Graduate Certificate in Workforce Development

Massive shifts in the U.S. employment landscape have created a high demand for experts in workforce development. Through this certificate program, students gain the expertise needed to successfully lead workforce development initiatives, make and interpret public policies, identify trends in employment statistics, understand the role of stakeholder groups and gain other skills critical to a productive career in this rapidly growing field.

Ideal for

  • administrators in state and local government
  • leaders and professionals in nonprofit agencies
  • community activists.


  • Prepare like few others. SUNY Empire State College is one of the few U.S. colleges to offer a graduate Certificate in Workforce Development, and the only one to focus in depth on policymaking and administration.
  • Enjoy flexibility. All courses take place online and students may begin the program in the fall or spring terms.
  • Study relevant regional content. The curriculum highlights issues specific to New York state and the northeastern U.S., while placing these issues in a broader global context.

Program Design

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

Required Courses and Suggested Sequence

CAED 6010 Principles of Community and Economic Development (3 Credits)

This study will incorporate the subjects of two distinct, yet related, bodies of literature. One addresses community development and the other, economic development. The study will highlight the importance of linking these two concepts in a model that integrates the economic development of a community with the development of social capital and community capacity and functioning. Students will examine theoretical concepts in these two domains, as well as real-world economic development models that attempt to move beyond the traditional factors of production and examine ways in which real communities have tried to produce positive economic outcomes through community development.

CAED 6070 Workforce Development Policy (3 Credits)

Workforce development programs supported by federal and state funding have become an important resource in advancing community and economic development. Workforce development programs, while most often associated with training for lower-skilled and disadvantaged workers, have served as both an incentive for prospective employers and as an alternative to public assistance. The diverse purposes of workforce-development policy offer insights into the complexities of public policy in the U.S. federal system and underscore the important role of state and local governments in responding to the demands of a changing economy and workforce. This course will review the evolution of workforce-development policy in the United States, with particular attention to key federal legislation, the programs and services that create and deliver workforce programs and the challenges and opportunities that continue to shape workforce development policy and programs.

LABR 6030 Sociology of Work: Human Resources (3 Credits)

The course will provide the student with an overview of some of the main topics associated with the social organization of work. We will begin by exploring the historical foundations of the contemporary workplace and draw on the theories of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Frederick Taylor and Harry Braverman, who will provide a conceptual understanding of workplace relations. In the second part of the study, we will look at the question of social class and how this structures one’s opportunities in the workplace. as well as outside it. We also will explore the question of the global economy, types of work and the routinization of work. In the third part of the course, we will turn our attention to exploring contemporary research on the workplace as it affects family life and think about the ways in which inequality is perpetuated through contemporary arrangements of paid and unpaid labor, as well as more generally, the question of balancing work and family life. A guiding question throughout the course will be to ask what the impact is of work on human relationships, particularly how forms of social inequality are produced and perpetuated in the workplace and how human relations are structured in these workplace settings.

ADLC 6040 Learning and Education in the Workplace (3 Credits)

The changing nature of work has created the need for lifelong learning in the workplace at all levels of the organization. Workforce development needs range across issues such as literacy, management development, the cultural diversity of the workplace, internationalism and changes brought about by technological changes. Students explore learning at the workplace from several vantage points: human resource management, work satisfactions and personal development, public policy and economic competitiveness. The course also takes a critical historical view of the relationship between knowledge, power and workplace organization. Following general readings and assignments in which a variety of perspectives are brought into dialogue, students have the opportunity to focus on the needs for education and training in their own workplace.

Please Note: as of the Fall 2022 term, this required course will be replaced with LABR 6015 Labor Policy in America (3 credits)

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 completed application. Advising will be provided by certificate Coordinator Jason Russell.

While the 12 credits are fully transferable into the M.A. in Work and Labor Policy, acceptance will require candidates to apply to a master’s degree program and complete the full admission process. Completion of the graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to a master’s degree 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 about the Certificate in Workforce Development.

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.