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Independent Educational Consultant


Educational consulting professionals who are planning to launch an independent practice must prepare for this new business model. In addition, they need to fully understand the college admissions process, and how to address legal, insurance, marketing, ethical and general business issues.

The Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program provides precisely the knowledge and skills needed to build a business practice. The program also provides the knowledge requisite to navigate the college admissions process and the specialization to meet the needs of varied clients.

Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) Business Partner Independent Educational Consultants Association

Who Should Enroll

  • Individuals interested in transitioning into the college admissions consulting profession.
  • Individuals looking to launch a private educational consulting practice.
  • Already well-established consultants seeking professional development.

Career Insight

Occupational summary for Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors in the U.S. Source: Lightcast™ 2022

Annual Job Openings
Projected Growth
Salary for Highly Experienced Professionals
(Median Salary $61k)

Program Benefits

  • Learn how to effectively work with families through the college admissions process and financial aid network.
  • Acquire the basic skills required to start, open, and grow a successful and ethical educational consulting practice.
  • Learn strategic thinking for developing your business model and marketing plan using proven tactics.

Course Schedule

Required Courses

Principles of Independent Educational Consulting (2.00 Units)
to be scheduled to be scheduled Online Online
EDUC X406.1
Navigating the Financial Aid Network (2.00 Units)
EDUC X406.1
to be scheduled to be scheduled Online Online
EDUC X406.21
College Admissions Consulting Resources (2.50 Units)
EDUC X406.21
to be scheduled to be scheduled Online Online
EDUC X406.3
Developing an Independent Educational Consulting Business (2.50 Units)
EDUC X406.3
to be scheduled to be scheduled Online Online
EDUC X406.4
Independent Educational Consulting Practicum (3.00 Units)
EDUC X406.4
to be scheduled to be scheduled Online Online

Elective Courses

Independent Educational Consultant
EDUC X406.51
Working with Students with Learning Differences (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.51
to be scheduled      
EDUC X406.6
Marketing and Public Relations for the Educational Consultant (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.6
EDUC X406.72
Counseling Techniques for Independent Educational Consultants (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.72
EDUC X406.8
Consulting Transfer, Summer, and Gap Year Students (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.8
  to be scheduled   Online
EDUC X406.81
American College Consulting for the International Student (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.81
to be scheduled      
EDUC X406.82
International College Consulting for the American Student (1.50 Units)
EDUC X406.82
  to be scheduled    

Course schedules are subject to change. Individual courses may be taken without enrolling in the full program.

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Academic Calendar

Event Summer 2023 Fall 2023 Winter 2024 Spring 2024
Registration Begins (after 2pm PT) Apr 20 Jul 13 Oct 19 Jan 18
Courses Begin* (week of) Jun 20 Sep 25 Jan 8 Apr 1
Courses End* (week of) Sep 5 Dec 11 Mar 18 Jun 10
Administrative Holidays Jun 19, Jul 4, Sep 4 Nov 10, Nov 23-24, Dec 25-26, Jan 1-2 Jan 15, Feb 19 Mar 29, May 27

*Actual dates may vary by program.

Learn How To Earn Your Certificate

Earn a Certificate

Apply to become a candidate for the program: A Declaration of Candidacy is required to establish candidacy in this program. Complete the application and pay the application and candidacy fee of $125 (non-refundable). Learn more about the benefits of becoming a candidate. Candidacy is not required to enroll into individual course in a program.

A candidate in the program is awarded a certificate upon the successful completion of five (5) required courses and two (2) elective courses totaling 15 units, each with a letter grade of “C” or better. All requirements must be completed within five (5) years after the student enrolls in their first course. To receive the Certified Digital Certificate after the completing all the program requirements, students must submit the Request for Certificate to initiate the certificate audit process. Students not pursuing the certificate are welcome to take as many individual courses as they wish.

Course Discount for IECA and HECA Members

Members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) are eligible to receive a 10% discount on courses in the Independent Educational Consultant certificate. Discounts must be requested at the time of enrollment and cannot be applied retroactively.

  • IECA Members: Call 703-591-4850 or email for more information on how to obtain the discount code.
  • HECA Members: Visit the HECA website and search “UCI” to obtain the discount code. You will be prompted to log in to your account.

“Every class challenged me to apply my learning to my practice. There were several times the knowledge I gained helped to ramp up my practice quicker and with less risk and introduced me to resources I might have taken months to stumble across. I walked away with plenty of immediately applicable materials. The hidden ‘gem’ of this type of program is the network you create with your classmates. They were generous to a fault in providing feedback and support, and we are still in touch and encouraging one another long after our program is over. The instructors were professionally supportive throughout as well.” Jennifer Buyens, Program Graduate
Independent College Consultant, College Connectors, Minneapolis, MN

Advisory Committee

  • Steven Antonoff, Certified Educational Planner, Antonoff Associates, Inc.
  • Judith Berg, Judith Berg Associates
  • Vita Cohen, Cohen College Consulting
  • Jan Kerchner, Certified Educational Planner, The College Blueprint, LLC
  • Ann Montgomery, CEP, Sage Education Group, LLC
  • Bari Norman, Director, Expert Admissions
  • Mark Sklarow, Chief Executive Officer, Independent Educational Consultants Association

Career Advancement Network (CAN)

We are proud to provide our certificate students and alumni with newly enhanced career services that include one-on-one coaching, technology tools, webinars and workshops, networking events, mentorship/internship opportunities, and a rich collection of free online career resources. Learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does the program cost?
  • Each course costs $755 USD due at the time of enrollment (pricing subject to change). There is also a one-time candidacy declaration fee of $125 USD, to be paid prior to your third class. Therefore, the entire program costs $5,410 USD. Please keep in mind that this cost does not include textbooks, which some of our instructors do require. Textbook information for specific courses can be found on our website on the enrollment page. You may order books from a third party vendor such as If you are an international student, be sure to order your textbooks well in advance of the start date of your online course to allow time for international shipping. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • How long will it take me to complete the entire program?
  • Most students complete two courses per quarter and are finished in one year. You can take as many simultaneous courses as you wish, but we strongly recommend starting with one or two to ensure you have the necessary time to devote to the course(s).
  • Do I have to apply and be accepted before I start?
  • No. Since UCI Division of Continuing Education (DCE) is the continuing education unit of the university, there are no academic requirements needed to apply for the certificate program, however, the coursework is at a post-baccalaureate level.
  • What is the “declaration of candidacy”? When do I have to complete it?
  • The declaration of candidacy can be thought of as declaring your major for the certificate program. This lets our student services know that you intend to complete the entire program, and puts you on track for the certificate when you have completed all requirements. We strongly recommend that you complete the declaration of candidacy and pay the applicable fee prior to enrolling into your third class.
  • Where can I find the course schedule? Do I have to take the classes in order?
  • The course schedule can be found here. The listed sequence of courses you will find on our website acts more as a recommendation for students with no experience in educational consulting. We highly recommend that individuals start with EDUC X406 Principles of Independent Educational Consulting. The only course that follows a strict schedule is the Practicum course. In order to be eligible for that course, students must have already completed all required courses.
  • Can I complete the entire program online?
  • Yes, this is a fully online program.
  • I’ve never taken an online class. How does it work?
  • All of our classes run asynchronously, meaning classes are not in “real time” and you can access the content 24 hours a day. Still, each course has a specific start and end date and students must complete assignments by the deadlines listed in the course syllabus in order to earn credit. The courses are structured week-to-week, from Monday to Sunday, and you are expected to log in multiple times during the week to keep up with class discussions and assignments.
  • I am an international student / I am located overseas – am I able to enroll?
  • Yes. As an open-enrollment program, international students are welcome in the program. As listed on our website, all certificate programs at UCI DCE (classroom and online formats) require professional-level English language proficiency in listening and note-taking, reading comprehension and vocabulary, written expression, and oral presentation. We find that students cannot truly benefit from the online program without a strong command of verbal and written English skills. More specifically, non-native English speakers interested in our certificate program should score a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (100 for the Internet-based test). You are not required to have a student visa while taking online courses from your home county.

    Please note that our Independent Educational Consultant Program is geared toward individuals working with American student clients who are applying for admission into U.S. colleges/universities. We only have two elective course options in the program that cover students studying abroad. One elective addresses international students who are applying to U.S. colleges/universities and the other elective addresses American students interested in programs taught in English abroad.
  • Do you offer job placement at the end of the program?
  • No. While UCI DCE does not offer placement services, our certificate certainly puts you in a good position to find employment. Additionally, the networking to be done in the class can also be invaluable. Our advisors, instructors, and a good number of our students, are current professionals in the educational consulting field, and are an excellent resource for hiring trends and opportunities.
  • Is UC Irvine Division of Continuing Education an accredited institution?
  • Yes. We are affiliated with the University of California system of schools, and are accredited through WASC. DCE programs are all approved by the respective school within UCI. For more information, please see UCI Accreditation.
  • I can't find the answer to my question.
  • If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Education and Business Programs at

English Proficiency Requirement
All certificate programs at UCI Division of Continuing Education (classroom and online formats) require professional-level English language proficiency in listening and note-taking, reading comprehension and vocabulary, written expression, and oral presentation.

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