Research clearly demonstrates that the United States is deeply inequitable in the way it treats African American, Latinx, poor, and other groups in our schools and communities. Increasingly, schools and the larger society are acknowledging this reality, but often school staff and community leaders do not fully understand the history of these patterns in America and in institutions like schools, or the ways that these oppressive forces operate on multiple levels today to harm people from different groups. It is critical for school and community leaders to understand how they can develop strategies to respond to these challenges and contribute to change.

The Certificate in Racial and Social Justice in Education gives participants an opportunity to come together with a diverse group of  students from a wide range of backgrounds along with highly qualified faculty to grapple with these questions together. Students will learn: 

  • The history and sources of racial and other oppression in the U.S.
  • The ways that these oppressive forces play out in and around schools today.
  • Strategies for confronting and changing the structures and attitudes that perpetuate these patterns.

Schools increasingly seek out faculty and staff with the knowledge to improve equity and inclusion in schools. This certificate will prepare students to be successful in positions with a responsibility for addressing these issues.

The Certificate can be completed:

  • Fully online   
  • Mostly face to face/hybrid (evening and weekend classes)
  • In combination 

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


  • Students wishing to obtain this certificate must declare their intention by applying to the program office or director.
  • All graduate certificate applicants—even those already enrolled in a UWM graduate program—must apply to the Graduate School through the Panthera Admission Application.
  • Graduate degree and previously admitted graduate non-degree students who decide to pursue a certificate program must submit the Panthera application before completing 6 credits in the certificate sequence.
  • Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree and have a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average to be admitted in to a certificate program.


Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree and a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average. Students who do not meet the GPA minimum may provide additional evidence of admissibility, including passing two courses in the certificate program as a special student with a grade of B or better.

Credits and Courses

Required Courses
Choose one:3
Theories and Issues of Racial Justice in Education
Sociology of Education and Community Engagement
Focus Area Courses
Choose two from a single category:6
Education and Communities
Race Relations in Education
Antiracist Education
Race and Public Policy in Urban America
Community Engagement and Change:
Community Change and Engagement
Social Media and Technology for Community Engagement
Community Participation and Power
Content Electives
Choose two in consultation with certificate program director and/or advisors:6
Schools, Decolonization, Communities
Foundations in Systems of Educational Equity
Leadership in Multicultural Organizations
Collaborations for Teachers with Families, Schools, and Communities
Teaching in Urban & Diverse Communities
Educating Black Males-Theories, Methods and Strategies
The Student at Risk (Causes)
Educating At-Risk Students
Education and Hispanics
Public Schools, Church-State Issues: Educational Foundations
Race Relations in Education
Antiracist Education
Race and Public Policy in Urban America
Social Psychology of Group Differences: Race and Ethnicity
Education Issues in American Indian Communities
History of Native Education and Policy Development
History of Education in American Communities
Community Change and Engagement
Social Media and Technology for Community Engagement
Community Participation and Power
Total Credits15

Additional Requirements

Capstone Final Portfolio

At the end of the program, students complete a capstone portfolio drawing from the work completed during the program that synthesizes and reflects upon what they have learned, particularly how this new knowledge might affect their practice. They will present their conclusions before a faculty member in the Department. For students in the Cultural Foundations MS program, this could be integrated with the final MS paper.

Transfer Credit

Students may transfer in a maximum of 3 relevant credits, as determined by a student’s advisor. 

Grade Point Average Requirement

Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75. 

Time Limit

Three years from initial enrollment.

Articulation with Degree Programs

  1. Credits and courses required for a certificate may double count toward meeting UWM graduate degree requirements subject to the following restrictions:
    • Degree programs must approve the courses from certificates that can double count toward the degree.
    • All credits taken in completion of certificate requirements may count towards a UWM graduate degree as long as they do not contribute more than 90% of the total credits needed to obtain the degree. (Note: Students in PhD programs must still complete the minimum residency requirements)
    • Certificate courses used toward meeting degree requirements must be completed within the time limit for transfer credit.
  2. Courses completed for a degree may be counted toward a subsequent certificate, subject to all certificate policy requirements.
  3. A course may count toward no more than one certificate and one degree.
  4. Students may not earn a certificate subsequent to a concentration in the same area.