Are graduate certificates the new university cash cow?

Yes, according to The Hechinger Report.  In my experience, not so much; our results have been mixed. 

The ‘cash cow’ of U.S. universities: Professional certificates instead of degrees
Responding to demand from more and more students like Herndon, universities are jumping into the business of providing professional certificates that were once the domain of community colleges and for-profit providers like the University of Phoenix.

“The growth is huge,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which is studying this new phenomenon.

Certificate programs can be added and updated more quickly than conventional academic ones. And they can help workers keep up with fast-changing fields such as information technology and intelligence, or get raises or promotions.

But a main reason for the explosion in the number of professional certificates at traditional universities, administrators concede, is that they bring in revenue, largely from mid-career students who pay the full cost without needing institutional financial aid, or whose employers reimburse them for tuition.

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