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ATD Blog

CPLP? Doctorate? Why Not Both?


Tue Jan 12 2016


As a higher education and talent development professional, I initially had a challenging time determining whether to pursue the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance® (CPLP®) credential or a doctoral degree. After much reflection and research, I decided to pursue both! I later realized that it really should not have been a question of one or the other, but of making my educational and professional pursuits work in tandem. I will not minimize the work involved with becoming and maintaining a CPLP®; however, it is possible to do so while pursuing a doctorate. 

Achieving the CPLP®


My journey involved beginning the doctorate first, which I am still pursuing. After realizing the workload involved with doctoral study, I once again doubted my ability to realistically pursue the CPLP® while also pursuing my doctorate. In the end, I proved myself wrong! 

I studied for the CPLP® Knowledge Exam during breaks in between classes, and I took a week of vacation the week of the exam. I treated myself to a night’s stay at a quiet retreat and breakfast near the testing location to avoid traffic the day of the exam. I also wanted to spend the last night studying in a peaceful environment, and then wake up, be treated to breakfast, and head out to take the exam. A bonus was speaking with the owner of the bed and breakfast, a doctoral-degree holder, who gave me a bit of encouragement before I left to take the exam. 

After I successfully passed the Knowledge Exam, I enrolled in an ATD course on preparing for the CPLP® Work Product submission. I also set aside two full days on the weekend to assemble the Work Product. 

Maintaining the CPLP®

Because the CPLP® and the doctorate are both challenging but worthy endeavors, self-doubt crept back in. I wondered if I could maintain the CPLP® while continuing to pursue my doctorate. For those who already hold doctorates and are required to engage in scholarly activities, you may also wonder if you can maintain the CPLP® while continuing your research, publishing, and presenting. But I believe that these three things are possible to do while maintaining the CPLP®, and it’s easier when you find ways to tie talent development into both those pursuits. This can lead to writing articles and books, and presenting at conferences related to talent development, which means re-certification points! Doing both truly maximizes your effectiveness in the academic and professional spaces. 


Final Lesson You don’t have to choose one or the other; challenge yourself and attain both a doctorate and the CPLP®. You can make yourself more marketable and give your pursuits more purpose. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for,” and I believe that adage applies to the pursuit of the CPLP® and doctorate.

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