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Professional Development Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Certificate

The Challenge

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) aptitude is now highly valued by employers, both within and outside academe. Faculty job applications routinely require diversity statements. Global/intercultural fluency is named as an important career competency by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Given the University of Michigan’s decentralized nature, many DEI training opportunities available for graduate students were disconnected from one another, resulting in inconsistent DEI engagement and programming.

Moreover, scholarship suggests that standalone workshops offered without consultation, supervision, reflection, or relevant resources produce limited benefits and do not maximize learning (Beidas et al., 2012; Ash and Clayton, 2009; Hatcher et al, 2004).

Our Approach

In response to these national trends and institutional constraints/challenges, we developed extensive training related to DEI for all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through the Professional Development DEI Certificate Program. Our framework offers graduate students a centralized, clear cut, and flexible pathway to gain the critical DEI skills and knowledge they will need to succeed beyond their graduate studies.

The program is designed to prepare participants to work in a diverse environment while fostering a climate of inclusivity. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will possess:

  • Increased DEI knowledge and skills to prepare them for a diverse and global job market
  • The ability to accurately define and conceptualize DEI terms• Opportunities for further engagement in DEI scholarship and leadership positions
  • A diversity statement that demonstrates commitment to DEI
  • An official certificate of completion, which can be listed on a curriculum vitae or resume

To fulfill the requirements of Rackham’s DEI Certificate Program, participants must:

  • Complete five core DEI trainings on demonstrating commitment to diversity, intercultural awareness and communication, bystander intervention, unconscious bias, and microaggressions
  • Attend a minimum of five additional DEI-related trainings
  • Submit a reflection form within 72 hours of each training• Submit a capstone writing assignment of a diversity statement articulating their commitment to DEI
  • Conduct an informational interview
  • Participate in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Assessment (pre-survey, group meeting, individual assessment, and post-survey)

Additionally, four tracks within the program allow participants to deepen their DEI knowledge and skills in a scholarly area that is most relevant to them:


In partnership with the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), this track builds a learning community of DEI researchers and trains graduate students to conduct DEI-related research.


In partnership with the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), this track expands students’ inclusive teaching toolkit by learning evidence-based best pedagogical practices.

Leadership and Collaboration

This track helps students develop inclusive organizational leadership skills, including working with diverse groups of people.

Service and Engagement

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship (RPPS) and the Ginsberg Center partner in this track to guide graduate students in cultivating equitable partnerships between communities and the University of Michigan in order to advance social change for the public good.

What We’ve Learned


To date, 314 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from 17 of the 19 schools and colleges have enrolled in the program, and 108 of the participants have completed the certificate.

National Impact

Dr. Willis presented on this innovative program at several national conferences, including Graduate Career Consortium, AAC&U’s Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference, and Midwest Association of Graduate Schools.

Next Steps

  • Expand the offerings in our leadership track, which is less developed than our other three tracks.
  • Consider other delivery methods for training, such as online workshops, to meet the high demand for participation in the certificate program.
  • Develop Rackham expertise and offerings in several areas to supplement the offerings of our partners.


Rackham Graduate School


Deborah S. Willis, Program Manager for Professional and Academic Development


To learn more visit the Rackham Professional Development DEI Certificate page.