Western Kentucky University is increasing the number of opportunities to earn certificates in response to a recent executive order by Governor Matt Bevin. That order provides scholarships to those seeking a certificate without pursuing an associate degree.
Certificates are credentials that lead to a workforce job and can be earned with a degree or as a stand-alone credential. Those wanting a certificate must complete a minimum of 12 hours of classes.
WKU Communications Department Head Helen Sterk believes an increase in certificates will allow students and professionals the opportunity to increase their skills for a specific job.
“I see the benefits from the point of view of a liberal arts professor because that’s where my area is,” Sterk said. “A lot of our students are extremely well prepared to write, to speak and think critically. But there not extremely well prepared to sit down in front of a computer and run a social media campaign.”
Although financial aid covers the completion of certificates, WKU students are sometimes discouraged from pursuing them, and are instead encouraged to complete a traditional major and minor course of study.
Sylvia Gaiko is the Associate Vice President for Planning and Program Development at WKU. She believes that offering certificates will give students an additional option when registering for classes.
“I always hope that the student is not just looking at employment but what they’re really good at and what will support them,” Gaiko said. “Maybe an art degree with a middle eastern studies certificate so maybe they’re art is focusing on middle eastern studies that would give them another focus.”
The WKU policy committee is still working on the details of the curriculum change and will need the approval of Provost David Lee prior to implementation in the 2018-19 catalog year.