Innovative Partnership Allows University to Increase its Educational Offerings and Meet the Evolving Needs of Students and Employers
January 07, 2024

Stanislaus State has teamed up with Google and Coursera to offer an innovative online training program that provides Stan State business students an opportunity to earn Google Professional Certificates in various high-demand fields, free of charge. 

Led by College of Business Administration Dean Terence Pitre, the program is taught on the Coursera online learning platform and allows students to pursue certificates in six key areas: IT support specialist, data analyst, project manager, UX designer, digital marketer and cybersecurity professional. 

The courses are certified by the American Council on Education (ACE). They are foundational courses that introduce students to the topics and ultimately deliver professional-level training and job-ready skills. Once students complete a Google certificate course, they can transition to more advanced studies with Stan State courses. 

According to Pitre, the certificate courses allow Stan State to increase its educational offerings quickly to meet the evolving needs of students and employers. For example, he said, data analytics has rapidly become a necessity for business students, and the Google certificates program allows Stan State to deliver that education without delay. 

“Every employer I speak to talks about the importance of analytics, and we don’t offer data analytics as part of our core curriculum,” he said. “But the Google certificate courses offer a way for students to get that skill right now. They are being taught by experts and certified by Google, and employers respect those certificates.” 

Google has given Pitre 500 free licenses for business students to pursue certificates. The licenses are continuously circulated, making the program sustainable for future students.  

“Think of it as an auditorium with 500 seats,” Pitre explained. “You can fill the seats, and as students leave the seats, you can refill them.” 

Business students who want to take a Google certificate course can contact Pitre. Students in the College of Business Administration can also keep on their emails for details on how to sign up.. 

As of early December, students had completed more than 120 certificates from 300 courses since the program launched in September. Pitre expects many of the students who are still working on their certificates to complete them over the winter break. 

One of those students who has started working on a data analytics certificate and expects to finish it in January is Brenda Olivares, a junior who is majoring in business with a concentration in finance. 

“I think the Google certificate will open doors for me, because no matter what field you are in, employers are looking for people who can analyze data.”

– Brenda Olivares, Business Major 

“I think the Google certificate will open doors for me because no matter what field you are in, employers are looking for people who can analyze data,” Olivares said. “In finance, I’ll be working with large numbers and will need to interpret data, so I’m sure this certificate will be very beneficial.” 

She said she is confident she can complete her certificate before the spring semester starts. 

“Except for my job, it will be my sole focus. I won’t have any other schoolwork going on, so I know I can get it done,” she said. 

Pitre said many students prefer to focus on the certificate courses during their breaks because the Google instruction is rigorous. Depending on the course, it can be like taking two college courses in terms of workload.  

Course content is designed to keep students interested and engaged. It is high quality and presented by multiple instructors in short videos, reading segments, real-world examples and testing.  

“It’s a very different style of education. There might be a five-minute video, then a seven-minute reading, then another 10-minute video,” he said. “It still takes months to do, but it’s presented in short bursts, and there are knowledge checks to make sure the students understand what they’ve learned.” 

Pitre said he believes partnerships like Stan State’s with Google and Coursera will play an important role in the future of higher education, because they combine practical skills with theoretical education to provide students with a well-rounded education that meets both academic standards and current industry needs. 

“There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether college is worth it, and whether students should focus on acquiring a skill instead, as if the two things are exclusive of one another,” Pitre said. “Let’s put them together. Let’s put the current, relevant skills you get in a certificate program alongside the theoretical education you get in college courses and give students the best of both worlds.”