K-12 Principal Certificate

The School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh has a K-12 Principal certificate program which is a 15-month cohort-based program. The program grounds the personal and professional growth of aspiring school leaders in three themes: Ethics, Inquiry, and Integrity. Presented in an executive format, the Leadership Initiative for Transforming Schools (LIFTS) program collaborates with units in the School of Education and across the University to teach the four study areas, including the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies and Institute for Learning. 

Quick Facts

Program Duration: Four terms (Summer, Fall, Spring, and Summer) 
Time Commitment: Part-time 
Term of Enrollment: Summer 
Application Deadline: Priority Deadline is March 1 
Course Requirements: 24 credits
Admissions Requirements: GRE Exam Not Required

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Program Details

Responding to the growing complexity of the role of principal, the principal preparation program will develop effective change agents through curricular blocks emphasizing: 

  • Executive-style Seminar – instruction about topics essential for the preparation of school leaders is organized in the curricular blocks. 
  • Cohort Structure – A cohort structure provides a support base for professional growth and learning. Diversity in the cohort is sought and valued. 
  • Internships with Mentor Principals – Internship experiences are required of all participants during the academic year. Two internships are required for all participants: An elementary and a secondary internship each of at least 90 hours of engagement. Principals are usually selected from the districts that we work with regularly that are members of the Tri-State Area School Study Council or the Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents Pennsylvania. Other opportunities to network with regional school leaders are made available. 
  • Mentor Principals – We will encourage aspiring school leaders to reach excellence by engaging them in a range of internship experience with high quality mentor principals. Mentor principals know how to support teachers, manage curriculum and instruction to promote student achievement, and transform schools into more effective organizations that foster purposeful teaching and learning for all students. Mentor principals oversee the development of the critical competencies that principals need to ensure a high-performance learning environment for all students.   



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Degree Requirements

A four credit internship (one credit a term) and fieldwork as part of the internship and coursework. 


Minimum of two years of full-time teaching experience is required. 

Career Pathways

The purpose of our principal certificate program is to develop education leaders of character and integrity who are inspired by a sense of equity and justice to improve the achievement of all students. Drawing from the fields of education and management, the program equips leaders with expertise in instructional, institutional and public leadership grounded in ethics, inquiry, and integrity. The program encourages the shift from teacher leadership to administrative leadership through academic rigor in the classroom, authentic experiences in schools and reflective opportunities for integrating personal and professional growth.