6 certificates you can start this summer

Summer is the perfect time to start a new course of study, whether you want to hone your professional skills before the fall quarter or you want to test the waters in a new subject during the summer months. These 8-week accelerated courses can be completed entirely online, making it easy to fit your education into your summer schedule—anywhere you go. 

Many Penn LPS Online offerings in the summer 2023 term are introductory courses that establish key vocabulary, methods, and concepts for some of our most popular certificates. While you can enroll in an individual course without committing to the entire certificate, these foundational courses prepare you to continue your studies with greater depth and wide-ranging applications.

Ready to make your summer plans with Penn? Summer courses begin on May 22. Current Penn LPS Online students can register for courses via Path@Penn. If you are new to our programs, you can enroll in a certificate or general course-taking through May 5. Enrollment is easy—just complete and submit the enrollment form and nonrefundable fee ($25) through our online application system.

Open your mind by studying the biological basis of behavior

The Certificate in Neuroscience combines psychological subjects, including behavior, emotions, and perception, with a strong biological knowledge of how the vertebrate nervous system is structured and how it interacts with other bodily systems. This summer, you can enroll in NEUR 1000: Introduction to Neuroscience, which includes a learning assessment module to help get you up to speed on the baseline knowledge you’ll need to succeed in the course. This introduction to the field exposes students to a wide range of topics in neuroscience and prepares them to explore advanced courses in topics including music, behavior, and pharmacology.

Director of Clinical Development Michelle Miller enrolled in NEUR 1000 in order to expand her scientific education without interrupting her work or family life—but she didn’t stop there. “I just took one class to fill this gap in my knowledge, and I liked it so much, I thought I might as well take one more,” she recalls. “I find the professors very knowledgeable. Not only will they answer your questions, they will expand on their response by sending you relevant recent neurologic science information if they’re aware of any,” she adds.

Empower your professional communication skills

At its core, professional writing is any communication that helps employees exchange information, persuade and inform others, and build and document knowledge with colleagues or customers. The Certificate in Professional Writing provides hands-on experience with a wide range of genres in professional communication, encouraging practice and collaboration to build your confidence as well as your skills. PROW 1000: Fundamentals of Professional Writing immerses you in professional writing scenarios from emails and text messages to press releases and crisis communication plans—and offers focused, personalized feedback to help you put your lessons to work outside the classroom.

Develop a creative practice that’s right for you

Creative writing can feed a deep need to explore, experiment, and express yourself through poetry and prose. The Certificate in Creative Writing offers intensive workshops in a variety of literary genres and styles, with opportunities to practice and receive peer feedback to help find your own voice. CRWR 1010: The Craft of Creative Writing is a great starting point, whether you are new to creative writing or wish to revisit fundamentals and ignite your inspiration.

“I love stories, but my experience was in analyzing film and television. I had never really written something original in those areas,” says Christine Muller, who explored various forms before trying and falling in love with screenwriting. In addition to the space to explore, she valued the dynamic learning environment of virtual workshops. “We all gelled over Zoom. We could still interact with each other and each other’s work,” she notes. “Nothing was lost in the online experience, but you gain the ability to take courses within the pace of your life.”

Understand evolving environmental science

Climate change represents one of the most controversial and least understood threats to human, economic, and environmental well-being, requiring a nuanced understanding to find and develop appropriate solutions for businesses and communities worldwide. The Certificate in Climate Change prepares you to understand the ongoing chemical and physical processes that impact climate at a local, regional, and global scale—beginning with CLCH 1600: Oceanography, which dives into geology and chemistry as well as the science of the sea. No prior scientific knowledge is necessary to enroll in this course; you’ll learn everything you need to know through lectures, discussions, group projects, and other assignments.

“The recorded lectures were so informative. I would literally be making a list of what I could use in my own class from a video or an assigned article, or just from how a concept was presented,” says Liz Seiffert, a public school teacher who enrolled in the certificate in preparation for new learning standards regarding climate science in New Jersey. “With the Certificate in Climate Change, I have a lot more in my tool belt to use in my own classroom,” she says.

Study the science of well-being

Founded at the University of Pennsylvania, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology combines psychology research with hands-on applications that you can put immediately into practice at work, at home, and in your community. APOP 1000: Introduction to Positive Psychology introduces the foundational concepts of this innovative field, as well as strategies designed to help you optimize your strengths and promote positive emotions in yourself and those around you.

“When you learn what those strengths mean in terms of your personality and approach to the world, your approach to relationships and work, it is extremely supportive of self-awareness,” says Hilary Canavan, “and it gives you a real sense of direction and purpose.” A team lead at Penn Wellness, Hilary wanted to study positive psychology to use some of its tools to support the University’s student population. “The content, the exercises, the group work, all of that was really invigorating for me,” she concludes.

Create inclusive communities online

Advances in technology mean that the way we live, work, and connect with one another is constantly evolving. The Certificate in Digital Strategies and Culture does more than teach you how to use digital tools effectively—these interdisciplinary courses examine how digital communities are made and maintained as well as how they replicate or transform our social values. DIGC 1200: Digital Literacy and Cultural Change is the ideal entry point to explore the mechanisms of digital communication.

“Even though the class is about digital culture, I learned a lot about myself,” says Kirsten Calloway (BAAS `21). With topics including identity, representation, society, and change in the digital landscape, Kirsten says that the course changed her perception of what her education could do. “I was in school so I could do something rewarding and fulfilling in life,” she explains. “I was broadening my horizons and discovered a new world of possibilities.”

Learn more about the benefits of these short courses of study in How earning a certificate can enhance your career and your life.

Curious what else is available? Explore more options in the Summer 2023 Course Guide.

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