Jump to main content

Blue and gold banners hanging from the ceiling of the university center against a backdrop of windows

Board of Trustees Approves 12 New Certificate Programs

New certificates provide additional credentials in the areas of science, technology, education, art and the humanities.

In response to a growing demand for more flexible post-secondary education pathways, the University of Northern Colorado recently added 12 new certificate programs to its undergraduate and graduate academic portfolio. The programs, all of which were approved by the university’s Board of Trustees during their Feb. 23 meeting, make use of existing coursework and are either embedded in or stack directly toward existing undergraduate or graduate degree programs. 

“Each of the proposed certificate programs align with our institutional values, support career readiness or career progression for our students or are designed to directly or indirectly attract new students,” said Kirsten Fleming, executive vice president and provost.  

Many of the new programs also directly support opportunities identified in Colorado’s Commission on Higher Education five-year strategic plan, Building Skills for an Evolving Economy, including building stackable credentials of quality in critical occupations and aligning curriculum with industry needs. 

 The updated curriculum offerings come from four of UNC’s five colleges and provide additional credentials in the areas of science, technology, education, art and the humanities. 

  • New certificates from the College of Natural and Health Sciences
    • Three 12-credit-hour undergraduate certificates, one each in Botany, Wildlife and Zoology, are available to existing students in the Biological Sciences program. The new programming is prompted by requirements frequently listed in job postings with organizations such as the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. While many biology students already take some of the coursework in each of the new certificates, the added credential makes the qualifications immediately visible to employers and can help students choose a series of electives that are aligned to their specific career interests. 
    • Two 12-credit-hour undergraduate certificates, one in Computer Programming and one in Data Analytics, are available to undergraduate students in any degree program. The certificates bundle classes from two bachelor’s degree programs introduced last fall, Computer Science and Statistics. The coursework for each certificate can be folded into the university-wide electives area of any other undergraduate degree program, providing a significant additional career qualification that aligns with job skills that are in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information research scientists, of which programming is a significant component, is projected to grow 21% from 2021 through 2031. Additionally, according to a 2023 State of the Tech Workforce report from CompTIA, employment of data scientists and data analysts over the next decade is expected to grow by 266%. 
    • A 15-credit-hour graduate certificate in Sport Coaching from UNC’s Kinesiology, Nutrition and Dietetics department designed for middle and high school teacher-coaches and youth sport coaches who are interested in upgrading their skills and potentially earning higher salaries. According to Fleming, certificate holders would immediately qualify for a 15% pay increase in Weld County’s District 6. 
  • New certificates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Performing and Visual Arts 
    • An 18-credit-hour undergraduate Spanish for the Professions certificate from the World Languages and Cultures department for students in any degree program who want to include Spanish proficiency on their list of earned credentials. Among job postings reviewed in 2023, Spanish proficiency was listed as one of the most common “preferred” skills and it has been ranked as the most marketable language by far for those who have already learned English or are a native speaker. The coursework will focus on enabling Spanish language learners to communicate effectively on professional topics and tasks.  
    • A 12-credit-hour undergraduate Equity and Inclusion certificate from the Sociology department for students in any degree program who are interested in developing multiple frameworks and strategies for understanding, evaluating and cultivating diversity and equity in specific workplaces or public policy. According to reports from Indeed.com, since 2019 there has been a substantial rise in the demand for workers educated in diversity, inclusion and belonging.  
    • Two 18-credit-hour graduate certificates, one from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in History and the other from the College of Performing and Visual Arts in Art Studio. These certificates are ideal for individuals who want to gain the qualifications needed to teach college-level courses, either as instructors at colleges and universities or as dual or concurrent enrollment instructors in high schools. The credential will help individuals meet the increasing demand for dual/concurrent enrollment instruction. In Colorado alone, more than 50,000 high school students enroll in dual credit college courses every year. Additionally, in most school districts, the added credential meets the requirement of 15 or more hours of continuing education coursework necessary for an increase in teacher pay.  
  • New certificates from the Monfort College of Business
    • Two 15-credit-hour certificates, Human Resource Management and Project Management, are available for business professionals looking to expand their career pathways and potentially increase their salaries. The certificates are also directly stackable pathways to the full MBA at UNC, which would only require an additional 21 credits to complete. 

The board also heard an update from Tobias Guzmán, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the university’s recent campus climate survey. The survey aligns with one of the key actions in UNC’s 10-year strategic plan, Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, to create plans, structures and programs that foster an inclusive environment where all individuals feel welcomed and supported.  

Guzmán told the board that the university administered three surveys, one to collect aspects of the faculty experience, one to capture staff members’ perceptions of diversity and campus climate issues and one to capture student perceptions regarding the campus climate and student learning outcomes.  

The findings, which were analyzed by the Higher Education Research Institute, were presented along five different themes that emerged as relevant across the three groups of respondents: sense of belonging, relationships within and between groups, working and learning environment, safety and wellbeing, and culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Guzmán’s presentation also outlined specific opportunities that were identified under each theme, as well as information about efforts already underway in support of the themes. 

 While the survey results have been shared with governance groups across campus, Guzmán said the next steps include sharing the information with the greater university community in March through a fireside chat and the availability of an internal dashboard. The survey findings will be used later this summer to inform Phase 3 of the strategic plan and in the development of a multi-year DEI roadmap.  

Also on the agenda, which received unanimous approval from the board, was a nomination from UNC President Andy Feinstein to confer an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon local philanthropist and community leader Mr. Arlo Richardson during the university’s spring 2024 commencement.  

“Much like UNC’s focus on the betterment of our region and state, Mr. Richardson has spent most of his life living in and advocating for the Greeley community,” said Feinstein. “Arlo is an honest and humble leader. He is always learning and growing and has demonstrated his exemplary character and ability to be successful in a number of circumstances and industries. His curiosity and interest in asking questions are unique and are obvious reasons he has created so much success.  

“It is evident to me that Arlo is incredibly deserving of an honorary degree from UNC,” continued Feinstein. “Conferring it on him recognizes his numerous contributions to UNC and Greeley and honors the university as well. I consider him not only a friend of the university, but a friend of mine too.  Conferring this degree on him in May will be a privilege.” 

Other action items that were approved during the meeting included:  

  • Approval of the UNC’s Spring 2024 Facilities Comprehensive Plan, which is intended to provide guidance for future decisions related to UNC’s physical spaces and landscape. 
  • Approved setting the tuition for UNC’s proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine at $55 thousand per academic year for both resident and non-resident students. The figure, which is comparative to peer institutions and just below the national average of $56,947 per year, was determined following a national review of current tuition rates for colleges of osteopathic medicine, a review of current tuition rates at medical schools in the region and validation through consultation with Tripp Umbach, the national medical education consulting firm assisting with the development the UNC COM business plan. The tuition rate will remain unchanged until the first cohort graduates and the college receives full accreditation. 
  • Approved lowering the tuition rate for UNC’s RN to BSN program from $544 per credit hour to $350 per credit hour. The change will make UNC’s program more competitive with the price of similar programs offered at community colleges. In 2002, Colorado legislators passed the Community College Nursing Bachelor Degree Eligibility bill which allowed community colleges in Colorado to confer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing to students who have or are pursuing a practical nursing certificate.  

Review all agenda items from the Feb. 23, 2024, Board of Trustees meeting 

More Stories