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Certificates Count and That’s Good for Business and Students

A Briefing Focused on the Increasing Value of Proven Certificate Programs and Improving College Completion Rates

On December 7 CED and Complete College America on Tuesday, hosted a forum and webcast at the National Press Club on how certificate programs are proven and efficient – but underutilized – pathways to student success and lucrative careers, especially for those who are underprepared for traditional college degree programs.

CED announced its $1.5 million grant award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a business engagement initiative around the important issues in postsecondary education and recruit advocates for reform at the national and state levels.


  • Stan Jones, President, Complete College America
  • Charles Kolb, President, Committee for Economic Development
  • Brian Bosworth, President, Futureworks and author of Certificates Count
  • Dr. Martha Smith, President, Ann Arundel Community College
  • Stephen M. Wing, President, Corporate Voices for Working Families


Complete College America’s new findings prove that certificate programs of one year or more provide graduates with the right balance of rapid post-secondary achievement and portable skills and knowledge, positioning them for immediate success and establishing solid foundations for future academic achievement. And they pay off: graduates with certificates in high-demand fields can often earn more than those with associate or even Bachelor’s degrees.

While many states effectively utilize certificates as part of a broad-based public post-secondary education strategy, most states can do better. To secure America’s competitiveness and make our country a leader again in post-secondary attainment, states must ensure their certificate programs are high quality, readily available, lead to good jobs in high-demand fields, and built for completion.

Complete College America believes that to significantly boost America’s post-secondary graduation rate we must reinvent higher education to meet the needs of the new American majority of students who must balance the jobs they need with the education they desire. For many students, certificate programs are the perfect solution, providing essential pathways to achievement on campus and in careers.

Together, the 24 members of Complete College America’s Alliance of States are now setting goals, measuring progress, demanding results, and designing new approaches to produce more graduates. Please join this important discussion on high-quality certificates on Tuesday, December 7th – and then our vital efforts across America.