Executive Education

Executive (Non-Credit) Education at Columbia University

Columbia University offers a number of Executive Education programs for professionals in a variety of areas. These non-credit programs are designed to meet the needs of individuals who are seeking new skills, knowledge, or competencies to enhance their performance in the workplace or respond to new professional demands in a changing world. In contrast with degree programs or credit-bearing certificate programs, Executive Education programs tend to change more rapidly in response to evolving needs.

Note that the information below pertains exclusively to non-credit programs. If you wish to learn more about credit-bearing programs (e.g., statutory Certificate programs or Certifications of Professional Achievement), please see: http://dp.vpaa.columbia.edu/.

  • Format: Executive Education programs typically take the form of workshops, seminars, or short courses, ranging in duration from a few hours to several days. These programs may be offered in-person or online (or through a combination of both), over a few days or several months. Some are offered on the Columbia campus, while others may be offered at off-site locations (e.g., for organizations sponsoring training for their employees).
  • Content: The content of any Executive Education program is developed and managed by the unit at the University that sponsors it (a school, center, or institute). The program need not be related to any existing degree or statutory certificate program at the University. It should have a clearly defined audience, specific learning goals, and an evaluation plan through which students may rate the program, and which informs future program improvements.
  • Approval and Oversight: The school, center, or institute that offers the program, called the “host,” takes responsibility for approving its curriculum and reviewing its evaluation data. The host is also responsible for maintaining enrollment data and tracking participants in the program. At all times, the host must clearly convey to prospective participants the goals, costs, and non-credit status of the program. While there is no centralized University approval of Executive Education programs, the host must submit a brief course description (including sample marketing materials) to the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (ovpap@columbia.edu) before the launch of any new program. In addition, hosts are required to report on programs (sometimes annually, but no less than every 5-7 years) as part of ongoing, periodic review processes for each unit at the University.
  • Status of Participants: In general, participants in these programs are not considered students or alumni of Columbia University and do not receive official Columbia transcripts. In addition, the Registrar’s Office does not normally maintain any academic records of enrollment verification data for Executive Education programs; these records are typically maintained by the host only. These programs do not offer federal or other financial aid to participants.
  • Certificates of Participation: Students who complete these short, non-credit programs may be presented with a Certificate of Participation. The document must use the specific phrase “Certificate of Participation.” It may not use the phrase “successfully completed” or “successfully participated,” since these programs rarely include a formal evaluation of student performance.
    • The Certificate of Participation must include: the name(s) and/or logo(s) of the host unit(s) at the University; the title of the program; an indication that the program is non-credit; program dates; and the total duration of the program (in hours or days, as appropriate).
    • The Certificate of Participation must NOT include the seal or logo of Columbia University (though it can include the logo of the school, institute, or center that is offering the training). It must not resemble a Columbia University diploma, include the word diploma or a “graduation” date, or indicate that the participant has “successfully” completed the program, since these programs typically do not include any student-level assessment procedures and completion does not imply any formal recognition of accomplishment.  
    • To see a sample Certificate of Participation, click here.
  • Co-Sponsorship: If the program is offered in partnership with an entity outside of Columbia, special instructions apply. Please see instructions provided here: http://academicprograms.columbia.edu/co-sponsorship-executive-education.
  • International Programs:  Executive Education programs offered outside the U.S. might be subject to registration and other regulatory requirements of the host country.  Programs outside the U.S. might also trigger tax issues for the University and even participating faculty.  These programs should be reviewed in advance with Global Support, globalsupport@columbia.edu, or the host’s contact within the office of the General Counsel.
  • Continuing Medical Education: If interested in establishing a program that leads to CME credit, please see: http://www.columbiacme.org/.


Please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (ovpap@columbia.edu) with any questions. Remember that non-credit education does not lead to a University credential.