Strengths Certificate in Higher Education


The Doctoral Certificate in Strengths-Oriented Higher Education is designed to assist higher education leaders, practitioners, and faculty in creating, implementing, and assessing strengths-oriented programs on their campuses in order to enhance students’ success and persistence. The curriculum focuses on deepening participants’ knowledge of a strengths philosophy, its conceptual framework within positive psychology, and aspects of strengths-oriented programming that contribute to positive outcomes for students and to an empowering campus culture.

Target Audiences

  • Those with at least a master’s degree who wish to gain knowledge and expertise in a strengths-oriented approach to higher education.
  • Students enrolled in another doctoral program who would like to transfer 10 units back to that program.
  • Faculty and administrators who do not wish to pursue a doctoral degree in higher education but who would like to deepen their ability to teach and lead from a strengths-oriented perspective.


The Doctoral-Level Certificate in Strengths-Oriented Higher Education is designed for educators and leaders who already have a master’s degree and wish to deepen their knowledge and application of a strengths development model to their work in higher education. The certificate consists of three courses, for a total of 10 doctoral units, and is offered as part of the intensive program on the Azusa campus.

The certificate program is offered for two weeks in January and two weeks in July on the APU campus in Azusa, where program participants join existing cohorts of doctoral students in their classes.

Course Requirements (10 units total)

HED 701 Strengths-Oriented Leadership (4)
This course is a critical analysis of strengths-based educational theory and practice with an emphasis on how awareness and application of strengths can increase leadership effectiveness. Offered in July each year on the Azusa campus.

HED 761 Strengths-Oriented Research and Programming (2)
This course will provide students with the opportunity to design, implement, and assess strengths-oriented programs for college students. A culminating project is the hallmark of the course, with the emphasis on either the design of a strengths-oriented program or on the assessment of the effectiveness of strengths-oriented interventions. Offered each January on the Azusa campus as well as in a weekend/online format each fall in conjunction with a professional conference.

Choose one:

HED 705 Student Access, Equity, and Success (4)
This course examines the theories and models of student change in college. Policies, programs, and practices that enhance student learning and development are explored. Offered in January each year on the Azusa campus.

HED 724 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (4)
This course explores the teaching-learning experience in higher education, with a particular emphasis on strengths-oriented approaches to student learning. Emphasis is placed on curriculum design, identification of student learning outcomes, effective teaching methodologies, course development and delivery, and outcomes assessment. Offered each July session on the Azusa campus.

Dates and Location

January and July, APU Azusa campus (Los Angeles vicinity)


$1,088 per unit for doctoral credit

Registration and Information

Apply online as a non-degree-seeking student in the Department of Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University, and complete all assignments with a B- or above. Email for more information.

Note: This information is current for the 2017-18 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.