Certificate vs. MA

The Certificate might be the best choice if you:

  • have little to no experience in professional writing or communication
  • are still uncertain about your skills in professional writing and communication
  • are looking for a quick way to gain credentials in writing or communication for a job or career change
  • are limited in time and finances

The MA in English/Professional Writing might be the best choice if you:

  • are certain that you want to pursue a career in the fields of professional writing or communication
  • are hoping to qualify for jobs in one of these fields that would be above the entry level with a higher salary
  • are willing to invest more than a year in gaining the credentials to pursue jobs at a higher level that would require some amount of independent or team work that involves leadership and management responsibilities

You might also consider the following:

  • Our MA program in English/Professional Writing has a 100% placement rate. We have also placed at least a dozen Certificate students in writing-related jobs, but because these students arrive on the job market with fewer credentials, they can encounter challenges when competing with students who have a BA or MA in the field.
  • A number of local and regional employers have a great respect for the quality of our MA program, so they seek out students with MA’s more than students with the Certificate.
  • At all levels—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally—a MA degree will have more weight and prestige on the job market than a BA degree or a graduate certificate.

Moving from the Certificate to the MA in English with an emphasis in Professional Writing

Some students begin with the Certificate program, love what they are learning, and decide to apply for the MA degree program in Professional Writing or Communication. In the UW system, students can transfer up to six credits (typically two courses) of Certificate coursework into the MA program. For example, you might decide that you want to earn both the Certificate and the MA in Professional Writing or you might begin the Certificate, change your mind, and decide instead to earn a MA degree. If you are in either situation, once you are accepted into the MA program, you will be eligible to transfer six credits of graduate courses taken during your Certificate program into your MA program.

Earning both the Certificate and the MA degree

Some students decide right away to work toward both the Certificate and the MA degree. This is possible to do; however, it is important to keep in mind that you can count only two courses toward both programs.

Starting with the MA program

Some students decide right away to apply for the MA degree program. If this is your decision, note that you will need to apply for special nondegree student status in order to begin taking courses for graduate credit that you can transfer to the MA program once you are accepted. Students are allowed to transfer up to four courses that they have taken at UWM for graduate credit into the MA program, but only two courses that they have taken in a completed Certificate program may transfer into the MA program.