Program Evaluation: Graduate Certificate

Program Description

UM's graduate certificate in program evaluation is an 18-hour online curriculum offered through the Department of Leadership and Counselor Education within the School of Education. The program is designed to train graduate students and working professionals in the applied techniques and methodologies necessary to conduct evaluations of programs and services in a variety of settings, including educational, non-profit, health and governmental. To show the breadth of the applicability of program evaluation, consider the explanation of program evaluation by the American Cancer Society:

Program evaluation is the act of ascertaining, appraising[,] or fixing the value of a program or initiative. Program stakeholders at all levels want to know if the actions of the program are having the desired effect. Funders and senior management wonder if their investment is producing results. Program designers seek to [demonstrate] the value of their ideas. Program participants want to know if their lives will change for the better if they participate. Evaluation attempts not only to quantitatively measure program outcomes but also is a process of identifying value [through qualitative means].

Admissions Requirements

Students may pursue the graduate certificate in program evaluation as an add-on or stand-alone credential. Students who seek to pursue as an add-on certificate are University of Mississippi students currently enrolled in a graduate program at the University. Students who seek to pursue a stand-alone certificate are not currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi and therefore must seek admission both to the University's Graduate School and the certificate in program evaluation. The proper path for application to the certificate and, if necessary, the University of Mississippi Graduate School is shown in the blue "At a Glance" box.

Applicants to the certificate in program evaluation must meet these requirements:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States institution or the equivalent from an international institution.
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on course work attempted. Note that a 2.7 GPA with a 3.0 on the last 60 hours attempted may allow a student to be admitted on a conditional basis.
  • Complete appropriate online application (based on whether seeking to pursue as an add-on or stand-alone certificate). If pursuing stand-alone certificate, provide copies of official transcripts to Graduate School and upload 1-2 page statement of purpose indicating why you wish to pursue the certificate. If pursuing as an add-on certificate, statement of purpose official copies of non-UM transcripts may be sent directly to programevaluation@olemiss.edu. For the add-on certificate, the program evaluation certificate coordinator will have access to UM transcripts.

Application Deadlines: March 1 for Summer or Fall admission, and October 1 for Spring admission. The Program Evaluation Certificate Admissions, Curriculum, and Advisory committee comprised of Leadership and Counselor Education, Teacher Education, Dr. Maxine Harper Center for Educational Research and Evaluation (CERE), and other University of Mississippi affiliated faculty with expertise in assessment and program evaluation will provide input into admissions, program, and curriculum decisions, led by the program evaluation certificate coordinator who may be reached at programevaluation@olemiss.edu.

Required Courses and Sequences

Required courses include:

Course Number Course Name Course Description
EDRS 601 Educational Statistics I An introduction to descriptive and inferential statistical techniques with a particular emphasis on conceptual, computational, and computer applications (3 credit hours).
EDRS 604 Introduction to Qualitative Research The purpose of this course is to assist students in developing the skills necessary to understand, interpret, and conduct qualitative research at a basic to intermediate level (3 credit hours).
EDRS 606 Program Evaluation I An introduction to the concepts, methods, and applications of program evaluation (3 credit hours).
EDRS 607 Program Evaluation II Advanced study of program evaluation methodology, including evaluation design and analytic techniques. This course prepares students to become evaluation practitioners (prerequisite: EDRS 606; 3 credit hours).
EDRS 608 Survey Research Methods A comprehensive review of the major issues associated with survey research (3 credit hours).
EDRS 699 Internship in Program Evaluation An intensive applied experience in program evaluation within a setting such as, but not limited to, a PK-12 or higher education school or system, community agency, funding organization, or policy institute (prerequisites: EDRS 601, 604, 606, 607, and 608; 3 credit hours).

Most courses will be offered more than once per year and/or with multiple sections. If approved by the program evaluation certificate coordinator, up to six hours from another graduate program (from the University of Mississippi or other accredited institution) may be applied, or transferred in, to the certificate program. All certificate courses, including those a student is allowed to transfer in from another graduate program, must be completed with a B or better, with the exception of EDRS 699 (Internship in Program Evaluation), which must be completed with a Z or passing grade. The time limit for completing the certificate program is four years and it may be possible to complete the certificate within one calendar year if a student takes available courses offered during intersessions. Most students, by taking one or two courses during spring, summer, and fall terms, should be able to complete the certificate in a year and a half.

The initial expected course rotation is as follows:

  • EDRS 601*: Fall, January Intersession, Spring, May Intersession, 1st Summer
  • EDRS 604: Fall
  • EDRS 606: Spring, 1st Summer
  • EDRS 607: 2nd Summer
  • EDRS 608: Fall, 2nd Summer
  • EDRS 669: Fall, Spring, Full Summer

*EDRS 601 is a required or leveling course for many programs within the School of Education and thus is offered many times during the year and not strictly for program evaluation certificate.

If start certificate courses in Spring 2016, suggested course sequence is:

  • Spring 2016: EDRS 601, EDRS 606
  • 1st Summer 2016: EDRS 608
  • 2nd Summer 2016: EDRS 607
  • Fall 2016: EDRS 604
  • Spring 2017: EDRS 699

If start certificate courses in May Intersession 2016, suggested course sequence is:

  • May Intersession 2016: EDRS 601
  • 1st Summer 2016: EDRS 606
  • 2nd Summer 2016: EDRS 607
  • Fall 2016: EDRS 604, EDRS 608
  • Spring 2017: EDRS 699

If start certificate courses in Fall 2016, suggested course sequence is:

  • Fall 2016: EDRS 601, EDRS 604
  • Spring 2017: EDRS 606
  • 1st Summer: EDRS 608
  • 2nd Summer: EDRS 607
  • Fall 2017: EDRS 699

Internship: The purpose of EDRS 699 (Internship in Program Evaluation) is to provide students in the certificate program an opportunity to complete an applied experience, culminating in a summative evaluation report, related to program evaluation within a setting such as, but not limited to, a PK-12 or higher education school or system, community agency, or policy institute. The internship may be completed in a setting close to where a student lives or works. Internship projects also may be available through the Dr. Maxine Harper Center for Educational Research and Evaluation whose affiliated faculty helped design the program and its courses and who are involved in a wide variety of evaluation projects (see cere.olemiss.edu).

Tuition and Fees

The certificate program does not set the tuition and fees for its courses. Rather, the University of Mississippi sets the tuition and fees based, in part, on whether a student is pursuing the certificate as an add-on or stand-alone certificate. All of the courses for the program evaluation certificate are online courses. If pursuing the certificate as an add-on, your tuition and fees will be based on your student status in your primary program. If pursuing the certificate as a stand-alone, your tuition and fees will be based on your enrollment in the certificate program. See http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/bursar/estimator.html for more information. Based on 2015-2016 tuition rates, tuition for a resident graduate student pursuing the certificate as an add-on is $408 per credit hour ($1143 per hour for non-resident graduate student) plus a $33 technology fee per credit hour. Tuition for a resident graduate student pursuing the certificate as a stand-alone is $465 per credit hour (same for non-resident graduate student) plus a $75 technology fee per credit hour. Note that all students are assessed a $50 capital improvement fee per enrollment term, which is prorated for students enrolled part-time, where nine hours is considered full-time for graduate students.

Career Opportunities

The career paths one may pursue with a program evaluation certificate are as varied as the settings in which program evaluation and assessment are conducted, which essentially is every setting. Obtaining the certificate shows your expertise in conducting program evaluation. Thus, the certificate in and of itself may lead to promotion and job opportunities in both the for-profit and non-profit world. Connecting the certificate to your previous degrees and experience shows your expertise and willingness to help build, and use data driven techniques to continuously improve, programs of all types and across all levels. From full-time employment to part-time employment to consulting to volunteer opportunities, and large million dollar programs to small grass roots programs, obtaining a graduate certificate in program evaluation from the University of Mississippi allows you to change and better the world – one program at a time.

For More Information