Adult learners with specific goals and multiple responsibilities are fueling demand for distance delivery. The number of distance subbaccalaureate certificate programs offered by colleges and universities nearly doubled from 1995-1998 (Lewis et al. 1999). However, 45.5% of 113 graduate certificate programs surveyed by Patterson (1998) had no distance offerings. For-profit virtual institutions are rushing to fill this gap (Marchese 1999). The certificates phenomenon and the rise of new types of providers raise issues about quality and currency. Quality. Some certificates are tied to industry and professional standards. However, there is no comprehensive quality assurance system for certificate programs similar to that for college degrees (Marchese 1999). If a collection of certificates demonstrates competency, are master's degrees still relevant? On the other hand, certificate earners may have cutting-edge skills but lack a broader perspective (Kohl and LaPidus 2000). Learners should ask critical questions about program sponsors, course content, updating/refreshers, and whether the certificate is recognized and valued by employers or transferable to degree programs

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