Stackable Graduate Certificate Programs

Stackable graduate certificate programs provide students with the opportunity to earn a transcript-recognized, non-degree credential for completing a structured sequence of courses.  These programs are specifically designed to meet identified workforce needs and to provide students with skills and knowledge that will be useful for their lives and careers. Following a student’s successful application and admission to a degree-seeking program, certificate coursework may be used to satisfy the requirements of a Master’s degree, thus creating a stackable pathway towards degree.

Stackable graduate certificates are available to individuals who have been admitted to the University as either degree-seeking or non-degree seeking graduate students.

Students who are enrolled in a graduate degree program at UT Austin:

  • May apply for admission through the academic unit sponsoring the certificate.

Students who are enrolled as non-degree seeking graduate students at UT Austin:

  • Have some certificate programs available to them.
  • Persons who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher may apply for admission to those programs by submitting required materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Each graduate certificate program is sponsored and administered by a Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). The GSC is responsible for:

  • Determining the program curriculum;
  • Publishing a program description in the Graduate Catalog;
  • Processing applications for admission;
  • Tracking and evaluating student progress, and;
  • Reporting program completion to the Graduate School.


Certificate program requirements are described in the Graduate Catalog section of the academic unit sponsoring the program. The general requirements described below set a minimum standard; however, individual programs may impose additional requirements.

  • To earn a stackable graduate certificate, students must complete 9-15 hours of graduate-level coursework that has been approved by the program faculty.
  • All coursework used to satisfy program requirements must be completed within a 6-year period with a grade of “C” or higher.
  • In addition, students must earn a grade point average of at least 3.00 in courses used to satisfy certificate requirements.
  • All courses must be graduate level.  Upper-division undergraduate courses may not be used to satisfy graduate certificate requirements.
  • Non-degree seeking students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program must complete all program requirements in residence at UT Austin.
  • Degree-seeking students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of coursework required for a stackable graduate certificate in residence at UT Austin. With the approval of the GSC administering a stackable graduate certificate program, and except where otherwise limited by the 9-hour residency requirement, a maximum of 20% of the total hours required for the graduate certificate, rounded up to the next nearest integer, may be satisfied through the application of approved graduate transfer coursework. Transfer credit must meet the standards outlined in the Graduate Catalog.
  • Students may not use a single course to satisfy requirements for more than one certificate; i.e., no ‘double counting.’
  • Students receive recognition on the University transcript at the end of the semester when requirements of the graduate certificate are completed. Some programs may require simultaneous awarding of the graduate certificate and degree

Graduate Catalog

A list of stackable certificate programs is published in the Graduate Catalog.

Additional Specifications

  • Stackable graduate certificates involve courses offered within a single area of study.
  • Although certification for completion of a graduate certificate is independent of the requirements for a student’s degree program, courses included in the major or supporting areas of work for the degree may be counted toward completion of a stackable graduate certificate.
  • Coursework eligible for inclusion in a graduate certificate is selected by the Graduate Studies Committee administering the program.
  • Graduate certificates may be offered in a variety of delivery platforms; i.e., face-to-face, online, and hybrid program delivery.
  • Stackable graduate certificates may be delivered as formula-funded (Option I) programs or non-formula-funded (Option III) programs.
  • Degree-seeking graduate students may seek a stackable graduate certificate within or outside their primary area of study/major.
  • Graduate School policy allows a maximum of 6 hours of graduate coursework taken in non-degree status to be applied to graduate degree requirements.  The Graduate School will, upon the request and recommendation of a Graduate Studies Committee, allow the greater of 18 credit hours or 50% of the total hours required for a degree to be satisfied with coursework completed for a graduate certificate while the student was enrolled in non-degree status inclusive of: 1) transfer credits (maximum of 6 credit hours), 2) undergraduate credit hours reserved for graduate credit (maximum of 12 credit hours) and, 3) credit hours accrued as a non-degree seeking student.
  • Each graduate certificate program shall be reviewed on a regular schedule, along with associated graduate degrees.
  • Because graduate certificates do not incur expenses normally associated with the development and implementation of new graduate degree programs, the cost to deliver graduate certificates should be modest.

Additional Considerations for Non-degree Seeking Certificate Students

  • Non-degree seeking students who are admitted to the University for the purpose of earning a stackable graduate certificate will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid. Review the additional considerations for non-degree seeking certificate students.

Understanding the Differences Between Graduate Portfolios & Stackable Graduate Certificates

Graduate Portfolios

  • Portfolios are restricted to degree-seeking graduate students. 
  • Portfolios are certified when the student’s degree is conferred. 
  • Portfolios are certified as a transcript degree notation. If a student doesn’t complete their degree requirements, they do not receive portfolio certification. 
  • Portfolios are interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on courses and faculty from multiple graduate programs. 
  • Portfolios are governed/administered by a director and steering committee that includes representation from the participating programs. 
  • Portfolios require completion of 9-15 SCH of UT Austin graduate coursework. Two of the courses (6 SCH) must be offered by graduate programs outside of the student’s primary area of study. 
  • Portfolio programs require legislation and approval through the Graduate Assembly, Graduate Dean, Provost. 
  • Portfolio completion is not reported to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). 
  • Portfolio programs must be listed in the Graduate Catalog prior to implementation. 

Stackable Graduate Certificates

  • Stackable graduate certificates require completion of 9-15 SCH of approved graduate coursework in a single discipline/field of study. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates are available to degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates earned by degree-seeking students allow for a limited amount of transfer credit. 
  • Students receive recognition on the University transcript at the end of the semester when requirements of a stackable graduate certificate program are completed. If a degree-seeking student doesn’t complete their degree requirements, they can still receive a transcript reflecting completed stackable graduate certificates. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates are offered in specified disciplines or fields of study. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates are sponsored and administered by the Graduate Studies Committee associated with the given discipline/field of study. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates require legislation and approval through the Graduate Assembly, Graduate Dean, Provost. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates do not require approval by or reporting to the THECB. 
  • Stackable graduate certificates must be listed in Graduate Catalog prior to implementation.