CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program FAQs

We hope that you’re as excited about CSCCE’s new STEM Community Manager Certification Program as we are! We know there are a lot of details to work through as you decide whether to enroll in our inaugural cohort. We’ve included some FAQs below, but if you still have questions please reach out to training@cscce.org

Eligibility to participate 

Is the certification program relevant if I took the CEFP fellowship?

Yes! The courses that make up this new program are brand new – covering material that was not addressed in CEFP (or in the case of the playbooks course, building upon ideas that were introduced in CEFP). We encourage CEFP alums to take a look at the courses offered as part of the program, and then if you have any questions about how they relate or build from CEFP, please get in touch via training@cscce.org

Is the certification program relevant if I’ve been doing community management for the past 5+ years?

Yes, definitely. Our courses cover fundamental frameworks but also incorporate new learnings from social science research and integrate emerging challenges in the field (for example, how the pandemic-induced shift to virtual has impacted community building work). Also, our teaching philosophy emphasizes cohort-based learning, and we hold space for peer-to-peer connection and learning. This means that not only will you learn from the instructors, you will also benefit from the expertise of other participants in the program and be able to troubleshoot different scenarios together.  

I’ve already taken the pilot of the NOC course that ran in 2021 – do I need to take it again if I want to graduate from the certification program?

No – we will honor your prior graduation from the course with the caveat that we will ask you to complete some short assessments. Regular assessment is part of the certification program, and was not part of the pilot offering of NOC. If you are interested in taking the updated version of the course, we are happy for you to do so. Regardless of whether you take NOC again, you will have access to the updated course materials in our learning management system.

CSCCE’s approach and reputation

Why should I trust CSCCE to provide this training? Will the organization still be around in five years?

CSCCE is the leading training and research organization for STEM community managers and we intend to remain that way! As an organization, our activities started more than 6 years ago (incubated first at AAAS and now three years as a successful non-profit project), and our staff cumulatively have multiple decades of experience in community management.

Financially, we receive seed funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and we are on a path to financial sustainability by 2024. We additionally receive support from a diverse range of well-regarded STEM funders including the US National Science Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Our other revenue streams include training and consultancy and a soon to be launched institutional membership program.

We have a strong reputation as a trusted source of information and training. Our published materials have been downloaded over 30,000 times and referenced in grants, strategic plans, and evaluations. We regularly evaluate our training courses and the large majority of our learners (78% very likely, 19% likely) would recommend them to others.

What is CSCCE’s approach to training? Will the courses work for me?

Learning and sharing together is one of CSCCE’s core values and we believe that in an emerging, dynamic profession such as scientific community engagement there are two complementary learning needs:

  1. The first is the creation of a shared vocabulary and set of frameworks to guide the way we talk about the work that we do – materials that we develop at CSCCE. 
  2. The second is the need for trusted learning spaces where we can discuss our own challenges and successes and learn from one another’s experiences. 

Learning together in cohorts is at the core of how we run our longer-form trainings, which is why we limit participation in multi-week courses to a maximum of 22 participants. 

How do I know if this significant time commitment will be worth it?

Committing to anything is very much a personal decision, and only you can decide whether this learning program is right for you at this moment in time. The program will require a substantial time commitment, however we take great care to ensure that the material we cover is highly practical and directly transferable to your community work, so you can expect to see immediate value from your participation. 

To help you make your decision, each course page will detail requirements for completion and careful estimations of weekly lesson/homework time (note these are currently in an initial phase and will be updated by September). We recommend that you allocate a half day a week (approximately 4 hours) for the weeks in which you are taking a course – this includes the time you will spend in class. 

Another way to decide whether this is right for you is to take a look at what other learners have said about their time with us.

Timeline and scheduling

When will the courses that make up the program run? What happens if some of the dates don’t work for me?

We will update course pages regularly with information about scheduling, and when you sign up for the certification program we will ask you to choose your preferred courses and class times. You will be able to make changes to your schedule up to 6 weeks before a course begins free of charge. After that point, changing your course selection will incur a fee to cover the fact that we will be less likely to fill your spot. 

If you don’t see a time/date option that works for you on a course you’d like to take, please contact training@cscce.org so that we can work together on a solution. As CSCCE continues to grow, we hope to provide more options across a wider range of timezones, as well as taking full advantage of asynchronous learning using our LMS.

How long do I have to complete all the activities required to receive my certification?

In this inaugural round of the program, we expect you to complete your courses and other program activities by the end of December, 2024. After that, we expect participants to complete their certification within two years of enrollment, e.g., participants enrolling in our September 2023 cohort will have until August 2025 to complete the program.

What happens if my circumstances change e.g., I change jobs?

No problem! So long as you are still working with a community/communities we’re happy for you to complete the program with us. Please work with your new employer to set expectations about the time commitments associated with completing the program. 

Please let us know as soon as possible if you are changing roles so that we can update our records and provide you with relevant feedback. 

Assessment, qualifications, and outputs

What is required to pass a course?

Each course has specific graduation requirements, so check the relevant page to find more detailed information. In general, there will be some form of assessment such as a capstone project, final deliverable, and/or a series of interactive quizzes throughout the course. Our goal with these assessments is not to give you extra work, but instead create opportunities for feedback and growth in your role as a community manager. Wherever possible, the final output is designed to be something that you can then use in your community. 

What qualification do I get at the end of this program?  

Upon completing the program you will receive a certificate confirming you as a CSCCE-certified scientific community manager. You will also receive a digital badge for each course that you complete, as well as a final digital badge signifying you are CSCCE-certified. You will receive detailed instructions about how to access these badges and apply them to your LinkedIn profile or digital CV upon completion. 

What value does having a CM with this qualification bring to my organization? 

Certification signifies that your CM(s) has completed a certain level of community-focused training, is versed in current frameworks and best practices, and is part of a growing and international community of professionals doing this work. In essence, it demonstrates their commitment to being the best they can be at their job, and your commitment to the success of your project, team, or program. 

If you would like to play an even more active role in your CM’s path through the certification program, all courses will include the option of office hours for an additional fee. This includes access to supervisor worksheets and weekly private tutorials to apply the materials and gain personalized feedback. 

Pricing, payment, and discounts

I really want to take the certification program, but I need to spread out payment across two fiscal years. Are there options to pay in installments?

Yes. We are working on all aspects of pricing and payment. Completing our initial survey to tell us about your preferences is the best way to let us know what would work for you.   

Are there any other costs in addition to the course fees?

For most of our courses, the course fee includes everything you need, including access to the LMS for the duration of the program and all of the digital badges you will earn. In some cases you may need to purchase a textbook (e.g., NOC and CoP). 

I’ve heard you’re launching an institutional membership program soon and I know my organization is likely to want to sign up. Will this give us any discounts on the certification program?

Yes – but we’re still working out the details. More on that soon!

Additional learning and training opportunities

Are there plans to provide any additional training beyond this?

Yes, eventually. This is just a starting point based on what we see as the most immediate needs across the current ecosystem of organizations and CM roles. 

We’ve carefully designed the program to meet our mission of both providing professional development to CMs directly, and also supporting organizations in developing  practices to successfully convene communities. The outputs of each course, such as playbooks, engagement plans and onboarding plans, are intended to address that. One consequence is that regardless of whether the CM is in the same role in 3 years or not, the initial host organization will have benefited from improved internal infrastructure and processes to support their community engagement efforts. As we continue to raise the bar in this way across the ecosystem, we will offer additional materials and trainings.  

We don’t have a full time community manager on our team but we do have several people who could benefit from some of these materials. Is custom training an option for us?

Yes. We outline what this looks like on our consultancy page. Briefly: we do offer custom cohorts of our professional development courses that can be somewhat tailored to meet your needs. One thing we do not typically do is condense our courses into shorter versions. 

To find out more about what we can do to meet your needs, please email training@cscce.org

Aren’t there different types of community managers? Are you going to be providing different types of certifications to address their different needs?

Yes, there are (see our STEM Community Manager Case Studies!), and we appreciate the specialization that comes with this variety. At this time our curriculum is focused on core skills that are relevant to all community managers in STEM. However as our course catalog expands we may add topics that relate to role specialization.