Executive education is a unique segment of business school
Participants are not chasing academic qualifications, rather skills
and knowledge to advance their high flying careers.
So it is not surprising that certification is becoming more popular
among students and employers alike.
Certificates are not new, but they are growing in number and
stature. Many schools have created new certifications and at
different levels, making them more exclusive to obtain.
At MIT Sloan School of Management in the US, each participant
receives a certificate of completion for every course they
successfully pass. But the school also offers three ‘Executive
Certificates’ in the subjects of management and leadership,
strategy and innovation, as well as technology, operations and
value chain management.
To earn these credentials, participants must complete four
qualifying programs within four years. They are therefore
lengthier, more in-depth and harder to obtain than general courses
that award certificates.
Read: What Next For Executive Education?
An Executive Certificate demonstrates the person’s commitment to
learning and development and the acquisition of new skills and
leadership capabilities,” says Kate Anderson, senior director of
MIT Sloan Executive Education.
Participants are eager to include their courses and certificates on
their CVs and in their LinkedIn profiles, she says. MIT Sloan
offers verified digital credentials that are encrypted with
blockchain technology, which participants can also share via email.
Technology is one reason behind the surge in certificates. One
study found that nearly three-quarters of executive education
students would consider obtaining a ‘micro-credential’, and 63% may
work towards a qualification that provides a ‘digital badge’.
IESE Business School in Spain launched a certification option five
years ago, which has surged in popularity in the past two years,
says Ana Vera, IESE’s director of focused programs (pictured).
Nowadays, there is a growing awareness that to succeed
professionally it is important to have a life-long learning
mentality, and to be constantly looking to keep up to date on the
latest trends,” she says. Online credentials are a clever way to do
this, since you do not need to quit your job or forgo a salary.
There have long been concerns about the interactivity of online
learning, or lack thereof, but at IESE, the programs take a dynamic
approach to learning methodologies, including the case study
method, business simulations and coaching sessions. The aim is to
encourage the exchange of knowledge and experiences among
participants,” says Ana.
Upon completion of a personalized development plan, students are
also eligible to join IESE’s Alumni Association, which can help
with getting jobs.
Read: Are Coursera Courses Worth The Effort?
Why certificates are worth it
Certificates and credentials also appear to mean something to
recruiters: three quarters of 600 employers surveyed by
FutureLearn, an online learning platform, said that proof of
completing online programs would help them decide whether or not to
promote an employee.
The same number of companies said such courses could differentiate
mid-level managers in the recruitment process.
Kate from MIT (pictured) says their courses are often used to prepare technically-strong
executives for broader general management responsibilities and
ascension to the c-suite. Completion of specific courses can also
help employers identify staff for new and expanded roles,” she
The courses are also valuable for employers hoping to plug skills
gaps, she adds, for example in areas such as artificial
intelligence, blockchain, or machine learning.
We have definitely seen an increase in employers requesting
verification of an employee or applicant’s programs and
certificates,” she says.