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Program Administrator Certification

The Program Administrator Certification program at SPU prepares candidates for administrative positions in a school district central office, resource center, or other administrative center. The study of current research and best practices will enable you to become an effective administrator in a time when such leaders are being asked to facilitate positive change at all levels of the educational system.

Who Should Pursue This Certificate

To be eligible for the Program Administrator Certification program, you must have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, as well as at least one year of documented successful school, district, or school-site experience. However, applicants are not required to hold a Residency Teacher Certificate or an Educational Staff Associate Certificate. Individuals who hold a master's degree or other advanced degree do not need to complete a second master's degree in order to obtain certification as a program administrator.

Others who may be interested in this certificate are holders of Principal or ESA certificates who wish to expand their understanding of central office administrative roles and responsibilities.

Program Components

This program is identical to that of the Principal Certification program, with the exception of the location and content of the internship. The Program Administrator Certification program requires 30 credits, which includes seven core courses and an internship.

Major Core

  • EDAD 6580   Leadership in Education (3)
  • EDAD 6581   Leadership for School Culture (3)
  • EDAD 6584   School Finance (3)
  • EDAD 6585   School Law (3)
  • EDAD 6586   Human Resources Management (3)
  • EDAD 6588   Supervision of Instruction (3)
  • EDAD 6589   Engaging Communities (3)


The Program Administrator internship (9 credits, 3 per quarter) allows you to engage in leadership and administrative activities under the supervision of a mentor administrator in an administrative or district office. Over the course of a full school year, you will acquire and practice skills that are crucial to your future success as an administrator. In conjunction with SPU's Educational Leadership faculty, you are responsible for securing the site mentor and district approval for your internship. While the Program Administrator internship requires 540 hours of experience during the entire school year, it is designed to be completed in conjunction with a full-time contract. It is not necessary to take a leave of absence.


Upon successful completion of the program, you will be recommended to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for a Residency Program Administrator Certificate in Washington state. Most states have reciprocal agreements that will allow certificates to be transferred between states.

Locations and Schedule

Program Administrator Certification candidates in Western Washington can earn their Residency Program Administrator Certificate from SPU in a convenient, non-cohort program in one of three sites: SPU's main campus, Stanwood, or Olympia. The Educational Leadership department chair will build a personalized study plan in consultation with each student.

Efffective for the 2018-2019 academic year, the Olympia and Stanwood cohort sites will meet one evening per week, also from 4:40–7:15 p.m., using an online synchronous delivery model. Students will use Zoom video conferencing to attend the scheduled class without needing to travel to a specific classroom location. There will also be an online synchronous course section offered to students who are not associated with a satellite location and who may want an online opportunity.

Applicants can earn their Program Administrator Certificate in as few as five quarters, although completing in two years is typical. SPU offers all administrator certification candidates a "Summer-Only" option for completing the seven required classes. Under this plan, students take four courses one summer and three the next and complete their internship in the school year between the two summer sessions. The university offers on-campus summer room and board for students who wish to take advantage of this Summer-Only option.

Option for a Second Certificate

Applicants who have earned Residency Program Administrator certification from SPU may earn a Principal Certificate by completing 6 additional internship credits. A valid teaching or ESA certificate is required for those who wish to add a Principal Certificate. Students must complete all coursework for the second certificate within three years of earning the previous certificate.

Application Requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to Graduate Admissions:

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcript documenting bachelor's degree (including official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended).
  • Official transcript documenting master's degree (including official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended).
    • Note, to be considered official, transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope from the college or university. Transcripts may be delivered to Graduate Admissions as long as they remain in their original, unopened university envelope. Electronic transcripts received via eSCRIP-SAFE or Parchment Exchange are also acceptable.
    • If your degree is not from a US college or university, please arrange for your transcript to be evaluated by an accredited transcript-evaluation company, such as FIS or WES. Have the report forwarded directly to Graduate Admissions. 
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one supervisory, one professional).
    • A recommendation must come from the current administrative supervisor (principal and/or other school administrator) who has direct knowledge of the applicants abilities and potential for a leadership position and will recommend support of the applicant's pursuit of administrative certification.
    • The second letter of recommendation must come from another school administrator or if possible a district–level administrator who affirms the applicant’s abilities and potential for an administrative internship.
  • District Acknowledgement of Future Administrative Internship Form is required for all applicants pursuing an internship for a Washington State Administrative certificate. 

Application Deadlines

Autumn Quarter: August 15
Winter Quarter: November 15
Spring Quarter: February 15
Summer Session: May 15

Gainful Employment

For more information about student graduation rates, median debt, and other important information about SPU's Program Administrator Certification-only program, please visit

Faculty Chair

William (Bill) Prenevost

Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Supervision; Chair of Educational Leadership
EdD, University of Washington

Phone: 206-281-2370
Office: Peterson Hall 413

The Facts on Gainful Employment, Certification

Find gainful employment information for certification programs — including program enrollment, completion rate, cost, and median debt levels — on the Information and Data Management report.


Graduate Admissions

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Because your needs are specific to fit your career, our graduate programs are not “one size fits all.” Graduate Admissions is your source for information on all SPU graduate programs, as well as admissions and events.

Did You Know?

You can work on your Administrative Pro-Certificate and an SPU Superintendent Certificate at the same time — and at no extra cost. In addition, three credits of your Administrative Pro-Cert credits may be applied toward an SPU doctoral program.