Foundations of Professional Development

Get Leadership Skills

Employers Want With Foundations of Professional Development.

Gain a competitive edge in your career with a graduate certificate in professional leadership. You’ll learn skills that are similar to earning an MBA—for half the time and cost.

Our multidisciplinary approach includes instructors from various campus divisions to enhance your technical expertise with critical leadership skills. Learn how to:

  • Deliver dynamic presentations
  • Spot and analyze industry trends
  • Lead teams
  • Manage projects and change
  • Negotiate effectively to get what you want
  • Understand legal, financial and marketing concepts.

In just nine credits, you will have the skills and perspectives that today’s employers want in their leadership.

Is this certificate right for you?

If you want to grow your career while positioning yourself for increased management opportunities, this certificate gives you the professional leadership credentials you need.

Bonus: Our flexible learning schedule will make it easy for you to balance your work and education, even when you’re working full-time and juggling personal commitments.

Customize Your Learning Experience

Your nine-credit certificate will be built from 14 one-credit courses in areas such as information and project management, communication, marketing, negotiations, and legal studies. These courses are designed to give you insight and experience working beyond your specific expertise.

Each course is eight weeks. Throughout these course sprints, you’ll be immersed in projects alongside other professionals who share similar challenges and passions.

Complete the certificate in as little as 10 months, or work at your own pace. The choice is yours.



Gainful Employment Act Disclosure

Alanna Thiede

"The tools and techniques I've learned have given me more direction and focus as a leader in my workplace."

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Gain Professional Leadership Skills When It’s Right For You

Get the skills employers are seeking from MBA grads in as little as 10 months with this online graduate certificate. Stack your courses to complete the certificate in less than one year, or spread the courses over three years to fit your work/life balance.

Not only will this graduate-level certificate look great on your resume and transcripts, it may also give you a headstart toward further learning. Several of the certificate credits transfer into other UW-Madison online graduate programs.

Develop Your Skills With a Three-Dimensional Approach

Shape the learning experience that’s right for you by combining your required core courses with electives of your choice. Each course is categorized by an area of development—organizational, personal, or team. By completing courses in all three areas, you will have the skills that many employers have identified as strengths in their highest performing leaders. For example, you will learn how to lead teams and manage projects or change in your organization.

Learn From Instructors With Real-World Experience

Learn from professionals who have been in your shoes. They will share knowledge, proven strategies and tools they have learned in their professional careers to help you excel in yours. Our instructors have a dynamic range of backgrounds and experience in academia and industry. Their common thread is their passion for applied learning. As a result, our classes are created for interactive application of knowledge, not one-and-done academic exercises.

What are you waiting for? Find out more today!

Foundations of Professional Development Path

Click here to download a certificate planning tool and learn more about the courses.

Click here to download a list of upcoming course offerings.

Required Courses

Learn how to get the most out of your online learning and collaborative networks. This course teaches strategic skills that are critical to digitally literate professionals.  


Mark Millard


1 Credit(s)

Enhance your leadership skills by understanding your own team performance and how to raise your own and others' productivity and effectiveness.


1 Credit(s)

Learn methods of influence and strategies for productivity within complex organizations. This course prepares professionals for success in organizations both big and small.


1 Credit(s)

Personal Development (Complete one or both)

In this highly interactive course, targeted strategies for improving delivery skills, presentation visuals, and audience interaction will be addressed.


Christine Nicometo

1 Credit(s)

Being a powerful communicator is critical to professional credibility. Learn to use the tools and genres of business writing to deliver your message with success.


1 Credit(s)

Team Development (Complete one or both)

Learn core principles and tools to plan a systematic approach to engineering project management. Build a project plan including scope, deliverables, schedule, resources, communication, finance and risk, measurement, and control systems.


Shawn Belling
George Watson

1 Credit(s)

This course provides students with foundational knowledge to develop and implement a change management strategy using proven processes and tools.


Carl Vieth

1 Credit(s)

Organizational Development (Complete one or both)

Law affects all aspects of our lives and this course provides an understanding of the ways it functions in different professional contexts.


1 Credit(s)

This course will enhance ethical competency by discussing challenges to ethical decision-making in different professional contexts.


1 Credit(s)

Finish Your Nine

The volume of information and data we produce and digest can be daunting. This course examines strategies and workflows that help professionals manage it well.


1 Credit(s)

Learn how to interpret basic financial terms and reports in order to use financial data more successfully in your professional life.


1 Credit(s)

Much managerial activity involves bargaining, negotiation, and settling of disputes. Managers bargain with superiors, peers, and subordinates; suppliers and customers; competitors and allies. Effective negotiation can improve outcomes for everyone involved. Ineffective negotiation, in contrast, usually leads to poor outcomes for those who negotiate poorly, can also lead to poor outcomes for others, and sometimes result in failures to agree even when agreement is possible.


1 Credit(s)

Problem definition and insight generation are key objectives of this course to spur innovative thinking. Learn tools to move from thought to action.


1 Credit(s)

Understand the role of marketing in an organization and how the elements of a marketing plan help organizations focus on the customer.


Chuck West

1 Credit(s)


Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Capstone Foundations of Professional Development program are listed below. 
Exceptions to standard admission requirements are considered by the admissions committee on an individual basis.
  1. Hold bachelor’s degree or equivalent credential from an accredited college or university.
  2. A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. Applicants from an international institution must have a strong academic performance comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree. All GPAs are based on a 4.00 scale. We use your institution’s grading scale; do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.
  3. Applicants whose native language is not English must provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 580 on the written version, 243 on the computer version, or 92 on the Internet version.

International applicants must have a degree comparable to an approved U.S. bachelor’s degree.


Applications are accepted on a rolling schedule. Students can begin the program at the start of any term (Fall, Spring, or Summer). Applications are being accepted now.

Email your Intent to Apply: Email the Chair of the Admissions Committee and state your intent to apply to the certificate. Attach your current resume and an unofficial transcript that shows cumulative GPA and Bachelor’s Degree received.

Complete the Continuing Studies Online Application and be sure to:

Select “Capstone Certificate” on the Reason for Applying page and then select “Foundations of Professional Development (UNCS396)” on the Applying as page.

Include additional information and guidelines as requested on the application

Request Transcript and Letter of Recommendation:

Arrange to have a copy of your official transcripts sent directly from your previous educational institutions to the Department of Engineering Professional Development. Transcripts should be sent directly by the educational institution to the CoE Online Admissions Office.

We will accept transcripts via any delivery method options (including pdf) offered by the educational institutions you have previously attended. However, transcripts issued to students are not sufficient for admission to the Graduate School.

Arrange to have one (1) letter of recommendation e-mailed directly by your recommender to the Admission Committee Chair. This letter should be from an employer or colleague. Download Recommendation Form. 

To avoid processing delays, have your transcripts and letters of recommendation sent directly to:

Attn: Shainah Greene, 432 N. Lake Street, Room 701, Madison, WI  53706

Complete Phone Interview: After all of your application materials have been received, the admissions committee chair will schedule a phone interview with you. Once completed, your application will be presented to the Admissions Committee for evaluation at the next scheduled meeting.

Admission decisions are made on applications in the order received. 
The committee will make one of the following decisions:

Recommend admission

Defer consideration until the regular consideration review meeting.

Decline further consideration of your application.

After a decision has been made on your application, the admissions committee chair will contact you by email to inform you of the decision and to schedule a time to discuss the decision and your next steps.



The certificate program tuition is $1,300 per credit (based on 2015-16 tuition rates), payable at the beginning of each semester. Students are billed for courses in which they are enrolled each term. Financial aid is not available.

Tuition Includes
  • Live web conferencing
  • Toll-free telephone line for the audio portion of conference calls
  • Library use
  • Use of the web conferencing software for group project work for program courses 

There are no additional fees, such as distance learning fees or segregated fees.

High Return on Investment
You will see an immediate return on investment with each course your employee completes in the Foundations program. Course content, assignments, and projects are based off of students’ workplace experience and are designed to be immediately applicable in their organizations.

No Interruption to Employee’s Availability
In a different time zone? Working night shifts? Unexpected work trip overseas? No problem. Our online format allows the program to travel to students, wherever they may be in the world. Even weekly live-webconference sessions with the instructor are recorded and archived for students who may miss a week due to a schedule conflict. We have designed the program to ensure your employees can balance their role as our students with ease.

Proven Program from a Top-Ranked University
The UW–Madison graduate capstone certificate your employee will earn has the same high-quality standards and academic status as a credential earned on-campus. The only difference is that UW’s program is conveniently delivered online for working professionals.

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Capstone Certificate

Foundations of Professional Development

$1300 per credit

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Rolling Applications

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Students & Alumni

Whether you’re a current or past student of the program, you have access to several resources that will keep you tied to UW-Madison.

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