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Expand on your skills and knowledge to engage community members in planning, problem-solving, and decision-making processes that improve the social, political, and cultural well-being of civic and community life.

Developed in consultation with community practitioners, this certificate focuses on the strong links between community engagement, community leadership, and community development. From the policies and processes crucial to community mobilization to planning and evaluation models, you will explore the practice of critical awareness and have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate your newly acquired skills.

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Find out more about the certificate — join us for an online information session.

Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2021

Time: 10:00 a.m.–10:45 a.m. EST


All required courses are offered in an online format, and the certificate can be completed entirely online. Many electives are available both online and in a classroom format. This certificate is eligible for OSAP.

Learn directly from professionals with years of experience in community engagement, research and practice.

This program is geared towards practitioners in the public and nonprofit sectors from a variety of fields and disciplines, including:

  • social services
  • education
  • labour
  • health
  • housing
  • community policing
  • transportation planning

Note to students registered in this certificate program: Effective Fall 2020, the Certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership and Development has been revised. Students who were formally registered in the certificate prior to July 2, 2020, must complete the curriculum requirements that were in effect at the time of their registration. For curriculum details, please refer to the archived calendar for your year of registration.  


What Will You Learn?

Learn how to:

  • enact and support active citizen participation in community and civic affairs
  • engage excluded groups to improve the well-being of neighbourhoods and organizations
  • assess and understand the demographics of an area
  • guide community outreach and engagement initiatives
  • develop and support the implementation of an engagement plan with diverse communities
  • improve community well-being
  • advocate, conduct research, and evaluate community programs


  • the historical evolution and theoretical underpinnings of community engagement
  • models, principles, and methods of community engagement
  • analytic frameworks for action on community engagement and community development
  • skills for working with diverse communities
  • best practices for community capacity-building
  • policies and processes that restrict or inhibit effective community participation

Electives will allow you to focus on related interests, including:

  • communication
  • family supports
  • food security
  • fundraising
  • social work
  • Indigenous world views
  • team work
  • conflict resolution

Who Teaches the Courses?

Our instructors are seasoned advocates, practitioners, and organizers from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds. They represent the interdisciplinary nature of the field through their varied experience in community engagement, research, and practice.


Who Should Take This Certificate?

This certificate is for entry-level and experienced professionals working with communities or organizations through public and nonprofit programs and services, including:

  • individuals who want to pursue a career serving and interacting with communities through the provision of services related to community development, health, housing, municipal government, and charitable and non-governmental programs
  • Aspiring, undergraduate, and recently graduated students in areas including: social work, child and youth care, early childhood studies, nursing, midwifery, public health, urban and regional planning, political science, and health care
  • individuals in roles that serve communities by neighbourhood, city, regional issue, or identity (such as age group or ethnicity) who would like to improve their education, skills, and career opportunities

Industry and Careers

This certificate program was designed in consultation with community practitioners who work in the field. It was created to respond to strong interest in and enthusiasm for a post-secondary continuing education program focusing on community engagement, leadership, and development.

You may find this certificate helpful for your work-related professional development. It can serve as an opportunity to bridge former skill sets with new community engagement practices. It may also help you become more competitive in the labour market or when applying to undergraduate and graduate programs.

This program may assist you to begin or enhance your career in a wide variety of fields within the community engagement and services sector. The knowledge you gain in this program will assist you in pursuing additional studies or applying your expertise in roles such as:

  • urban or transportation planner
  • community consultation coordinator
  • public health worker
  • community development worker or officer
  • community outreach coordinator
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker
  • child life specialist
  • physiotherapist
  • community educator
  • community engagement coordinator
  • housing support worker
  • intake worker
  • relief harm reduction worker
  • social housing manager
  • manager for a hospital or other health institution
  • labour organizer or leader (such as a union steward)
  • municipal urban or transportation planner
  • development and community engagement consultant
  • program manager for a non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • school board community relations consultant

Certificate Requirements

  • 4 required course
  • 2 electives
  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 1.67+

Recommended Course Sequence

We recommend you take courses in the following order:

  1. CSWP 934
  2. CSWP 935
  3. CSWP 936
  4. Electives (2 selections)
  5. CSWP 937

Note: Enrolment in the CSWP 937 - Community Engagement Capstone course requires department consent. Contact Jennifer Ajandi, Academic Coordinator, at jajandi@ryerson.ca to enrol.

Admission Criteria


  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent
    • With 6 Grade 12 U or M credits


  • Mature student status with relevant work experience

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning offers a valuable opportunity to apply the concepts and knowledge gained through your studies in a professional workplace environment. The required capstone course included in this certificate provides a project-based experiential learning opportunity through which you will gain professional contacts, practical skills, and hands-on experience.

CSWP 937 - Community Engagement Capstone

For more information on experiential learning opportunities in Community Services at The Chang School, contact Farheen Hasan, Experiential Learning Coordinator, at farheen.hasan@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000, ext. 7491.


“Two Chang School students conducted their Community Engagement project at the Young Street Mission, Adult Program. The students developed and implemented a survey which was a great help. The results gave us deeper insight into the needs of the demographic we serve and how our services are helping our community members break out of chronic poverty. The students did such a great job with this project that we decided to make this an annual practice. We are grateful for these students and know they will have a positive impact on our world!”

Arleen Gomez
Bridges Coordinator/Pastoral Care and Care Manager
Yonge Street Mission, Toronto

Awards and Financial Aid




Frequently Asked Questions

Is there financial support available for this certificate?
Yes. This certificate is eligible for OSAP funding. Please visit Ryerson’s Student Financial Assistance website for more information. The Chang School also offers merit-based awards and need-based financial aid.

How much does the certificate cost?
Registration in the certificate is free. Enrolment fees vary by course, so it is best to check individual course descriptions for details. This certificate requires six courses in total.

What does the capstone course involve?
CSWP 937 - Community Engagement Capstone will provide you with an opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills you acquired through your previous courses. Individually or in small groups, and with course instructor approval, you will select a project that reflects your own personal or professional interests. For example, you might develop a presentation based on the analysis of a set of real-life scenarios or the analysis of a community issue or situation from your own professional life.

Note: You are encouraged to contact the Academic Coordinator, Jennifer Ajandi, at jajandi@ryerson.ca to plan your capstone enrolment well in advance of the term during which you plan to take this course.

How many courses should I take each semester?
You are welcome to take as many courses as you feel you can fit into your schedule. As a general guideline, in addition to your classroom time, you should expect to spend three to five additional hours per week on course work. This will vary from week to week and will depend on your learning style. For online courses, you should plan to spend an average of six to eight hours per week reading, participating in discussions, and completing assignments.

Note: In general, OSAP considers a full-time course load to be three courses per term and a part-time course load to be two courses per term.

How long do I have to complete the certificate from the time I register?
To graduate, you must complete certificate requirements within four years from the time you were first admitted into the certificate program. You must register in the certificate program before completing 50 percent of the requirements for the certificate. If some time lapses between taking courses during the four years, your student number and ID may become inactive. Please contact Jennifer Ajandi at jajandi@ryerson.ca if you need to reactivate your account.

Can I review the course outlines before I enrol?
Many of our course description pages include sample course outlines. See course descriptions for details.

Is the entire certificate available online?
Yes. The four required courses and many electives are available online, allowing you to complete the entire certificate through online courses (some electives are also available in classroom format). The Chang School provides a mini tutorial to assist students in preparing for online courses.

Visit our Online Learning support website for more information about what to expect from online courses.

What can I expect from online courses?
Our online courses use a learning program called D2L Brightspace. When you enrol in an online course, you’ll receive information on how to access your course site. Each week, course content is posted to the site, along with required readings and exercises. Reading material and activities may also be included within the course modules themselves. We also include discussion questions to which all learners are expected to respond – this happens online through a dedicated “discussion area” on the site. You’ll also submit your assignments using D2L Brightspace. One of the advantages of online learning is flexibility, allowing you to fit course work into your busy schedule.

Visit our Online Learning support website for more information.

Can I complete an undergraduate degree at Ryerson at the same time I am completing the certificate?
Yes, it is possible, but we encourage you to evaluate your own workload. The Certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development does not have any restrictions for students enrolled in Ryerson degree programs.

Visit Undergraduate Students for more information about policies and restrictions.


Caprice Rowland“I like being of service to people, meeting and sharing stories, and learning about them and their histories. Learning about and serving people is even richer given the diverse people that occupy Turtle Island or what we know as Canada.

When I noticed The Chang School was offering the Community Engagement and Development Certificate, I thought it would complement my BSW (Bachelors of Social Work) from Ryerson University and further my knowledge in serving people and communities. My two certificates, Aboriginal Knowledge and Experience and Community Engagement and Development, offer me the knowledge and flexibility to practice in community development, working with Indigenous folks in my professional practice, and have helped me significantly in learning more about Indigenous issues as a social worker.”

Caprice Rowland, BSW
Certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development and Aboriginal Knowledge and Experience

“As a community support worker at a major trauma hospital in downtown Toronto, an important part of my role is to foster a positive experience for disenfranchised community members by being strategic when listening to and assessing their immediate needs. Many of my duties are directly related to community engagement practices, which is why I felt this certificate program would help build my confidence in a work setting that demands leadership and constant rapport building. Understanding community engagement as a theory where core critical principles guide how you plan, design, implement, and evaluate your practice with community members has been an extremely beneficial learning curve and has made me a more attentive community worker. I have already gained much more from the program than I anticipated (and I had high expectations).”

Brittany Clayton
Community Support Worker
St. Michael's Hospital, Emergency Department

Acknowledging that I live and work on the traditional lands of many nations including the Wendat, Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

“For me, this certificate was a way to get back into the not-for-profit industry, as I focused my sights on social innovation and policy work through gaining knowledge on how to do effective community development through an anti-oppressive lens. This certificate exceeded all my expectations, and I can confidently say everything I knew about doing this work right was wrong. This certificate helps to train professionals to enter this field well-prepared – from assessing needs, developing and implementing practice strategies, to conducting evaluations – all while keeping the core goal of empowering others and their own communities in mind to ensure continuous, sustainable change.

The experiential portion of the certificate allows students to take their newfound skills and apply them to practice, which helps to reinforce why this type of work is important. The professors in the certificate and the Experiential Learning Coordinator are all very approachable and responsive and look to work with students to ensure their end goals are met. The flexibility in completing this certificate remotely has helped me maintain my full-time job while excelling in additional education. As a manager, the anti-oppressive practice approach has also helped me in day-to-day reflection, as it rounds out practical job knowledge through adding a social justice human element.”

Kiran Chattha, BSc, BA

The Certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development has really expanded my knowledge of factors affecting communities. It has broadened my understanding of the things that keep communities marginalized and what is needed to empower and strengthen communities.

Overall, the courses reinforce the need to identify our social location and privilege which has assisted in moving my work within the different communities forward. In addition, I no longer see communities as lacking resilience but lacking the resources and support needed to be successful. This has shifted how I demonstrate my leadership within communities from all knowing, to a posture of learning.

What I really enjoyed the most was the weekly class or online discussions. These discussions pushed me outside my comfort zone and supported my growth, development, and leadership. The course materials allowed me to think critically, examine my personal biases, and challenge old ways of thinking as well as my oppressive world views.

Lastly, this course applies an anti-oppressive lens that compelled me as a practitioner to confront the things that limit how I work within communities. If you want to challenge your leadership skills, develop sustainable changes within communities, and lead from a place of excellence, I would really encourage you to take this certificate.

Rhonda Andall

Contact Us

Questions? Contact Client Services.

Email:  ce@ryerson.ca

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