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Graduate Certificate: Collaborative Community Leadership

Why this certificate

According to national surveys, less than a third of Americans believe leaders in the United States are effective, and more than half believe the issue has become worse in the last 20 years (Shollen & Gagnon, 2019). While many express healthy skepticism of the heroic approaches to leadership (Crosby & Bryson, 2017), recent evidence suggests key opportunities in the collective dimensions of leadership (Ospina, Foldy, Fairhurst, & Jackson, 2020). In our rapidly changing world, we need leaders with interdisciplinary skills to solve complex societal issues on local, national, and international levels (Bear & Skorton, 2019). The Collaborative Community Leadership graduate certificate program will prepare participants with the educational background necessary to lead in a diverse and multicultural environment.

Program Outcomes

This certificate will complement Virginia Tech graduate students' academic education by preparing them with the following abilities:

  • Apply knowledge of leadership principles in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary contexts,
  • Engage in scholarly inquiry as a way to critically analyze leadership theory and practice,
  • Promote collaborative leadership in real-world settings, and 
  • Practice social responsibility in today's diverse and multicultural environment.


The certificate program includes two required courses (LDRS 5454 & LDRS 5464), and six credits of certificate electives. Those certificate electives may include courses that are already part of another academic program (see the sample for the MPH program).  The certificate program includes an expectation for action learning, documented in the form of a one-credit independent study project (i.e., LDRS 5974).  In total, the certificate encompasses 13 credit hours.

Core/Required Coursework

LDRS 5454:  Leadership Foundations for Diverse Contexts
This course is intended to assist students in identifying and defining leadership in formal and non-formal educational settings, communities, and organizations. Students will learn through reading, observing, applying, creating, and evaluating leadership in context.

LDRS 5464: Leadership in a Global Society
This course will guide learners in identifying and developing the personal and professional competencies required for effective leadership in an increasingly global, diverse and multicultural society. The class activities will involve critical reflection and experiential learning. Students will learn through reading, observing, applying, creating, and evaluating leadership in context. 


(*Note:  This is a list of possible electives, but it is not all-inclusive.  Students may propose alternate options to the certificate coordinator.  Common course prefixes for alternate options include COMM, GIA, PAPA, UAP, MGT, and PSYC)
  • ALCE 5154: Community Partnerships and Volunteerism
  • ALCE 5224: Team Science, Cooperation, and Interdisciplinary Work
  • ALCE 5564: International Agriculture and Diplomacy
  • ALCE 5704: Systems Thinking Pedagogy and Praxis
  • EDHE 6304: Theories of Educational Organizations
  • ENGL 6334: Rhetoric in Society
  • GRAD 5204: Citizen Scholar Seminar
  • LDRS 5004:  Ethics in Leader/Follower Relationships
  • LDRS 5544: Leading Teams Through Change
  • LDRS 5554: Leading Social Change
  • SOC 5034: Social Inequality


  • Pre-approval from certificate program coordinator to ensure connection to program concepts.
  • End-of-project report in a potentially publishable format.
  • Completed with and/or supervised by a faculty member appropriate for the project.
  • Documented through one credit hour of LDRS 5974: Independent Study.
  • See examples of past projects.


Admission & Conferral

Admission to the graduate certificate program in Collaborative Community Leadership will be considered from students enrolled in any graduate program at Virginia Tech and from non-degree students who have been permitted to take courses by the Graduate School. When all requirements have been satisfied, participants will submit an Certificate Conferral Request to have the certificate added to their academic transcript. However, participating students must first complete the Application for Graduate Certificate Program.

For specific information about this program, contact Professor Eric Kaufman, (540) 231-6258, or send email to: