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Graduate Certificate inTeacher 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.

Expand your career opportunities

without leaving the classroom.

Application deadline

Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Skills to Advance as a Teacher Leader

  • Prepare for Teacher Leaders Endorsement through Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)–approved course work.

  • Enhance school culture and impact change for school improvement.

  • Influence instructional effectiveness.

  • Lead peer educators in professional development.

  • Understand the school as a cultural and political entity.

Teacher Leadership Courses Online

The course work in this 12-credit teacher leadership certificate will help you develop the professional knowledge, leadership skills, and competencies required of candidates for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) endorsement.

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.

Start or Advance Your Career

A group of educators collaborating as they review documents at a table

You can use the knowledge gained from this certificate program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue additional leadership opportunities in your field.

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 1 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.

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

Who Should Apply?

If you are a K–12 teacher, you can benefit greatly from this online program, which 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.

Please note that a Level I or Level II Pennsylvania teaching certificate is required for acceptance to the program.

In-Person Mentorship

The four courses required for this certificate incorporate field experience through a mentorship within a school setting, allowing you to engage in authentic leadership experiences throughout the duration of the program.

Your mentor will be selected by you and approved through your Penn State academic adviser. You must have access to a school setting and your mentor should have at least three years of experience in a current educational leadership position.

Act 48–Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership may count toward professional development hours.

Set Your Own Pace

Adult student doing course work online while a child plays nearby

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.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each 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.

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.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 1 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 1 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 1 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by March 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 — A successful undergraduate record with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0

    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.
  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.

    Test Scores — No test 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.

    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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      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
    • 5. 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 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 protected]

    Learn from the Best

    One of the main reasons Penn State is recognized globally as a distinguished university is its faculty. As a student in this program, offered in partnership with Penn State's College of Education, you will learn from the same instructors who teach classes on Penn State's campuses across Pennsylvania.

    Our College of Education is regularly ranked among the nation's best graduate schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.


    • 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).

    • 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 26. How to Apply