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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. Candidates are required to submit a formal application to the Certification Officer in the School of Education to be recommended for certification. Most states have reciprocal agreements which 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.

Each applicant can earn their Program Administrator Certificate in as few as five quarters, although completing in two years in typical. SPU offers all administrator certification candidates a "Summer-Only" option for completing the seven required classes. Under this plan, students complete fours courses one summer, 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 the Graduate Center.

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcript(s) from each college/university attended.
  • Copy of Residency Teacher or ESA certificate, front and back (if applicable). 
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one supervisory, one professional).
    • Recommendations must come from present principals and other school administrators who recommend support of the applicant's pursuit of administrative certification.
    • At least one of the letters must be from a school-district level administrator who affirms district support for the candidate to conduct a year-long district-based administrative internship for a program administrator. 

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

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

Admissions Contact


Ginene Ferrell

Graduate Records Coordinator

Phone: 206-281-2091
Office: Demaray Hall 258

The Graduate Center

Grad Icon Your source for information on all SPU graduate programs, as well as graduate 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.