Since 2004, I have been on the Advisory Board for several continuing education certificate programs for the University of Washington. You might know some of the other Advisory Board Memebrs - check it out. The Advisory Board meets very infrequently and is asked for "advice" (not direction) on various aspects of the program. Generally speaking, courses that are taught for a degree are non-platform specific. Continuing Education courses and certificate programs are more product focused. As you can probably guess, these certificate programs are focused on SQL Server. From the outset, I always looked at these certificate programs as a solid course offering that kept the student on a schedule to keep learning the foundations of SQL Server. The one thing that I felt was a little disappointing was that only people who resided in the Seattle area could take advantage of the courses. The instructors for these courses have been current and former MSFT employees and consultants. The instructors have brought in real-world experience and stories to help supplement the material.
These programs are not geared to help you pass the certification tests from Microsoft Learning. These programs are structured to provide a broad foundation and confidence in SQL Server technologies.The exciting news is that these courses are going online for the first time this fall! It is not free, but it is not outrageously expensive either (course fee od $850 per course).
One of the Program Coordinators also provided me some highlights to share:
Certificate Website: http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/sql-server-specialist/online-autumn-2012/admissions/
· Fully online format, but interactive with Tuesday evening live sessions (Autumn 6-7 PM, Winter 6-9 PM, Spring 6-9 PM, Pacific Time) and supplemental videos.
· Courses are 10 weeks long, for 9 months total
· Starts October 9, 2012 ends May 28, 2013
· Instructor bios are linked from the course pages of the website
· Admissions requirements are here:http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/sql-server-specialist/online-autumn-2012/admissions/
Now anyone with an internet connection can be a student of the program and earn a certificate - not a certification - in SQL Server.