Superintendent Certification

About the program

The Superintendent Certification program is based on the National Policy Board for Education Administration (ISSLC) standardsand emphasizes the knowledge and skills appropriate to district-level administrative assignments in the P–12 setting such as superintendent, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, directors, and other similar roles. The program will equip graduates to:

  • Develop and implement a vision for learning that is supported by school and community stakeholders.
  • Sustain a coherent professional development and instructional program conducive to student learning.
  • Effectively manage the organization and resources for a safe and effective learning environment.
  • Collaborate with families and community members to mobilize resources in responding to diverse community interests and needs.
  • Act with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner.
  • Understand and appropriately respond to the political, social, and cultural dynamics of a school district.

When students possess the necessary prerequisite requirements and successfully complete this program, they will qualify for the Washington state Initial School Superintendent’s Certificate. 

Program design

The program consists of a core sequence of six 3-credit courses offered over a two-year period, three 1-credit professional growth planning seminars conducted over two years, and an internship consisting of at least 360 hours of field experience for the superintendent certificate.

Your core classes meet three times per quarter in a Friday-afternoon/Saturday-morning format. Readings and case studies are assigned in advance to maximize the amount of time for discussion, dialogue, and reflection.

This program has several key components:

  • Team building. You go through the six-course sequence and three seminars as a cohort. Monthly meetings with these same individuals also provide opportunities for networking and team building.
  • Weekend coursework. Classes meet three times per quarter, Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. Monthly sessions include (1) review of in-district internship work; (2) discussion of case studies; and (3) best-practice presentations by current practitioners. You are involved in selecting topics and planning the activities.
  • Field experience. Field experience is an integral part of the coursework and takes place over the same two-year period as the coursework. The goal of the superintendency internship is to develop the hands-on experience and skill needed to increase student learning through district-level leadership. The major focus of the internship is a meaningful district- or school-level project that will contribute to making a difference in improving the district/school, as well as address the portfolio criteria for the internship. In addition, shadowing, teamwork, and reflection are part of the internship process.
  • Professional certification option. A unique feature this program is to allow current building principals/assistant principals and program administrators the opportunity to meet the requirement of the Administrator Professional Certificate through completion of the executive leadership program. 

One of the core themes of the superintendent certification program is to develop an understanding of self as a leader who is focused on student learning. In part, this is obtained through the reflective dialogue of the seminars, completion of the Pole 360 feedback instrument, and the development of your professional growth plan. This theme mirrors the requirements of the professional certification process.

Therefore, when you successfully complete the Superintendent Certification Program, you may also meet the requirement for the appropriate administrator professional certificate (the additional requirement of a portfolio presentation before a state-level panel must also be met).

Doctor of Education (EdD) option

The Superintendent Certification program fulfills in part the specialization requirement for the Doctor of Education degree (EdD) at Seattle Pacific University.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Graduate Admissions:

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Copy of current teaching certificate, front and back.
  • Copy of current administrator's certificate, front and back.
  • Official transcript(s) from each college/university attended.
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one supervisory, one professional).
  • Site Agreement form, available in the application.

Enrollment policy

  • You must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this certificate, or until you officially withdraw from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program chair.
  • You may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program chair. Once the leave of absence has expired, you will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • SPU’s Student Academic Services requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a graduate program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.
  • If you decide to no longer pursue a certificate, you may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program chair and the graduate programs manager.


Admissions materials should be directed to Graduate Admissions. If you have questions about graduate education or certification programs: