Disability Policy and Services Certificate

According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, the percentage of Minnesotans reporting one or more disabilities in 2015 was 5.0% for the age 5-17 population, 8.9% for the 18-64 population, and 32.0% for the 65+ population. Our state houses a vast network of service providers and organizations to ensure our citizens living with disabilities enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives.

Study the infrastructure, policies, and services that affect the lives of children, youth, and adults with disabilities. Learn about how these organizations integrate and collaborate to reduce the incidence of secondary conditions, improve access to services, and eliminate health, social, and economic disparities.

This certificate program is a collaborative effort of the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development and Institute on Community Integration (ICI) in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). ICI is a federally-designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, committed to improving community services and social supports for persons with disabilities and their families.

This certificate has been approved as training for designated coordinators by the Minnesota Department of Human Services DHS. Candidates for state certification must complete additional requirements.


  • Provide unique expertise in the existing disability policies and services available to people living with disabilities and their families. Identify gaps and make recommendations for changing services and structure to improve access and effectiveness.
  • Earn a credential that distinguishes you from other job candidates in the fields of disability services and policy.
  • Earn a credential while building credits toward a full Master’s program.



The certificate program has three required components: a three-credit interdisciplinary core course; six credits of specialized course work; and an individualized learning experience (ILE) accompanied by six interdisciplinary reflection groups. Students are encouraged to work with their advisors and the ICI certificate coordinator to plan their programs. Coursework applied to the certificate must be taken A-F.

Required course (3 credits)

  • OLPD 5356—Disability Policy and Services (3 cr)

This course provides a broad overview of disability policy and services, and introduces students to philosophical approaches to service provision, the evolution of policies and services affecting people with disabilities, and contemporary approaches to providing services to people with disabilities throughout the life cycle.

Specialized coursework (6 credits taken with approval from the ICI Certificate Coordinator)

This component broadens the student's level of knowledge in disability policies and services. Students must choose from courses offered across the University focusing on disability policy, disability services, and/or interdisciplinary teaming, such as communication disorders, family social science, kinesiology, nursing, public affairs, or social work. A list of more than 50 approved courses is available from the ICI Certificate Coordinator.

Individualized learning experience (ILE) and interdisciplinary reflection groups (3 credits/200 hours)

This component allows students to integrate and apply the information they have learned in coursework. Students work with the ICI certificate coordinator to design an individualized learning experience (ILE) in which they work with persons who have disabilities in settings like schools, recreation centers, health clinics, or human-service agencies. Students with considerable direct experience may alternatively design a project focusing on disability-related research, policy advocacy, governmental services, or other agency activities. The ILE can be completed in one or two semesters, but must total at least three credits and at least 200 hours. 3 credits to be taken with approval from the ICI certificate Coordinator.

Students also participate in at least six, one-hour interdisciplinary reflection groups to discuss relevant topics and ways to integrate field experiences with coursework. Reflection groups are offered throughout the year, including the summer session.


Rebecca Dosch Brown
Interdisciplinary Education Director
612-301-3438 | dosch018@umn.edu