The Value of a Certificate

Are you someone who enjoys being outdoors? Do you have a passion for sports and science? Then you may consider a career in Turfgrass Science. This exciting career path will teach you all about Turfgrass science and management of all different sports settings.


Often in Turf Management we get asked about the difference in Associate, Bachelor, and Certificate programs. A good place to start would in your college journey would to decide which one of these programs is the right pick for you.


One of the first things you want to think about are your personal and professional goals, both now and in the future. Are you looking to earn a degree or a certificate from a program?


Let’s narrow down your choices.


An Associate’s degree can be earned in two years depending on if you’re a full time student. Typically, there are two routes you can take in earning your degree. One is the Associate of Science (or Associate of Arts) where your focus is completing general education courses with the goal of having these classes transfer to a 4-year institution.


The second degree is an Associate of Applied Science which is focused on a more a vocational or technical program for a specific field of study (i.e. Turfgrass management).


Bachelor’s degrees can be completed in four years if you’re enrolled as a full time student. Programs require you to choose a major (ex. Turfgrass Science), which also gives you the ability to explore electives and find a minor that may compliment your major (ex. Business, plant pathology, system mechanics, etc.).


Certificate programs are completed in a year or less, focused on a specific area (i.e. Golf Course Management).  Certificate programs are similar to an Associates of Applied Science, and are not transferable toward a Bachelors degree.  Although not counting for college credit, you could look at a certificate like a minor.


Certificates are geared toward students who are employed in the profession that are looking to gain more Turfgrass knowledge. Certificates also make it possible to explore new career interests. Certificates, like Golf Course Management are geared towards individuals who are not able to come to a college campus maybe because of work schedules, family commitments, or financial considerations. Certificates often enhance a person’s qualifications who have work experience or educational degrees not related to Turfgrass management.


When deciding between an associates, bachelors, or certificate program, you should be aware of your personal and professional goals. You may want to ask yourself some questions about upward mobility in your career and which program would fit in with your specific needs.


Do your own research. What kinds of careers are out there for someone with your unique interests? What requirements do you need to be hired by an employer for a desired position?


Choosing a career path can be tricky, but when you narrow down your choices and focus on exactly what you want for your future, it can ease the pressure off making a decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your mentor (ex. your golf course superintendents), peers or an academic advisor. They will guide you on the right path and supply you with the tools you need to get started.


Maggie Culver

Communications Director

The Ohio State University

Horticulture and Crop Science