May 25, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Raising Expectations for Academic Learning (REAL), Certificate

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About the Certificate

The Raising Expectations for Academic Learning or REAL Certificate offers students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in a post-secondary academic-, vocational- and social inclusion-focused program. Applicants will have received extensive special education services in their secondary schools and are not able to access college by meeting typical entrance criteria. Students in the REAL Certificate audit traditional undergraduate courses and participate in inclusive vocational and social experiences. Students have the option to live on campus or commute. An individual plan for college participation is developed for each student. Students must follow the University Code of Conduct and the REAL Certificate does not have the personnel to (1) supervise students with difficult and challenging behaviors; (2) dispense medications or (3) provide personal assistants.

The REAL Certificate is NOT an accredited college degree program and graduating students will receive a certificate of completion.

The REAL Certificate is a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Eligible students are therefore able to apply for certain types of federal aid. See the Student With Intellectual Disabilities eligibility section of the Federal Student Aid website ( for further information. Consolidated or Person/Family Directed Supports (PFDS) waiver and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation funding may be used to pay for the REAL Certificate tuition.

Admission Guidelines

Upon applying to the program, it is expected that students will demonstrate the following minimal requirements: 

  • Be between the ages of 18-26 at the start of the program. 

  • Provide documentation of intellectual and/ or developmental disability.

  • Express desire and motivation to complete a post-secondary education program. 

  • Have proof of eligibility for IDEA while in school (i.e., the student had an IEP).

  • Demonstrate ability to communicate with staff, faculty, and mentors. 

  • Have the ability to function independently for a sustained period of time (i.e., able to sit through 
    90 minute courses and function independently for 1 hour blocks of time (including navigating 
    campus independently).

  • Have sufficient emotional and independent stability to participate in all aspects of the REAL 
    Certificate program and campus environment. 

  • Be able to handle and adapt to change; not overly stressed when schedules or people change. 

  • Express desire to be part of the workforce. 

  • Be able to provide transportation to and from campus.

  • Have proof of health insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, private).

  • Be able to follow the University Code of Conduct and to behave respectfully towards others.

Academic Requirements and Supports

The REAL Certificate is a two year program that requires four (4) full semesters of study. Individual planning sessions guide the selection of courses and activities for each semester the student is registered in the certificate. Students spend approximately 20-30 hours per week on campus attending classes, gaining work experience, receiving academic tutoring and socializing with peers. Students in the REAL Certificate program have the opportunity to live in residence halls or commute to campus. Courses are selected based on student interest for vocational or personal development. Students follow the regular Fall/Spring semester calendar.

The following describes the requirements that will be completed each semester (for 4 semesters):

  1. Academic:

  • Students will audit two undergraduate courses each semester.

  • Students will receive academic support from peer tutors.

  1. Vocational:

  • Students will participate in on- or off- campus internships.

  • Students will complet job development and career readiness activities.

  1. Social Opportunities:

  • Students will meet with their peer mentors 4-8 hours per week.

  • Students have the opportunity to participate in University clubs and activities.

Students should register for one of the following courses each semester to ensure that they are enrolled and can be billed appropriately:

  • REAL1 Program

  • REAL2 Program

  • REAL3 Program

  • REAL4 Program

Supports are provided by the certificate coordinator and peer mentors. Courses will most likely be audited, but may be taken for credit if the student is capable of meeting the requirements of the course without modification of its content.  Supports for accessing courses, vocational experiences and other instruction are individually addressed.


The Fall 2021 program cost of this certificate is $7,500 per semester, which includes the costs associated with auditing classes, taking part in work-related experiences and community-based social instruction. It does not include the cost of living on campus, materials needed for classes, meals or other activities that require additional charges. Students must also pay the activities fee. Faculty or staff tuition remission may not be used to pay for this program.


Students who are interested in the REAL Certificate should complete and submit the application, supporting documents, and teacher reference form available at

Upon receipt and review of the completed application packet, applicants meeting eligibility requirements may be contacted to schedule an interview.

Following all of the interviews, the application screening committee will review the applications and select students for admission. The decision to offer or deny admission to the program will be made by the admissions committee in their best judgements and in the best interest of the applicants. Final decisions will be communicated through email to all applicants. 

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