At Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, Certificates and Certifications of Professional Achievement (CPAs) are structured non-degree programs comprised of a number of credit-bearing University courses. SPS develops most Certificates and CPAs in conjunction with other University departments and degree programs.

Several of these Certificates and Certifications of Professional Achievement are specifically appropriate for graduate school preparation. All options offer access to Columbia's world-renowned academic community that includes top-rated professors, state-of-the-art facilities, and student peers who will challenge and engage you.

If you are unsure whether one of these offerings fits your specific needs, the Non-Degree Programs team can help you chart the right path to achieve your goals.


Certificate programs offer a focused form of advanced study that can be as intensive as a degree program. They are appropriate for graduate school preparation and career advancement. Advanced Certificates can lead to gainful employment without the need to complete a full degree program.

The number of credits required to complete a Certificate program varies depending on the outlined curriculum, but typically falls within the range of 24–28 points (about 8 courses). For Certificate conferral, you must complete an Application for Certificate through the Office of the University Registrar. Following conferral, you may request an official transcript detailing your course of study and your grades. All Certificate holders qualify for Columbia alumni benefits and international Certificate holders may be eligible for F1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Advanced Graduate Certificate in Business

For bachelor’s degree holders and business professionals, the Advanced Certificate in Business combines the four classes from the Business Certification with an additional four courses covering more advanced topics.
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You will gain academic and laboratory experience required for applicants to the most competitive master’s programs in the field at Columbia and elsewhere. The course plan is also useful for those interested in a career change or likely to work in fields that interact with the biotechnology industry, such as business or law. It is best for students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in biotechnology and want to strengthen their qualifications. If you are a college graduate, this program will give you the background in biology required to pursue further study in biotechnology.
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Advanced Graduate Certificate in Classics

Hone your linguistic skills in preparation for doctoral academic programs. The curriculum focuses on language comprehension in Ancient Greek and Latin with classes that range from beginner to advanced. Having these skills at your disposal will give you a deeper understanding of classical texts in their original language. You can apply these skills to further studies in ancient history, art history, philosophy, religion and medieval studies, as well as a host of English-based linguistics career choices.
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Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology

This program will help you develop skills in the core sciences related to environmental biology such as chemistry, biology, earth sciences, statistics, and conservation biology; as well as advanced class work in ecology, evolution, organismal biology or environmental policy. You will be exposed to theoretical and practical applications of these subject areas in the classroom and lab to prepare you for highly competitive graduate programs.
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You will have access to the same introductory, intermediate, and advanced psychology courses taken by Columbia's undergraduate psychology majors and gain essential research experience necessary for research-oriented Ph.D. programs in psychology from top-tier graduate programs. This program is offered for college graduates who did not major in psychology but who want graduate school preparation in the field.
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Quantitative Studies for Finance

This program will prepare you for graduate study in mathematics and statistics of finance and financial engineering. The curriculum will help you strengthen your background in mathematics and statistics for this purpose.
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Certifications of Professional Achievement

Offering introductory study that is less intensive than a Certificate, Certifications of Professional Achievement (CPAs) can be an ideal entry point to pursuing a subject of interest or for career development or advancement.

For these non-degree programs, students complete at least four courses totaling 12 points for a CPA. If you are pursuing a CPA affiliated with a master’s degree program at SPS, you may be able to apply that coursework toward the degree program, but in doing so, you forfeit your ability to obtain the CPA, as coursework at Columbia cannot be applied toward the completion of more than one program. For certification conferral, you must complete an Application for Certification of Professional Achievement through the School of Professional Studies. Following conferral, you may request an official transcript detailing your grades.

Actuarial Science

Prepare for industry exams, develop your business and communication skills, and network with leading actuaries via a highly interactive online platform.
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You will gain a structured understanding of ethical and social history as it concerns biomedical work and research. The curriculum has been specially designed for pre-med and pre-law students looking to strengthen their graduate school application and for busy professionals with an advanced degree who need to further their knowledge of the complex framework for bioethics that incorporates philosophy, history, law, sociology, economics, and religion.
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Critical Issues in International Relations

Offered by the School of Professional Studies and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, this program provides understanding of the basic analytical issues, theoretical approaches, history, and policy debates in international relations.

Enterprise Risk Management

Inform better risk-reward decisions by providing a more complete, robust, and integrated picture of both upside and downside volatility across the entire enterprise.
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Human Rights

The study of human rights at Columbia University emphasizes the interaction between human rights theory and practice, and requires you to approach the issues from multiple angles. You will have the opportunity to explore human rights both inside and outside the classroom. Classes focus on economics, gender, and legal issues relating to the international struggle for human rights. It is offered by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University through the School of Professional Studies.

Narrative Medicine

With the academic study of Narrative Medicine, you will be a pioneer in a field committed to improving the quality of healthcare worldwide. The Narrative Medicine Certification program will educate a leadership corps of health professionals, writers, and scholars who seek to imbue patient care and professional education with the skills and values of narrative understanding.
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Sustainability Analytics

As sustainability and cost-effective business practices are adopted across the global marketplace, the application of analytics to complex sustainability data provides strategic value for organizations worldwide. The courses focus on key topics in reporting, accounting, metrics, and indices, as well as monitoring procedures.
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Sustainable Finance

Obtain sophisticated training at the nexus of sustainability and financial management through the concepts of sustainability economics, investment, accounting, risk management, and communication.
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Sustainable Water Management

You will gain experience with hydrology, water policy and regulation, economics, finance and conflict resolution in the classroom and the lab. The program is designed to provide sophisticated and multidisciplinary training in water issues—the nexus of natural science, social science and public policy. Students learn skills applicable to a wide-range of professions including urban planning, manufacturing, sanitation, and NGO professionals domestic and abroad. This program is designed for sustainability professionals looking for specialized skills in water management.
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United Nations Studies

The program allows students to explore the role of the United Nations Security Council in international peacekeeping and the U.N.’s economic development activities. It is jointly offered by Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and the School of Professional Studies.