Higher Education Minus-2.0

In case you hadn’t noticed, graduate and undergraduate Certificate Programs have become the new crack cocaine (or is it fentanyl?) afflicting higher education curriculum designers.  Colleges and universities are tripping over themselves as they bundle together courses and offer them as packages to prospective students.  Imagine an unshaven Associate Dean in a stained trench coat and wide-brimmed fedora leaning out of a rusted 1973 Dodge Dart on a lonely city street, asking wide-eyed children if they would like some Twizzlers, a juice box, and a ride to the zoo.  

Not surprisingly, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has taken this enterprise to the next level.  Beginning in the fall of 2023, it will offer the nation’s first graduate certificate in Managing Certificate Programs.  

The curriculum will include the following eight courses:

MCP 701: Using Nouns and Verbs to Identify Certificate Content (3 credits)

A certificate program can be organized around any noun or verb.  For example, “bacon.”  You can have a certificate that focuses on bacon.  Or “flossing.”  Or “pin cushions.”  You get the idea. 

MCP 702: The Role of In-Person Courses in Certificate Education (0.5 credit)

Ha-ha.  Just kidding. 

MCP 703: Staffing Certificate Programs (2 credits)

Must instructors be literate?  Is a literacy requirement discriminatory?  If it is, to whom should the program apologize on its website?

MCP 704: Waiving Course Requirements Based on Life Experience (3 credits)

For example, a certificate program in Walking should permit ambulatory students to skip the introductory course on Biped Locomotion.

MCP 705: Certificate Program Ethics (2 credits)

Are certificate programs inherently evil, or are they just benignly useless?  Do certificate-program administrators go to hell after they die?  If so, for how long?  Can underemployed certificate holders demand reparations, including land?

MCP 706: Transfer Portals for Certificate Programs (3 credits)

Should certificate students be allowed to take their credits with them to another certificate program if the two programs are significantly different?  For example, switching from a program in Fish Appreciation to one in Detergent Awareness?

MCP 707: Designing the Certificate Document (5 credits)

Parchment or regular paper?  Calibri, Times New Roman, or Helvetica font?  Latin, Old English, or Esperanto?  Cartoons or no cartoons?

MCP 708: Commencement Protocol (3 credits)

How to keep a straight face and avoid eye contact when awarding certificates at graduation.  Reminding attendees that there are no honorary degree recipients because certificates aren’t degrees.  Announcing tentative dates for the Fall Homecoming Tailgate Party, to be held in a local Walmart parking lot. 

Applicants for Fall 2023 admission to a Carnegie Mellon certificate program should submit a bank statement and 100-word essay on a topic of their choice by July 1st.