The USPJ Academy—the School of SharePoint—this week announced it will offer certification programs similar to Microsoft degrees for students completing coursework in SharePoint. The academy’s “dean,” Bjorn Furuknap, told me that the USPJA launched in May with an early-access program to validate the platform and get feedback, and now the academy has set Jan. 3 as the official launch date for the academy.

Furuknap said, in total, he has 225 applications, and he indicated that 145 more are “likely candidates.” He also told me that USPJA is seeking accreditation from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Distance Education and Training Council. But since an institution has to be in operation for two years before it can gain accreditation, Furuknap said that for now, USPJA will offer training degrees.

To gain certification as a SharePoint administrator, students would need 24 weeks of beginner training, six weeks of intermediate training and six weeks of developer training.

“We want the program to be rigorous,” Furuknap said. “We’re opposed to a testing scheme, because we know tests are easy to get by without actually knowing much about the subject.”

Currently, USPJA is offering certification tracks for SharePoint administration and development; he hopes to add a “soft skills” track for project management and other non-technical areas. Aside from the faculty, USPJA also is inviting SharePoint “superstars” (Furuknap’s word) to give video lectures on the site akin to a “guest lecture” series at any university.

And, I understand, season tickets to USPJA football games will be on sale soon! Go Pointers!