A common subject education advocates and policymakers bring up in debates is that higher education doesn’t just mean bachelor’s degrees. Encouraging everyone to go to college isn’t necessarily an invitation to study medieval literature or physics; higher education is also about training or certificate programs designed to help people obtain or succeed in their jobs.

It turns out such programs can be very lucrative for colleges. According to a piece by Jon Marcus at the The Hechinger Report:

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.

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.

Businesses and individuals spend about $140 billion a year on career training. About 40 percent of that goes to colleges and universities.

Students and employees are understandably eager to take advantage of such programs, especially since they often don’t have to pay for them themselves.

It’s a little unclear whether or not university-based job training programs are the most effective preparation for specific vocational employment, however.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer