Certificate in Transition Leadership

Program Overview

Transition leadership involves the transition from high school to adult life for young people with a wide range of disabilities. The School for Global Inclusion and Social Development's transition leadership certificate program bridges the gap between special education and adult services by creating a cohort of professionals who connect these two fields. Students complete five certificate courses, as well as a hands-on practicum requirement. Graduates are well positioned to excel in a new role: that of transition specialist.

This Transition Leadership Program is an accredited transition specialist training program approved by the Division of Career Development and Transition of the Council for Exceptional Children and an approved program of study for the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Transition Specialist Endorsement. Individuals who have successfully completed this accredited DCDT transition preparation program are eligible to apply for a national DCDT transition specialist certification. Individuals in Massachusetts are also eligible to apply for the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Transition Specialist Endorsement. 


July 1 for fall admission

What You'll Learn

Transition professionals improve outcomes for the people they serve in areas such as employment, college preparation, and independent living skills. Graduates are also equipped to help influence state and national policy around transition and disability.

The SGISD certificate in transition leadership meets the needs of professionals working in fields that require transition leadership skills, such as at a state agency or in an Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program. Our certificate program is an excellent way for educators and non-educators to broaden their abilities and to place their work in a wider context.

Our certificate’s practicum component gives students the opportunity for hands-on mentoring and supervision in a transition setting of interest to them. The practicum also provides a chance to apply classroom knowledge to real-life experiences.

Transition leadership scholars will demonstrate their knowledge of:

Foundations of Transition

  • Best practices and methods to evaluate existing transition-related services and systems. These include disability-specific considerations and vulnerable populations, e.g., students with autism, intellectual disabilities, and emotional disabilities; students involved in the foster care or justice system; and students facing economic, cultural, and linguistic barriers.
  • The completion of transition documentation for all eligible students, including vision statement, MA DESE Transition Planning Form, measurable postsecondary goals, annual goals, action plans, transition assessments, and Summary of Performance.
  • Knowledge and application of community-based transition services.
  • A philosophy of transition, including knowledge of laws and policies.

Transition Assessment

  • Applying the legal requirements and rationale for conducting comprehensive, individualized, ongoing formal and informal secondary transition assessments.
  • Demonstrating familiarity with a variety of culturally responsive formal and informal secondary transition assessment instruments for students ages 14-22.
  • Conducting and managing transition assessment activities across domains of self-determination, academic, vocational, independent living, and community participation.

Youth Development and Self-Determination

  • Explaining the rationale for and elements of self-determination as the foundation of successful postsecondary outcomes, including self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-monitoring, self-advocacy, and the philosophy of “dignity of risk.”
  • Facilitating person-centered plans and student-led transition meetings.
  • Applying techniques to help students develop a course of study related to their postsecondary education and career interests, and a plan to build related necessary skills.

Career Development and Integrated Paid Employment

  • Implementing a variety of methods and strategies to support the full participation of students with disabilities in college and career awareness, exploration, and immersion activities as identified in the MA Career Development Education Guide and Glossary.
  • Performing job matching, job carving, and job placement, including identifying supports in community-based work training environments and facilitating students’ self-advocacy for accommodations within work and community environments.
  • Initiating opportunities and learning experiences in employment and community settings, including working with employers to negotiate job customization and accommodations to meet students’ individual needs.
  • Providing career development plans and portfolios for transition-age students.

Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities

  • Preparing students for postsecondary education opportunities.
  • Assisting students to prepare portfolios for college, including disability / accommodation documentation.
  • Demonstrating understanding of and advocacy for supported education.

Interagency Collaboration

  • Connecting students with adult services, community providers, and vocational rehabilitation services as part of student career plans.
  • Establishing an interagency transition team for a school or district.
  • Matching community resources with student needs, and helping students and families establish a support network.
  • Developing and managing collaborative partnerships with school / district college and career readiness staff, human service agencies, community service agencies, higher education, employers, and workforce development organizations, making referrals as needed.
  • Building cooperative systems that promote student self-determination and self-advocacy skill building.

Professional Development and Technical Assistance

  • Facilitating trainings, professional development, technical assistance, and information dissemination related to transition laws, practices, and establishing support networks.
  • Providing educators, guidance staff, community agency personnel, employers, and other community partners with disability awareness training and information in collaboration with students and family members. Topics include universal access and design, auxiliary aids for youth with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, assistive technology, funding streams, and employer tax incentives.
  • Preparing a brief or presentation for families/colleagues that responds to a transition concern.
  • Designing and implementing a transition curriculum with an elementary or middle school teacher.

Careers for Graduates

Graduates of the transition leadership certificate program can expect to hone their skills and find employment opportunities in a variety of settings, such as vocational rehabilitation offices and youth workforce centers. The certificate also provides advanced training for professionals in careers such as social work, guidance counseling, and mental health counseling.

Our program is designed to meet the Massachusetts Transition Specialist endorsement requirements. However, we cannot confirm that the courses or program meets the licensure or certification requirements of the state where you reside. Please contact the Department of Education for your state to determine whether the course or program meets the state licensure or certification requirements.

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Maria Paiewonsky

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School for Global Inclusion and Social Development
in the College of Education and Human Development