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Nature-based Early Learning Certificate


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Enrich education with Nature-based Early Learning Certificate

Children with consistent and meaningful outdoor experiences enjoy a variety of benefits: better academic outcomes, improved social-emotional health and executive function skills, increased empathy and pro-environmental behaviors, and enhanced creativity, resilience, and well-being.

With Hamline's Nature-based Early Learning Certificate, you will:

  • Explore how nature benefits children's development, health, well-being, and learning
  • Understand the legal, licensing, and health requirements for nature-based early learning programs
  • Learn to use nature as a context for teaching all disciplines and supporting children's health and development
  • Develop a leadership project such as curriculum materials, programs, or nature-playspaces

Grounded in the North American Association for Environmental Education's early childhood guidelines for excellence, Hamline's Nature-based Early Learning Certificate is a good option for:

  • Educators who want to build connections between young children and nature
  • Licensed teachers who work with children from birth to grade three
  • Public health and special education professionals as well as anyone interested in children's health and well-being

What will it take?

Cost per Credit
Time to Complete
Next Session Starts
June 3, 2024

Nature-based Early Learning Certificate program details

Important Dates
Time to Complete
Application Requirements

Start dates and application deadlines

We review applications on a rolling basis, meaning you can apply and start your Nature-based Early Learning Certificate at three separate times throughout the year. We recommend applying at least six weeks before the term you want to start to ensure your spot.

How to Apply

Fall 2023 term starts
Spring 2024 term starts
Summer 2024 term starts

Nature-based Early Learning Certificate program format

Hamline's Nature-based Early Learning Certificate is offered entirely online. Some individual classes may meet synchronously online (at a set scheduled time) on a weekday evening. You have the option of choosing elective coursework that is fully online, or that offers in-person field experience opportunities.

Time to complete your Nature-based Early Learning Certificate

You’ll be prepared to make an impact on children’s lives from the very first course. The typical time to complete the certificate is 12 months, depending on how many classes you take per term.

Nature-based Early Learning courses

You will finish your certificate after five courses:

Required courses:

  • NSED 7102: A Sense of Wonder: Nature Education in Early Childhood (2 credits)
  • NSED 7110: Methods and Models of NBEL (2 credits)
  • NSED 7115: Nature-based Learning: Policy and Practice (2 credits)
  • NSED 7195: Nature-based Early Learning Leadership Project (2 credits)

Elective courses:

  • NSED 7100: Intro to STEAM in Early Childhood (2 credits)
  • NSED 7101: Eco Art (2 credits)
  • NSED 7105: Early Childhood Literacy Outdoors (2 credits)
  • NSED 7220: Equity and Inclusion in Environmental Education (2 credits)

Explore certificate courses

How to apply to the Nature-based Early Learning Certificate program

Applying to the Nature-based Early Learning Certificate program is simple and only required if this is the first certificate you’ve applied for at Hamline or if you are not enrolled in another Hamline School of Education degree or certificate program.

  • Online application (no fee)
  • Official transcript of a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.5 from a regionally accredited college or university
    • This should be sent directly from the institution to Graduate Admission or provided in a sealed, signed envelope. Official electronic transcripts should be emailed from the institution to
    • You do not have to supply transcripts for courses taken at Hamline University

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Apply your certificate toward a master’s degree

Enrolling in a certificate program is a great way to experience what the master's programs at Hamline are like. With the Nature-based Early Learning Certificate, you’ll earn credits that you can apply toward the following Hamline master's degrees:

Master’s in Education

Master’s in Natural Science and Environmental Education


*Children & Nature Network

Nearly 40 studies found that nature-based education is beneficial for a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.*

Take your first step today