The graduate certificate in principalship is a program that prepares teachers and supervisors to take administrative positions and helps candidates meet Principal PK–12 Certification Requirements 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. 

For more information, visit the World Campus Graduate Certificate for Principalship page. 

Admissions Information

The program has been evaluated by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) 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:

  1. The principal certification program curriculum is standardized so that all students receive a consistent, high-quality, and uniform education.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The program emphasizes and draws upon our faculty's practical and field-based experiences in public and private school settings. 

  5. 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.

The Principalship Graduate Certificate 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 Pennsylvania Department of Education Principal PK-12 Certification Requirements, 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. 

  • Data-Informed Leadership (EDLDR 841)

  • Planned Change for School Improvement (EDLDR 859)

  • Principles of Instructional Leadership (EDLDR 861)

  • The Principalship for Aspiring School Leaders (EDLDR 868)

  • The Law and Education for Educational Leaders (EDLDR 876)

  • Principal Internship (EDLDR 595)

The Principal Internship (EDLDR 595) is the culminating course for the Principalship Graduate Certificate program. 

The internship is a required field experience across a calendar year for students in order to receive their School Administrator Principal PK-12 certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students earn 1 credit for each of 3 consecutive semesters for a total of 3 credits. The requirements are explained in the World Campus Internship page. 

Certification for working as a principal in Pennsylvania is obtained directly through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Our Principalship Graduate Certificate program is one such pathway towards certification. It is most appropriate for those who already hold a Master’s degree in Education and are seeking an expedited pathway to principal certification.

Should you wish to extend your study beyond the Principalship Certificate, our Master’s degree with School Leader Emphasis provides for advanced level leadership preparation with the addition of just four courses/12 credits. With this option, Principalship Certificate students can potentially attain a second Master’s degree with just four extra courses. Apply for the MEd Degree straight away, or once accepted to the Principalship Certificate program, ask your advisor for more information about additional courses for the Master’s degree

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

Many US 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.