Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching

Make a Positive Impact in Diverse Classrooms

The certificate in Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching (SECRET) is designed for initially certified educators who want to enhance their knowledge and skills in serving diverse populations and students with varying social and learning abilities. Become equipped to create a culturally responsive and equitable learning environment to support the success of all students.

Our experienced faculty take a holistic approach to the curriculum and incorporate the latest research and data-driven practices to prepare students to promote equity, diversity, and inclusivity in special education through the lens of cultural responsiveness. Explore the historical, cultural, and social factors that shape students’ experiences, and how these factors impact their learning and development. Focus on the inter-relationships of school, home, and community to improve the quality of education for children with diverse needs.

This program was previously named Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners.






Nationally Recognized
The SECRET program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).


Specialized Program
Ours is one of only eight in the U.S. that provides the latest instructional techniques and research methods needed to help ensure the success of students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds as well as those with social or learning disabilities.




The GW Advantage

Whether attending on-campus or online, a GW education is unlike any other. Our online courses replicate the classroom experience while providing you with the flexibility of distance education.

GW is home to faculty who are experts in the field of special education and cultural responsiveness who share their real-world insights and diverse perspectives, providing you with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage the changing demographics of the modern classroom.

Take advantage of GW's vast connections with prestigious organizations, diverse school settings, and dynamic alumni base to collaborate with other professionals in the field, building a network of support that will enhance your career and impact in the classroom.





 Program at a Glance

Degree Awarded:

Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching


Special Education and Disability Studies

Course Delivery:

-Main Campus

Program Entry:

Summer, Fall

Our Mission

Designed for initially certified teachers and educational service providers currently working in schools who are passionate about improving the quality of learning for children with diverse needs, the Graduate Certificate in SECRET empowers you to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of your students.

This Special Education degree utilizes cutting-edge research and the field experience of our practitioner faculty to equip you with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage the changing demographics of the modern classroom. You will graduate prepared to address the cultural, language, social, and learning needs of a variety of exceptional students.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 18 credits, including 6 credits in required courses and 12 credits in electives.
SPED 6276 Academic and Psychosocial Assessment of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Student
SPED 6277 Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Disabilities
Electives - 12 credits from the following:
CPED 6221 Developmental Reading: Emergent Literacy
CPED 6551 Second Language Instructional Methods
CPED 6556 Linguistic Applications in English as a Second Language
CPED 6627 Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing
SPED 6266 The Development of Language and Literacy
SPED 6268 Development of Children and Youth with Disabilities
SPED 6272 Strategies for Inclusion: Addressing the Needs of Diverse Learners
SPED 6275 The Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Student with Disabilities: Policy, Research, and Trends
Program Outcomes

Successful completion of this graduate certificate will prepare you to understand the impact of students’ needs on classroom learning. Through applied coursework, you will build the academic foundation while learning appropriate methodologies necessary to develop individualized instruction plans and help culturally and linguistically diverse students succeed in your classroom.



 Apply Now

The GC in SECRET is not currently accepting applications. For more information or to inquire about similar programs, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the online application form as well as the following required supporting documents. There is no application fee.

  • Prerequisite: Bachelor's Degree

  • Resume

  • Transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Two Letters of Recommendation

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants.

The GC in SECRET is not currently accepting applications. For more information or to inquire about similar programs, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.



 Tuition & Financial Aid

We know embarking upon graduate school is a big decision - due in part to the costs of attending. At GW, we understand the time and thought behind making graduate school work for you. Please take a moment to learn more about the options and opportunities available to help fund your graduate education.

Learn more about scholarships, grants & financial aid  

Graduate tuition is charged per credit hour, unless otherwise noted. Rates vary by program and location.

The tuition rate* for the Graduate Certificate in SECRET program is $950 per credit hour.

This program requires 18 credits.

Please note: Additional fees may apply for international students, late fees, etc. Current tuition rates may be updated during the year.

*Summer 2023, Fall 2023 and Spring 2024

View the current fee chart   



Vaughan Merrick headshot
quotation mark

The SECRET program has allowed me to dive deep into how we provide services with fidelity to students that are too often neglected in education. Dr. Gresham truly goes above and beyond to ensure educators in the program grow as people and professionals through the coursework in the program.

Special Education Computer Science teacher




 Career Outlook

Within this field, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth of 4% over the next ten years1 with better screening and identification of various disabilities in children increasing the demand for special education services. In addition, children with disabilities are being identified earlier and enrolled into special education programs. This is increasing the need for special education preschool teachers and a particular demand for special education teachers who possess the skills to teach culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Special Education Teachers, at (visited September 08, 2022).

Special Education Career Opportunities
Pre-K teacher works with two students doing an art project

In addition to becoming highly effective Special Education Teachers, our graduates are prepared to take on other critical roles in the education of students with disabilities, including:

  • Assessment team leaders for Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching
  • Compliance coordinators
  • Curriculum development for special education and/or ELL Students
  • Diversity coordinators
  • Early- K-12 ESOL teachers
  • Early- K-12 special education teachers
  • IEP team leaders
  • Instructional coaches and leaders
  • Policy research
  • Special education and/or ESOL school team leaders
Potential Employment Settings
GSEHD alumna leans over desk to assist a student in her elementary classroom

Graduates are prepared to work with children in multiple settings including:

  • Alternative schools
  • Curriculum development and publishing companies
  • General education schools
  • P-12 charter, public, private schools
  • Residential or correctional facility schools
  • Tutoring company


Ayleen Santiago headshot
quotation mark

The Special Education for Culturally Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching program has given me the tools, knowledge, and resources to positively impact all learners in my classroom community.

ESL teacher; Instructional Coach, Educational Intervention for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Student with Special Needs Program, GW




Program Faculty

Dr. Doran Gresham

Assistant Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-1509



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