Diploma and Certificate Programs

When you think about going back to school, you may be envisioning a two- or four-year degree. But there are many more options for continuing your education—and often with a shorter time commitment.

Thinking about enrolling in a new program but not sure that you want to commit to a full degree program? Here are just three ways that you can level-up your knowledge and skill set in less than two years:


Diploma programs are typically shorter in length than an associate degree, with average completion times at the one-year mark. These programs can often be used as a stepping stone to get into an entry-level position in your field of interest, sometimes with the intent to go back to school later for more in-depth education after you’ve got a little experience. Diplomas are common in the nursing field, allowing students to begin working in hospitals or other medical facilities even quicker than they would have with an associate degree in nursing.


Many schools offer certificate programs that are a specialization, extension, or supplementary focus of a degree or diploma you already have. Like diplomas, programs often take about a year to complete and can offer a way to enhance your knowledge or advance your career without committing to a full degree or graduate program. You can also find certificate programs for specific types of software, equipment, or other specialties to broaden your skill set.

Completion programs

If you’ve completed an associate degree program, some fields offer educational programs specifically to bridge what you’ve already learned to a bachelor’s degree. Rather than starting over from the beginning, completion programs pick up where you left off in your last program, providing advanced knowledge and skills training to continue your education.

One of the most popular examples of a completion program is the RN-to-BSN degree. For nurses who have already completed their associate degree and have some work experience in the field, they may want to finish their bachelor’s degree to explore career advancement and leadership opportunities. The RN-to-BSN program is designed specifically for that goal, allowing you to round out your education without starting over from scratch.

Continuing your education can create all kinds of great opportunities and lead to wonderful benefits in your career and in life. But it doesn’t have to take a four-year commitment to create lasting change! Take a look at some of the great certificate, degree, and completion programs offered by our partner institutions to see how you can advance your education in as little as one year.