There are many benefits of pursuing a certificate program. For one, these programs help boost abilities and skills. Certificate programs are also short-term programs, making for an easier entry path into different fields. If you’re interested in career advancement or standing out among your peers, you’ll find this article on the cheapest online certificate programs useful.
Read on to learn not only the most affordable online certificate programs, but their costs, ways to keep tuition costs down, and more. Some of the best certificate programs can further your education in many fields and increase your on-the-job skills.
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How Much Do the Cheapest Online Certificate Programs Cost?
The cost of online certificate programs differs according to the type of certificate, the length of the certificate, the institution, and the contents of the training. Public institutions and community colleges are often the most affordable option. Below is a breakdown of the cost.
Cheapest Online Certificate Programs Costs Breakdown
- Tuition. Tuition is the greatest expense of certificate programs. Even the cheapest online certificate programs cost between $76 per credit hour and $5,841 per semester.
- Fees. Aside from tuition, students are required to pay some fees, such as technology fees, for running the online learning platform. This fee is usually below $100 and can be waived for eligible students.
- Devices. Online learning requires personal computers which can be quite costly. However, you can purchase a laptop second-hand or refurbished, which will dramatically lower the cost. In addition, some schools lend laptops to students who don’t have one.
- Books. Students enrolled in online certificate programs will need to buy books and course materials. These items can also incur more costs.
Why You Should Enroll In an Online Certificate Program
There are many reasons to enroll in an online certificate program. This type of online program is convenient and flexible, giving you a unique learning experience that accommodates your busy schedule. There is a wide range of options within the programs, from subject matter to level, including a graduate certificate program or an undergraduate certificate program.
Online certificate programs are also cheaper than a traditional college degree. Students do not spend money on transportation, parking, or accommodation. They also have an opportunity to maintain their jobs as they learn. Some of the college credits earned can be used to pursue associate degrees or even graduate degrees.
Best Online Certificate Program Career Options
Certificate programs can help the transition into a new and rewarding career path. A good certificate program, such as cyber security, can usher educated professionals into the budding industry. In most cases, interested parties only need relevant skills and some work experience.
Aside from tech, many industries require only a certificate program to be pursued. Some popular avenues include healthcare, business, and manufacturing.
Online Certificate Program Salary
The potential salary for people with online certificates depends largely on the field. In some cases, certificate holders can earn more than $100,000 per year in fields like cyber security as system security experts. This is mostly due to the high demand for workers in this field. Other careers, such as massage therapists and emergency medical technicians, earn around $40,000, per year.
Can You Attend an Online Certificate Program for Free?
Yes, there are some certificate programs that are offered for free. In addition, some paid certificate program providers offer financial aid, scholarships, and waivers that make the programs free for eligible students.
Cheapest Online Certificate Programs That Won’t Break the Bank
|School||In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||Graduation Rate|
|Arkansas State University||$258 per credit hour||$258 per credit hour||47%|
|Concordia University – St. Paul||$420 per credit hour||$420 per credit hour||59%|
|Lamar University||$5,841 per program||$5,841 per program||28%|
|Wayne Community College||$1,216 per semester||$4,288 per semester||8%|
|Rowan-Cabarrus Community College||$76 per credit hour||$268 per credit hour||15%|
|Vance-Granville Community College||$113 per credit hour||$306 per credit hour||12%|
|Harrisburg Area Community College||$184 per credit hour||$272 per credit hour||12%|
|Southern New Hampshire University||$320 per credit hour||$320 per credit hour||40%|
|Walden University||$280 per credit hour||$280 per credit hour||27%|
|University of Florida||$129 per credit hour||$129 per credit hour||88%|
What Is the Cheapest Online Certificate Program?
Arkansas State University
This public university has an affordable list of online certificate programs. The system is easy and straightforward, allowing students to easily submit assignments and collaborate in workshops. Online students get materials like students on campus such as technical support and a library.
Concordia University – St. Paul
This university offers a wide range of online certificate courses such as early childhood education, criminal justice POST certificate, business analytics, and leadership. The curriculum is career-focused, so students can pursue a career when they are finished. It uses a seven-week learning method and requires 15 credit hours.
Lamar University is another public school that offers online programs for working professionals. Some of the disciplines in this lineup include arts and sciences, fine arts, communication, engineering, counseling, education, and professional preparation. The classes are straightforward to ensure that students learn what they signed up for.
Wayne Community College
This community college is known for its online IT business support certificates and affordable tuition. Knowledge of some of these IT skills can help students transition to tech with ease. Some of the certificates in this university include cyber security concepts, business apps, windows operating systems, systems support, operating systems, and hardware support.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
This community college offers lots of accredited online programs, especially for information technology. Some popular academic programs include productivity software, database administration, Cisco networking, Windows administration, and security essentials. The online courses are completely remote with proctored exams.
Vance-Granville Community College
This college is one of the affordable programs with an online format with credit requirements, as well. Some popular programs include cyber security support, simulation software specialist, healthcare informatics, game design fundamentals, and Cisco networking. Certificate students will learn all they need in these accredited online programs.
Harrisburg Area Community College
This community college offers online certificate courses to students who want to learn computer information systems and concentrations to help online students customize their programs. You can choose the database analyst, support specialist, or business intelligence application developer track. Also, the 31 credit program can be used toward an undergraduate degree.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University is known for its wide array of online programs. It offers several online certificate programs in social science, arts, and design, liberal arts, cyber security, education, business, and health. The programs at Southern New Hampshire University use an asynchronous format with most finishing in eight weeks.
This university offers online certificate programs in education, early childhood studies, business management, accounting and finance, counseling, criminal justice, homeland security, health sciences, information systems and technology, psychology, and social entrepreneurship, among others. Students also enjoy access to career services.
University of Florida
University of Florida is also known for its online programs and has online certifications for both undergraduate and graduate students. Some of the programs specialize in design construction and planning, agricultural and life sciences, education, public health, engineering, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and journalism and communications.
Options to Help Pay for the Best Online Certificate Program
There are multiple ways to pay tuition and other associated costs for an online certificate program. They include applying for scholarships, paying in installments, and applying for a loan. Each of the options will be discussed briefly below.
Apply for Scholarships
Many online certificate programs do not qualify for federal aid. However, colleges and universities often offer scholarships that can cover a part of the tuition fees. The same applies to online course providers that are not formal institutions.
Paying in Installments
Some colleges might allow installment payments, based on their payment options. However, prospective students might need to contact the bursar’s office to see if the payment can be split into quarterly or monthly payments. This can go a long way to reducing the burden.
Take Out a Loan
The last option to consider is a loan to cover tuition and other associated costs. However, it’s important to research suitable loans from reputable companies. Some offer education loans to online students at a lower cost. This helps reduce the amount a student will have to repay in the future.
Tips for Saving Money While Attending Online Certificate Program
- Attend a public university or college. Private colleges and universities are often more expensive than public institutions. It is better to attend a public school to save money on tuition, even as an online learner.
- Transfer credit. Reducing the time spent learning will significantly reduce costs. Students can transfer credits from an accredited institution to reduce the time needed to complete their online certificate program.
- Apply for financial aid. Even though federal financial aid might not be readily available for prospective students, be sure to apply for other forms of financial aid within your reach. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is an excellent place to start.
- Find cheap books. Course materials, like books, add to the cost of online learning. It helps to find low-cost alternatives, such as second-hand or even free materials. Using the libraries associated with online schools may help. Public libraries can also carry textbooks.
- Volunteer. In some cases, colleges may award credit for work done in the past in military service, volunteer, or just prior work. You can show proof of your experience to benefit from this.
Find the Online Certificate Program That’s Right for You
Finding the best online certificate program can be tough, especially with so many factors to consider before choosing one. Nonetheless, an online certificate program can help usher you into a new field. It also gives you the flexibility to pursue other ventures as you learn.
Cheapest Online Certificate Program FAQ
The easiest certificates to get that pay well include STEM-related certificates. Some popular ones include cyber security, information technology, data analysis, graphic design, UX design, and software engineering.
You can earn a certificate in almost every discipline. There are programs for those who want to pursue careers in health, information technology, law, business, and more. You can also enroll in a vendor-offered certificate or an undergraduate certificate.
Data science certificate programs will earn you the most money. Data scientists earn around $126,830 in annual salary. Cyber security analysts also earn a competitive salary of $103,590 because the demand for these practical skills is high. If you want to earn a high salary through a certificate program, you should definitely focus on the tech industry.
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Yes, an online certificate program is worth it for people who have career goals or want to enter a new field within a short period of time. Asynchronous formats provide a chance to learn at a comfortable pace while balancing work and things like life and family commitments. An online certificate program is also a lot cheaper than a degree program.
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