Doane University is launching several new programs designed to provide students with cost- and time-effective educational experiences, whether they intend to enroll full-time in a bachelor’s degree, want to gain expertise in their career or are considering a career change. Professional Certificates are available online through Doane’s Open Learning Academy and are able to be completed in just one year.

Currently, students can choose Professional Certificates in the Principles of Agribusiness and Software Development, with more certificates planned for the future.

“We know that not everyone can commit to spending multiple years completing a bachelor’s program. Our certificates provide a bridge for students who want to quickly gain a foothold in their industry, upskill and move forward in their careers, or better understand the industries in which they work,” said Erin May, Doane’s director of extended learning opportunities.

Each certificate will range from 10-30 credits total, with multiple start dates offered throughout the year. Additionally, students won’t need to apply to Doane to enroll in a professional certificate. However, if students decide later to apply to the university for a bachelor’s degree, the credits they earned in completing the certificate will be applied toward their degree.

“We’re always trying to better serve our students,” said Dr. Jennifer Bossard, dean of the College of Business. “We began considering how to incorporate certificates several years ago as a way to support our degree-seeking students and really found that there’s a need for condensed, focused educational programs that allow employees to demonstrate knowledge and skills outside a traditional degree program.”

For example, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a study in May 2022 that showed 39 million Americans have received college credit, but did not complete a degree. Doane’s professional certificates open a new route for those Americans, as well as students across the world, who seek career-advancing knowledge and skills but don’t have the time or financial resources to pursue a full degree.

Certificates also open opportunities for employers to build a more knowledgeable workforce. Specifically in Nebraska, one in four jobs is related to agriculture, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“But we’re not graduating 25% of our students in ag-related programs,” said Pete Poppert, assistant professor of practice in agribusiness and chair of the Agribusiness Department at Doane. Poppert developed the 15-credit Professional Certificate in the Principles of Agribusiness to help employees working in ag-related jobs gain a better understanding of the industry.

The Software Development certificate was created for a similar reason — to provide a path for individuals to gain problem-solving and programming skills that can be applied in their current positions or help them transition to a new career. The 15-credit certificate was developed by Drs. Alec Engebretson and Mark Meysenburg, professors of computing.

"There is a great need for employees with software development skills throughout Nebraska and the region. This certificate will provide not only foundational skills, but will help participants create an individual professional development plan to continue on their career path," Engebretson said.

Additional certificates available to undergraduate and graduate students

Although the professional certificates are new to the Open Learning Academy, Doane began offering certificates earlier to benefit undergraduate and graduate students. Two — Leadership Studies and Entrepreneurship — are offered to students through Doane’s College of Business, with Entrepreneurship most recently added at the start of the Fall 2022 semester. It’s currently only offered to students enrolled on the Crete campus as it is taught in-person, but Leadership Studies is available to any Doane undergraduate student enrolled in Crete or Lincoln as an online program.

Doane’s College of Arts and Sciences also offers the Certificate in Integrated Humanities, Certificate in Data Analysis, and the Certificate in Information Technology and Security to undergraduate students. Next year, a Certificate in Spanish for Educators will be available, as well.

For graduate students, the College of Education offers certificates in both Social Emotional Learning and Community & Culture.

Additional information about the Professional Certificates, and all Doane certificate programs, is available online at Students interested in Doane’s undergraduate certificates can speak with their advisers or admissions counselors to learn more.