The Certificate in Education Law and Civil Rights is a 9-credit graduate/professional certificate that focuses on legal issues that arise in public elementary and secondary schools (and provides flexibility to students interested in higher education law). The courses included in this certificate cover topics involving discriminatory practices against populations that have been historically marginalized in schools. Through a legal lens, students analyze existing case law, statutes, and regulations to assist those working in schools create policies that are inclusive and meet their legal obligations.

The mission of the department is to create, evaluate, exchange, and apply knowledge about leadership, learning, and organizational performance to prepare scholars and scholar practitioners who cultivate equity and educational opportunity in a diverse and changing world.

Many varied educational constituencies need to be able to analyze and to inform debate on educational issues, and to lead and develop learning communities that meet the diverse learning needs of students and society. We believe effective educational leadership in any institution embodies three core values: inquiry, equity, and reflection.

Graduates and recipients of the department's instruction are expected to reflect the knowledge, skills, and personal qualities that will be successful in promoting, producing, and improving learning and increasing public trust in educational institutions.


This certificate is open to any UW-Madison student enrolled in a graduate or professional program. Students can declare their intent to pursue the certificate by completing the Add/Change/Discontinue application process through the Graduate Student Portal (found in MyUW) and selecting, "Certificate in Education Law and Civil Rights". Professional students in the careers of Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary cannot add the certificate in the Graduate Student Portal, and should contact the program for more information.


Students must complete a minimum of nine credits, including one of two required courses, and six elective credits. A description of the certificate requirements is provided below.

Students must complete at least one of the following courses.
ELPA 840 Public School Law3
or ELPA 640 Legal Rights and Responsibilities for Teachers
Students must complete 6 credits from the following options:6
Civil Rights Laws, the Courts, and Public Education
Resource Allocation for Equity and Social Justice
Legal Aspects of Higher Education
Legal Foundations of Special Education and Pupil Services
The Politics of Education
Seminar in Educational Law
Total Credits9

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify various legal issues that are inherent and emerging in schools
  2. Examine various legal principles and their application
  3. Analyze current school practices from the standpoint of potential legal controversies, including the ability to recognize preventative law situations
  4. Engage in academic discourse involving issues of social justice and the democratic underpinnings of education

Faculty: Professor Anjalé (AJ) Welton (chair); Professors  Eckes, Fernandez, Halverson, Miller, Wang, Winkle-Wagner; Associate Professors Burt, Hillman; Assistant Professors Grooms, Henry, McQuillan, Saldana, Williams, Yu; Clinical Professors Crim, Li, Sramek, Salzman, Soffa-Jimenez