Early Childhood Mental Health Graduate Certificate

The School of Social Work and Department of Special Education and Child Development are pleased to announce the approval of a joint certificate program in Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) focusing on children birth to five years of age and their families. Graduates of the Certificate program will be able to:

  • Promote awareness about the importance of early childhood mental health
  • Work with diverse families with young children
  • Identify evidence‐informed services for young children and their families
  • Recognize ecologically valid mental health assessments of young children
  • Explain relationship of social, cognitive, and communication development in young children
  • Support positive, relationship‐focused communication between young children and their adult caretakers
  • Facilitate positive social‐communication skills among young children, parents, and other caretakers in a variety of settings

The ECMH Certificate requires 15 graduate credit hours.

Four Core Courses

  • SOWK 6171 Early Childhood Mental Health (3 credits) – offered online Summer 2016!
  • CHFD 6240 Advanced Studies in Infant and Child Development (3 credits)
  • SPED 6242 Enhancing Communication and Supporting Behavior in Inclusive Settings (3 credits)
  • SOWK 7127 Advanced Social Work Practice with Families (3 credits)

One Elective Course selected from the following:

  • SPED 5112 Authentic Approaches to the Assessment of Young Children with Disabilities: Birth to Kindergarten (3 credits)
  • CHFD 6220 Family Theories and Research (3 credits)
  • SPED 6350 Young Children w/ Disabilities and their Families: Interdisciplinary Collaboration (3 credits)

The ECMH certificate program is open to professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree who work or desire to work with young children and their families. This could include social workers, early childhood educators, early interventionists, early childhood special educators, early childhood program administrators, policy advocates, psychologists, pediatricians, nurses, public health educators, child protective services personnel, speech-language pathologists, and others.

Frequently Asked Questions

That depends. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, you can double-count courses toward the degree and the certificate program but you must complete both before you can graduate from UNC Charlotte.  Currently, once you earn your graduate degree, you cannot come back to UNC Charlotte and “finish up” the certificate.

No. You must have a four-year undergraduate degree before you enter the program.

No. The application is entirely online.

Go to the Graduate School website and click on the green button on the right side of the page labeled “Apply Now.” It can be found at http://gradadmissions.uncc.edu/  Find the tab for Programs, select the Certificate option and then click Early Childhood Mental Health.

You can usually apply 6 credit hours (two courses) toward a graduate degree.  Talk to Dr. Herman-Smith if you are considering this option.

No.  One course, SOWK 6171 Early Childhood Mental Health, is 100% online.  The other courses required for the certificate meet on the main campus.

Yes.  The Graduate School assesses a one-time fee of $75.00.

Graduate tuition and fees for 2015-16 can be found at the link below.  We do not know the fee schedule for 2016-17.

You are always welcome to take single graduate courses at the university without being in a certificate or degree program.

You will have to submit three items:

  • Transcripts that verify you have earned an undergraduate degree and your undergraduate GPA was 3.0 or higher
  • A 2-3 page (double-spaced) statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation

The application will give you more details on submitting transcripts and letters of recommendation. Your statement of purpose should address the following: 

  • What first interested you about the certificate program? 
  • How do you think the certificate can help you in your career? 
  • Talk about your previous experience with diverse children and families, that is, people who are from different backgrounds than your own. What was your biggest challenge and what did you learn from the experience? 
  • What strengths and skills do you bring to the certificate program?

SOWK 6171 Early Childhood Mental Health is offered in Summer Session I.  It is 100% online. Summer Session usually begins the third week of May and runs until the last week of June.

The program is open to anyone with an undergraduate degree, preferably in a human services field, who graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  Early childhood intervention experience is helpful but not required.

The recommendation should come from a human service professional with at least a four-year undergraduate degree.  Examples include former graduate or undergraduate internship supervisors, past or present work supervisors, or other professionals who have supervised you and can vouch for your ability to work with young children and their families.

Working with young children and families requires the use of evidence-based practice.  Evidence-based practice means using the best available evidence, knowledge of best practices, use of mentoring, and respect for each family’s values and priorities. We want to ensure that certificate students meet minimum standards in this regard before they enter the program.