Youth Development, Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate in Youth Development

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 13
  • $590.00
  • $590.00

Program Overview

The online Youth Development, Graduate Certificate program examines the people, places, supports, opportunities and services young people need to be healthy and successful. 

The program is designed to provide positive outcomes for all youth by:

  • Recognizing their strengths.
  • Fostering positive relationships.
  • Providing opportunities to learn, lead, connect and serve.

The Youth Development, Graduate Certificate prepares students to: 

  • Develop policies with a positive effect
  • Apply basic research and evaluation skills
  • Understand normative pathways to development
  • Work with agencies, boards, families and other professionals
  • Gain the necessary skills for budgeting, grant writing, and fund-raising
  • Examine the impact of local, state, federal, and global policies on youth
  • Identify how youth and family cultural issues affect positive youth outcomes
  • Apply the primary concepts of youth development

This graduate certificate in youth development is a unique online certificate program that focuses solely on youth development. Students may complete the certificate in one of two focus areas:

  • Youth Development Specialist
  • Youth Program Management and Evaluation

The Youth Development, Graduate Certificate can be used for continuing education credits or a career ladder opportunity. Credits earned in a graduate certificate may also be used as a step to getting the Youth Development, MS or supplement a master's degree in another field.

This program is offered by the Great Plains IDEA Youth Development program which is a recognized leader in professional development and advanced degrees in youth development. Rather than focusing solely on corrective measures, the program utilizes Positive Youth Development which equips young people in the second decade of life with the skills and opportunities necessary to transition to adulthood. 

Career Outlook: There is increasing demand for employees of youth-serving organizations to obtain graduate degrees, certificates and/or licensure.

Career options may include: 

  • Non-profit Youth Organizations
  • Faith-Based Groups
  • Community Recreation Leaders
  • Juvenile Corrections Professionals
  • Elementary, Middle or High School Educators
  • Extension Educators

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

  2. 2.5 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

  3. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS

    (Only required if English is not your native language)

  4. A written personal statement

    Please state your professional goals.

  5. 3 letters of recommendation

  6. Official transcripts from all previous schools

  7. A resume is required

  8. Intent form

NOTE: If you reside in state(s) KY contact a program adviser before applying.

To apply to this program:

  1. Apply and be admitted to Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  2. Pay $50 application fees
  3. Submit one set of official transcripts from each college or university you have attended to Office of Graduate Studies
  4. Apply and be admitted to the department

Courses You’ll Take

Course Information

This certificate requires 12 semester credit hours plus a one-hour foundations course for a total of 13 credit hours.

Program of Study

  • Foundations of Youth Development - 1 credit hour
  • Youth Development Specialist focus
    - CYAF 864 Community Youth Development
    - CYAF 868 Adolescents and Their Families
    - CYAF 872 Youth Development
    - CYAF 875 Youth in Cultural Contexts
  • Youth Management & Evaluation focus
    - CYAF 873 Program Design, Evaluation & Implementation
    - CYAF 863 Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
    - CYAF 869 Administration & Program Management
  • Electives (as needed)
    - CYAF 878 Youth Policy
    - CYAF 880 Contemporary Youth Issues

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
CYAF 869Administration & Program Management (Youth Program Management & Evaluation focus)3
Introduction to the development, administration and management of youth-serving organizations. (Distance education course delivered by Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program
CYAF 864Community Youth Development (Youth Development Specialist focus)3
National emphasis of strength-based or asset approach to community youth development, encompassing individual development and adolescent relationships with environments. Research, theory and practice applied in communities. Existing models, theoretical and applied literature, and current community efforts. (May be offered via distance education by Michigan State University.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program
CYAF 872Youth Development (Youth Development Specialist focus)3
Scientific literature concerning the interrelationship of the physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of the adolescent and young adulthood years. Understanding of individuals and their continuous adjustment within the family life cycle as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. (May be offered via distance education by UNL or North Dakota State University.) Prereq: 12 hours CYAF or social sciences
CYAF 873Program Design, Evaluation & Implementation (Youth Program Management & Evaluation focus)3
Overview of program development process and outcome evaluation of community children and family programs. Theoretical, methodological and programmatic issues in conducting programs and scholarship. (Distance education course delivered by UNL.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program
CYAF 861Foundation of Youth Development Seminar1
Fundamentals of youth development and the youth development profession. Ethical, professional and historical elements of youth development as it has evolved toward professionalization.
CYAF 863Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research (Youth Program Management & Evaluation focus)3
Research report evaluation skills for youth development professionals. Fundamental quantitative and qualitative research principles guiding disciplined inquiry. Application of research results and theories to practice. (Distance education course delivered by UNL and North Dakota State University.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program
CYAF 868Adolescents & Their Families (Youth Development Specialist focus)3
Adolescent development as related to and intertwined with family development. Reciprocal influences between adolescents and their families. Working with youth vis a vis the family system. (Distance education course delivered by UNL or Kansas State University.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program
CYAF 875Youth in Cultural Contexts (Youth Development Specialist focus)3
Cultural context factors that affect youth from a holistic perspective within and outside the family unit. The cultural heritage of differing family types. Social and educational processes. (Distance education course delivered by Michigan State University.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
CYAF 878Youth Policy3
Various federal and state policies designed specifically for youth. Existing state and national policies as to whether they contribute to, or act as barriers to, desired developmental outcomes. (Distance education course delivered by Michigan State University.) Prereq: Admission to CYAF graduate program.
CYAF 880Contemporary Youth Issues3
Issues faced by youth such as life skills, violence, and appearance. Topics vary.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

Yan Xia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Yan Xia believes engaged students and meaningful research help strengthen families and the community. Her research, outreach and teaching have led to many honors and recognition. Her research interests include research on immigrant youth behavioral and mental health, parent-adolescent communication and relationship, strengths and stress among Asian immigrant families, adolescent substance abuse, program evaluation and Chinese adolescent social competence.

Application Deadlines

Rolling admissions. Application review will begin upon receipt of all required application materials.