Graduate Certificate in Community-Engaged Research and Evaluation

Community-engaged research and evaluation is premised on the fundamental idea that communities (individuals, organizations, agencies) have legitimate and intimate understandings of their assets, needs, values, and activities. Researchers and evaluators work in authentic partnership with communities to co-construct questions and methods, collect data, and interpret results together to develop the practical knowledge and tools that can resolve locally relevant problems. Importantly, the focus of community-engaged research and evaluation is to continuously strengthen the practices and policies that help children, youth, families, and communities achieve their inherent potential, not to focus simply on whether a given program or practice shows impact from a single clinical research trial.

The Community-Engaged Research and Evaluation graduate certificate (a 16-credit certificate program) prepares current master’s and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral researchers at Boston University, to be community-engaged researchers and evaluators.

Students will acquire conceptual frameworks and methodological tools to work in authentic partnership with community-based organizations, school districts, individual schools, higher education institutions, and municipal and state agencies. Students will also develop skills to communicate findings in clear, actionable ways and to develop continuous improvement processes with partner organizations.

Successful completion of the certificate will make students competitive for jobs in diverse settings, such as:

  • Public and private elementary and secondary education
  • Research-practice partnerships and community collaborations
  • Higher education
  • Informal education in community agencies
  • Educational technology
  • Community-based youth development organizations
  • Public health and community mental health agencies
  • Juvenile justice systems
  • Child welfare systems
  • Private foundations

Learning Outcomes

Students should expect to complete the certificate with the following learning outcomes.

Students earning this certificate will know how to work in authentic partnership with communities in order to:

  • Co-construct questions and methods.
  • Interpret data together to develop the practical knowledge and tools that can resolve locally relevant problems.
  • Communicate findings in clear and actionable ways.
  • Build a continuous improvement capacity within organizations.
  • Engage community members in conducting the actual research or evaluation.
  • Partner with community members on developing publications and presentations.


Students can choose four courses from the following options (note that some courses have prerequisites). Students should take at least one foundational and one methodological course. Students must also have a supervised research/evaluation practicum, approved by the program director, that provides hands-on community-engaged research or evaluation experience.

Foundational Courses

  • SED AP 759 School Improvement Science and Implementation (4 cr)
  • SED RS 751 Program Evaluation (4 cr)
  • SPH PH 801 Community-Engaged Research: Theory, Methods, and Applications (4 cr)
  • SSW MP 759 Communities and Organizations: Analysis and Intervention (3 cr)

Methodology Courses

  • SED LS 801 Design-Based Research as Educational Inquiry (4 cr)
  • SED RS 652 Qualitative Research Methods (4 cr)
  • SED RS 655 Mixed-Methods Research (4 cr)
  • SED RS 753 Causal Design in Education Research (4 cr)

Required Practicum (to be completed after Foundational and Methodology Courses have been completed)

  • SED RS 699 Research Apprenticeship (var credit)

Course substitutions can be made with approval from the program director.