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Graduate Certificate inPsychology of Ethical Leadership

Program summary

This 9-credit online leadership psychology certificate program can help you become a better leader who fosters integrity in the workplace, successfully navigates challenging ethical dilemmas, and establishes and reinforces ethical organizational values.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by July 31 to start August 26

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

Stackable Credentials

This program is embedded within the Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership credential.

Learn Skills to Lead with Integrity

  • Apply psychological theories to solve challenging ethical leadership situations.

  • Lead collaboratively to leverage the talents of all individuals in an organization.

  • Recognize and respond to destructive and dysfunctional leadership behaviors.

  • Explore examples of ethical leadership to understand how to support ethical decision-making in business.

Courses to Help You Become an Ethical Leader

The courses in the psychology of ethical leadership certificate aim to help you become a better leader by providing skills to foster integrity in the workplace, navigate challenging ethical dilemmas, and establish and reinforce ethical organizational values.

Required Courses (9 credits)

  • 3

    Students will explore the impact of negative and destructive leader behaviors including toxic leadership, abusive supervision and leader error.

    • Prerequisite

      PSY 532 and PSY 539

  • 3

    Students will examine the topic of shared and collective leadership, which includes the psychological processes surrounding collective, team-based, and dyadic leadership in organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      PSY 532 and PSY 539

  • 3

    Students will examine the role of ethics in leadership with an emphasis on supporting ethical decision-making in organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      PSY 532

The courses required for this certificate can also be applied to a Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership if you apply and are accepted into the program. Students in this stackable certificate will not be charged a fee to apply for the Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership program.

Course Availability

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.

Start or Advance Your Career

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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.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

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.

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Learn more about this program

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 31 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

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.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

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.

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.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

Earn Stackable Credentials on the Way to Your Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Earn graduate certificates while you work toward your degree. It’s a great way to quickly gain new skills and add valuable credentials to your résumé — without any additional course work, course fees, or application fees. 

Earning graduate certificates from Penn State World Campus is a great way to gain new skills and quickly add valuable credentials to your résumé.

This graduate certificate’s courses satisfy requirements toward the following degree(s):

The online psychology of leadership master's degree program is intended for working professionals seeking advanced education in leadership. You can learn how to apply psychological theories and research to solve practical leadership problems in organizations.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

Note: This program is under review for GI Bill® eligibility, and you may experience delays attempting to use GI Bill benefits toward this program until it has been officially approved.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 31 to start August 26

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 31 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 30 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by April 15, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. 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.

    GPA and Work Experience — Students who do not have a GPA of at least 3.0 will be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the quality of their overall application. Applicants who are still completing their baccalaureate requirements at the time of application may be admitted to the Graduate School conditional on the awarding of the baccalaureate degree. Students are also expected to have a minimum of two years of full-time, paid work experience prior to admission.

  2. 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.

    GRE and Test Scores — No GRE or GMAT scores are required.

    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.

    Résumé — Upload a one- to two-page résumé highlighting your full-time employment and/or military experience.

    Statement of Purpose — Upload an essay 1–2 pages long, articulating career and educational goals that demonstrate the student’s written communication skills.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. If you have been previously accepted to a program with stackable credentials, you will not be charged an additional application fee for any associated programs.

    Associated programs in the psychology of leadership stack:


      • Graduate Certificate in Psychology of Ethical Leadership
      • Graduate Certificate in Psychology of Leadership Foundations
      • Graduate Certificate in Psychology of Team Leadership


      • Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership

      If you begin with a certificate and are interested in pursuing the Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership, work with your adviser while completing your first certificate to determine which program to apply to next.

      Up to 15 credits earned in any of these certificate programs may be transferred to the Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

    • 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.

      • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
      • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

      Checking Your Status 
      You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

      Technical Requirements  
      Review the technical requirements for this program.

    • 6. Complete the application.

    Admissions Help

    If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Contact Us

    Customer service representative wearing a headset

    Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

    For general questions about the program:
    Greg Loviscky
    Program Director
    140 Moore Building
    The Pennsylvania State University
    University Park, PA 16802
    Phone: 814-863-1116
    [email protected]

    Learn from the Best

    Study with highly regarded faculty who are world-renowned researchers and practitioners of leadership who have exhibited leadership as entrepreneurs and in a variety of organizations. This program was developed in collaboration with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.


    • Richard Bakken

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Leadership Studies, University of San Diego
      • Degree
        M.A.Ed., University of Phoenix
      • Degree
        B.A., Wisconsin Lutheran College

      Dr. Richard Bakken is a member of the faculty in the psychology of leadership program. An experienced educator, he also serves as chief information officer for the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. His leadership research focuses on higher education administration in a global setting, exploring the impact of native students attending western universities in Doha, Qatar. His research interests include applied leadership informing administrators how students describe their learning experiences in Western university environments and ways that technology can impact those processes.

    • James M. Dobbs

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Leadership Studies, University of San Diego
      • Degree
        M.A., Counseling and Leadership, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
      • Degree
        M.S., Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
      • Degree
        B.B.A., Business Management, University of New Mexico

      Dr. James M. Dobbs is an instructor of organizational management, psychology, and leadership. He has been a behavioral change agent for approximately 15 years, coaching and mentoring high-potential leaders who are thriving and successful, as well as those who are struggling and derailing. His research and writing involve leadership development and self-awareness, toxic leadership, cynicism, and assessment of leadership programs. He understands that the pace of change facing organizations requires multiple approaches to leadership development and requires more adaptive, flexible leadership.

    • Keith Gatto

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Organizational Leadership, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
      • Degree
        M.Ed., Psychology, Cambridge College
      • Degree
        B.S., Business Administration and Marketing, Villanova University

      Dr. Keith Gatto has more than 25 years of experience in both industry and academics and has taught professionals domestically and internationally. His research and teaching focus is on the intersection of innovation, leadership, and positive psychology. He works extensively with Silicon Valley industry leaders on the development of positive employee mindsets that impact the culture and productivity of organizations. Before working in academics, Dr. Gatto worked in various organizations, including Vanguard, CIGNA, and MFS Investment Management.

    • Andrew D. Katayama

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Educational Psychology, Mississippi State University
      • Degree
        M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, Freed-Hardeman University
      • Degree
        B.S.E., Secondary Education and Psychology, Freed-Hardeman University

      Dr. Andrew D. Katayama’s research and teaching foci have been in the areas of learning and cognition. He has taught courses in behavioral and cognitive psychology, educational psychology, research methods and statistics, and marriage and family. Dr. Katayama’s publications have been in the areas of learning strategies, team efficacy, assistive technology in special education, and sports psychology, among other areas of scholarship.

    • George Mastroianni

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, University of New Hampshire
      • Degree
        M.A., Experimental Psychology, University of New Hampshire
      • Degree
        M.A., International Relations, San Francisco State University
      • Degree
        B.S., Psychology, Georgetown University

      Dr. George Mastroianni teaches courses in the psychology of leadership. Having served in the U.S. Army as a research psychologist, Dr. Mastroianni has considerable experience conducting applied psychological research to solve problems, evaluate new equipment, and measure and improve human performance. He has also published extensively on obedience, ethics, and leadership. His current research and scholarship focus on the psychology of the Holocaust.

    • Paul Obidinski

      • Degree
        J.D., University at Buffalo, School of Law
      • Degree
        B.S., Psychology, Penn State

      Professor Obidinski teaches several courses, including Ethics and Leadership and the Psychology of Leading Work Groups and Teams. Over the course of his career, he has served as an attorney in private practice and has held executive leadership roles in ethics, compliance, and human resources at several Fortune 100 companies. He works closely with professional athletes on career management initiatives and with small businesses on employee and business development projects.

    • Peter Reiley

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Penn State
      • Degree
        M.A., Organizational Leadership, Chapman University
      • Degree
        B.B.A., Management, Leadership, & Administration, University of Texas at San Antonio

      Dr. Peter Reiley has taught university-level courses in leadership, psychology, and management for more than a decade. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience ranging from leading a national nonprofit to service in the United States Air Force as a program manager for the multibillion-dollar U.S. space launch program, leading blended teams of military personnel, government civilians, and contractors from Fortune 500 companies. He is an international scholar with more than 50 publications and presentations on leadership, power, influence, and military veteran transition, and he has consulted for organizations across the government and private sectors.

    • Eileen Schiffer

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of South Florida
      • Degree
        M.A., Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of South Florida
      • Degree
        B.A., Psychology, University of South Florida

      Dr. Eileen Schiffer is an industrial organizational psychologist who has had a wide range of opportunities to support students and clients in their pursuits of their professional goals. Those experiences have included individual counseling, comprehensive project management, program development and evaluation, and training and support of others who shared a commitment to facilitating academic and professional growth of students and clients. Dr. Schiffer is an advocate and driver for high-quality online adult education.

    • Jill K. Wheeler

      • Degree
        Ph.D., Industrial-Organizational Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
      • Degree
        M.A., Industrial-Organizational Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
      • Degree
        B.A., Psychology (Honors), Wayne State University

      Dr. Jill K. Wheeler is an instructor in the MPS in Psychology of Leadership program. In addition to teaching, she is a consultant with expertise in developing practical business solutions to help organizations succeed by selecting, developing, engaging, and retaining outstanding talent. She possesses a broad experience base, having worked for 20 years in Fortune 500 and privately held companies in a variety of industries. Dr. Wheeler has also authored or delivered more than 20 publications and presentations on topics including employee selection, job satisfaction, performance management, and leadership.

    We Are Penn State Online

    This is the real Penn State. You will take courses with curriculum developed by the same professors who teach on campus. You can expect the same caliber of academic quality that you associate with Penn State.

    Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

    Apply by July 31 to start August 26. How to Apply