Professional Development Certificate

In order for our preK-12 students to master the knowledge and skills they need for continued academic success, first our teachers must continually adapt and develop new strategies and practices for our evolving classrooms. OLPD's certificate in professional development is designed to prepare leaders in education with specialized knowledge in designing, implementing, and evaluating professional learning opportunities for preK-12 educators and staff. Learn to create and modify programs that leverage the latest research, identify needs for staff development policies and practices, and evaluate development programs for their effects on student learning.

Throughout the program, students reflect on their learning, make explicit connections between theory and practice, and design staff development processes and materials for use in their own work contexts.

Through the program, you will:

  • Learn to apply research-based standards for staff development.
  • Be able to articulate effective staff learning principles, designs, and strategies.
  • Learn to work effectively with groups, including both facilitation and training models of learning.
  • Gain awareness of individual strengths and areas for continuous improvement as a professional educator and leader of staff learning.


  • Earn a credential that distinguishes you from other job candidates.
  • Earn a credential while building credits toward a full Master’s program.
  • Obtain specialized knowledge and feel confident and self-assured in your work.



Required coursework (10 credits)

  • OLPD 5201—Strategies for Teaching Adults (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5374—Leadership for Professional Development (4 cr)
  • OLPD 5501—Principles and Methods of Evaluation (3 cr)

Additional elective coursework (2-5 credits)

With certificate program faculty approval, students choose and complete 2-5 credits of coursework focusing on a topic that interests them. Students can complete this requirement in one of two ways: independently designed study or project [OLPD 5095] OR focused elective coursework.

Independently designed study or project: OLPD 5095

OLPD 5095—Problems: Educational Policy and Administration (1-3 cr). Students submit a proposal for an independently designed study or project to the certificate coordinator for approval by submitting the Proposal for Independent Study or Project as Elective Option.

Examples of independently designed studies or projects include:

  • Comprehensive site-level design for staff development, including learning, implementation, and evaluation components
  • Evaluation of a current staff development or curricular initiative
  • Internship focused on staff development research, policy, or practice with personnel in school districts, state departments, or higher education
  • Individualized study or research review of a staff development-related topic
  • Attendance at a national conference with documentation, reflection on learning, and specified follow-up application

Focused elective coursework

In consultation with the certificate coordinator, students can choose elective coursework that aligns with individual interests and best practices in the staff development field. Students may choose from the wide range of offerings at the University of Minnesota, including coursework with the following course designators:

  • Curriculum and Instruction (CI)
  • Educational Psychology (EPSY)
  • Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD)
  • Public Affairs (PA)
  • Sociology (SOC)

The Certificate Coordinator must approve elective coursework. Courses taken before formal admission into the program may be accepted as program credits at a later date. Relevant graduate coursework from other graduate institutions may be approved to fulfill the elective requirement after review of relevant course syllabi. However, all coursework must have been taken within seven years from the date of program completion.


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