Online Endorsements and Certificates: Great Options for Teachers Who Want to Get “Back to Class”

Teachers spend their careers focused on educating their students. When it comes to furthering their own education, there can be limits to how much time an educator is willing to give up for school.

With so many advanced education-focused degrees and other graduate programs available today, many educators do find time to go back to school by studying online. And for those who want to specialize in a specific teaching area and already have their bachelor’s or master’s, they look to endorsements and certificates like the fully online programs offered by the University of Cincinnati (UC).

We offer more than 10 certificates and endorsements to increase your knowledge and provide additional credentials to your professional experience as an educator.

Difference Between Endorsements and Certificates

Though UC’s endorsement and certification online programs look similar at first glance, some differences do exist. The main difference between an endorsement and a certification is that a certification refers to getting a license to teach.

An endorsement is a specific discipline, such as reading, math, science, or social studies, a teacher is qualified to teach. Endorsements indicate the educator completed graduate courses in the discipline of the endorsement. Often, educators add an endorsement to an existing license after teaching for a few years. Before an endorsement is obtained, teachers must obtain a license and certification.

A teaching certificate is obtained when the educator earns the qualifying degree and meets specific requirements, which vary state-to-state. It provides proof to your employers of your knowledge and expertise and certifies you completed an assessment process, such as an exam. (Note: If you earn a certification, ongoing training is typically required to maintain it.)

What’s Best – an Endorsement or a Certificate?

When you choose an endorsement or certificate program, there are key factors to keep in mind as you work toward your decision.

Program content – One of the most important factors to consider when researching online endorsement and certificate programs is the content. Look for programs that provide you with the knowledge and skills most needed to enhance your teaching practice and those that help you meet your career goals.

Accreditation – Another factor to consider is whether the university offering the endorsement or certificate is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. Accreditation ensures the program meets certain standards for quality and rigor and that other institutions will recognize the credits earned.

UC is a regionally accredited school — the highest level of accreditation possible. For specific program accreditation details, refer to the program information pages on our site. There are different organizational accreditations, as well.

Time and cost – You’ll consider the time and cost of the program, as well. Some online endorsement and certificate programs may take longer to complete than others or be more affordable. Others may offer greater specialization or provide more in-depth training.

Career advancement – Finally, consider how the program will benefit your career advancement. Endorsement programs may qualify you for a higher salary or a more specialized teaching position. In contrast, certificate programs may provide a broader range of skills you can apply to various teaching contexts.

UC Online’s stand-alone endorsements and certificates are designed for educators seeking further understanding in critical areas that enhance one’s knowledge of how to educate students with specific needs.

Endorsements from the University of Cincinnati

Our graduate endorsement programs are designed for working educators who need the flexibility of online classes.

Programs include:

  • PreK-12 Reading Instruction (15 credits) – This program is ideal for a teacher interested in being a reading specialist who often works with younger children. Reading specialists are trained in the methods of teaching reading for comprehension and enjoyment. What you learn in this endorsement program will help your students advance their reading skills and lay the foundation for their success in high school, college, and adult life.
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (15 credits) – Our pre-K–12 TESOL endorsement is geared toward educators licensed in single or multiple subject areas interested in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Coursework is designed to meet national TESOL standards and prepare you to be a theoretically informed and practically focused ESL teacher, curriculum developer, and program administrator.
  •  Gifted Education (18 credits) – You will apply constructs learned in class to a field experience, including the development, implementation, and publication of lesson plans, and theories and methods in teaching gifted, talented, or creative students in a classroom setting.
  • Principal Licensure (21 credits) – This endorsement program prepares you, as a licensed teacher, to become an effective school leader by addressing the needs and challenges of teachers, students, and school districts. It prepares you to take the Ohio Assessment for Educators Exam or an equivalent assessment exam in other states.
  • Transition to Work (30 credits) – This endorsement is focused on special education instruction that improves learning outcomes and quality of life for children with disabilities. It’s designed for educators who want to be transition specialists, intervention specialists, special education administrators, service providers (e.g., counselors and occupational therapists), vocational rehabilitation counselors, and others.

Certificates from the University of Cincinnati

Just like our endorsement programs, our graduate certificates are designed with today’s educators in mind, with convenient online programs that include:

  • Special Education Leadership (12 credits) – If you work in administration or hope to someday, this certificate program gives you the knowledge to lead an inclusive school that addresses the educational needs of students with disabilities. It provides foundational knowledge as you pursue excellence in research, teaching, and service that addresses real-world challenges and opportunities that create positive change in an inclusive educational environment.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (15 credits) – The certificate grounds you in understanding the characteristics of ASD and implementing interventions for your students. You’ll learn evidence-based instructional practices (e.g., structured learning environments, visual supports, and systematic instruction) to the characteristics of ASD, know the components of a well-structured learning environment, explore relevant research, and more.
  • STEM Teaching & Learning (15 credits) – This certificate covers aspects of integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction, and sustainability education. It focuses on the major challenge of this century and the impact of individual and collective consumption of resources on our biosphere. Through the use of problem and project-based learning activities, you will analyze the political and economic barriers to sustainability and how to translate personal and collective action toward creating more ecologically sustainable communities. You will apply this knowledge and your personal ethics to the development of educational and interpretive curricula and the assessment of planned outcomes.
  • Intervention Specialist – Mild/Moderate Licensure (32 credits) – This non-degree program is ideal if you hold a teaching license and want to obtain a special education-focused license. You’ll deepen essential skillsets, including commitment and care for students and overall teaching competencies, focusing on children’s intellectual, social, and emotional needs and their diverse learning styles, ethnicity, languages, genders, ages, classes, physical and intellectual achievements, and family backgrounds.
Deciding What’s Best for You

Ultimately, your decision to enroll in one of UC Online’s endorsement or certificate programs will depend on your needs, goals, and passions. You know what lights you up, and we bet you’ll find a program here that does that.

We’ll leave you with a final thought that many of our educators/students don’t initially consider: After completing a certificate or endorsement, you’re more than halfway to an M.Ed. for most of our education programs!

To learn more about University of Cincinnati’s online programs, visit our graduate education overview, and connect with an advisor to talk through the next steps, ask questions and find out which program is a great fit for you.

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