Program Administrator Certification


About the program

Applicants who otherwise qualify to enter the Educational Leadership program and already have a master’s or other advanced degree need not complete a second master’s degree to obtain certification as a school principal or program administrator.

It is necessary to complete only the school principal or program administrator certification courses (21 credits) and internship (9 credits). The same guidelines and procedures for program admission apply.

This program is approved by the Professional Educator’s Standards Board (PESB). Its successful completion will qualify you for a Washington Residency P–12 Certificate as a school principal or program administrator.


A year-long (9-credit) internship is a part of the Program Administrator-only program. It is a vital, integrative experience in which you perform administrative activities while being supervised in a school-district setting. The primary objective is for you, the intern, to acquire and practice the skills of effective management and leadership. Internship experiences will center on those competencies and skills defined in the Washington Administrative Code and by the National Policy Board for Education Administration.

Each applicant to the Educational Leadership program for Program Administrator Certification must have at least one year of documented successful school, district, or school-site experience. They are not required to hold a teaching or ESA certificate.

Second certificate option

Applicants who have earned Residency Principal or Program Administrator Certification from SPU may earn the other certificate (either Principal or Program Administrator) by completing 6 additional internship credits, along with an elective course that matches your interests.

A valid teaching or ESA certificate is required for those who wish to add a principal certificate.

You must complete all coursework for the second certificate within three years of earning the previous certificate.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Graduate Admissions.

  • Online 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. 

Enrollment policy

  • Students must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this certificate, or until officially withdrawing from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program director.
  • Students may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program director. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • University academic policy 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 a student decides to no longer pursue a certificate, the student may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program director and the associate director of graduate programs.


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