School for Graduate Studies

Graduate Certificate in Community Advocacy

The advanced graduate certificate in community advocacy will provide students with the opportunity to develop skills to better advocate for the clients and communities they serve. Students will acquire greater knowledge of the regulatory environment and processes (both governmental and private) in the areas in which they work and will be better able to network within those environments on behalf of specific clients, or to effect change in the policies that impact their communities. More specifically, students in this certificate program should gain analytical skills regarding community and institutional organizations and historical and cultural differences in human development and of power relations and justice. They should be able to apply these skills in a service-learning environment, in addition to demonstrating critical thinking and graduate-level writing skills in the online-classroom environment.

Program Design

Courses are taught online and students may begin the certificate program in the fall, spring or summer terms.

Required Courses and Suggested Sequence

Human Service Policy (3 credits)

In this course, students will examine how social policy influences, and is influenced by, how human service functions; service populations; and how outcomes and resources are publicly and privately defined, identified, secured and measured. Students will examine the interactivel effects of social policy and human services at organizational and professional levels. By semester's end, students should be capable of effectively analyzing any human services agency or concept in current social policy.

Advocacy in State and Community-level Government (3 credits)

The emphasis of this course is on gaining the knowledge and skills required for effective advocacy in state and community-level government. Students will focus on learning activities that promote efficiency in individual and organizational advocacy for social change and meeting the needs of marginalized populations. The course will consist of a mini study in state and local community government; case studies in community advocacy; and experienced-based learning through participation as a volunteer or intern in a service learning project in a community organization.

Choice of one 3-credit advocacy course:

  • Advocacy for the Mentally Disabled

    The purpose of this study is to provide students with the theoretical and practical tools required for the provision of advocacy services for mentally disabled populations residing within mental health facilities in New York state, as well as for the provision of advocacy services for those mentally disabled populations residing in the community. Students will be introduced to general information regarding the legal rights and entitlements due mentally disabled persons in New York state. Students also will become familiar with information regarding advocacy groups which provide community-based support for this population. Students will gain familiarity with reading legal cases, statutes, regulations and items of mental health policy.

  • Aging and Public Policy

    This study examines social policy and the aged. Students examine the policy implications of gerontological theory and research from various schools of thought. Among specific policies considered are those related to employment and retirement, income maintenance, health insurance, health care, institutionalization and family support systems. Cross-cultural national and historical variations in social policy are also considered. The study also examines the connections between ageism, sexism and racism.

  • Race, Class, Gender in U.S. Public Policy

    The intent of this study is to investigate the complex ways in which gender, race and national identity are articulated in U.S. culture and society and to examine how that historically has shaped the social movements that challenged the prevailing order. By focusing on the interaction of race and gender in American history since the Civil War and engaging a broad variety of primary and secondary sources, the student will achieve an understanding of the complexities of U.S. culture and social change and develop the skills of a practicing historian.

Community Organizing (Capstone) (3 credits)

Effective civic engagement often challenges us to work with others at the grassroots level to meet a wide variety of human needs. By the end of the course, students will be able to apply key political science and sociological theories to community organizing, use qualitative and quantitative research techniques to discern community needs, work with community volunteers to make important decisions and take the necessary steps to initiate community building. The class will work with real situations in real communities.

Admission and Advisement

Admission to the certificate program requires the applicant to submit an official transcript of his or her bachelor’s degree along with a complete application. Advising will be provided by the certificate program coordinator, Dr. Meredith Brown.

While the 12 credits of this certificate may be transferred into the M.A. in social and public policy, acceptance will require candidates to apply to the master’s degree program and complete the full admission process. Completion of the graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to the master’s program.

Advanced certificates may be incorporated into a related master's degree for those meeting the program admission requirements.

Apply online or request information for more details on the Certificate in Community Advocacy.

Tuition and Fees

Students completing this certificate pay the following tuition and fees:

Federal financial aid is not available unless concurrently matriculated in a master’s degree program.