School of Professional Studies

Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study

Build Your Own Education

Imagine being able to design your own study program.

At the School of Professional Studies you can. The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) is a self-designed, multidisciplinary program that will enable you to get the education you're looking for without taking courses you don't want or need.

CAGS was created for students who want to continue their studies after obtaining a master's degree, but who do not want to pursue a doctoral degree.

Although specialization in an area is required, CAGS enables professionals to develop expertise in disciplines beyond their initial specialization. CAGS seeks to foster professional depth, as well as breadth beyond a single area of study.

The program is designed especially — but not exclusively — for working professionals who wish to pursue the advanced certificate on a part-time basis. Many students work in management positions and enroll in CAGS to improve their opportunities for promotion, enhance professional advancement, or promote intellectual growth in an area beyond their original field.

CAGS Requirements

An individualized study plan will be developed upon admission, based on discussion with the director of graduate programs.

Seven courses and a capstone tutorial are required for the CAGS. In consultation with the director of the graduate programs or an advisor, students write a study plan that outlines their interests and maps out courses compatible with their interests.

While students may design their own study plan, they are encouraged to select courses from the curriculum of the School of Professional Studies. Any course offered for graduate credit at the School of Professional Studies may be selected as an elective. The school offers clusters of classes that address areas such as conflict management, intercultural communication, administration, marketing communications, human resources, cyber security, new media technologies and more.

Students may also create their own electives based on readings or research that is approved by an instructor. Those who choose to create one or more electives must complete forms that are available at the School of Professional Studies office. When registering, forms must be submitted along with a formal proposal describing work to be completed, a tentative bibliography and a schedule for one-on-one meetings with faculty.

If the student's focus changes, the student may register for additional electives to complete CAGS requirements.

The Capstone Project

The capstone project is the culminating experience calling upon the graduate student's ability to analyze an organization's issues and apply the competencies developed through course work in the SPS Graduate Programs. The capstone project deliverable is a demonstration of a graduate student's professional competencies and evidence of having developed a foundation of theoretical knowledge applied to real-world issues. Through close collaboration with an external client and internal client, capstone teams probe and address issues within an organization using analysis, research, writing and other professional skills acquired during the student's graduate program course of study.


Internships in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors are an exciting opportunity offered to all degree students in the School of Professional Studies. A practical work experience in a student's chosen major or field of study, internships offer important connections between classroom work and professional practice, while giving students a chance to learn many new skills. Those who have been in the workforce often use an internship to explore a new career path. International students also benefit from a comprehensive introduction to the culture and work dynamics of U.S. organizations. Many employers now expect entry-level applicants to have completed an internship as part of their credentials.