[Skip to Content]

Alternative Credentials

At UofL Online, our commitment to providing quality educational opportunities extends beyond standard degrees or certificate programs. We recognize the evolving needs of non-traditional learners in today's dynamic workforce, and as part of this commitment, we are developing alternative pathways to education credentials including stackable certificates, academic badges and non-credit courses.

Alternative credentials leverage the flexibility of online learning which allows students to earn credentials incrementally, building upon their knowledge and skills in a modular fashion while simultaneously providing a new marketable skillset within a specific industry. These opportunities are accessible to individuals at various stages of their careers and can serve as a pathway for further academic pursuits or professional development.

Stackable Online Certificates

Stackable certificates are modular, stand-alone programs (typically 9-12 credit hours each) that allow you to acquire specialized knowledge in a specific field or discipline. Rather than pursuing a traditional, linear educational pathway, stackable certificates can empower you to build expertise gradually. The combined certificate credits can be seamlessly applied toward a related graduate degree.

Benefits of Stackable Certificates

Stackable certificates offer the opportunity to customize your advanced education and learn about the topics you are most interested in, applicable in your current or future career.

Modular and flexible education credentials enable individuals to specialize or diversify their expertise. Each certificate can be earned as a standalone credential and/or as a step toward a future degree. It combines immediate career benefits with the long-term advantage of an advanced degree, offering students a dynamic and customizable approach to their educational and professional development.

Some of the more notable benefits of earning a degree through stackable certificates include:

  • Flexibility and customization through a tailored-to-you learning pathway.
  • Career relevance and impact in real time, along with potential for enhanced employability.
  • Cost-effective education with gradual investment toward a master’s degree*
  • Motivation to incrementally reach milestones and stay focused on topics that matter to you.
  • Credit transferability to help you ease into the commitment to earn a degree.
  • Continuous learning mindset to develop your knowledge and adapt to industry changes.

Earn a Master's Degree

The following graduate programs can be stacked toward a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE) or Master of Engineering in Engineering Management (MEEM):

  • Six Sigma Certificate (9 chr) [see courses]
  • Healthcare Systems Engineering Certificate (9 chr) [see courses]
  • Engineering Logistics Certificate (9 chr) [see courses]

MSIE or MEEM Pathway from Certificates to a Master’s Degree

  • Upon completion of the first engineering certificate, and before starting a second certificate, students initiate a degree (MSIE or MEEM) plan with their advisor, expressing their interest in earning a master’s along with the second and third certificate.
  • Students must apply and be admitted into the MSIE or MEEM program and continue with completing the program’s core courses and elective courses or other certificate(s).

MSIE and MEEM Graduation Requirements

Students must achieve a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average to earn a certificate, and only courses in which the student has earned a B or better may count toward the degree program.

Stackable Road Map

Explore the Stackable Certificate Option When You’re Ready

Already admitted or enrolled? Please contact:
Dr. Lihui Bai
Academic Advisor

Thinking of starting at UofL? Please contact:
The Online Learning Team

*Financial aid is available for master’s degrees, but it is not available for the certificate (non-degree) programs in Industrial Engineering.

Students may apply course credit earned from one or more graduate certificate programs towards a master’s or doctoral degree, but they must apply to the degree program prior to beginning a second certificate that will count toward the degree. Use of credit from certificates is subject to admission to the degree-granting program and must be consistent with both curricular and residency requirements of the degree program. Students must achieve a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average to earn a certificate, and only courses in which the student has earned a B or better may count toward the degree program.

Social Media Marketing Course

Amplify your organization's brand with better social media

The University of Louisville offers a Social Media Marketing non-credit course designed for current or aspiring business professionals and leaders looking to boost their digital media skillset.

Social media is constantly evolving, and in today's digital age, a strong social media presence is a key asset for future career success. Our Social Media Marketing online course is expertly designed to help you leverage the power of social media for professional and organizational growth through four highly focused modules covering AI in social media, influencer and creator relationships, measurement and analysis as well as strategic planning. This course can help you to stand out in your current role and to potential employers.

What will I be able to do after completing this course?

The online Social Media Marketing course covers high-interest and high-demand topic areas across various industries––four modules thoughtfully crafted by a leading industry professional and social media guru who has extensive expertise in successfully navigating the digital landscape. After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Strategic planning: Learn how to ensure effective and efficient use of marketing resources through the creation of innovative and strategic marketing plans capable of generating high-quality leads, aligning with business goals and driving impactful results.
  • Influencers and creator relations: Manage influencer and creator relations, allowing them to forge impactful partnerships that can enhance engagement with both current and prospective customers, amplifying your organization's reach and influence.
  • AI in social media: Examine current trends and best practices related to AI and social media, equipping yourself with advanced tools for prompt engineering strategies in content creation. This will enable you to develop more personalized campaigns with the utilization of AI for brainstorming and creative activities, significantly boosting organization's brand awareness.
  • Measurement: Make data-driven decisions and continuously optimize your marketing efforts—maximizing ROI and ensuring sustained success in all marketing initiatives.
  • Tailored to your industry: Customize the course to meet the unique needs of your company or industry, whether in healthcare, real estate, law or other sectors by working with professor Karen Freberg, PhD on a custom curriculum that can amplify your organization's brand effectively.

With employers increasingly valuing specialized skills in the digital realm, gaining the knowledge from this social media course can be a strategic professionals aiming to stay competitive and thrive in the dynamic world of online communication.

Why UofL?

  • Flexible, online coursework: Social Media Marketing is a non-credit course offered 100% online, allowing you to learn at your own pace and integrate social media mastery into your busy life.
  • Opportunities to network with peers: Connect with peers on a similar academic journey—share insights, collaborate on projects and build a supportive network that extends beyond the course.
  • Expertly developed curriculum: Benefit from the knowledge, experience and wisdom of a leading expert in social media.

Structure of the Course

  • Four 1-week modules that are approximately 8 hours/week
    • Learning materials: Video introduction, reading materials and interactive content (5-6 hours/module)
    • Engagement materials: Weekly discussion forums (30-45 minutes/module)
    • Homework/projects: Varies by module (1 hour/module)
  • Learn at your own pace within the weekly modules
  • 100% asynchronous (no set meeting times)

Check back for next class start info!

Course Instructor Highlight

Karen Freberg

Karen Freberg, PhD

Karen Freberg is a Professor in Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville, where she teaches, researches and consults in social media strategy, public relations and crisis communication. Freberg is also an award winning author and has written several books including Social media for strategic communications: Creative strategies and research based applications and Discovering Public Relations: An Introduction to Creative and Strategic Practices.

In addition to academic publications, Freberg has been interviewed for popular press publications such as Adweek, USA Today, The Next Web, MONEY, USA Today College and Forbes.

Before coming to the University of Louisville, Freberg earned a PhD in Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee in May 2011, and a master's degree in Strategic Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in August 2007. Freberg received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Relations at the University of Florida in August 2005.

Interested in more than just one course?
Check out our online BA/BS in Communication or online MBA degrees, or explore all online programs at UofL!

  • FAQ & Other Details
    • What background knowledge do I need before starting the course?

      This non-credit course is open to anyone who is interested in developing their social media marketing skills. There are no pre-requisites. You should have a desire to explore the hows and whys of effective social media marketing strategies to build an organizational presence or personal brand on social media platforms.

    • How is the course structured?

      There are four modules, one for each week, with over 30 hours of content, including videos, articles, assignments and discussion boards. You will complete a module each week (at your own pace). You should plan to spend approximately 8 hours each week on course activities. There are no synchronous meetings.

    • Will I be graded on my participation or activities?

      Each module is designed to engage learners in the most on-trend aspects of social media marketing. You will have opportunities to interact with the content and your professor, but your work will not be graded. The final week of the course includes delivering a final, actionable project that builds upon what you have learned in previous weeks. You will receive feedback from the professor on your final project.

    • What do I get to show that I have completed the course?

      Upon completion of the four modules AND your final project, you will receive a certificate of completion from the University of Louisville. The certificate will be emailed to you within a week to 10 days.

    • Are there any books?

      No, there are no books required for this course. All course materials are digital assets and are included in the course itself.

    • What are the technical requirements?
      You need a fast, reliable Internet connection.
    • How do I access the course?

      The course will be delivered in the University of Louisville’s Learning Management System, Blackboard—just like all UofL online courses. About a week after registering, you will receive a "Welcome" email with a link to the course in Blackboard.

      Note: Once you register, you will need to take some steps to set up your user ID and password to access Blackboard.
    • I am already enrolled as a student at UofL. Can I still take this course?

      Yes. The course is not for credit, however. You will still need to register using the registration form on this site and pay the course fee. If you are interested in taking a for-credit course with similar content, please check out COMM 333: Social Media, Mobile Technologies and Strategic Communications.

    • What is the cost and length of this course?

      The Social Media Marketing course will take 4 weeks to complete. The fee is $400 for the entire course.

    • What is the cancellation/refund policy?

      Your registration can be canceled within three business days of payment for a full refund a week prior to the course starting. There are no partial refunds.

Melinda Addie
Senior Manager, Online Enrollment Services

Academic Badges

Integrating digital badges into academic programs is a transformative strategy that benefits individuals, institutions and employers by fostering skill recognition and enhanced pathways from education to the workforce.

Digital Academic Badges Value

  • Received upon completion of a qualifying certificate and corresponding with your program
  • Displaying evidence of learned skills and knowledge along the academic journey at the University of Louisville
  • Providing a tangible representation of an individual's expertise and helping advancement-seeking professionals highlight their skills in the ever-competitive job market
  • Demonstrating current and future employees’ commitment to development and continuous learning.
  • Can accompany your signature throughout your communications, professional networking, resume, personal branding and more.

Obtaining Badges

  • Students take four required courses and finish the certificate program with the required grades.
  • Upon earning the certificate, the academic department ensures graduates are issued the badge.
  • Graduates get an email inviting them to claim their badge from Credly (credentialing platform).
  • Graduates create a Credly digital wallet account and claim/download their badge.
  • Badges earned are stored in the Credly digital wallet account in perpetuity.

Talk to your advisor about badge options!

Your academic program team will facilitate obtaining your badge upon completion of all requirements. You can also discuss this opportunity with your academic advisor or explore available badges at https://www.credly.com/organizations/university-of-louisville/badges (you will navigate away from this page and onto the Credly website).