2022 Guide: Online and In-Person Microdegrees

Looking to learn a new skill in less time than a traditional degree program? Consider a microdegree. Learn more about microdegree programs, online and in-person, to determine whether this compact, skill-based learning style is right for your career goals. Use this Campus Explorer guide to learn more about these program offerings today.

What Are Microdegree Programs Online and In-Person?

A traditional degree program takes between two and four years to offer you a certificate, bachelor’s degree, or postgraduate degree. A microdegree program, however, is designed to be completed in a year or less.

These programs aren’t typically accredited, so you won’t see a microdegree as part of the entry-level education requirements for a position in a company. Instead, these courses offer hands-on learning opportunities that target a specific skill.

Microdegrees are offered exclusively online. Many are offered by nontraditional educational providers, but some accredited colleges and universities offer similar courses. While you won’t typically receive an accredited degree, these programs offer certificates, badges, and other documents showing you successfully completed the course.

The most popular microdegrees are in the field of computer science. An online, skill-based learning environment lends itself well to learning these skills:

  • Programming
  • App development
  • Cybersecurity
  • Supply chain management
  • Data science
  • Entrepreneurship

Costs vary considerably in these courses. Many providers offer free options, with or without a certificate of completion. Other courses are paid, but typically cost less than a college course.

Look for courses that match your current skill level. If you’re already a computer programmer, you may not get much value out of a programming boot camp. You can typically find introductory, intermediate, and expert courses on your chosen field of study.

Microdegrees are focused on a particular set of skills, not a career. You may be able to strengthen your application by demonstrating your newly learned skills, but don’t expect a microdegree certificate alone to help you reach the minimum qualifications for your chosen career.

How Much Do Microdegree Programs Cost?

The skill level, chosen skill, and program provider all affect the cost of your microdegree program. Some programs are free, but many cost between $600 and $1,400. Expect your microdegree to take between one month and one year to complete. Review entry requirements for a microdegree as you consider the best program for your situation.

Average Salary for a Microdegree Holders?

A microdegree in itself may not qualify you for a position. The skills you learn, however, can help you create a competitive application or improve your efficiency in your current role. The most popular microdegree programs help you compete for the following careers and salary expectations.

Supply chain management microdegree holders learn some of the logistical skills used by logisticians. These professionals earned a 2020 median annual pay of approximately $76,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS.

Computer programming is another popular course offering, and programmers earned a median pay of $89,200 in 2020. Information security analysts earned about $103,600 in 2020, according to BLS.

Consider a microdegree in software development to compete for a role as a software developer. Developers earned a median pay of approximately $110,100 in 2020. Data scientists earned a median annual wage of $98,200 in the same year.

Most positions in these careers require a bachelor’s degree, and some require previous work experience. A microdegree won’t help you with these requirements, but it can help you pass a skill-based application.

What Is the Job Outlook for Microdegree Holders?

The positions related to the most popular microdegrees are expected to grow as fast or faster than the national average. You can expect about 22% growth in the number of software developer job openings from 2019 to 2029. The number of logistician jobs is expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029. Jobs for information security analysts, however, are expected to grow by an impressive 31% in the same time frame. 

Courses in Microdegree Programs

Unlike a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree program, a microdegree program targets a single topic or skill to study and practice. Many microdegree program students choose to take multiple courses to broaden their skills or move toward mastery in a specific area.

Consider taking a course that relates to your current career or your desired career. You can study virtually any academic discipline or skill set, but these are some of the most popular microdegree programs:

  • Data science
  • Computer science
  • Business
  • Personal development
  • Language learning
  • Engineering
  • Sciences
  • Arts and humanities

Courses are often ranked based on student ratings and other features. Some are self-paced and can be completed quickly, while others offer a more structured learning atmosphere.

You may need to show proof of previous experience or degrees in a particular subject to enroll. Some microdegree programs are only available for bachelor’s degree holders or professionals with the necessary experience to dive into a fast-paced, advanced course. Others take the form of a boot camp for first-time students.

FAQs on Microdegree Programs Online and In-Person

What Jobs Require a Microdegree?

A microdegree by itself may not qualify you for a specific career. You may be able to demonstrate the necessary skills to apply as a computer programmer, logistician, information security analyst, or data scientist.

Does a Microdegree Offer Good Job Prospects?

The careers associated with the skills you learn in a microdegree program are expected to grow faster than the national average. They also offer competitive median salaries.

What Are the Different Fields of Microdegree Programs?

Microdegree programs tend to focus on computer science topics, but you can take a course in virtually any skill or topic of study you wish.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Microdegree Degree?

Most courses can be completed in a few months. Some take as little as one month, while others take over one year to complete.

What Does a Microdegree Program Curriculum Typically Include?

Because these programs aren’t reviewed by an accreditation institution, they vary considerably in course content. Some use video lectures, while others focus almost entirely on hands-on activities.

Summary Information

  • Standard and self-paced programs available.
  • Programs can typically be completed in one to 12 months.
  • Popular concentrations include programming, supply chain management, and cybersecurity.

  • Provides skill-based education in the high-growth technology industry.
  • Prepares students and professionals to take on specific tasks in cybersecurity, programming, or other careers.
  • Can be completed in as little as one month.

  • Programs can be free.
  • Many programs cost between $600 and $1,400.
  • Costs vary considerably between educational providers and institutions.

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