Postgraduate Certificate Programs in K-12 Educational Administration (Post-Master's)
Experienced teachers and other education professionals who are interested in advancing into administrative positions can cultivate the knowledge and skills required for such a move by completing a postgraduate certificate program in educational administration. These programs are generally designed for licensed teachers who have several years of experience, a master’s degree, and a desire to work as principals, assistant principals, superintendents, and district administrators in public school systems that serve K-12 students. Depending on the state and the program, some programs are designed to prepare students for licensure in school administration*.
Postgraduate certificate programs offer qualified educators a direct, less time intensive, and more cost-effective pathway to career advancement than Educational Specialist (EdS) and Doctor of Education (EdD) degree programs in educational leadership and administration. Graduate certificate programs in this field can typically be completed in one year or less and require fewer credits than EdS and EdD programs.
Note: For students who have not earned a master’s degree, please see our Graduate Certificates in Teacher and School Leadership (PK-12) page for more information about certificate programs in the field that do not require a master’s degree for admission.
Educational Administration Explained
Educational administration is a broad term that applies to the work done by principals, assistant principals, program coordinators, superintendents, and other educators who hold leadership roles in elementary, secondary, middle, and high schools, as well as in K-12 public school systems. Successful school administrators typically cultivate strong interpersonal communication, management, and organizational leadership skills, along with knowledge of education law and local, state, and federal policies pertaining to public education. They also cultivate an understanding of contemporary issues in K-12 education and the challenges facing students, teachers, and administrators in schools and school systems.
Budgeting, personnel management, community outreach, curriculum assessment, and evaluating and implementing effective technological and pedagogical innovations are common core responsibilities for public and private K-12 school administrators. Diversity and inclusion initiatives, special education and enrichment programming, and funding and resource allocation decisions are among some of the other concerns that are often the purview of principals, superintendents, and other educational administrators.
Identifying and Classifying Educational Administration Postgraduate Certificate Programs
Certificate programs offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities that require applicants to hold a master’s degree and which prepare professional educators for the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) Praxis exam and/or for state licensure in school administration are classified by GraduateCertificates.com as postgraduate certificate programs in educational administration. While there is no formal naming convention for these programs, colleges and universities typically designate these programs as postgraduate or post-master’s certificate programs in school or educational administration, leadership, and/or supervision, and some programs are specifically designated as principal or principalship programs.
What these programs have in common is the requirement that students hold a graduate degree (master’s or doctorate); a curriculum that focuses primarily on leadership training and instruction relevant to school and district administration; and a limited number of required courses that, when completed, lead to the conferral of a certificate rather than a degree. In addition to several graduate courses in topics detailed in the section below, many educational administration postgraduate certificate programs also require students to complete supervised internship hours, which are required by most states for education administrator licensure.
Post-Master’s Graduate Certificate in K-12 Educational Administration Coursework
Students in postgraduate certificate programs in educational administration typically complete a relatively small cluster of courses – seven or eight courses is common – as well as an administrative internship in preparation to sit for the SLLA exam and/or to apply for a school administrator/principal license in their state. Specific course requirements and course names vary by program, but an educational administration certificate program generally includes training and instruction in education law, curriculum evaluation, financial and human resource management, community outreach strategies, and organizational leadership. Some programs also include a seminar that addresses contemporary issues in public school administration, such as diversity and inclusion initiatives, special and gifted education programs, technological innovations in K-12 education, and the use of data to inform decision making and improve educational assessment and outcomes.
The list below provides an overview of the types of courses generally required by educational administration postgraduate certificate programs based on actual program curricula:
- Organization and Administration of Schools
- Curriculum Theory, Development, and Implementation
- Using Research to Lead School Improvement
- Supervision and Evaluation of Instruction
- Leading Schools and Communities
- School Law and Policy
- School Finance and Resource Management for School Leaders
- Educational Alternatives for Gifted Students and Students with Special Needs
As mentioned previously, many K-12 educational administration postgraduate certificate programs also require students to complete an internship at an approved school. While the number of internship hours varies by program and is often based on individual state licensure requirements, students in these programs may be required to complete 200 or more school-based training hours. Teachers are commonly allowed to complete internship/practicum hours at their current place of employment, provided the school meets program standards and can accommodate administrative internships.
Online Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Administration
A number of schools now offer educational administration postgraduate certificate programs in an online format, providing a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based programs. This flexibility is especially important for working teachers who may not have time to commute to a college campus for in-person lectures and discussions. Online programs utilize learning management systems (LMSs) for all or most of their didactic coursework with the exception of in-person internship hours, which students are typically allowed to complete at a convenient site with approval from the program.
An LMS is an interactive distance learning platform that gives students access to live and/or pre-recorded lectures, learning modules, virtual class sessions, and other instructional activities and assets through a secure internet connection. Some online programs use synchronous instruction, which is the technical term for real-time online instruction that requires students to be logged on to a school’s LMS for scheduled class meetings. Other programs rely on asynchronous instruction for all of their coursework. Asynchronous instruction does not have a real-time component and includes pre-recorded lectures and assignments that can be accessed, streamed, and/or submitted whenever a student is able to log on to a school’s LMS (as long as they abide by pre-set assignment deadlines). While asynchronous instruction is less rigid in format than synchronous instruction, it requires students to be more self-motivated and self-disciplined. The advantage of synchronous instruction is that it provides greater structure, which may be preferable for students whose schedule allows for real-time class meetings (which are typically held in the early to late evenings to accommodate working students).
GraduateCertificate.com classifies programs that are fully online and that do not require any campus visits as online programs. Programs that require three or fewer campus visits per year are also classified as online programs, as they provide most of their instruction via distance learning technologies. Programs that require more than three campus visits per year are classified as blended or hybrid programs and may not be practical for students who do live or work near the school offering the program.
Note: Licensing policies and procedures for principals, superintendents, and other types of educational administrators vary by state*. As a result, online postgraduate certificate programs in educational administration may not accept applicants from all 50 states. Students interested in an online program offered by an out-of-state school should confirm they accept students from their state of residence before applying, and should also confirm the education administrator licensure requirements in their state.
Examples of Online Postgraduate Certificate Programs in K-12 Educational Administration
Each of the schools listed below offers an online educational administration postgraduate certificate program. These programs provide a representative overview of the types of postgraduate certificate programs in educational administration that are currently offered online by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
George Mason University (GMU), a public university located in Virginia, offers an online Educational Leadership Graduate Certificate program through Mason Online. The 24-credit program is designed for licensed teachers who have completed a master’s degree and it fulfills Virginia requirements for endorsement in Administration and Supervision PK-12. Teachers in the Mason Online program complete a one-year internship, as well as seven online courses that cover topics in organizational leadership, educational research methods, education law, curriculum development, and school management. The program does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit Mason Online at masononline.gmu.edu.
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) offers an online Graduate Certificate in School Administration and Supervision program through its School of Education. The program is designed for licensed teachers who hold a master’s degree and have a minimum of 27 months of prior teaching experience. It has approval from the Maryland State Department of Education for Administrator I certification in Maryland. Students in the program must complete 18 or 21 credits of graduate coursework, including an in-person internship at a program-approved school. Teachers who intend to apply for an educational administration certification in Maryland after completing the program are required to complete one three-credit course in special education, for a total of 21 graduate credits. Students who intend to apply for certification or licensure in other states may not have to complete the special education course and can thus graduate from JHU’s graduate certificate program after earning 18 credits. The program does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit JHU’s School of Education at education.jhu.edu.
The George Washington University (GW) offers an online Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration program through its Graduate School of Education and Human Development. The 18-credit program, which includes an internship, is designed for teachers and educators who hold a master’s degree in education and who aim to pursue administrative endorsement/licensure in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, or North Carolina, although it can prepare students for licensure in other states as well (depending on the state’s specific licensure requirements for educational administrators). GW does not require students in the program to attend any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development at gsehd.gwu.edu.
More Post-Masters Certificates in K-12 Educational Administration
*Licensing requirements for school administrators (e.g., principals and superintendents) vary by state. Typically, educators interested in pursuing licensure have several pathways for gaining the necessary experience and educational training to meet licensing requirements. Depending on the state, a master’s degree may or may not be required for licensure. In addition, the SLLA exam, which is used by many but not all states as a licensing requirement, is actually a series of four exams that states may elect to use for different types of licenses. Therefore, students interested in pursuing licensure should confirm the requirements in their state of residence before applying to a postgraduate certificate program. Finally, students exploring online postgraduate certificate programs offered by out-of-state schools should confirm the curricula of those programs will provide the training needed to meet licensing requirements in their state of residence.
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