University of Pittsburgh School of Education

School of Education Launches New Urban Education Certificate Program

Published on 5/18/2016 6:00:00 AM

[Press release published on behalf of University News.] In America’s classrooms, a cultural divide exists between teachers, who are most often white, and a student population that continues to expand in ethnic diversity. This is especially true in Pittsburgh, where nearly 85 percent of public school teachers are white and more than 60 percent of students are from minority communities.

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education is launching a new certificate program to bridge such divisions. The Graduate School of Education Post-Baccalaureate Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching with an Area of Concentration in Urban Education will provide training to strengthen classroom relations between educators and diverse student populations. Commencing classes this summer, the certificate program will be housed within Pitt’s Department of Instruction and Learning and supported by the University’s Center for Urban Education.

In addition to strengthening teacher-student dynamics across demographics, Pitt officials said that the certificate program will contribute to enhanced job satisfaction and marketability. H. Richard Milner IV, director of Pitt’s Center for Urban Education, said that the potential for forging bonds with students plays a significant role in professional contentment for most teachers. Additionally, Milner noted that teachers who can effectively nurture such relationships across racial and cultural lines, deepening their content knowledge and teaching skills, are more appealing to principals and potential employers.

“The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education is very excited about this new certificate program that will better equip Pitt graduates of all races and backgrounds to teach in urban settings, to garner more personal fulfillment from their work, and to increase their potential job prospects in very competitive public education job markets across the country,” said Milner, Pitt’s Helen Faison Endowed Chair of Urban Education. Milner, who played a key role in the design of the certificate program’s curriculum, also said, “The more knowledge and skills our graduates have about developing innovative, relevant, and responsive practices to identify and build on the many assets of students in urban environments, the better our chances that every child receives the kind of education he or she deserves.”

Courses for the certificate program will cover a broad range of topics. Such classes as “Introduction to Urban Education” will explore issues related to public education policy and systemic racism and the direct and indirect impact of these factors on students’ educational experiences. The courses “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” and “Relationship Building with Students, Families, and Communities” are designed to assist teachers in cultivating relationships and becoming more responsive and sensitive educators. Additionally, students will be given opportunities to partake in real-world learning experiences within Pittsburgh public schools to sharpen their teaching skills.

A 15-credit-hour program, the certificate will be available to candidates who have earned a baccalaureate degree at an accredited institution and meets Pitt’s minimal requirements for admission to graduate programs. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation will also be required for consideration. The School of Education’s admissions staff in consultation with the certificate program’s coordinator will review all applicants.

For any students interested in finding out more information about the program or applying, please contact Erika Gold Kestenberg at or 412-961-1994.


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