Data Visualization & Communication

The Advanced Learning Certificate in Data Visualization & Communication leverages tools like Excel and PowerPoint that are already on your computer to build your skills at visualizing data and communicating it to various audiences.

In a fast-paced world with ever more information surrounding us, the ability to share information succinctly and use data to tell compelling stories has become a vital skill. This certificate program will be helpful to professionals in a range of settings who create reports, presentations, and other communications using data.

Class meetings provide students with opportunities to learn and apply data visualization best practices for developing charts in Excel and other visuals for dissemination products, such as presentations, dashboards, reports, and one-pagers. Through a variety of activities, participants will build skills at creating dissemination plans to reach specific audiences, learn strategies to engage stakeholders with data findings, and gain practice telling stories with data.

Participants are encouraged to work on their own datasets or projects within the program, engaging in class assignments and activities to create products that will be useful for their own agency setting or interests.

Program details and prerequisites are listed below. Applications for this program will close on January 28, 2024, US Central Time.

Is this program for me?

This program is intended for individuals who demonstrated interest in increasing their effectiveness in effectively sharing data. You do not have to be an alum of the Brown School to apply for consideration.

This is an online program, with a mix of Zoom class meetings (Friday mornings) and self-paced content, averaging about 5 hours of total effort per week. There are modest reading assignments from two texts participants are asked to complete prior to class meetings. All texts are included in the program fee.

The program is appropriate for professionals who have not been trained as graphic artists but who have an interest in more skillfully accessing widely available software programs (such as Excel and PowerPoint) to improve the effectiveness of their presentation of data. Participants should have a basic working knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint, as well as comfort manipulating descriptive statistics. The class content does not include computer coding or advanced statistical methods.

By the end of the program, participants will:

  • Understand data visualization best practices and principles, as well as why these best practices support comprehension of data
  • Be able to identify best practices for communicating and presenting both quantitative and qualitative data
  • Have a fundamental understanding of how to apply best practices to creating charts in Excel and layouts/visuals in PowerPoint
  • Develop a dissemination plan that includes identification of tailored products for different audiences

Successful completion of the certificate program includes submission of several data visualization and communication projects. Participants will be encouraged to select projects that are useful within their organizational context.

How to Apply

Complete program applications include:

Admissions decisions will be made on a rolling basis. Generally it is possible to provide an admissions decision within two weeks of receipt of a completed application. Applications must be received by January 28, 2024.

Admission prerequisites:

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  • Applicants should have (or be able to obtain) access to a computer that has Microsoft Office (Excel, Powerpoint), along with a webcam and reliable internet service.

Meet Your Instructors

Nikole Lobb Dougherty, MA

Director, Brown School Evaluation Center

Nikole Lobb Dougherty

Nikole has over 15 years of experience in program and systems-level evaluation, project management, evaluation capacity-building, data visualization, and innovative and effective dissemination and reporting. One of the things Nikole loves most about being an evaluator is the diverse set of responsibilities – from designing meaningful evaluations, to analyzing data, to effectively communicating findings into actionable recommendations, and supporting stakeholders as they build their capacity to better understand, document, and communicate their impact.

Meihsi Chiang, MSW

Assistant Director, Evaluation & Dissemination, Brown School Evaluation Center

Meihsi is the assistant director of evaluation and dissemination at the Evaluation Center. She manages projects with a focus on process and outcome evaluation, evaluation capacity, survey design, and quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. She offers an extensive background in project management and visual communications. Meihsi brings her creativity and passion for data visualization together to develop products and approaches that communicate research data and evaluation findings in meaningful and understandable ways. She also co-manages the center’s brand and visual presence, including website design and marketing materials.


We are proud to offer this certificate program for the 4th year in a row. Here’s what previous cohorts said about the program.

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