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

Make a Positive Impact in Diverse Classrooms

Enhance your skills to meet the needs of students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and those with varying social and learning abilities with a Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching (SECRET) from the George Washington University (GW).

In this certificate program, you will focus on the inter-relationships of school, home and community to improve the quality of education for children with diverse needs. A holistic approach to the curriculum utilizes the latest research, theory and data-driven best practices to prepare you to empower and improve the quality of learning for children with diverse needs.

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


The following requirements must be fulfilled: 18 credits, including 6 credits in required courses and 12 credits in electives.

Required (6 credit hours)

SPED 6276 Academic and Psychosocial Assessment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (3 credits)
SPED 6277 Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Disabilities (3 credits)

Electives (12 credit hours)

Select 4 courses 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

Certificate 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.


Gresham, Doran Assistant Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies


Career Outlook

The Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners from GW prepares you for a career in a variety of roles in special education, including diversity coordinator, early K-12 teacher or instructional coach for a wide range of educational systems.

Within this field, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth of 6% over the next ten years 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 with job growth expected to reach 16% by 2022 1 , of which there is a particular demand for special education teachers who possess the skills to teach culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

  • Assessment team leaders for special education for culturally and linguistically diverse learners
  • 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

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

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, on the Internet at

Master’s Program Offered

GW offers a Master’s in Special Education for Cultural Responsiveness and Equity in Teaching (campus or online). Students pursuing the Graduate Certificate have the option to transfer all 18 credit hours into the Master's program.


  • Program Entry: Summer, Fall
  • Prerequisites: Bachelors Degree
  • Campus: Main Campus, Online

Application Requirements

  • Online Application
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts (unofficial)

For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions FAQ page.


We encourage you to apply as early as possible for the next available start term. Please contact the admissions team with any questions.

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Transformation Begins Here

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners, available on campus or online. Complete the form linked below or contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at 202-994-9283.

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