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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Center for New Directions in Politics and Public Policy



The Leadership Certificate is a valuable academic credential that reflects the participant's scholarly achievement in the areas of politics and public policy. Equally important, the Leadership Certificate Program offers participants the opportunity to develop the political skills and acumen necessary for leading effectively within his/her own organization, community, or jurisdiction. The Certificate also serves as a credible interim credential while the student continues his/her educational program toward the completion of a graduate or undergraduate degree. The Academic Certificate Program consists of five courses representing 15 semester hours of credit. Four of the courses require classroom attendance. A fifth course consists of an independent study. Courses can be taken at the graduate or at the undergraduate level.

The Leadership Certificate Program provides an extremely valuable educational experience for community leaders/activists as well as those individuals currently serving as policy board members of nonprofit organizations, school boards, city or town councils or any of the various special district governing boards or commissions.

The flexibility of the program through its individually designed curriculum also encourages participation of individuals, regardless of title or position, from such professions as law enforcement, fire and emergency service, K-12 teachers, and nursing.

The program can also serve as an excellent learning vehicle for those simply wanting to become more informed and involved in their own neighborhoods and communities.

General Guidelines

The guidelines outlined below apply for either the graduate or undergraduate programs offered through the Center unless otherwise noted.

  • The Leadership Certificate Program consists of five 3-semester hour courses, beginning with the required prerequisite course, Politics, Public Policy, and Leadership A limited, but quality, research project will serve as the capstone course completing the program. In between, the student will select three other courses from those offered through the Center at the University Center at Chaparral, located in Douglas County.
  • With approval from the Director of the Center, one 3-semester hour graduate or undergraduate course previously taken can be accepted as transfer credit to satisfy one of the three elective requirements.
  • It is expected that the student will utilize the requirements of the prerequisite course and the three elective courses as the primary source of study and research necessary to develop the student's particular area of leadership focus to be developed in the final capstone project.

  • If the student is at the graduate level, the 15-semester hours of the Certificate Program can be transferred in to meet the requirements for the Master's Degree in Political Science with an area of emphasis in politics and public policy. Note: Notification to the Center's Director must be given before 9 semester hours have been completed including any hours to be transferred in to the program from other graduate courses previously taken.
  • If the student is at the undergraduate level, the 15-semester hours of the Certificate Program will automatically transfer in to meet the requirements for the undergraduate major in Political Science with an area of emphasis in policy and public administration.
  • The student is responsible for notifying the Director that he/she has completed all of the requirements for the Certificate Program including the capstone research requirement. The Certificate will then be processed for approval and presented to the student the following semester.

  • Either the Center's Director or her designee will serve as the official advisor for the student in the program and, in particular, will also serve as the instructor of record for the student's capstone research project.

  • The student is responsible for notifying the Director as soon as possible of his/her intent to pursue the Leadership Certificate Program. This can be done prior to enrolling in the prerequisite course or during one of the weekend sessions of that course.

  • Tuition, the weekend format, and other special characteristics of courses and programs offered through the Center will also apply to the Leadership Certificate Program.

  • The curriculum is designed so that the individual working full-time can reasonably complete the four courses and the capstone project in one calendar year.

Flexibility and Individually Structured Focus

Each participant is encouraged to develop the focus of his/her academic program around an area of special concern or inquiry for that person. Topics can range from such areas as the leadership role of board or council members to neighborhood organizing. The participant's capstone research project becomes a hard copy document that demonstrates the applied understanding and related leadership competencies of that person related to his/her particular area of study.

All of the courses will go beyond addressing the specific subject outcomes, to incorporating competency areas that are critical to leadership in a political environment. These common course outcomes are:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Changing Public Priorities
  • Political and Social Diversity
  • Ethical and Legal Accountability
  • Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
  • Applied Use of Appropriate Technology
  • Strategic Planning and Decision-Making
  • Resolution of Conflicts and Public Consent Building
  • Individual, Organizational, and Cultural Communication Effectiveness

All 15 semester hours earned in the program can later be applied to complete the requirements for the University of Colorado at Denver's off-campus Master's Degree program in Political Science with an area of emphasis in politics and public policy or the undergraduate major in Political Science with an area of emphasis in public policy and administration. Click on the following links for more information about admissions, registration, and class format and location.