College of Education and Human Development

Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

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.


12 credits minimum completed in 1-2 semesters for full time students.

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.

Program planning sheet [pdf]

Required courses

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.

How to apply

    Application deadline and instructions

    Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis and may be submitted at any time.

    Admission is open to degree-seeking or non-degree seeking students.

    Applications are not complete until ALL required materials and fees have been received.

    Students must complete all program requirements within five years after program admission, and must maintain a minimum 3.00 GPA. To stay in good program standing, students must carry no more than three credits of incomplete coursework and must respond to an annual survey updating their current status in the program.

    Online application

    Tuition and funding

    Tuition information: CEHD | OneStop

    Financial aid: CEHD | OneStop

    Admission requirements

    Degree: Bachelor's degree. Students must have completed a two- or four-year college degree or equivalent coursework.

    GPA: Undergraduate 2.5

    GRE scores: Not required

    TOEFL/IELTS Scores (Not required for U.S. students):

    • TOEFL: Internet based = 79 or above
      (21 writing/19 reading)
    • IELTS = 6.5


    If a graduate student in an OLPD program has become inactive they must follow the readmission procedures.

    Whether you seek reactivation after accidentally being discontinued this term or want to return after a long absence these are the steps needed to re-apply.

    1. Complete the proper online readmission application.

      If you have been away from the program less than five years use the Express Readmission Application and email it to All others must submit the Online Application for Readmission
    2. Once received, the department will forward your application to the appropriate admissions committee. Readmission decisions are normally determined by the program’s admissions committee, not any one individual faculty member.

      Readmission is never guaranteed. Decisions for readmission are based on a review of previous progress toward degree completion, the proposed timeline for completion, the availability of faculty resources, and/or any additional application materials they may request from you. Individual programs/tracks reserve the right to readmit students under the current graduate program requirements, rules, and guidelines. They may also request an applicant to provide additional information prior to making a decision.
    3. Once the committee makes their recommendation, the department’s DGS will sign off on the decision and forward the result to the central Graduate Admissions Office for processing. Once processed, you will be notified of the decision.

    Individual department programs and tracks reserve the right to require readmitted students to retake coursework if they deem it appropriate. Readmitted students are also required to abide by current time-to-degree policies as determined by the University, which may differ from the policy in place when they first started the degree program.

    Individuals seeking readmission to the Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.A. program tracks in the former EDPA, WHRE, and WCFE majors can only reapply to the appropriate program track under the Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) major name.


    Rebecca Dosch Brown
    Interdisciplinary Education Director
    612-301-3438 |