Short-term academic programs provide opportunities for job advancement and new career options

Posted: November 24, 2004

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Minnesota State Colleges & Universities offer numerous short programs

Through the 32 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, many credit-based programs in a wide variety of career areas can be completed in one to two years or less, helping people to gain promotions, retrain for a new career or land a good job quickly.

"If you're a person who doesn't have the time, energy, money or the need to get a four-year degree, you should consider a short-term academic program. Or, if you already have a degree, you might need additional credentials in your field," said Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Adult students ages 25 and older are the fastest-growing educational demographic, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education. Baer said the short-term programs are a perfect fit for many adults.

"We work to stay ahead of the innovation curve and anticipate the needs of emerging industries," Baer said.

Following are examples of popular short-term academic programs at various campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Some programs can be started with no previous college credits; others may require an associate or bachelor's degree before enrolling.

The Business ASAP - Accelerated Program for Working Adults is a two-year associate degree in business management offered by North Hennepin Community College. Classes are scheduled in the evenings in eight-week modules and are designed for busy working adults who have the ability to learn independently.

The financial planning certificate program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, is a registered program that allows participants to meet the educational requirement needed to sit for the CFP??? Certification Examination. Subject areas include the financial planning process, insurance planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning. The program can take nine to 22 months to complete. Courses can be taken Thursdays in downtown Minneapolis, Mondays in Plymouth and Fridays and Saturdays in Bloomington.

The automotive technician associate degree program is offered at Hennepin Technical College, Dakota County Technical College and several other colleges. The field offers good employment opportunities, with starting positions at $14 to $18 an hour. Program length varies, depending on whether students are pursuing a degree, diploma or certificate.

The concrete and masonry program at Dakota County Technical College prepares individuals for careers as a concrete mason, concrete finisher or block mason in residential and commercial construction. Employment opportunities are excellent, with jobs starting at $17 to $20 per hour. The associate degree is 67 credits, and the diploma degree is 33 credits.

The business systems networking and telecommunications associate degree and certificate program trains individuals to evaluate and resolve business data system hardware and software communication needs and requirements. Programs are offered at most Minnesota State Colleges.

The medical radiologic technology/technician program is an associate degree program that prepares individuals to perform diagnostic examinations and administer therapeutic procedures using X-rays and related radiations. Programs take one to two years and are offered at Century College, Lake Superior College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College, Ridgewater College, Riverland Community College and Rochester Community and Technical College.

Three biomedical programs are offered by Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

  • The biomedical technician certificate prepares students for entry-level positions in the growing biomedical device and product industry, including manufacturing, product development and testing. The 33-credit program can be completed in one year of full-time study. Salaries vary, depending on previous education and experience, with starting pay ranging from $25,000 to $40,000 a year.
  • The biomedical technologist associate in science degree is 62 credits and can be completed in two years of full-time study. Students who balance work, family and classes may choose to space courses out over two years. Previous college coursework may reduce the program length. Starting salaries range from $25,000 to $40,000 per year.
  • The clinical research professional certificate program is 24 credits and can be completed in one year of full-time study. It is designed for students with a degree in nursing, pharmacology or biological sciences who want to move into clinical research positions in biomedical or other health-related companies. Starting salaries range from $35,000 to $55,000 per year.

Dental assistant associate degree and diploma programs prepare individuals to assist a dentist or a dental hygienist in performing the functions of a dental practice, including instruction in chair-side assistance, patient preparation, dental office functions, selected dental office laboratory procedures and dental radiography.

Dental assistant programs are offered at Central Lakes College, Century College, Dakota County Technical College, Hennepin Technical College, Hibbing Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Rochester Community and Technical College, South Central College and St. Cloud Technical College.

"The system also is rapidly increasing the number of online programs, which offer the flexibility that many working students need," Baer said. More than 2,300 course sections and 106 programs are offered online, and more information is available through individual campuses and at www.minnesotaonline.org. Online offerings, which are growing fast, are designed for students who prefer to work at their own pace or need courses not offered nearby. The courses and programs are accredited and economical.

Following are examples of short-term certificate programs being offered online at two and four-year colleges around the state:

  • Law enforcement supervision certificate, Metropolitan State University
  • Education paraprofessional certificate, Minnesota West Community & Technical College
  • Retail/marketing certificate, Century College
  • Professional bookkeeper certificate, Lake Superior College
  • Human resource certificate, St. Paul College


Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.