Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership Certificate

Repair harm. Promote healing and learning. Build community.

Feet in circleRestorative Justice is a philosophical approach that embraces the reparation of harm and healing of trauma. A central practice of restorative justice is a collaborative decision-making process that includes harmed parties, people who have caused harm, and others who are seeking active accountability by:

  • Accepting and acknowledging responsibility for causing harm;
  • Repairing the harm caused to harmed parties and the community;
  • Rebuilding trust by showing understanding of the harm, addressing personal issues, and building positive social connections;
  • Addressing root causes, systemic inequalities, and social injustices that create the conditions in which harm occurs.
In educational communities, restorative practices include three tiers of intervention:
  • Tier I: Restorative circles for community building and improving campus climate
  • Tier II: Restorative conferences for incidents of harm
  • Tier III: Restorative circles for effective reintegration after separation

Explore our digital resource, Graduate Certificate Programs at SOLES: Expand Your Reach, if you want to learn more about how a graduate certificate at SOLES can help you develop your expertise & increase your career potential.

Graduate-Level Credit

Apply for Graduate Credit

Professional Development

  • Earn a professional certificate from the University of San Diego
  • Complete 3 courses over nine months
    • Units not transferrable to degree-granting programs
  • Total cost: $3,585 (3 courses) 


The field of restorative justice is growing rapidly. Demand for skilled practitioners is growing faster than supply. As a result, many people are hired to deliver RJ facilitation who have little background in practice or limited training. Many people are offering quick, superficial training because they see opportunity, but they themselves have little experience with the practice. The result is often poor-quality RJ programs that fail to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

This academic certificate is designed to…

  • Provide participants with the broad knowledge about restorative justice necessary to evaluate good from bad practice.
  • Connect participants to practitioners with years of experience across a variety of settings and a range of cases from simple to highly complex.
  • Ensure skillful practice by including academic study and experiential learning.
  • Create an apprenticeship that includes a community of learners who can support one another while receiving close mentoring and support from advanced trainers/facilitators.
  • Build a strong, diverse community of practitioners that can obtain restorative justice job positions and provide leadership in the field.

USD’s Graduate Certificate provides a comprehensive introduction to RJ facilitation through online coursework and a skill-building intensive workshop at USD.  This hybrid program enables students to complete the introductory and capstone courses online and at home. The skill-building intensive is a five-day course held on campus at the University of San Diego and an important opportunity for face-to-face experiential learning and direct coaching. The certificate is obtained by participating in the following courses:

(1) LEAD 540-Introduction to Restorative Justice: A Global Social Movement (Online) - 3 Credits

This seven-module asynchronous course introduces the philosophy and practices of restorative justice. Restorative justice is a global social movement with applications ranging from the way a teacher responds to minor misbehavior in school classrooms to prosecutors' support of a crime victim’s desire to confront the offender to a society’s healing approach in the aftermath of war or genocide. Restorative approaches draw upon a variety of justice traditions that, in many ways, challenges the Western legal tradition of adversarial adjudication and punishment. Students will be introduced to the ethical framework that guides restorative approaches and a variety of applications. One leading assumption of this course is that a student interested in applying restorative justice in one particular setting, such as a school, will be most successful when they understand a broad range of restorative perspectives and practices.

(2) LEAD 541-Restorative Justice Facilitation Skill-Building Intensive - 3 Credits

*NOTE: Due to COVID-19, this course will sometimes be offered online over a six-week period instead of a five-day intensive.

This five-day course is an intensive skill-building workshop in restorative practices held at the University of San Diego. The focus is on developing facilitation skills necessary for hosting restorative dialogues. We will develop skills for both “restorative circles” and “restorative conferences,” two distinct and commonly used restorative practices. Each requires three distinct skill-sets: pre-dialogue preparation and assessment skills; dialogue facilitation; and post-dialogue mentoring and support skills. The course is highly experiential with intensive role play and debriefing.

(3) LEAD 542P- Restorative Justice in Practice (Online) - 3 Credits

This 14-week apprenticeship is an opportunity to put theory and skills into practice. The focus is on implementing restorative justice practices through the development and delivery of a restorative program and a series of facilitated dialogues. Students will propose a program, deliver it, and create a final portfolio project. Experience with restorative facilitation is a core element of certification in restorative leadership. Students are supported by a team of expert restorative coaches.

Fall Term Start: 

  1. FALL - Introduction to Restorative Justice: A Global Social Movement (Online)
  2. INTERSESSION - Restorative Justice Facilitation Skill-Building Intensive
  3. SPRING - Restorative Justice Practicum (Online) 

Spring Term Start: 

  1. SPRING - Introduction to Restorative Justice: A Global Social Movement (Online)
  2. SUMMER - Restorative Justice Facilitation Skill-Building Intensive
  3. FALL - Restorative Justice Practicum (Online) 
  • Understand the philosophy and practice of restorative justice from an ethical and philosophical consideration of the goals and consequences of various approaches to punishment.
  • Distinguish various applications of RJ from a cross-cultural perspective.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the research on restorative justice including the criteria used for assessment of restorative programs.
  • Assess the strategies and effectiveness of restorative justice implementation through critical assessment of grassroots (bottom-up) and administrative (top-down) initiatives.
  • Understand the relationship between theory and practice of restorative justice.
  • Distinguish and apply various restorative practices, especially circles and conferencing.
  • Demonstrate competence in the restorative process from pre-dialogue preparation to dialogue facilitation to post-dialogue mentoring and support.
  • Develop a strong commitment to facilitation self-reflection and co-facilitator debriefing and support for ongoing skill development.
  • Create a community of practice for continued learning.
  • Practice the tenets of restorative leadership and consider one’s role with the larger restorative justice movement.

Restorative justice is a global social movement with growth in a variety of settings including K-12 schools, higher education institutions, workplaces, community organizations, and criminal justice agencies. There is a growing need for skilled practitioners who understand the philosophical underpinnings of restorative justice, its varied applications, and self-reflective, nuanced practice. The certificate combines an academic understanding of RJ with experiential learning to ensure skillful facilitation.

The Certificate in RJ is offered by the , housed in the Leadership Studies Department in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. The certificate is designed for professional practice with the goal of building a new generation of restorative justice leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Certificate Information Session: Program Overview

Certificate Information Session: Grad Student Interviews