Navigating the Non-Degree Landscape: Options to Advance Professionally & Academically for Healthcare Professionals

A female nurse walking up stairs

Certificates, continuing education units, certifications, short-term courses, professional licensures – just a few of the educational and professional offerings that occupy the non-degree space in today's educational landscape.

But what do they all mean, and what’s the value to you — the working professional - as you explore educational options?  How can they help you get ahead and become unstoppable in your healthcare career and the year ahead?!

Non-degree options are any programs, courses, bootcamps, certificates that do not result in a degree. They may be short-term non-credit programs, or a credit-bearing certificate program. Non-degree programs can help you increase knowledge or improve work-related skills quickly and efficiently, or even add a new healthcare specialty, enter a completely new healthcare field or career. Ideally, a non-degree program could help you advance in your healthcare career and make you a better candidate and employee, or potentially earn a promotion or increase pay. A 2021 Strada study noted that, “Individuals with nondegree credentials are more likely than those without to report their degrees were worth the cost, make them attractive job candidates, and helped them achieve their goals.”

You may want to explore non-degree programs purely for personal enrichment, because you’re a lifelong learner, or to gain a new skill or explore a hobby. Nothing is stopping you from starting a program as soon as you’re ready - programs often have multiple start dates throughout the year and can be an ideal way to take the first step into a new academic or career area without committing to an entire degree program.

Non-degree options may also present the ideal opportunity to enter the high-need healthcare field without earning a 4-year degree. Indeed (2022) notes several jobs in the healthcare field, including Medical Assistant or Patient Care Technician, for which a degree is not necessary.  These non-degree programs, along with others, are offered through the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Increasingly employers are moving beyond traditional degrees in higher education to include certificates, certifications and other trainings in their tuition reimbursement programs. “The work to upskill is all about retention, career mobility and building future leaders,” (Forbes 2022). At EdAssist, we’re fortunate to have partners in its education network committed to offering you a variety of high quality, flexible non-degree offerings through their workforce benefits.

Just a few of the non-degree offerings at partner institutions* include: 

eCornell, Cornell University’s external education unit provides over 200 non-credit executive development and online certificate programs. Certificate start dates are year-round and many can be completed in just 3-4 courses. Subjects are wide-ranging, and include areas like Wellness Counseling, Executive Healthcare Leadership, Public Health Essentials, and more.

Excelsior University now offers two new graduate certificates in the Health Sciences:

The Graduate Certificate in Public Health Equity is designed to provide skills you need to investigate public health issues, make data-driven decisions, provide public health education, and improve population health outcomes. With the Graduate Certificate in Nutrition, students will learn important skills in nutrition and health promotion, with an emphasis on access and equity.

Penn State World Campus offers several certificate programs in the healthcare field at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. You can explore the opportunities available in nursing, hospital and health system preparedness and diversity studies. Certificates provide valuable information as well as resume-building credentials in a condensed 3-5 course program that can be completed in a year. The nursing options cover topics such as administration, education, forensics, informatics and management.

Quinnipiac University Cybersecurity in Healthcare badge courses focus on managing and protecting sensitive data within hospitals and health systems. Designed for working professionals badge courses cover topics including Hands-on HIPAA Risk Compliance, Hands-On HIPAA Security Risk Analysis and Risk Management, and Enterprise Cybersecurity Risk Management in Healthcare. Quinnipiac also offers a range of certificate programs such as Spanish Language for Medical Professionals (undergraduate and graduate) and Advanced Diagnostic Imaging (graduate).

University Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) now offers 30+ entry level healthcare certification programs in high-demand areas such as medical assistant, Patient Care Technician, EKG Technician, pharmacy technician, and many more. These programs are fully online and about 4-6 months in length and require about 16-20 hours a week of work.

At EdAssist, we believe you are unstoppable in your career and your education. EdAssist is here to support you as you explore any non-degree options.  If you have any specific questions related to your organization’s education program, please see details provided on your education benefit homepage or reach out to our coaching team and / or contact us via LiveChat.

*Some providers in the Education Network may not be eligible under your employer’s program guidelines. Please consult your employer policy to confirm which providers and programs will be eligible for tuition benefits.



A female nurse walking up stairs

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