Youth and Community Development (Graduate Certificate)

students roasting marshmallows

Graduate certificate

Admissions requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in youth development or a related field.
  • A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate studies. Conditional admission may be granted if a GPA in the last two years of undergraduate studies is under 3.0. Conditional admission will be converted to a regular admission if a B or better is earned in the first graduate course taken.
  • Submit a resume that includes work, volunteer, practicum and internship experience.
  • A statement that describes how experience(s) have influenced career goals and a desire to pursue a certificate degree, and how earning a graduate certificate in Youth and Community Development will advance these career goals.
  • Recommendations from three persons able to comment on the applicant’s potential to success in the graduate certificate program.

Program overview

This program is offered in-person, hybrid, or fully online.

This graduate certificate in Youth and Community Development prepares those engaged in youth work and related fields to assume greater program and leadership responsibilities in youth-serving settings. It is based on theoretical perspectives in childhood, adolescent, and family development and organizational change, and grounded in an ethic of community engagement and social action. It prepares change agents to transform communities through an intentional investment in youth with interdisciplinary coursework and community-based experiences. Students may choose to continue on to the Master's in Family Science - Youth and Community Development track.

Why youth and community development at Western Michigan University

  • The graduate certificate in Youth and Community Development is a 9 credit hour program that offers a foundation in theory and practice.
  • Prepares graduate for leadership roles in a variety of settings
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 

Who should apply

Professionals working in social services, education or youth-serving settings who are seeking to advance their careers by obtaining a graduate certificate; other professionals who wish to transition to working with youth; and professionals who are considering pursuing a master’s degree in youth and community development.

Career opportunities

Graduates may pursue greater leadership responsibilities in

  • public and private human services organizations and agencies
  • informal learning environments

Helpful links

WMU Graduate College

College of Education and Human Development

Employer tuition reimbursement

If your employer has a tuition reimbursement program, find out about WMU’s deferment program for employer paid tuition.

Program curriculum

All courses are 3 credit hours unless otherwise specified.

1. Youth development: Theory and foundations (6 credit hours)

FCS 6410: Advances in Youth and Community Development

Choose One:

ED 6040: Childhood Learning and Development: Theory to Practice

ED 6035: Risk and Resilience in Adolescent Development

FCS 6510: Child Development: Theories and Practice [0-18]

FCS 5250: Adolescents in Development 

2. Youth development: Practice (3 credit hours)

Choose One:

FCS 6420: Building Capacity and Quality in Youth and Community Development

ED 5950: Experiential Education and Place-Based Learning

FCS 6550: Adult-Child Relationships

ED 6700: Authority and Autonomy in Schooling

FCS 5350: Communication Skills