Graduate Certificate Programs in Developmental Trauma

Dec 29, 2019

Graduate level certificates in developmental trauma are available online and in university classrooms. Individuals wishing to pursue a higher understanding of developmental trauma can augment their educations with this in-depth certificate.

Graduate certificates in developmental trauma explore the effects of childhood trauma on individuals throughout their lifetimes. Some programs are meant to augment the education of those already enrolled in a master's program in social work, counseling, or a like field, or even for those in a post-master's phase. Not all programs may be labeled as 'developmental trauma' and might be presented as 'trauma informed education' or perhaps 'trauma treatment.'

Graduate Certificate in Developmental Trauma Example Courses

The number of hours required to complete this type of certificate could vary greatly from about 9 to 21 credits. Graduate certificates in developmental trauma focus on several academic areas. Examples of these subjects are as follows:

Trauma Theory

These courses typically focus on developmental trauma and how it affects the individual and the community over the lifespan of the person. Special attention may be given to studying various populations as well as facets of a person's life such as how trauma affects a person's career or ability to become emotionally attached. Some lessons may delve into the neurobiology of trauma and the specific science, or what is known from current research.

Children and Adolescents

Special populations that are commonly addressed in separate courses include children and adolescents. These populations are the closest to the developmental trauma, and coursework in this vein often studies utilization of resources and interventions. Sensory studies and resiliency are also key concepts often looked at in these courses. The goal is to teach students how to get their charges on the path to recovery quickly, efficiently, and effectively.


Adults are further along in their development and are usually delineated in their own course because of this. Coursework often focuses on adult survivors of childhood trauma, frameworks for recovery as it pertains to the adult patient, and positive lifestyle outcomes. These courses typically emphasize adult behavior and sense of self.

Other Special Populations

Some other specific populations that may be present in certificate coursework include caregivers, military populations, or veterans. Because of the special nature of each, courses provide students with a better understanding of these unique populations and the trauma issues with which they contend. Some courses may focus specifically on how to function within a school system, for instance, while others may look specifically at military social work.

Real-World Application of Skills

In some programs, field placements may be coordinated through a supervisor so that students are able to gain real life experience through direct contact with trauma patients. Students will generally be expected to prepare lesson plans and give in depth reports of their interactions. Other programs may require students to apply their newly gained skills to their current jobs or home situations.

Program Admittance Requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Developmental Trauma

Because the target population for this certificate varies, so do the admittance requirements. Some programs require a simple online application without GRE scores and involve a personal essay, transcripts, resume, and a letter of recommendation or two. Others involve applying to the graduate school as a whole before being allowed to register for the certificate program. Select institutions want prospective students to map out their coursework and give detailed rationale for their course selections. Be advised that post master's graduate certificate programs will require transcripts for undergraduate and graduate classes, and applicants might be required to have completed a master's in an applicable field to apply to these programs. Other programs will only require a bachelor's, professional experience, or current enrollment in a master's program. See your specific program for details.

Graduate certificate programs in developmental trauma are readily available online and at brick and mortar institutions and might require completion of 9-21 credits. Coursework prepares students to conceptualize trauma as it pertains to the individual and the community throughout the lifespan.

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