In addition to acknowledging competence in the European Union generally, the certificate also highlights special achievements by providing a notation of "distinction" in three areas:
- practicum experience
- foreign language proficiency (two courses at the 3000-4000 level);
- composition of a thesis.
The practicum experience pertaining to the EU must be performed either in the form of an overseas visit or an internship. The overseas option is broadly defined and can be accommodated by a wide range of activities, including study or research abroad. The same flexibility applies to the internship, which can be served domestically or internationally. A student's specific practicum experience must be approved by the program's campus representative.
A distinction in foreign language must be earned in a European language approved by the program's campus representative as appropriate to the certificate's objectives. A student with prior language skills can earn a distinction by successful completion of an examination demonstrating competence equivalent to the 3000 level. The exam is administered at the student's home institution.
The thesis can be written anytime during the final year of study. It is supervised by a committee composed of three faculty members who represent at least two different academic disciplines. Faculty from any institution participating in the program are eligible to serve on the committee. The student designates one member as thesis director.
The thesis topic must address the EU in some significant way and must be approved by the committee. The format and content of the thesis must adhere to the program's style guidelines. The members of the thesis committee vote on whether to "pass" or "fail" the student at the conclusion of an oral defense. A "pass" vote must be unanimous. If one negative vote is recorded, the student is given an opportunity to revise the thesis; the course is failed if not obtaining a unanimous "pass" vote on the second oral exam.
The thesis course is automatically failed when a student receives two "fail" votes on the first oral exam. After a successful oral defense, the thesis director awards a letter grade. Credit is assigned in the manner determined by the student's institution. This option can be used to fulfill an institution's honors and/or departmental thesis requirements; modifications can occur in the thesis regulations with the consent of the program's campus representative but only where the modification is needed to accommodate institutional or departmental requirements.
When concluded, the program's curriculum ensures that the certificate contains sufficient rigor and depth to validate a student as qualified in the field of European Union studies.