The Free Certification NDSU Offers Students Nobody is Talking About

Man on computer with text about Microsoft Office Certification

It’s tough – really tough, sometimes – to land a job. But there is one resource that could help that students normally don’t take advantage of… usually costing hundreds of dollars, NDSU offers it free to students, faculty, and staff. For many that haven’t done it, it is only because they have never heard of it.

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification is a Microsoft-sanctioned technical certification offered through the Technology Learning & Media Center (TLMC) on campus. It can be completed within a week, qualification and studying can entirely be on your own device, yet the certification demonstrates to employers mastery of the most highly-demanded technical skills in almost any industry. Proficiency in Microsoft Office is the third most common desired skill, technical or not, in any job sector. Student Government and the TLMC have collaborated to ensure this opportunity exists for students at NDSU in order to help differentiation in the job market and to teach useful skills.

Students, faculty, and staff can obtain certifications for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook, as well as Word Expert and Excel Expert – all for free , and again, training is available through your personal device. Here’s how it works:

First, a student registers. Stopping by the TLMC, students receive their code to GMetrix, the training software a student can download free, as well as additional instructions.

Next, a student trains. The GMetrix Software has training modules and practice tests for every type of certification – once a student passes one of these practice tests with at least 70%, they are able to take the official test.

Finally, a student certifies. By going on the TLMC website, a student can register for a session to take the exam in the TLMC lab – proctored by a TLMC worker; this is where 2 hours turns into a lifetime certification.

The Technology Learning & Media Center – located in the Quentin Burdick Building next to the Help Desk, can help you get started. However, an important question may be on your mind:

Why, if I already have skills in Word, Excel, etc., should I get a certification?

According to the MCP Program Satisfaction Study, 91% of managers consider employee certification as a criterion for hiring, 81% of hiring managers feel that certified individuals perform better, and 79% of hiring managers feel that certified individuals are more efficient. Anyone can say they have experience in these programs, but how many can prove it without a demonstration?

Differentiating yourself from other candidates can sometimes be difficult. An MOS Certification never expires – you will have a link that never expires to your digital certificate to share with employers as long as you like. In a collaboration between Microsoft and LinkedIn, you also receive a special LinkedIn badge to put on your profile to indicate to employers your skill. Every student at NDSU must take fundamental courses in Word and Excel, so the MOS Certification can set your resume and skillset apart from the pack. The certification is especially useful for those who don’t have time for other opportunities for differentiation, as the only structured time required are the 2 hours for the exam – all training can occur on your own time. Another advantage of NDSU’s investment is that the GMetrix software is designed to actually teach you the program if you aren’t familiar with it. If you have ever wanted to actually know what you’re doing with Excel, the path to certification will give you what you are looking for.

As the TLMC Microsoft Office Specialist, watching individuals coming in and getting these certifications only makes me want to reach out more – seeing the benefits it gives people and helping people reach those is one of my favorite parts of the job.

For more information, visit the TLMC MOS Certification page, and feel free to stop by the TLMC in the Quentin Burdick Building to learn more and get started. Interested individuals can also reach out to the TLMC through email or any of our social media, or directly to me at

Landing a job may be tough, but your own initiative can certainly make it easier. Stop by and see if we can help you get the ball rolling!

Woman holding up MOS badge

By Sara Cramer