(TNS) -- The University of Washington is offering scholarships for lower-income adults to take high-tech certificate classes tuition-free. 

The first 10 scholarships will be awarded for the fall quarter, and they will be based on the applicant’s financial need and the potential for the certificate to have an impact on his or her career. They are open only to Washington residents.

Professional certificates are short-term programs that teach a specific set of skills, and are aimed at working adults. They can help people trying to get in-demand jobs that require more knowledge and expertise than entry-level jobs.

“They’re becoming a very solid tool for people who are looking to advance their careers,” said Rovy Branon, vice-provost for the UW’s Continuum College, which was formerly named Educational Outreach. Most certificates involve taking three classes over a nine-month period — one class per quarter — and the classes are offered at night.

Certificates are considered a good way to boost a specific skill, particularly in tech fields, but they’re not cheap — the cost of a certificate can be as much as $4,000. Unlike undergraduate classes at the UW, they are not subsidized by taxpayer dollars, so students pay the full price.

Branon said the scholarships are funded from an old endowment fund, and Continuum College will use that as seed money to keep the scholarships going.

About 4,500 students are enrolled in certificate programs at the UW, and their popularity is growing, Branon said. An employee with a certificate on his or her résumé shows that he or she is interested in continuously learning, he said. The most popular course is project management, but interest is also surging in data science and analytics, and in programming languages like Python.

He said the classes are usually taught either by UW faculty or industry experts.

Five certificate programs are eligible for the scholarship program: data analytics, data science, machine learning, project management and Python programming.

The UW offers 100 certificate programs in all.

To apply for a certificate scholarship, go to https://www.pce.uw.edu/certificate-scholarship. The application deadline is July 10. The university is also soliciting donations for the program at https://www.continuum.uw.edu/make-a-gift

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