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Is It Better to Get a Certificate or a Degree?

by Sessions Staff | March 7, 2023

Is It Better to Get a Certificate or a Degree

If you’re starting to seriously consider pursuing an education and taking the steps necessary toward turning your passion into a creative career you may find yourself wrestling with the decision of whether to get a certificate or a degree. Like any creative problem, there are many possible solutions. To arrive at the best answer for you it’s important to first understand yourself and your creative goals.

What is it you’re hoping to achieve with your studies? Are you simply exploring an interest, maybe looking to add some additional skills to your resume, or are you looking to build the foundation from which to launch a lifelong creative career? Understanding what exactly you hope to gain from the program and what sorts of opportunities you plan to pursue after completing your studies should be the primary factors in deciding between a certificate and a degree.

Is It Better to Get a Degree or a Certificate?

The main difference between any certificate and degree program is depth. Due to its shorter length, a certificate will provide students with a more general knowledge of the subject. Depending on your goals, this may be all you need to get started. Degree programs, being longer, provide students with more time to develop their artistic sensibilities and technical skills, as well as more time to interact with teachers and fellow students and build their professional network.

This is why the answer to whether a certificate or a degree is better depends on your personal career goals. For example, if you are a complete beginner to the world of photography but are looking to gain just enough skills and knowledge to land you the role of a photography assistant, and to do so in as little time as possible, a certificate might be the better choice. In some cases, a certificate may be all you need to qualify for entry-level jobs and get your foot in the door. In other cases, certificates make a great addition to your existing resume, helping to supplement the skills and experience you already have and can be a great tool for facilitating a career change. In any case, a certificate may make all the difference when it comes to giving you a leg up on the competition.

Should I get a certificate or a degree?

On the other hand, if you want to start a photography studio of your own or pitch your services to large clients, a degree program can equip you with not only the skills and confidence necessary to find success, but the credibility some clients may be looking for when deciding who they work with. Generally speaking, due to the depth of knowledge one attains through completing a degree, graduates are able to work with clients of higher caliber and enjoy a wider range of opportunities.

Another consideration between a certificate and a degree is cost, though this should still be secondary to your career goals. If you’re leaning towards completing a certificate rather than a degree due its lower cost, you may be better off temporarily deferring enrollment and saving for a while if the degree program is more in alignment with your long term career goals. This is why it’s important to have as clear of an idea as possible of what you’re hoping your certificate or degree will enable you to do.


Sessions Staff is a restless soul who loves to share Campus News stories with current and prospective students.


Sessions College offers accredited fully online degree and certificate programs in Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Advertising, and Photography. Federal financial aid is available for eligible students. Contact Admissions for more information. 

This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

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