Skip to content The Challenge of Education for the Business Architecture Professional

There is no single career path for the business architecture professional today.  As a result, there is no clear, widely accepted, educational progression to become a business architect in most organizations.  Most business architects/analysts take various twists and turns in their careers, often winding up in different and even unexpected positions later in their careers.  Today’s business architecture professional requires educational career options that provide the flexibility needed to enable multiple career paths and choices.  These educational programs should allow you to sample different possible next steps and evaluate which path is the best fit for your career interests while providing you the opportunity to facilitate changes along the way as your career interests evolve.  

Certificates and Degrees 

There are many noncredit, non-university-based certificates in business architecture/analysis-related areas available on the market today.  There are far fewer university-based certificates available in the business architecture/analysis-related areas today.  It is important to understand the differences in the general types of certificates offered in order to make the choice that is best for your needs and goals. 

Noncredit certificates 

In general, noncredit certificates are offered either through for-profit training companies or through colleges and universities.  Noncredit certificates are intended for students who want to gain general knowledge, learn a new skill, upgrade existing skills, or enrich their understanding about a wide range of topics. Some certificate programs award a certificate simply by attending the required class or classes while other programs require that students pass some type of exam in order to earn the certificate.  Noncredit certificates are generally not applicable toward a degree.  

For-credit certificates 

for-credit certificate is an educational credential representing completion of specialized education typically offered by a college or university.  for-credit certificate can be awarded by a college of university upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastering of a specific subject area.  For-credit certificates often provide paths for matriculation into degree programs. 

Which is better? 

This answer depends on several factors including time, money, and educational goals.  In general, noncredit certificates with no required exams often are the cheapest and fastest to complete.  Noncredit certificates with required exams for completion often take more time to complete but may be more highly valued by employers because learning of material is assessed to earn the certificate. 

For-credit certificates often involve taking college or university courses that may require seven to 15 weeks to complete a given course and approximately a year or more to complete the entire certificate.  For-credit certificates often offer much more material than noncredit certificates and provide a mechanism to explore a topic before committing to a full degree program.   


A degree program is a course of study leading to an academic degree.  A college or university degree is required for many career fields today.   Many people say that the masters degree is becoming similar to bachelors degree of the past.  Nearly two in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.  In addition, people are getting their master’s degree earlier in their careers than in the past – many directly after their undergraduate degrees – creating a growing demand for lifelong education beyond the master’s degree. 


Challenges (and Potential Solutions) for the Business Architecture Professional 

All of these choices and considerations point to a challenging set of career development issues facing the business architecture professional.  Many of these career development issues as well as Penn State’s lifelong learning portfolio approach were discussed in-depth during a 2019 podcast on lifelong learning.   

The entire podcast can be found at: 


Penn State offers the ability to “sample” different career paths through online graduate certificates that then can be applied to multiple online master’s programs.  Many online graduate certificates are the core components of online master’s programs and allow students to sample a program before committing to the master’s degree.  Most graduate certificate courses are available as optional electives in the master’s programs.  In this manner, any online master’s student can typically obtain at least one online graduate certificate as part of the degree requirements and apply typically two or three of the shared courses toward a second master’s degree if desired.  For example, a student may start with the online business architecture graduate certificate and then apply those credits to the core requirements of the enterprise architecture and business transformation master program.  From here, the student may apply three of the enterprise architecture graduate certificate courses to the elective credits needed for the online MBA program and pursue a second master’s degree with three fewer courses needed to complete the second degree.    

This flexible method of education “stacking” allows the student to create a certificate and degree progression that works for individual career goals and provides options for lifelong learning. 


For more information on these and other educational career options, please visit us at: