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Portland Fashion Institute is a nationally accredited private nonprofit career institute of higher learning and Portland’s only accredited fashion design college.

What’s the Difference Between Certificate and Degree Programs?

Here at PFI, if you are ready to prepare yourself for a career in the fashion and apparel industry, one of our 3 certificate programs may be for you. One of the most common questions we get from potential students is:

“What’s the Difference Between Certificate and Degree Programs?”

Good question, right?

Whichever path you choose, the one that best fits your life situation and goals is the right choice! Whether you want to expand your career skills, or learn how to think clearly and critically, college can be a useful option. With so many programs available, though, it might be difficult to choose one. In general, you could enter a certificate program if you want to learn a cluster of career-specific skills or a degree program if you want a well-rounded education with the opportunity to specialize in a particular field.

About Certificate Programs and Degree Programs

Both certificate and degree programs are designed to focus on and teach you about a specific subject. In PFIs case, we are all about fashion, apparel and the business skills needed to succeed in this industry – nothing more, nothing less.

The education you’ll receive in either a certificate program or a degree type of program can prepare you to enter a career field or give you a competitive advantage in your current career. There are differences between the two, however; certificate programs tend to be shorter, cost less and cover a more specific range of subject matter.

Differences in Length

In general, a certificate program will take you less time to complete because you won’t have to meet general education requirements in addition to subject-area requirements. For example, you could earn a certificate in one to two years, whereas you’d need at least two years to complete an associate’s degree program and four years for a bachelor’s degree.

Differences in Uses

You might enter a certificate program if you’d like to learn additional skills to change careers or update skills in your field. Certificate programs are very narrow in scope, focusing on a specific subject, like Apparel Designer, Apparel Technical Designer, or an Apparel Entrepreneur. While degree programs also allow you to add to your current skill set, you’d be given a broader education, one that could prepare you for several careers instead of one specific position. Certificate programs are sometimes used by professionals to keep their licenses or certifications up to date as well.

Differences in Cost

Because you’ll have to complete a smaller number of courses to earn a certificate, you probably won’t pay as much tuition.

We hope this helps explain the differences between going for a degree program or a certificate. Both have their advantages; choose the option that best fits your goals and your life!