Disability Policy & Services Certificate Program

Graduate Level Study

What is the Certificate?

The Certificate in Disability Policy and Services is designed to allow graduate students, as well as community professionals, to study policies and services that affect the lives of children, youth, and adults with disabilities.

The 12-credit program examines the spectrum of education, employment, community living, and health policies impacting individuals with disabilities and their families, and surveys the public and private networks of disability services from an interdisciplinary perspective. While the program addresses the needs of people with all types of disabilities, it emphasizes intellectual and related developmental disabilities across the lifespan.

The program addresses topics in the field of developmental disabilities, including:

  • Past and present inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities.
  • Significant legislation and laws impacting services and supports.
  • Exploration of school, residential, employment, and community programs.
  • Perspectives and roles of professional disciplines in providing services and collaboration.
  • Current trends and issues in policies and service provision.

The program is divided into three components:

  1. A three-credit interdisciplinary core course (OLPD 5356);
  2. Six credits of specialized course work; and
  3. An individualized learning experience (ILE) or practicum accompanied by six interdisciplinary reflection activities (OLPD 5096).

The program’s ILE requires students to integrate theory with practice by completing a disability-related research project or working directly with people with disabilities in settings such as schools, recreation centers, or human-service agencies.

Who is eligible to enroll?

Program admission is open to degree-seeking or non-degree-seeking students who meet the following criteria:

  • Be a graduate level student or a community member with an earned bachelor's degree.
  • Have a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA).

Why get the Certificate?

Academic emphasis on intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD): Students gain valuable, applicable knowledge of intellectual and/or developmental disabilities not available within any single department on campus.

Increase skills in service provision and collaboration: By combining the Certificate program with their respective major fields of study, students enhance their effectiveness in serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Involvement with people who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and professionals: Students learn from the expertise of persons with disabilities and their family members, professionals currently working in their field, and faculty from other academic programs at the University of Minnesota, including education, social work, rehabilitation, health, nursing, medicine, psychology, public policy, and international studies.

Interdisciplinary engagement: Students learn from other students through issue-based discussions.

Added value: Involvement in the Certificate program can add value to a student’s academic program and future professional life.

Enhanced employment opportunities: The Certificate indicates successful completion of a recognized, high-quality program of study in developmental disabilities. The Certificate in Disability Policy and Services will appear on the student’s transcript and can provide an additional credential to future employers.

What do students say about the Certificate?

  • The certificate program really filled in some gaps in my learning and built on my experiences in my major.
  • I have not had friends or family who have developmental disabilities. The extensive research I completed along with the human contact through my practicum helped dispel myths for me...
  • Through the program I gained a better understanding of other disciplines and made accomplishments as part of a team.

Who offers the Certificate?

The Certificate in Disability Policy and Services is delivered through a collaborative effort of the College of Education and Human Development's Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development and the Institute on Community Integration. The Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development conducts cutting-edge research on topics such as girls’ education in developing countries, strategies for human resource development, intercultural communication, scientific integrity, and effective strategies for leading school and organizational change. The Institute on Community Integration is a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, improving policies and practices to ensure that all children, youth, and adults with disabilities are valued by, and contribute to, their communities of choice.

How do I get more information?

For admissions criteria, curriculum information, and application procedures, visit the College of Education and Human Development page on the Disability Policy and Services Certificate Program, and/or contact:
Beth Fondell
Certificate Program Coordinator
Institute on Community Integration
Pattee Hall
150 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis MN 55455