the required field.

What will you learn in a degree program?

The courses outlined for the completion of degree programs cover far more than the base level of knowledge that is required for you to complete your work-related tasks.

Most times, degree programs are often interested in producing “well-rounded” students who have an understanding of their industry and the world as a whole.

To achieve this, degree-granting institutions include “core classes” alongside the major-specific courses required to graduate.

Therefore degree programs are for individuals who are hoping to get more than just a basic understanding of their industry out of a continued education program, the benefits posed by the inclusion of core classes are a substantial draw to the pursuit of a full degree.

The Time Commitment in Programs

One of the biggest draws of a certificate program is the speed at which you can complete it.

When compared to a degree program, degree programs take between two and four years to complete meanwhile certificate programs require as little as a few months to a few years to complete.

Certificate programs are flexible, above all, they allow you to take as few or as many courses at a time as needed.

Certificate Programs; The Price

When it comes to the price of education, it boils down to the cost per course and, depending on the university, these prices can vary.

There are far fewer courses that are required to complete a certificate program than a bachelor’s program.

The dozens of financial aid options in the form of scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement are also available to take the certificate courses in the USA for international students.

There the lower tuition associated with certificate programs is enough reason why students can decide to go through this path.

Job Opportunities for Certificate Courses

No matter which industry you’re in, choosing to continue your education through either a degree or certificate program can make a substantial positive impact on your career.

In fact, a recent study revealed that 45 per cent of employed adults are opting to invest in further education to keep up with the changing needs of their field, proving that even those who already have training can benefit from lifelong learning.

For adults who fall into this group, a certificate may be all that is needed to supplement your existing degree with a new skill set or obtain an industry-required accreditation.

Example of Certificate Courses in USA

  • Infographics and Data Visualization
  • Introduction to Biotechnology – Detecting and Treating Disease

Infographics and Data Visualization

  • Duration: 2 months
  • Institution: Parsons School of Design – The New School Online

Infographics and Data Visualization is an online certificate program that helps professionals succeed in environments where big data and metrics are key.

Led by industry experts, our hands-on courses in information design, data analytics and filtering, visualization best practices, and programming basics enable you to make complex statistics come to life for diverse audiences.

Introduction to Biotechnology – Detecting and Treating Disease

  • Duration: 2 months
  • Institution: Stanford University

This Introduction to Biotechnology – Detecting and Treating Disease course at Stanford University – Summer Sessions will examine the basic concepts of biotechnology and the instrumentation and techniques used in the manipulation of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). 

Stanford Summer Session gives you the opportunity to take courses from one of the world’s leading research universities. Enrich your curiosity, creativity, and knowledge. 

Programming for Data Science with R

  • Duration: 3 Months
  • Enrol By: May 10
  • Institution: School of Data Science

Learn the programming fundamentals required for a career in data science. By the end of the program, you will be able to use R, SQL, Command-Line, and Git.

There are no prerequisites for this program, aside from basic computer skills. See detailed requirements.

Introduction to International Relations

The Introduction to International Relations course is offered at Stanford University – Summer Sessions.

Summer Session offers the only opportunity to be a visiting Stanford student. 

Delve into the entrepreneurship and problem-solving methodologies that make Silicon Valley the centre of American innovation.

Sustainable Business Strategy

The Sustainable Business Strategy course at Harvard Business School Online illustrates how businesses can thrive and grow while simultaneously solving some of the world’s biggest challenges—and how you, as an individual, can make a difference.

Want to explore other certificate courses in USA for international students or Short courses in the United States? Check HERE.

While some Universities offer Diplomas and mostly all other Universities call it the Certificate Program!


You can get an audio technology diploma, business diploma, neuroscience diploma… or many other subjects you can think of as well!

The duration is 1-2 years usually. Diplomas are given at the UG level, while Post-Graduate Diploma in the USA is, of course, given after the completion of a Bachelor’s degree.

At the UG level, diplomas are generally vocational and usually offered by colleges or private universities.


These are short-term programs where you can study anything – financial crimes investigation, six sigma foundations, construction estimation, behavioral support, hospitality sales, public health, e-commerce marketing, negotiation, paralegal studies, animation, etc.

Some Colleges offering these certificate courses in the USA are:

  • UC Berkeley Extension
  • UC Davis Extension
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of California
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Florida
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Maine
  • University of Nevada

  • State University of New York
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Houston
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas
  • University of Utah
  • Berkeley College
  • Arizona Western College

  • Cabrillo College
  • Chaffey College
  • City College of San Francisco
  • Cypress College
  • Golden West College
  • Irvine Valley College
  • Long Beach City College
  • Los Angeles City College
  • MiraCosta College
  • Orange Coast College

  • Palomar College
  • Santa Ana College
  • Santa Barbara City Colleg
  • Santa Monica College
  • Sierra College
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • College of Chicago
  • College of DuPage
  • College of Lake County
  • College of Southern Nevada
  • Baruch College
  • Brooklyn College of the City of New York
  • Lehman College
  • Bellevue College
  • Cascadia College

  • Centralia College
  • Clark College
  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Green River College
  • Highline College
  • North Seattle College
  • Olympic College
  • Pierce College
  • Northwest College, etc.

Can I Travel While on OPT? 

You can travel while on an OPT, but in some instances, it is not recommended. You can travel for up to 30 days outside of the US with a valid and signed Form I-20. Your DSO must sign off on your travel, otherwise, you might have problems re-entering the US.

If you just got your OPT approved but do not have a job yet, it is not recommended to travel out of the US. The reason for this is that officials at a US port of entry could ask for an employment letter and not let you in the country if you do not have one.

If you are already working, then you can travel within the 30 days with the signature of your DSO on your Form I-20.

Wrapping it up

Having read the importance of certificate courses in the USA for international students, a certificate may be all that you need to supplement your existing degree with a new skill set or obtain an industry-required accreditation. Go ahead and explore.

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