Disability Resource Specialist, Graduate Certificate

Institute for Human Development

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This graduate certificate provides training to people desiring to work in positions that support individuals with disabilities in institutions of higher education.    

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.
    • A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a Grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.
    • A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.
    • Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 12
Major GPA 3.0
Additional Admission Requirements Additional admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are recommended.
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required

Purpose Statement

Disability Resource Specialists play a vital role in promoting access and ensuring reasonable accommodations are provided to individuals with a wide range of disabilities so that they can participate fully and successfully in a post-secondary environment. The purpose of this graduate certificate is to prepare personnel who will not only address work force demand, but also support persons with disabilities to access and participate more fully in all post-secondary environments, programs, and activities in order to ultimately have the same opportunities as their peers who do not have a disability.  

Participants in the program will be introduced to a disability studies approach that respects the lived experiences of persons with disabilities and identifies environmental and attitudinal barriers that may prevent full participation in life activities. They will learn about the requirements of the Americans with Disability Act as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Fair Housing Act. They will also learn how those statutes and regulations impact and apply to post-secondary educational environments. Participants will learn and practice the application of specific procedural tools to address the broad range of questions and situations that staff in a Disability Resource Office encounter, from eligibility as a person with a disability to determination of academic adjustments to fundamental alteration protocols. This will be achieved through analysis of federal regulations, guidance and court rulings that will then be applied to hypothetical and theoretical case presentations. Participating students will develop and refine their skills by working in a Disability Resource office supervised by a trained DR Specialist in DIS 608. It is critical that all participants learn how apply their knowledge learned through the other three courses in the certificate enabling them to be more effective DR Specialists. This graduate certificate provides training to people desiring to work in positions that support individuals with disabilities in institutions of higher education. 

This Certificate program is designed for individuals with bachelors or master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling, Special Education, Counseling, Educational Psychology or other related fields. The certificate will meet the needs of individuals looking to enter the field of Disability Resources in higher education, Disability Resources professionals already in the field as well as Higher Education Administrators whose portfolio includes offices with these functions.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this certificate will:

1. Demonstrate and apply a fundamental knowledge and comprehension of the disability access laws, and regulations that apply within a post-secondary education environment, including:

  • Paradigms for understanding discrimination
  • The structure of disability antidiscrimination laws
  • Differences between Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended
  • How and where the Fair Housing Act applies
  • Who is a qualified individual with a disability
  • Requirements to provide appropriate modifications to policy, process and procedure as well as academic adjustments under the concepts of:    
    • Necessary
    • Reasonable
    • Fundamental alteration
    • Undue Burden
    • Direct Threat
  • Highly regulated topics such as:
    • Pre-admission inquiries of disability status
    • Equally effective communication
    • Service Animals
  • Which participants and what programs, activities and services offered are covered by the applicable laws and regulations
  • Requirements to provide a timely grievance procedure
2. Demonstrate the ability to carry out the various elements involved in the basic operations of a Disability Resource office within a post-secondary education environment including:
  • Procedures for Self-Identification as a person with a disability and requesting modifications to policies, procedures and processes or academic aids and adjustments.
  • Applying appropriate methods and standards for determining who is a qualified individual with a disability
  • Applying appropriate methods for, and determining when, a request for accommodation is supported. This is achieved through analysis of each request under the concepts of:
    • Necessary
    • Reasonable
    • Fundamental Alteration
    • Undue Burden
  • Processes for notifying students of approved accommodations
  • Processes for notifying faculty of a student’s disability status and approved accommodations
  • Providing training for Faculty, Students and other stakeholders on office procedures and operations
  • Implementation of accommodations for exam administration 
  • Operating a program for alternative format production of instructional materials
  • Provision of Assistive Technology
  • Implementation of grievance procedures
3. Understand and apply the theories and methods within disability studies to inform actions and communication in a post-secondary education environment, including:
  • Exploration of the contemporary and professional concepts of disability 
  • How disability is currently framed in society
  • How conscious and unconscious biases effect service provision, and 
  • How these elements shape personal and professional ideas

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Letter of application
Certificate Requirements
  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate. Under both circumstances, federal financial aid can be used for this certificate.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.