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The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Graduate School received approval from the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees to launch a new graduate certificate in leadership and professional development. The LEAD Graduate Certificate provides individuals opportunities to gain leadership skills that are in high demand among employers and professional school admissions teams.


LEAD is open to anyone who has earned a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university, as well as current UAB undergraduate juniors or seniors with approval from their academic advisor. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) developed a task force with representation from higher education and corporate communities to identify and define competencies needed for career success and advancement. LEAD courses are designed to support students as they gain and enhance these leadership and professional competencies associated with academic, professional and personal success.

“We worked with colleagues across campus to intentionally design this program with interactive experiential-based learning activities that require students to practice leadership skills and professional competencies that employers in all disciplines and corporate sectors seek,” said Lisa Kerr, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Graduate School. “In addition to acquiring the skills and competencies, we expect students will gain confidence in their leadership and professionalism so they represent themselves well during interviews and other advancement opportunities.”

Through successful completion of the 15 credit hour certificate students will be able to apply the desirable NACE defined competencies, as well as have the ability to support and evaluate these same competencies among their colleagues. Professional communications, leadership skills and the ability to work collaboratively on a team are qualifications associated with admissions to medical and other professional schools, as well as career placement and advancement opportunities.

“The LEAD certificate meets needs among current students, as well as the Birmingham community,” said Lori McMahon, Dean of the Graduate School, Jarman F. Lowder Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center. “We collaborated with community workforce development partners when designing the certificate and are excited that LEAD will serve to support their efforts in building a stronger Birmingham, too.”

LEAD is an interdisciplinary certificate and the instructors are content experts from diverse fields. The program requires students to complete:

  • Three required foundation courses: Leadership Behaviors, Workplace Ethics, and Team Processes
  • 6 credits hours of skill-builder courses based upon students’ interests and desired learning
  • An experiential learning course in which the student will learn and apply designed thinking processes.

For more information and to apply for this program, visit or contact

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