Certificate in Education Law FAQs

FAQ for Graduate Certificate in Education Law (Online)

The certificate is open to anyone who is interested in learning more education law. Many join our program because they would like to develop a deeper understanding of the legal and ethical issues that impact their schools and colleges. Likewise, non-school professionals enroll including: graduate students who seek a concentration in education law, as well as attorneys and policymakers who seek expertise in this area. Although the certificate is primarily K-12 focused, we do offer a higher education law course that can be substituted with advisor approval. Individual legal research, conducted during the Legal Research Course, can also be higher education focused.

A wide variety of school professionals including:

  • Public and private school teachers;
  • School leaders including special education directors, principals, department heads, superintendents, and others;
  • Coaches, social workers, school nurses, school counselors, and others.
  • Higher education faculty
  • Higher education staff and administrators, particularly those in student affairs, admissions, and executive offices.

Non-school professionals including:

  • Attorneys;
  • Policymakers and legislative aides;
  • Parents of students with disabilities;
  • Professors interested in teaching school law.

Read testimonials from former students here.

The certificate program explores a wide variety of legal and ethical issues surrounding special education, harassment, freedom of speech, teacher dismissal, religion, civil rights for vulnerable populations, liability for student injuries, and student discipline. The goal of the program is to teach you to apply the law to real life situations encountered daily in schools. A few of the many type of many questions that are explored in the program include:

  • Do students have a First Amendment right to wear Confederate flag shirts or homophobic t-shirts to school?
  • Can teachers or faculty be disciplined for what they post on social media?
  • What happens when schools and families disagree about an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for a student with disabilities?
  • What are some of the legal issues involving students of color who are overrepresented in school disciplinary matters?
  • How might I find my state’s law on teacher dismissal?
  • Could an educator be held personally liable for negligence if a student is injured in his classroom?

Yes. Because of the program’s online delivery, working professionals from across the country find it feasible to fit the courses into their busy schedules. The courses are interactive utilizing a variety of teaching strategies including narrated powerpoints, group discussions, and activities. If you would like to see a Syllabus of a course or talk to a current online student, please let us know.

The online courses are asynchronous, meaning that, for most activities within a given week, you may participate whenever the time is most convenient for you. However, the classes do have a structure so that there are specific expectations for students to complete during certain weeks of the course (e.g., readings, small group discussions). Some instructors may also ask that you meet online with a small group of students at a mutually-agreeable time so that you can have conversations about the content.

A total of four courses including:

  • A608 Legal Perspectives on Education (3 cr.)
  • A615 Advanced School Law (3 cr.) PLEASE NOTE: A608 is a prerequisite of A615
  • A675 Leadership in Special Education (3 cr.)
  • A710 Legal Research Methods in Education (3 cr.)

Note: C705 Legal Aspects of Higher Education may be substituted for one of the above courses with advisor approval.

Courses on additional education law topics may be offered from time to time. These courses are NOT required for the Education Law Certificate, but students are welcome to enroll in them in addition to the required courses.

While it can be difficult to predict enrollment numbers; we typically offer: A608 every semester including summers; C705 every fall; A675 every spring; A710 every spring and some summers; and A615 every year in either the fall or spring.

Typically, students take one course per semester. They are offering in traditional 16-week formats in Spring and Fall. We also offer courses during the Summer. The courses will contain the same content as our semester-length courses, but in a compressed, intensive 6-week format. For those with hectic schedules during the fall and spring, the intensive summer option may be a good choice. To begin the ELC in the summer, you must apply by April 1.


We consider your undergraduate and if relevant, any graduate grades as well as your personal statement and recommendations. We are interested in students with a genuine interest in school legal issues who demonstrate strong academic abilities.

Yes. If you choose to pursue a master's degree in Education Leadership at IU, several of these certificate courses could apply to your degree requirements. Please note that completion of the certificate program does not guarantee admission to the master's program. You would still need to apply to the master’s program. If you apply to the master’s program, your application fee may be reduced if you apply within two years of applying for the Certificate program. You may also reuse the same letters of recommendation.

Please note that you must either complete the certificate and the master's at the same time or complete the certificate first and then finish the master’s. IU will not allow you to complete the master’s first and then transfer credits into the certificate program.

For students completing the principal licensure program, A608 will transfer from the certificate and possibly an elective. For Ed.D. students, A615 and A675 will transfer from the certificate. The same rules about not being able to transfer from the higher degree to the lower degree are in place. Thus, the certificate needs to either be completed before the licensure program/EdD or at the same time.

The student is responsible for confirming that certificate credits transfer into other IU programs or other universities. We are only familiar with transfers into IU’s Educational Leadership Program.

Tuition information can be found here. To be eligible for financial aid to pursue the Certificate, you must also apply and be accepted to one of the following programs: M.S.Ed., Ed.D., or the Ed.S. in Educational Leadership (or any other IU degree program).

The program is coordinated by school law attorneys who are also former K-12 teachers and P-20 policy professionals: Janet Decker, J.D., Ph.D. and Jennifer Rippner, J.D., Ph.D. Please feel free to contact us if you would like additional information.

No other courses can transfer into this program due to this only being a 12 credit hour program.

Yes! Many of our courses require video chat-based small groups that meet during the semester to discuss course content. Our faculty regularly meet with students by video-conference as well. Further, our program hosts education law-related events through our Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute that has traditionally offered free registration to current students. You'll have the opportunity to meet IU faculty and students as well as education law attorneys and scholars from Indiana and beyond.

Yes. If you are a current IU student who has recently submitted an application to IU, you may use most of your previous application. We only ask that you update your personal statement to indicate why you are interested in the Education Law Certificate and possibly update your resume.

To apply, visit the Graduate Admissions section of the website and click the "Apply" link for the term in which you want to enroll. There is a new application system as of September 2019. If your current degree application to IU occurred before this time, you will need to create a new application in the new system (e.g. enter in your biographical information). If your current degree application information was created after September 2019, you should be able to pull up your existing information. The School of Education's Graduate Student Office will automatically copy your materials (e.g. recommendations, transcripts) to the new application for you once you submit. You just have to upload a new personal statement about your interest in education law. If your education and/or professional information has changed since your initial application, you may also want to upload a current resume.  If you are asked to provide emails for recommendations, you may enter sscrogha@indiana.edu and gsoadms@indiana.edu to bypass that requirement as we will use your existing recommendation letters.

Also, if you are a current IUB School of Education graduate student OR applied to IUB SOE and were admitted within the past year, you can contact grdschl@indiana.edu to receive a coupon code that will allow you to waive the application fee once you are in the application.

If you have questions about the submission process, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at (812) 856-8504.

Students who choose the law strand for their IU M.S.Ed. could also apply for the Education Law Certificate as A608, A710, A675, and A615 (or other courses upon ELC advisor approval) can also satisfy the requirements for the Certificate.  The application fee is waived and you can transfer most materials from your Masters degree application to the Certification application.  You will just need to write a new or amend the existing personal statement to reflect your interest in education law.  Therefore, to earn the Education Law Certificate, you must apply and be accepted into the certificate program in addition to being enrolled in the M.S. program. Please note, however, that you would either need to complete the Education Law Certificate program BEFORE earning your master’s degree or at the same time you complete your master’s degree. In other words, you can’t graduate with a master’s degree and then return to IU for this certificate and transfer courses in. IU has a policy that credits from a higher degree can’t transfer to a lower degree. For those of you who choose the education law strand in the master’s program, you would not need any additional courses."

First, please discuss any course-taking or progression issue with your advisor.  Students who have at least one semester of enrollment in the Certificate program, but then don't enroll for a semester or more have to be "term activated" by the SOE Office of Graduate Studies.  If the lapse in enrollment extends for two years, students must reapply for admission to the program. For example, if a student enrolled in a program course in Fall 2017, but does not enroll again by the Fall of 2019, they are no longer considered a student.

This document was last updated on December 7, 2023. It includes a tentative schedule for courses and we will continue to revise based upon student enrollment numbers.