Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS)

Customizable CAGS design to fulfill your professional goals

Interactive Certification Map | Admissions Requirements | UNE Academic Catalog

Certificate Overview

The 30-credit Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) allows you to choose any combination of ten courses that are most closely applicable to the area in which you are working or that interests you. It is tailored to the experiences of an educational professional who aspires to a leadership role.

It provides a thorough foundation in educational leadership theory, principles, and practices. The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) is tailored to the daily life of a working educator and includes an immersive education experience within the student’s own classroom.

Customizable Design

The CAGS allows you, as a school leader, to design a post-master’s certificate of study based on your district’s needs and your state’s requirements.

This CAGS does not align with any particular state certification requirements.

As a student, you are encouraged to work with your Department of Education if you are looking for a particular certification. If certification is your goal, you may wish to consider the CAGS – Advanced Educational Leadership or contact an enrollment counselor for questions.


Transfer Credits for More Flexibility

This CAGS allows students to transfer in up to three 3-credit classes for a total of nine credits, which allows more flexibility in customizing your educational experience.

Courses that involve field-based work may be included in this certificate

Apply Your Skills Immediately

The online Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study is designed to help you become an effective leader in your educational environment. Courses in the CAGS program cover a range of educational and leadership topics and are comprised of high quality and innovative curricula that will teach skills immediately applicable in your learning community. Discussion topics include:

  • The changing state of education across the United States
  • School reform
  • School culture
  • Educational initiatives
  • Supervision and evaluation strategies
  • School and community relations
  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Strategic planning

Certificate Highlights

  • 30-credit hour certificate
  • Complete your certificate in just under two years
  • 100% online – no campus visits required
  • Learn anytime from any place
  • No GRE Required
  • Dynamic faculty of practitioners, researchers and educators
  • Regionally accredited by New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

CAGS Curriculum

Choose any 700-level courses, for a total of 30 credits. An internship is not mandatory for this CAGS program.

This course provides the overarching context for the educational leadership focus area. Educators consider theories and practices relating to effective and ethical leadership in educational settings. Topics include diagnosing the work environment, decision-making, problem-solving, strategic planning, and human resource development. Students will reflect on their own leadership, observe and analyze other leaders, and explore how the theories and practices that relate to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (formerly ISLLC).

This course provides a foundation of the legal underpinnings of the American education system and explores how legal decisions have had an effect on an educational system that covers lifelong learning. Specific legal principles relating to church/state issues, tort liability, teacher responsibilities, student rights and administrative concerns such as contracts and collective bargaining are examined. Participants will analyze case studies to apply their understanding and create a compendium of the laws unique to the states in which they work.

Regardless of how beneficial a desired change may seem, new initiatives are often difficult to implement. Each educational setting has its own culture, and innovations and changes that are incompatible with the prevailing climate may elicit resistance and hostility. The course examines change theory; studies case histories of successful and not so successful change efforts; and reviews change strategies to equip students with skills for introducing effective reforms.

Supervision and evaluation strategies need to support teachers’ growth into strong, competent professionals. This course examines requirements of educational leaders engaged in supervising and evaluating educational personnel, and explores new directions and procedures currently under development. Emphasis is given to understanding the theory behind the practice, strengths and weaknesses of varying methods, and hands-on applications. Drawing on knowledge of developmental stages and multiple styles of learning and teaching, participants consider such practices as peer evaluations, self-evaluations, portfolios, and mentoring.

An effective educational leader promotes the success of all students by communicating the learning community’s vision, policies, and successes to staff, students, parents, community, decision makers, legislators, and media. This course provides 80 hours of field-based work, in which aspiring leaders will develop a plan to build and maintain partnerships with multiple constituent groups within the community in a way that positively impacts the education of students.

School leaders must also be “lead teachers.” Participants will explore current models for curriculum design to ensure that instructional materials meet appropriate mandates for content and learning goals, and which also address students’ diverse needs, abilities, and experiences. Learning theories and styles are included, as are topics relating to curriculum theory and assessment.

The course traces the historical background and development of school finance acts and examines the intent, concepts, and relationship inherent in these acts. Processes by which state subsidies are computed, allocated and distributed are considered. Budget and expenditure practices in relation to these acts are illustrated. Emphasis is placed on helping students develop a clear conceptual understanding of the overall methods by which state aid is provided to local school systems. Readings, research, and other assignments are designed to acquaint students with school finance practices in their respective states.

This course will include an overview of organizational theories and systems; the inclusion of organizational theory in the educational change process; the functions, objectives, development, and assessment of strategic plans; and the relationship between strategic planning and budget development.

Laws, regulations, and judicial decisions relating to the education of students with special needs are discussed. Methods of conflict resolution, mediation, and ethical standards are examined. Students will be required to apply what they learn as they analyze real-life case scenarios.

This course introduces students to the use of technology in the education of individuals with special needs. Methods and techniques for evaluation and determination of appropriate uses of technology are included. A range of assistive technologies are covered as well as teaching strategies that support the implementation of technologies. Using technology in universally-designed educational environments is examined. Participants will be expected to have access to and use selected teaching and learning technologies with students with disabilities.

This course focuses on assessment approaches for identifying students with disabilities and assessing progress toward learning goals and standards. Participants examine formal assessment tools and procedures used in the diagnosis of disabilities and identification of the instructional and behavioral needs of students. Participants will explore a range of student strengths and exceptionalities as they determine best educational practices to meet the needs of all learners in the least restrictive setting.

This course focuses on methods and strategies for teaching students with special needs. Current issues of concern, learning standards, promising practices, behavioral strategies, and methods for individualizing, differentiating, creating, and providing universally designed instruction are covered. Participants will be expected to conduct observations in schools and plan and implement instructional activities with students with disabilities. Participants can pursue an elementary or secondary strand.

*EDU 723 meets the “Teaching Exceptional Students in the Regular Classroom” requirement for the State of Maine.

This course will help participants identify and prioritize essential behavioral skills in their work with students. They will explore how to model, teach, and nurture behavioral skills and analyze differentiation strategies at Tier 1 of a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support model and prepare for intervention and monitoring at Tier 2 and 3. The course will engage participants in addressing factors that influence a school’s response to behavioral considerations such as available resources, parent collaboration, and school and community culture. This is a new course in development in 2019 and this description is subject to change.

This course will focus on the use of data to create inclusive environments for all students. Participants in this course will apply the components of the Continuous School Improvement Framework (Plan-Implement- Evaluate-Improve). Participants will use data readily available in their classroom, school, or district. Several protocols for analysis will be used. Themes will include using data to support a shared vision and using data to examine school core values.

This course will deepen participants’ understanding of the factors that affect a learner’s ability to access their education. Participants will explore the current research in neuroscience and its connection to social and emotional learning. Participants will review and understand practical strategies to address the social and emotional learning needs of all learners and develop a social and emotional learning plan including the development of self-regulation skills in all learners. This is a new course in development in 2019 and this description is subject to change.

This course explores Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as foundational inclusive practice. It addresses the elements of effective design for learning variability across educational settings including those found in K-12, higher education, and corporate environments. Participants will practice designing meaningful learning experiences that meet the needs of every learner.

This course will address the foundational knowledge that teachers of literacy need in order to understand the reading and writing process for students. In this course, teachers will be exposed to major theories, research, and best practices in the literacy field. Teachers will be asked to draw upon this theoretical and practical knowledge to think about issues of instructional practice. Through engaging inquiry experiences, teachers will become active participants in developing a strong foundational base for literacy instruction for all learners in their classrooms.

This course focuses on the use of assessments in determining a student’s reading and/or writing skills. Teachers will examine, create, evaluate, and reflect on a variety of literacy assessments as they are directly connected to data-driven instruction and student literacy achievement. Each course module will engage teachers in becoming familiar with a range of assessments and how to use data from these assessments in developing lessons and activities that will allow students to learn subject content as well as develop and deepen literacy skills. Teachers will be engaged in the research around assessments as well as how to modify assessments and instruction based on assessments to meet the needs of diverse learners.

This course focuses on research-based study skills and strategies for providing literacy instruction within the classroom content area. Educators will learn to integrate literacy and study skills instruction in their classrooms while designing reading assignments that afford students access to the concepts in the text. Concepts and strategies presented are relevant to the needs of ESL students.

The reading-writing connection will be the focus of the course. Educators will have the opportunity to explore this connection through the examination and application of successful instructional strategies and activities. Educators, regardless of the level or content they teach, will be provided with tools that will help to maintain learners’ literacy development as they read and write to learn or learn to read and write.

This course will address how to engage in differentiated literacy practices to meet the needs of diverse learners. Educators will be immersed in the foundational knowledge that will aid them in creating effective instruction that will assist students who need support in their literacy development. The readings and coursework will explore how to approach literacy challenges from the classroom and school levels in a systematic way as well as incorporating a culturally responsive approach to pedagogy.

This course will focus on the leadership skills that the professional will need as a Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach. Specifically, this course will explore the coaching relationship and how to work collaboratively to plan, implement, and supervise literacy programs at the individual, classroom, school, and district-wide level. Focus will also be on facilitating a literate environment, working with literacy in a diverse society, and developing leadership skills. This course will also fulfill the requirements that many states have for course work in Administration and Supervision of Language Arts Programs.

This course goes into more depth specifically about meeting the needs of students whose native language is not English. Topics will include emergent literacy, individual student differences and similarities, first and second language acquisition and development, emergent and experienced reading and writing development, multiple test sources, text analysis, process writing, assessment techniques, portfolio assessment, classroom organization and management, whole language classrooms, language arts materials, and effective instructional strategies. This course will help to prepare future Reading Specialists to work with this growing population and support teachers who have students from different linguistic backgrounds.

This course is designed to straddle the disciplines of regular and special education. Students will explore the implementation of multi-tier approaches to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs and ways to differentiate instruction. The course attends to the collaboration that takes places between regular and special education teachers when assessing and planning instruction for all students in an inclusive setting.

In conjunction with EDU 750, this course is the first of two practicum courses that closely examine a wide range of assessment and instructional methods to support literacy development of struggling learners. Students in this course work closely with an onsite mentor, a learning community of students and a UNE instructor. This collaboration will support students as they develop relationships with K-12 students who struggle in literacy. Experiences in the course include working in a one-on-one tutorial setting, administering a variety of reading diagnosis assessments, and collaboratively creating and implementing literacy programming that builds on diagnosis with the goal of moving learners forward in their literacy growth. This course meets most state’s requirements that a 6 credit practicum be part of an approved graduate program.

In conjunction with EDU 749, this course is the second of two practicum courses that closely examine a wide range of assessment and instructional methods to support literacy development of struggling learners. Students in this course work closely with an onsite mentor, a learning community of students and a UNE instructor. This collaboration will support students as they develop relationships with K-12 students who struggle in literacy. Experiences in the course include working in a one-on-one tutorial setting, administering a variety of reading diagnosis assessments, and collaboratively creating and implementing literacy programming that builds on diagnosis with the goal of moving learners forward in their literacy growth. This course meets most state’s requirements that a 6 credit practicum be part of an approved graduate program.

This internship is a self-designed experience that consists of 150 hours (10 hours/week for 15 weeks) at a site outside of your regular work environment. The design of the internship must focus on the intern’s leadership skills as described in the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders as well as the collection of artifacts and data that demonstrate the intern’s use of those skills. This course is a requirement of State of Maine Building Administrator Certification.


Interprofessional Electives

Students also have the option to take electives from our other online graduate programs. A full list of these interprofessional courses can be found here:

Shared Interprofessional Course List


CAGS Learning Outcomes

  • Apply research results to leadership decisions.
  • Describe the requirements of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL).
  • Demonstrate a high degree of specialized knowledge and skills about school administration.
  • Exhibit leadership skills in an actual school administrative setting.

Graduates of the CAGS will receive a diploma stating “Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study.” If you need additional documentation or verification, please contact an enrollment counselor.


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NEW: Transfer and “stack” previous post-master’s or doctoral work

UNE Online is now offering students the opportunity to transfer up to four 3-credit courses from their previous post-master’s coursework (taken within the last five years) into our Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree. This includes courses from our Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS). Students who transfer four 3-credit courses into the program have the potential to graduate with their doctorate in just over two years. Read more about the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).

Suggested next steps:

  1. Admissions requirements – CAGS
  2. Explore the CAGS AEL
  3. Commonly asked questions for the online CAGS
  4. Interactive U.S. map of certification requirements



If you have any questions about the graduate programs in Education coursework or the program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.