How are pancakes like professional development courses? UW Tacoma Professional Development Center Executive Director Christopher Cellars explains.
A keyword search for ”stackable courses” or “stackable certificates” can send you down quite the rabbit-hole of definitions, situations, and even criticisms – because no one has a simple definition. Here is what it means to us at UW Tacoma Professional Development Center:
We offer a discrete number of courses within a program of study that can combine to create a certificate program. You can take any course in the program on its own to learn or refresh a particular skill-set OR you can "stack” those courses within two years to earn the full certificate. This is different from what we refer to as a “cohort model” program, in which you must sequentially take all the courses required to complete that certificate.
Here’s an example: You have been working in an organization for a couple of years and the organization is starting to grow. Your boss suggests that you need to create a better onboarding process, so you sign up for the Spring term course “Training and Staff Development” through the Professional Development Center. You intended to just take that one course but you like the topic so much you decide, “I’d like to shift my career towards working in Human Resources full-time!” You can enroll in and “stack” the other courses in the Certificate in Human Resources Management over the next two years to complete the program.
How does this benefit you?
Everyone is busy. You want to have a strong work-life balance. By taking single courses, you get a little more flexibility in your schedule. But – it is also a great way to discover your career path without over-committing time or money. There are many paths throughout a career.
Why two years?
Professional skills and industry requirements are constantly changing. However, there is usually enough stability within a two-year period that individual course content is still connected to the overall certificate learning outcomes. Two years is our way of allowing flexibility in how and when you complete your certificate, while ensuring the content you are engaging in is up-to-date.
PDC offers a lot of options for you. Once you complete your certificate, you can keep learning by taking short workshops or even exploring tangential areas of study that will benefit your workplace and career. You could even go on to graduate school, as I did! Take the opportunity to talk to one of our program managers and find out more. The UW Tacoma and Professional Development Center are here for your continuing education needs.