Information about the Character Education Certificate Information about the Character Education Certificate Information about the Character Education Certificate Information about the Character Education Certificate Information about the Character Education Certificate
School of Graduate and Professional Studies Department of Education

Character Education Certificate


Marsha Webster
+1 630 637 5842

Character Education Certificate


Marvin W. Berkowitz, in his book PRIMED for Character Education states, "Character education is how we be with others and then what we do as a consequence, in order to nurture the flourishing of their human goodness. Our inner character informs our outward living, and our outward living both represents and reciprocally transforms our inner being."  

Designed to be responsive to trends in today's world, the Character Education Certificate will provide an additional credential that will give teachers and leaders a competitive edge in their career.  

  • 100% asynchronous online delivery
  • Instructor-led interaction and engagement
  • Three (5-week) modules targeting self, classroom, and school community
  • $150 for all 3 modules - fee due to increase in summer 2022
  • No application; just sign up

Course Outcomes

  • Certificate of Completion and 45 Professional Development hours
  • A portfolio of resources
  • A supportive network with which to connect
  • Infuse social-emotional character development into the culture of the school
  • Tackle equity through a commitment to the development of student and staff potential 

Ideal for the following groups

  • School Principals, Assistant Principals, Teacher Leaders, and Educational Specialists 
  • Members of teams or committees addressing school culture and climate
  • District office administrative staff 

This certificate program touched on all SEL competencies. It also provided a lot of opportunities for discussion within each module to reflect on diversity. I learned a lot from peers and appreciated being able to learn from peers outside of my work environment. It has allowed me to expand my understanding and creativity in teaching character development within my small groups, the larger educational community, my school community and my parent community.  (Laura Loehmann, social worker, Naperville CUSD 203)

The next opportunity to begin Module 1 is April 3. Please register by March 25 to reserve your place in this spring 2022 cohort. 

Register Here



The Character Education Certificate will be delivered in an online format

  • The five session modules are intended to be taken in sequence and in a timely manner
  • Earn 45 continuing education hours at the completion of all 3 modules
  • Instruction is asynchronous, but participants will be expected to respond with a first post for each assignment between Sunday - Thursday; then a second post responding to peers Thursday - Sunday.


"I enjoyed my overall experience and felt it enhanced my knowledge of character education. The progression of this class helped me to deliberately, reflect on the incorporation of character education into my life. As we progressed throughout the modules, I was able to broaden my scope and consider how these values can be utilized in the entire school to benefit everyone." Danielle Salvatore, Plainfield SD 202

Examining your Personal Character: Self as a Moral and Ethical Leader Fostering an Environment for Character Development: Character Education in the Classroom Creating School Cultures of Character: Character Education as a School Ethos
Introduction to character, starting from the self and the various ways our roles affect students' character development. Examine the role of moral exemplars and the ways morality permeates the classroom (caught). Examine character education from a whole school perspective. Reflect and assess your own school culture.
Explore a virtue ethics approach to character development. Introduction to virtue language and literacy: Moral, Civic, Intellectual and Performance virtues Introduction to effective strategies for fostering a schoolwide culture of character.
Reflect on educational aims and beliefs that affect students' sense of agency, belongingness, and character development. Identify the intentional ways to embed character and virtue language in the classroom (taught). Conceptualize and develop a plan for cultivating an inclusive, caring and empowering school environment (sought).
Understand power dynamics and systemic challenges to students' character development. Explore the College's character/virtue framework. Develop an assessment plan to foster a culture of character in your school
Recognize the practice of dialogue to cultivate character. Operationalize and create your personal framework to implement in the classroom.

Flexible Start Times

2021-2022 Academic Year
Module 1 Module 2 Module 3
Jan. 9 - Feb. 12 SP22 Feb. 20 - Mar. 26 SP22
Jan. 9 - Feb. 12 SP22 Feb. 20 - Mar. 26 SP22 Apr. 3 - May 7 SP22
Apr. 3 - May 7 SP22 May 15 - June 18 SU22 June 19 - July 31 SU22
May 29 - July 2 SU22 July 3 - Aug. 6 SU22

Click here for a full listing of course dates by week.

The next opportunity to begin Module 1 is April 3. Please register by March 25 to reserve your place in this spring 2022 cohort. 

"I did not envision how much SEL and DEI would be integrated within the course. After having taken it, it made complete sense.  I enjoyed the aspect of responding to peers and felt it was especially beneficial when we were in small groups and getting to know one another better. This course made me much more reflective about my practice and made me a better practitioner." (Dawn Wheeler, social worker, Naperville CUSD 203)

Julie Nagashima

Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethical Leadership; Coordinator of Character Education Certificate Program
Leadership, Ethics & Values

Dr. Julie Nagashima graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a Ph.D. in Education. Her dissertation focused on relationships and its significance for fostering student agency. Dr. Nagashima began her educational career as an intern and program coordinator supporting programs including UNESCO associated schools project at University of Pittsburgh. Following her internship, she worked for a nonprofit organization as Educational Program Coordinator and developed mentoring programs for undergraduate and graduate students in the Pittsburgh area for six years. After graduating with her doctorate, Dr. Nagashima worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate for two years where she supported the research and development of character initiatives at Arizona State University.

Dr. Nagashima, course designer, shared her research on Character with faculty at St. Mary's University of Minnesota. Read about her presentation here

"I believe that leadership is relational and cultivated from our lived experiences. Our experiences and interaction with others nurture our ways of knowing and being in our social context. We develop wisdom to engage and to act with courage and compassion. This dynamic process is also part of our character development. When we feel a strong sense of belonging and community, we develop a natural willingness to contribute to our society. Thus, leadership to me is relational and fostered in a life-long process of navigating and developing our inner and moral self as we engage with others." 


Dr. Michael Hylen

Coordinator of Doctoral Programs/Associate Professor of Education

Southern Wesleyan University

Central, South Carolina

Click here for more information on Dr. Hylen

Ms. Anne Kasa 

Instructional Technology Coach

Learning Technology Center of Illinois

Southern Cook County

Click here for more information on Ms. Kasa

Ms. Jessica Bernacki


Plainfield South High School

Plainfield, IL

Click here for more information on Ms. Bernacki

Upon successful completion of all 3 modules, educators receive: 

  • 45 professional development units for license renewal
  • A portfolio of resources
  • A supportive network of colleagues with which to connect 

"Padlet and voicethread were helpful in sharing ideas with other students. They were good ways to see and hear each others' thoughts and ideas. Having a team for some activities was also a good way to connect more closely with a few peers." Spring 2021 participant

How much time is expected per week? 

  • 3 hours per week should be allotted to ensure maximum benefit from the course.

Do I have to log in at specific times?

  • Yes and no. Participants are required to complete weekly discussion threads by a certain day of the week (between Sunday - Thursday) and then respond to peers (between Thursday - Sunday.) Otherwise, the course is self paced and you can log in to engage in the activities when your time permits.  

Is the content appropriate for administrators?

  • Yes. Administrators and teachers can benefit from the focus on character virtue reflection offered with this course.

Is there a course syllabus that I can share with my district for PD approval?

  • Yes. A syllabus for each module is available upon request.

Is there an option for groups of teachers from my school/district to take the course as one unit?

  • Yes. We can work with you to explore options for a special cohort offering just for your school or district office. 

What is the delivery mode for the program?

  • The course is on the Blackboard platform. Videos, readings, and responses are updated on a weekly basis. Interaction among participants takes place through Padlet and Voicethread. Orientation on each of these platforms is provided at the beginning of the module, and one on one support is available as needed. 

Do I need to apply to be accepted into this program?

  • No. You simply register and verify that you work in the field of education. 

Can I take just one module?

  • Yes. And the option to return to complete Modules 2 and 3 would remain available for one year from when you begin Module 1. However, we ask that participants take the modules in sequential order. Upon completion of the program (Modules 1 - 3), participants will receive their certificate

Related Programs

Explore Similar Programs