FAQs for Departments and Faculty
- What is a capstone Certificate?
- What is the difference between a Capstone Certificate and a graduate degree or other kinds of certificates?
- Can international students be admitted to capstone programs?
- How long does it take to complete a Capstone Certificate?
- Does Capstone Certificate coursework count toward a graduate degree?
- What is the tuition for Capstone programs?
- Are Capstone students eligible for financial assistance as non-degree students?
- I am interested in developing a new Capstone Certificate. What is the process?
- What happens when a student has completed all of the requirements for a Capstone Certificate?
- Who are my contacts for questions about Capstone Certificates?
Capstone Certificates are a focused collection of courses that, when completed, afford the student a record of coherent academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines. Capstone Certificate programs do not lead to the conferral of a degree. Students are awarded certificates to designate completion of a well-defined program of coursework. Capstone Certificates are recorded on the student’s UW-Madison transcript.
Capstone Certificates are intended to offer innovative programs that will serve the educational needs of specialized groups of non-traditional students and working professionals. Applicants must have completed a minimum of baccalaureate degree or its equivalent; several certificates require a minimum of a master’s or other advanced degree to be eligible for admission. Students seek a certificate to enhance their prior training, and are often professionals returning to school for specialized education and skill-building in the area of the certificate.
A list of all UW-Madison Capstone Certificates with links to program descriptions and requirements can be found at: http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/capstone.
What is the difference between a Capstone Certificate and a graduate degree or other kinds of certificates?
The use of the term “certificate” on the UW-Madison campus can be confusing. As a general rule, a “certificate” is sometimes viewed to be like a “minor,” i.e. denoting a specialization within a major. The biggest distinction between a Capstone Certificate and other kind of certificates offered at UW-Madison is that Capstone Certificate students are post-baccalaureate Special and not degree-seeking students. Even though Capstone Certificate coursework is graduate-level, Capstone Certificate students have not been admitted to the Graduate School, nor will their studies lead to a graduate degree or graduate certificate: graduate certificates may only be earned by degree-seeking graduate students. By definition, students may not be simultaneously enrolled in both a Graduate and a Capstone Certificate program.
You may also hear the term “capstone” in reference to finishing projects or courses within undergraduate majors. These are not the same as the Capstone Certificate programs.
Capstone certificates that wish to admit international students must get approval from the US government. International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are required to enroll full-time during their studies in the US. International students need an F-1 or J-1 visa to legally study in the US. There are currently only three UW-Madison capstone programs which have been approved by the US government for the issuance of the required visa documentation: Actuarial Sciences, French Studies and Geographic Information Systems. These programs are full-time programs. The other capstone programs currently offered by UW-Madison are either part-time programs or they have not yet been approved for study for international students. If a Capstone Certificate is fully online (the students never need to be in the U.S.), then these restrictions do not apply.
If you are interested in admitting international students, you will work with Continuing Studies and International Student Services to start the approval process.
The number of credits and the length of time necessary to complete Capstone Certificates vary by program. Most consist of 12-16 graduate credits, and can be completed in a year. Most are designed so that students can attend part time while working and several are offered in alternative delivery modes such as evening/weekend or on-line.
It depends on the graduate program. Students who have completed a Capstone Certificate and wish to apply those credits to a graduate degree must apply and be accepted into the Graduate School, and request the individual graduate program to which they are applying to accept the credits. Even if the degree program applies the credits earned in the Capstone Certificate to the graduate degree program, the student must still earn at least 16 credits in the designated program of study while enrolled as a graduate student.
As a general rule, Capstone Certificate students pay graduate tuition rates.
Capstone students are not eligible for federal financial aid, but are generally eligible for private educational loans. In addition, some programs have other sources of financial support for students. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid http://finaid.wisc.edu/ and your program to explore the options.
Start by contacting Katy Duren in the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS). She can provide you with resources and templates to guide you through the process. Academic approval and oversight of all capstone certificates resides with the Graduate School and its Graduate Faculty Executive Committee. The process, guidelines, and standards for obtaining academic approval of a capstone certificate can be found here: http://apir.wisc.edu/uapc/Certificates_CAPSTONE_Guidelines_V.April.19.2012_R.pdf
Within these guidelines, academic departments are responsible for determining the content, criteria for admission, the required number of credits, and all other academic issues related to the Capstone Certificate program.
Because Capstone programs are administered by DCS rather than the Graduate School, the Capstone programs have greater flexibility with admissions standards and processes, term deadlines, etc. Capstone students are University Special (non-degree) students therefore admission, enrollment, and other Dean’s office functions for capstone programs are administered by Adult Career & Special Student Services (ACSSS) within DCS. Academic departments are required to have a Capstone program administrator who will be the primary contact for ACSSS staff regarding the admission and enrollment process. Although the application is completed through the standard special student process, the decision to admit students to the Capstone Certificate program is made by the academic department which houses the Capstone Certificate. The academic department is responsible for collecting any materials from the student (beyond the special student application) which may be required to make their decision. Capstone students enroll at the same time as Graduate students.
The department is responsible for monitoring the progress of the Capstone students. When a student has completed all of the requirements for the Capstone Certificate, the departmental program administrator must notify the degree audit department in the Registrar’s office so that the Registrar’s office can post the Capstone Certificate on the student’s transcript. If the department wishes to provide a physical certificate of completion for the student, they may do so.
Start by contacting Katy Duren in the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS). She can provide you with resources and templates to guide you through the process. Academic approval and oversight of all capstone certificates resides with the Graduate School and its Graduate Faculty Executive Committee. The process, guidelines, and standards for obtaining academic approval of a capstone certificate can be found here:
Administrative Dean’s Office – Division of Continuing Studies
You can contact either Jane Schimmel or Katy Duren with any questions you might have:
Student Services and Admissions
|Program Planning, Budget, and Policy
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Division of Continuing Studies
21 N. Park Street, Room 7254
Phone: (608) 263-5114
Fax: (608) 265-2901
Questions about academic approval process or policies can be directed to:
Dir. of Academic Planning & Analysis
Office of the Provost
169 Bascom Hall
Phone: (608) 263-5658
Posting Capstone Certificates to Student Transcript