CSCCE’s Community Manager Certification Program builds upon our foundational Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals (CEF) course to create a longer-form, multi-component, online program for STEM community managers. The program will equip community managers and their organizations with necessary skills and frameworks to ground their work in a community-centric leadership approach – and to signal those qualifications to others.
Our fall 2023 enrollment is now closed. Enrollment is currently open for the spring 2024 cohort of the CSCCE Community Manager Certification Program. Please complete the intent-to-enroll form to begin the registration process.
- Orientation began for CERT23F: 21 September 2023
- The first required multi-week course, CODE, begins: 9 October 2023
Community management in STEM is an emerging career path, with new roles being created with increasing frequency. Both our 2016 survey of the State of Scientific Community Management and our more recent Community Manager Case Studies project showed that many community managers start out with little to no training, and are expected to learn on the job. This can lead to burnout, unmet expectations, and a general failure to realize the full potential of community efforts. Having offered our CEF course as a foundational training for almost three years now, we know that there is a need for community managers to develop additional skills and expertise beyond these core principles – and to be able to demonstrate their qualifications in a shared currency that’s valued across the STEM ecosystem. Our new certification program is intended to meet these needs, further professionalizing the role of the community manager in STEM.
What is the program?
The CSCCE Community Manager Certification program consists of two required core courses, an elective course, six Mini-workshops, networking opportunities, and ongoing participation in a peer-learning community. It can be completed in two years or less and explores community management concepts including content development, community playbooks, and how social science research can support community managers in designing ways for members to engage.
Participants can chart their own path through the program, choosing elective specialties complemented by a constellation of short form trainings in everything from running virtual events to considering culture change efforts. Courses, Mini-workshops, and cohort-building activities will take place multiple times throughout the two years, allowing for schedule customization and a more accelerated path through the program, if desired. Successful completion results in the award of a certificate and digital badges that graduates can display on their LinkedIn pages and virtual CVs.
Throughout the program sequence, participants will encounter real-world community management tasks and workflows by developing materials using our frameworks, reflecting on community engagement philosophies with their peers, and sharing work products during collaborative lab (co-lab) sessions.
Incredibly professional in every aspect; I couldn’t think of one detail in structure or facilitation that wasn’t perfect!Community Engagement Fundamentals participant, December 2020
CSCCE is the leading training organization for community managers in STEM. Our mission is to professionalize and institutionalize the role of the community manager in STEM – and we see this certification program as a way to meet both of those aims.
As an organization, our activities started more than 6 years ago (incubated first at AAAS and now four years as a successful non-profit project), and our staff cumulatively have multiple decades of experience in community management.
We have a strong reputation as a trusted source of information and training. Our published materials have been downloaded more than 40,000 times and referenced in grants, strategic plans, and evaluations. We evaluate all of our training courses, and in 2023 the large majority of our learners (89% very likely, 11% likely) would recommend them to others.
Informational drop-in sessions
We hosted two live informational sessions with CSCCE’s Director, Lou Woodley, and Director of Learning, Camille Santistevan in December 2022 and January 2023.
If you were unable to attend but would like to view a recording, please email email@example.com. You can also email us with any questions about the program.
Because of the way the program and learning activities are structured, you will need to be in a community management role (whether or not that is your title) and actively managing or about to launch a community. This program is not suitable for anyone hoping to become a community manager at a later date. If you are considering a community-focused career path, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your options.
See the “Your program journey” page for more information about your path to certification.
i) Core courses
All participants enrolled in the certification program will take two core courses: Content Design (CODE) and Creating Community Playbooks (PBK). We also welcome learners in these courses who are not enrolled in the certification program, provided they have completed the CEF course (or have a valid exemption).
Course one: Content Design (CODE)
This course will equip learners with new and enhanced skills in planning, developing and publishing content that is specifically designed to engage community members and advance the mission of the community. Using a new CSCCE framework, participants will explore the different functions of a range of types of written content, with opportunities to create content of their own, and receive feedback from staff and their peers. The course will result in the creation of an actionable communications plan that draws upon multiple content types to support a content pillar (a significant output such as a landscape report or conference proceedings).
Visit the course webpage for more information.
Course two: Creating Community Playbooks (PBK)
A community or team playbook (sometimes also called a collaboration guide or contributor guide) is a key piece of community scaffolding that can support staff, members, and/or community champions in working together in a productive and inclusive way. This course will use CSCCE’s community playbook framework and supporting templates to guide participants in creating this valuable documentation for their community. Co-working sessions with guest mentors will add additional, practical perspectives about implementation.
Visit the course webpage for more information.
ii) Elective courses
Having completed CODE and PBK, participants can then choose one elective course – either Communities of Practice (CoP) or Nurturing Online Communities (NOC).
Communities of Practice (CoP)
Communities of practice and social learning spaces are unique from other types of communities, and are often misunderstood and mismanaged. This course will address the dynamics of learning in a social context and how to support the creation of knowledge artifacts that capture those learnings for broader dissemination. Learners will leave equipped not just with the language and frameworks to describe their CoP and the interactions within it, but also the tactics to support multi-directional knowledge sharing.
Visit the course webpage for more information.
Nurturing Online Communities (NOC)*
Building and nurturing a community in an online environment comes with specific needs and challenges. This course will take a social science approach to online behavior and how to stimulate engagement and nurture commitment in the virtual environment. With case studies and opportunities to apply the literature to your own community, participants will leave with clear ideas about what to do next in their own community.
Visit the course webpage for more information.
*If you have already taken the pilot version of NOC, you do not need to take the updated version of the course unless you would like to. Even if you don’t join the course, for your participation to count towards certification you will be required to complete a final short NOC graduation project, and you will have access to the updated course materials. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
iii) Additional programming
In addition to the three courses that you’ll complete, you will also participate in Mini-workshops and networking activities, and receive feedback from your instructors along the way.
All participants will attend six 90-minute Mini-workshops from a catalog of options to round out their formal instruction. Mini-workshops will cover a topic that doesn’t necessitate a full course, but that we consider highly applicable to community managers. Two of the six Mini-workshops – on core values and giving and receiving feedback – will be required as part of the onboarding and orientation experience. You can then choose an additional four Mini-workshops to make up the six-workshop requirement.
More workshops will be added over time, but the catalog currently includes content on planning and running virtual events, best practices for working with volunteers, and more.
Throughout the period of your enrollment you will also be expected to participate in a minimum number of cohort activities. These will include attending:
- An orientation experience at the beginning of the program
- A minimum of two Quarterly Skills Share sessions – including presenting a lightning talk at one of them
- Final graduation
Peer learning and sharing
CSCCE learning experiences have always placed value on cohort-building, with a centered appreciation for the fact that learners excel in spaces where their existing expertise is valued, and vulnerability, privacy, and curiosity are respected. As you move through the program, you will have access to the other members of your cohort in a private Slack channel, as well as ongoing opportunities for synchronous connection.
Benefits and outputs
Upon graduating from the program, learners will have created a collection of outputs for their own communities, including:
- A plan for a communications campaign designed around a content pillar (a significant item of content such as a report or conference proceedings).
- A playbook “lite” covering the six key areas in the CSCCE playbook framework which include documenting who is in the community, the programming, reusable templates and tools currently in use.
- Additional outputs depending on elective participation:
- An onboarding plan for their online community
- An outline launch plan for new online community programming
- A timeline of when different types of commitment become relevant to online community members – and how to support building that commitment
- A case study of how to solve an engagement challenge in their online community using social science theory
- A knowledge management or programming plan related to knowledge sharing for their community
Many of these outputs will use, and build upon, your Member Analysis and Content and Programming worksheets from CEF.
Amazing effort by the course leaders to create such an IRL feeling in an online course!Community Engagement Fundamentals participant, December 2020
Training format and learning tools
In 2023, we transitioned to coordinating all of our course offerings through the learning management system (LMS) Canvas. Learners now access course materials (e.g., lesson slide decks and worksheets), complete homework assignments and assessments, and access additional activities through a single portal.
Synchronous CSCCE training sessions take place primarily in Zoom. Various activities during lessons and co-labs model the use of additional tools, including: Google Workspace, Gather, Wonder, Padlet and Mural.
Throughout the program your learning will be supported and assessed with quizzes, assignments, and capstone projects, depending on the courses you are taking. To graduate from the program and become a CSCCE-certified community manager you will:
- Successfully complete three multi-week courses (two core courses and one elective)
- Successfully complete six Mini-workshops (including two that are required as part of your onboarding and orientation experience)
- Participate in a Minimum number of the additional cohesive activities such as Quarterly Skills Share sessions
More information about assessment for each program component is available on the respective web pages.
Graduation and digital badges
Learners will receive a digital badge for each course they complete, as well as a final badge signifying they are a CSCCE-certified community manager. Upon successfully completing the program, learners will also receive a certificate confirming they are a CSCCE-certified community manager.
We will share instructions about how to access and use the digital badges, which can be added to a graduate’s LinkedIn profile.
Timeline and time commitment
Our first Certification Program cohort will begin orientation on 21 September 2023, with the first multi-week course (CODE) beginning on 9 October. There will be a second opportunity to enroll in the program in the spring of 2024 (you can indicate your interest in the spring 2024 cohort on the intent-to-enroll form).
Orientation is expected to take several hours over the course of a two-week period (one 60 minute session plus two two-hour sessions). From orientation, learners will then enter their first program component and will have up to two years to complete all of the program requirements.
Throughout the certification program, participants will receive expert instruction from the members of our training team, as well as input from guest instructors and mentors from both our staff team and our extended network of experienced STEM community professionals.
The CSCCE training team is continuing to grow and currently includes:
- Lou Woodley, Founder and Director
- Camille Santistevan, Director of Learning
- Alice Martinic, Trainer and Learner Liaison
- Maya Sanghvi, Junior Trainer and Curriculum Assistant
Please check individual course descriptions and the course schedule for more information about who will lead each program component.
Registration fees for the full course of study are:
- $5000 for participants from non-profit organizations or academic institutions
- $7500 for participants from for-profit organizations or those who wish to contribute at a supporting rate
We are also working on a financial aid fund so that we can support a diverse group of learners. If you would like to contribute to that fund, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the intent-to-enroll form to let us know more about your financial needs.
How to enroll
We are now accepting enrollment for our spring 2024 cohort through this intent-to-enroll form. Each cohort of certification candidates will include up to 25 participants, and we will be enrolling on a first come, first served basis. After filling in the intent-to-enroll form, we will follow up with you to finalize your enrollment.