K-12 Principal Certificate

The Leadership Initiative for Transforming Schools (LIFTS) K-12 Principal Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education 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 K-12 Principal program develops educational leaders of character 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.

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. 

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. The partnerships with school districts are well-established in our program. Mentor principals are carefully selected in our current program to work with students during the internship experience.
  • Mentor Principals – We encourage aspiring school leaders to reach excellence by engaging them in a range of internship experiences 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 aspiring principals need to ensure a high-performance learning environment for all students.   



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Degree Requirements

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


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


The program prepares students for the Principal PK-12 Certificate from the Pennsylvania State Department of Education (PDE).

Please review the PDE Principal Certification Requirements for all certification requirements. 

Career Pathways

The program prepares students for roles as a K-12 Assistant Principal and K-12 Principal.