Certificate Program

Career & Community Studies


Andy Barnaud

Meet the team!

The CCS staff bring extensive experience in education and employment for persons with ID as well as in postsecondary education. Meet the team!

The Career & Community Studies (CCS) program provides an inclusive, four-year college experience for students with intellectual disability (ID). We value student inclusion, self-determination, academic achievement, gainful employment, and community engagement.

CCS students have access to the same PSU services, resources, and classes as other PSU students. Additionally, CCS offers each student individualized support for academics, employment, and campus life. At the end of their four-year experience, our students graduate with a pre-baccalaureate, non-degree certificate in Career & Community Studies.

Flowchart of program experience.

The CCS program started in 2015 through a federal grant associated with Think College, the national center supporting inclusive, postsecondary education programs for people with ID throughout the United States. We are the first inclusive program in the state of Oregon.

Applications for the fall of each year opens in December of the prior year, and closes in March. See How to Apply to learn more about the online application process.

For any other questions, or to get in touch with us, email us at ccs-psu@pdx.edu.

Our Program

The CCS program is made up of three main components: academics, employment, and campus life.

Each student begins the program with a person-centered planning (PCP) meeting the summer before their freshman year. PCP meetings help the CCS staff learn more about the student (interests, goals, etc.) and plan for their first year of college. Students then participate in annual PCP meetings through to graduation.

1) Academics

Like all PSU freshmen, first-year CCS students take a year-long Freshman Inquiry course (FRINQ) as an introduction to college-level reading, writing and speaking. Students get to choose from a range of FRINQ themes—such as Work of Art or Sustainability—ensuring that there is something for everyone! Learn more about FRINQs.

In years two, three, and four, students take courses in their interest areas through an individualized program of study, created with the help of a CCS advisor.

CCS students may take courses for Pass/No Pass allowing for modified assignments using an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). The CCS Academic Inclusion Coordinator works with the student and professor to design assignments for the ILP that best fit the student’s strengths and needs. Students also receive ADA accommodations and assistive technology (if needed) through the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Learn more about the DRC.

All students enroll in a two-credit Career and Community Studies course each term. This course includes all CCS individualized supports: advising, academic coaching, and peer navigation (see campus life for more about peer navigation).

2) Employment

All CCS students are expected to work part-time while attending college. The expectation is that each student will be employed on campus in an integrated, competitive position at minimum wage or greater by the end of their first year. To accomplish this, the Employment Inclusion Coordinator supports students to:

  • Explore job interests, attitudes and skills
  • Learn about different types of careers and explore jobs
  • Create a resume and cover letter
  • Practice interview skills
  • Connect students to external job supports
  • Successfully find and keep a job

Our goal is to help students transition into a career-focused integrated community paid position before the end of their senior year, with the expectation that students remain successfully employed after graduation.

Examples of where CCS students are currently working on campus:

  • Campus Recreation Center
  • PSU Library
  • PSU Bookstore
  • Little Vikings (daycare)
  • Helen Gordon Child Development Center
  • PSU Facilities and Maintenance

3) Campus Life

Just like any college student, CCS students are involved in a wide range of campus activities and events. Activities our students have been involved in over the years:

  • Drop-in sports, workout classes, swimming and more at the Student Rec Center
  • Student clubs such as Latin Dance, Anime, and the Jewish Student Union
  • Student government through ASPSU
  • Campus events and traditions such as Midnight Breakfast, football games, and Midterm Stress Relief featuring corgis!
  • Volunteering and service, such as Harvest Share, the Learning Gardens, Mercy Corps, and more

With so many exciting opportunities to choose from, sometimes you just need another student to show you the ropes. That’s why each student has a Peer Navigator as part of the CCS program. Peer Navigators are other PSU undergraduate students who share an interest in getting involved on campus.

Campus housing is an option for second-, third-, and fourth-year students who are interested in a fully inclusive dorm experience. 

Additional campus resources available to all PSU students include: