Teacher standing near lockers

Graduate Certificate in
Teacher Leadership

Program summary

Develop the professional knowledge, skills, and competencies required of candidates for Pennsylvania Department of Education Teacher Leaders Endorsement. Continue teaching in the classroom while you pursue additional roles such as lead teacher, mentor teacher, or department head.

Application deadline

Apply by July 1 to start August 21

Credits and costs

12 Credits $1,007 per credit

Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership

This 12-credit certificate includes Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)–approved course work leading to Teacher Leaders Endorsement. Your course work will help you develop the professional knowledge, skills, and competencies required of candidates for the endorsement. This important credential verifies a teacher’s ability to enhance school culture, impact planned change for school improvement, influence instructional effectiveness, and lead peer educators in professional development. 

Expand Your Career Opportunities Without Leaving the Classroom

If you are a K–12 teacher looking to advance in your school or district, you can benefit greatly from this program. This unique online program allows you to continue teaching in the classroom while you cultivate the skills and knowledge that can prepare you for additional roles such as lead teacher, mentor teacher, or department head. The four required courses incorporate field experience through a mentorship within a school setting, allowing you to engage in authentic leadership experiences throughout the duration of the program. Mentors are selected by the students and approved through your Penn State academic adviser. Please note that a Level I or Level II Pennsylvania teaching certificate is required for acceptance to the program, as is access to a school setting and a mentor with at least three years of experience in a current educational leadership position. 

Why Educational Leadership Online at Penn State?

Earn a respected credential from a university with more than 20 years of experience in online learning and 100+ years of distance education experience. Our College of Education is regularly ranked among the nation's best graduate schools, according to U.S. News & World Report, and your certificate courses are taught by the same nationally recognized instructors who teach on campus. They include a mix of research faculty, experienced practitioners, and sitting building/district leaders.


The 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership offered through Penn State World Campus provides educators with flexible learning and collaboration through online instruction. The program allows for participation in on-site field experiences embedded in each of the four required courses. Please note that a Level I or Level II Pennsylvania teaching certificate is required for acceptance to the program, as is access to a school setting and a mentor with at least three years of experience in a current educational leadership position.

Required Courses (12 credits)

  • 3

    This course will provide an overview of major issues in school law. The course will focus primarily on case law, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions as well as relevant state and federal lower court opinions.

  • 3

    This course focuses on understanding schools as learning organizations and how teacher leadership works in such organizations.

  • 3

    Focuses on several general models developed for school improvement purposes.

  • 3

    Provides aspiring leaders with learning opportunities and activities authentic to school leaders and leadership roles in educational organizations.

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.

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.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

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 and letters of recommendation should be received by the following deadline to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by July 1 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by November 1 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements

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. 

Prior to submitting an application for the program, please be aware of the following:

  • At this time, only Level I or Level II Pennsylvania–certified educators are eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership.
  • You must have access to a mentor who has at least 3 years of experience in a current educational leadership position to participate in field experience that is integrated into the course work.

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 record with a minimum grade-point average 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.

Program-Specific Questions/Materials

Statement of Purpose  Write a brief statement, of about 1000 words, describing your reason for applying for the Penn State World Campus Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership 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

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 matriculated into the educational leadership program as a student completing a degree or certificate program are permitted to take the EDLDR 595, Internship for Principals course.

Note: If you apply and enroll as a nondegree graduate student, you must re-apply to the certificate or master's degree program to be considered for admission. This new application includes a second application fee. Application/enrollment as a nondegree student does not guarantee admission to the certificate or master's program. Acceptance to the certificate or master's degree programs 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. No more than two courses (6 credits) are permitted in nondegree status before acceptance to the program is required.

In the graduate school application:

  • Select "Nondegree Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this program.

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

Apply by July 1 to start August 21. How to Apply

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

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

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 

A Head Start toward a Master's Degree

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

You can earn this certificate as a stand-alone credential, or you can apply the 12 credits you earn toward a Master of Education in Educational Leadership if you decide to continue your learning and gain acceptance to that program.

Choose the Degree Path That Works for You

All credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the educational leadership degree program. You can also start in the master’s program and earn your certificate along the way to degree completion. If you are interested in following that degree path, please visit the Master of Education in Educational Leadership page.

Broaden your leadership potential as a teacher or administrator and meet your professional development goals with one of the three educational leadership options offered in this online master's degree program.

Learn more about the Master of Education in Educational Leadership  

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.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate for Teacher Leadership, 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:

Mark Ivicic
Administrative Support Assistant
Educational Leadership Program
The Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-865-1487
Email: [email protected]


  • Gerald K. LeTendre

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Education, Stanford University
    • Degree
      M.S., Sociology, Stanford University
    • Degree
      B.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).

  • Deborah Schussler

    • Degree
      Ed.D. Curriculum and Instructional Leadership, Vanderbilt University
    • Degree
      M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, Middle Tennessee State University
    • Degree
      B.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

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
    • Degree
      M.S., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
    • Degree
      M.S., Education, Canisius College
    • Degree
      B.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.

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

Apply by July 1 to start August 21. How to Apply