UMaine offers new graduate certificates that meet the needs of Maine teachers, outdoor leaders

The University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development is launching three new graduate certificates aimed at teachers looking to boost their knowledge and skills in the areas of multilingual special education, adapted physical education and outdoor leadership. 

The five-course (15 credits) Multilingual Special Education graduate certificate, offered entirely via UMaineOnline, is designed to equip educators with a deeper understanding of evidence-based practices and educational policies to support culturally and linguistically diverse students, including multilingual learners, with disabilities. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, nearly 12% of multilingual learners in K-12 schools have a disability. Between 2012 and 2020, this student population grew by nearly 30% nationwide.

Melissa Cuba, UMaine assistant professor of special education, says that under federal law, multilingual learners with disabilities are entitled to language acquisition and  special education services, both of which are needed for them to be successful in school and beyond. 

“This requires a great deal of collaboration and coordination among educators who have applied knowledge of special education and language development best practices and policies,” says Cuba. “So this program responds to a growing need across our state and region to ensure educators have the skills and tools to work as a team to provide these services.”

UMaine’s graduate program in special education now offers five graduate certificates, all of which can be applied toward a master’s or education specialist degree in special education.

The Adapted Physical Education graduate certificate addresses the need in Maine for more teachers with the knowledge, skills and practical experiences to support students with disabilities in physical education classes. The five-course sequence (15 credits) is designed to enhance teachers’ use of age- and developmentally-appropriate practices for all learners. 

Educators who complete the certificate will be eligible to apply for the Maine Department of Education’s adapted physical education endorsement.

“All students deserve appropriate support in order to participate in classes that promote their physical, emotional and intellectual growth,” says Shannan Fotter, lecturer in kinesiology and physical education and coordinator of the certificate program. “This certificate will give teachers a more robust understanding of how to conduct accurate and comprehensive assessments of students with disabilities, as well as how to design and adapt instruction that meets their needs.”

The Outdoor Leadership and Education graduate certificate provides students with a combination of hands-on practice and theory to facilitate meaningful, high-quality outdoor learning opportunities for participants of all ages. The five-course program (15 credits) is focused on the professional knowledge and field experiences needed for anyone interested in successfully incorporating more experiential and place-based learning into various preK-12 schools, postsecondary and adult education settings.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis found that Maine’s outdoor recreation economy grew more than 16% from 2021 to 2022 and generates more than $3 billion annually. That’s about 4% of the state’s gross domestic product, the sixth highest percentage among all 50 states. 

“Maine’s natural resources have always been an essential part of our heritage and economy,” says Lauren Jacobs, lecturer and coordinator of UMaine’s outdoor leadership program. “Outdoor industries and jobs are particularly important for the sustainability of rural communities. We’re excited to offer this graduate certificate to help build a skilled cadre of stewards, educators and guides to lead groups knowledgably, ethically and safely in a variety of wilderness settings.”

All graduate certificates require a bachelor’s degree. Prospective students can apply online via the University of Maine Graduate School. More information is available online.

Contact: Casey Kelly,