Certificate vs. Certification

Certificate versus Certification: What’s the Difference?

Successful completion of the Certificate in the Ethical Foundations of Animal Care and Use and/or the Certificate in the Foundations of Human Subjects Protections document that an individual has attended courses covering the basic ethical and regulatory frameworks for the use of humans and animals in research. The Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) and Certified Professional in IACUC Administration (CPIA®) are professional credentials that require several years of professional experience in direct support of IRBs or IACUCs, among other requirements, simply to sit for the exams.


Other key differences between a certificate and certification program are listed below:

Certificate Certification
Results from an educational process (a course or series of courses with specific focus and learning objectives). Results from an assessment process, demonstrating mastery/competency of a set of standards, usually by application or exam.
Little or no professional experience required. Some professional experience required.
Awarded by educational programs or institutions. Awarded by a third-party, standard-setting organization.
Course content not considered to be a definitive set of standards about the topic. Content considered standards which are set through a defensible, industry-wide process.
Usually listed on a résumé as education or professional development. Typically results in a designation to use after one's name.
Is the end result; demonstrates knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time and may result in a physical certificate to hang on the wall. Has ongoing maintenance requirements; holder must demonstrate s/he continues to meet standards for ongoing use of the credential.