FAQ for Certificate in Education Law (Online) Students

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.

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

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

We also offer additional education law courses such as A670 Topical Seminar in Ed. Leadership: Education Employment Law and A720 Workshop on Selected Ed. Leadership Problems: Publishing in Education Law. These courses are NOT required for the Education Law Certificate, but students are welcome to enroll in them in addition to the required courses.

A608 is offered every semester. A675 is offered every fall semester. A615 is offered every spring semester. A710 is offered every summer semester. We anticipate C705 being offered every fall and A670 being offered every other spring.

Students can complete the certificate at their own speed but it generally will take two semesters and one summer to complete.


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 would be waived if you apply within two years of applying for the Certificate program. You may also reuse the same letters of recommendation.

Please note, however, that you must either complete the certificate and the masters at the same time. Alternatively, you can complete the certificate first and then finish the master’s degree. Specifically, 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.

The program is coordinated by three school law attorneys who are also former K-12 teachers and P-20 policy professionals: Janet Decker, J.D., Ph.D., Suzanne Eckes, 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-conferences as well. Further, our program hosts an annual Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute in Bloomington 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, and the application fee is waived. If you are a current IU student who has submitted an application to IU within the past two years, 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. To apply, enter the online application portal. Current IU students should select the option to “copy” your previous application. If you have questions about the submission process, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at (812) 856-8504.

This document was last updated on April 29, 2019. It includes a tentative schedule for courses and we will continue to revise based upon student enrollment numbers.