Credits and costs
The graduate certificate in principal certification is a program that prepares teachers and supervisors to take administrative positions and helps candidates meet certification requirements in K–12 educational administration in Pennsylvania. Earning this certificate can qualify you for a position as an assistant principal or principal. At this time, only Pennsylvania-certified educators are eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate for Principalship. Students who do not currently have (or who will not have by the completion of the program) a minimum of three years of school (teaching) experience should not apply for principal certification.
The program has been evaluated by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) and is in compliance with their current requirements as well as all requirements by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The program has five important features:
- The principal certification program curriculum is standardized so that all students receive a consistent, high-quality, and uniform education.
- The specific designated courses cover all NCATE and Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) standards. All course assignments and student results are aligned with NCATE/ELCC and PIL standards.
- Students maintain an electronic record of their progress throughout the principal certification process. This provides documentary evidence of student proficiency in all ELCC and PIL standard elements, an evaluation of student progress, and an evaluation of program outcomes.
- The program emphasizes and draws upon our faculty's practical and field-based experiences in public and private school settings.
- A 3-credit internship of 360 hours spanning a full calendar year is required. The internship must be under the supervision of an approved on-site mentor principal.
If you are interested in applying for our Master of Education degree with an emphasis in school leadership, to be taken simultaneously with the Graduate Certificate for Principalship program, please visit the How to Apply page of the Master of Education in Educational Leadership program.
The Graduate Certificate for Principalship is composed of six required courses for a total of 18 credits. Students must earn a grade of "B" or better in all courses to be eligible for the certificate. Additional state certification requirements for Pennsylvania include the successful completion of an internship (one of the six program courses), a passing score on the Praxis test for school leaders, and a valid Pennsylvania teaching certificate. Because this curriculum is designed specifically to meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Principal Certification, no transfer credits or course substitutions will be accepted.
If you are accepted into the certificate program, you may begin your course work at the start of any academic semester, including summer. The student course load can be three to four courses per year. However, it is strongly recommended that you take only one course at a time while working full-time.
If you later choose to apply for and are granted admission to the master's in educational leadership program and have earned at least a "B" or better in each of the six certificate courses, you can apply the 18 certificate program credits toward the Master of Education program requirements.
Required Courses (18 credits)
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
Paying for Your Certificate
Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.
Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.
Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete:
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 1 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by November 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by March 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Applicants must have at least three years of relevant professional experience in an educational setting that is related to the instructional process and hold a current PDE–issued state certification.
Prior to submitting an application for the program, please be aware of the following:
- At this time, only Pennsylvania-certified educators are eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate for Principalship.
- You must have the capacity to complete a required, (calendar) year-long internship with a qualified mentor principal (who has been, and still is serving as, a principal for at least three years).
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — A successful undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate record with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (3) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
Ask for letters from recommenders who can make a strong case for your commitment to success in an online program of graduate study. At least one of these recommenders should be your current school principal/supervisor. Remaining references should include individuals who have supervised you in an academic or professional setting, who can speak to your intellectual ability, communication and problem-solving skills, creativity, sensitivity to others, and educational leadership potential.
Ask for recommendations (completion of an online form and an attached recommendation letter) well in advance of the application deadline. Notify all recommenders that they must submit their recommendation in order for your application to be complete.
Vita or Résumé — Upload your résumé to the online application.
Statement of Purpose — Write a brief statement, of about 1000 words, describing your reason for applying for the Penn State World Campus Graduate Certificate for Principalship program and any experiences that have contributed to your commitment to education.
Writing Sample — Select an article from a current education journal or peer-reviewed journal, such as Education Policy/EPX (Sage), Educational Administration Quarterly (UCEA), International Journal of Educational Policy and Leadership (electronic journal), Educational Leadership (ASCD), or a similar option. Briefly summarize, in a maximum of three pages, the main points of the article and then critique the content from the vantage point of your experiences as an educator. Your critique can include agreement as well as disagreement with author's perspective. Include a complete citation for the article in your writing sample.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the graduate school application
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Principalship" as the certificate
Applying as a Nondegree Graduate Student
To begin taking courses right away, you may apply as a "nondegree" graduate student. You may take up to 6 credits in nondegree status before submitting your application portfolio. Only students who have been accepted to the Graduate Certificate for Principalship program and who are no longer in nondegree status are permitted to take EDLDR 595: Internship for Principals.
Note: If you apply and enroll as a nondegree graduate student, you must re-apply to be considered for admission into the principalship certificate program. This new application includes a second application fee. Application/enrollment as a nondegree student does not guarantee admission to the program. Acceptance to the certificate program is contingent upon approved (by faculty panel) application to a selected program. If you plan to enroll as a nondegree student, you must contact an adviser in the program for guidance prior to beginning course work.
Review the technical requirements for this program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
You'll have the chance to gain real-world experience thanks to an immersive internship experience.
Professional Licensure / Certification
Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map for more information.
To learn more about the Graduate Certificate for Principalship, offered in partnership with Penn State's College of Education, fill out the form below.
For questions regarding the program or how to apply, please contact:
Administrative Support Assistant
Educational Leadership Program
The Pennsylvania State University
Email: [email protected]
Gerald K. LeTendre
DegreePh.D., Education, Stanford University
DegreeM.S., Sociology, Stanford University
DegreeB.A., Sociology, Harvard University
Dr. Gerald K. LeTendre is the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair of Educational Administration at Penn State and co-editor of the American Journal of Education. His current research focuses on the impact of online learning and other information technologies on teacher-led professional development and teacher work roles. Dr. LeTendre has published on a broad range of topics in educational policy and comparative/international education. He is co-editor (with Motoko Akiba) of the International Handbook of Teacher Quality and Policy (Rutledge, 2017).
DegreeEd.D. Curriculum and Instructional Leadership, Vanderbilt University
DegreeM.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, Middle Tennessee State University
DegreeB.S., English Education, Indiana University
Dr. Deborah Schussler is an associate professor at Penn State and a faculty affiliate at the Prevention Research Center and Rock Ethics Institute. She has worked with pre-service and in-service teachers, counselors, and educational leaders for more than 20 years. Her research explores how educators acquire the skills and dispositions to meet the needs of all learners, focusing especially on teachers' social-emotional competencies, communication, and moral development.
Tiffany M. Squires
DegreePh.D., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
DegreeM.S., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
DegreeM.S., Education, Canisius College
DegreeB.S., Elementary Education, State University of New York at Fredonia
Dr. Tiffany M. Squires is an assistant professor and serves as assistant director of Online Programs for Education Leadership. Dr. Squires has more than 15 years of experience in K–12 education as a teacher, principal, and professional development facilitator. Her dissertation research focused on the perceptions of principals regarding the role of the school leader in the implementation of curricular and instructional change associated with standards-based reform. Her research continues to focus on school systems reform/improvement and highly effective leadership practice.