Principal Certification

Program overview

Receive your Principal Certification in as few as 14 months  

This Principal Certification program is designed for working professionals. Earn your Residency P–12 Principal Certificate in as few as 14 months (24 months is typical) in a convenient, non-cohort program at Seattle Pacific University. Gain the expertise you need to address tough issues, and collaborate with peers, administrators, and parents to exceed school, district, and state goals.

School leaders face difficult challenges. Prepare to help solve them. 

Program Overview


Seattle Pacific was founded more than 125 years ago, and the University has been preparing some of the most sought-after educators in the region for more than 90 years. Today, entrance to School of Education graduate programs is highly competitive. Faculty members – each teaching his or her own courses and each holding a doctorate – have worked to develop rigorous programs of quality.

The School of Education at Seattle Pacific University offers more than a dozen graduate programs. You can choose from three doctoral programs, seven master’s degree programs, and five certification programs, all of which focus on developing competence, character, leadership, and service in educators. While many students train to become teachers, others prepare for roles as school counselors, principals, superintendents, district office personnel, or professors in higher education. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and across the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

Why Seattle Pacific for your Principal Certification?

SPU alumni lead within the field of education as superintendents, principals, district leaders, policy makers, and more. Principal Certification candidates in Western Washington can earn their Residency P–12 Principal Certificate from SPU in a convenient, non-cohort program located in Seattle. 

Complete your Principal Certificate in as few as five quarters (two years is typical). SPU offers all administrator certification candidates a “Summer-Only” option for completing the seven required classes, alongside on-campus summer room and board for students who wish to take advantage of the Summer-Only option. In addition, applicants who have earned Residency Principal certification from SPU may earn a Program Administrator Certificate by completing 6 additional internship credits. Students must complete all coursework for the second certificate within three years of earning the previous certificate.

  1. Accomplished Faculty

    Expert, caring faculty have a desire to help students succeed. Faculty are known for mentoring their students during and following their educational programs. These professors model lifelong learning through scholarly activities of their own, publishing frequently, and presenting at professional conferences.

  2. AACU Membership

    Seattle Pacific is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. SPU certification programs are approved by the Washington state Professional Educator Standards Board. The School of Education is also a member of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, and has a chapter, Sigma Phi Upsilon, of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society that values academic and professional excellence in counseling.

  3. Deep Character Emphasis

    Built on an character education foundation, the graduate programs at SPU offer first-class education through the lens of Christian faith and values. Students take ethics courses, and character issues are integrated throughout the curriculum.

  4. Flexible Format

    Courses are offered on campus and online via a synchronous meeting platform. Summer Session courses are held late-June to mid-August.

  5. Connected Alumni

    School of Education graduates move on to purposeful careers in schools and district-level leadership throughout the country. When you obtain a graduate degree from SPU’s School of Education, you join a community of alumni who stay connected. 

Related Program

Faculty Chair

Julie Antilla

Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
PhD, UC Santa Barbara

Phone: 206-281-2216
Office: Peterson Hall 410
First Generation student

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The Principal Certificate can be completed in as few as five quarters, although completing in two years is typical. SPU offers all administrator certification candidates a "Summer-Only" option for completing the seven required classes. Under this plan, students will take four courses one summer and 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.


The seven core courses for the Principal Certification program are offered in-person on the main campus and online via a synchronous meeting platform. Both in-person and synchronous online classes meet one evening per week from 5:00 to 7:35 p.m. Classes offered during the Summer Session meet at SPU during weekdays between late June and mid-August. All seven core courses are offered during the day in the summer over a two-year sequence for a “summers only” option.


The Principal Certification program requires 30 credits, which include 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 Principal internship (EDAD 6940, 9 credits, 3 per quarter) allows you to engage in leadership and administrative activities under the supervision of a mentor principal or assistant principal in a school setting. Over the course of a full school year, you will acquire and practice skills that are crucial to your future success as a school leader. In conjunction with SPU's Educational Leadership faculty, you are responsible for securing the site mentor and district approval for your internship. While the Principal 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. Most states have reciprocal agreements that will allow certificates to be transferred between states.

Option for a Second Certificate

Applicants who have earned Residency Principal certification from SPU may earn a Program Administrator Certificate by completing 6 additional internship credits and an elective course of interest. Students must complete all coursework for the second certificate within three years of earning the previous certificate.

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Continuing Education

To meet the changing needs of adult learners, Seattle Pacific University offers a wide range of programs and courses to meet the needs of today's professionals. With competitive credit and program rates, these personal and professional development opportunities make lifelong learning very affordable. As the largest provider of continuing education credits for teachers in Washington State, SPU's Center for Professional Education is focused on the current needs of K-12 educators.

Courses taken for credit and numbered at the 5000 level are graduate-level courses and are designed primarily with the needs of teachers and other professionals in mind for the purpose of meeting certification, endorsement, district pay lane requirements and other professional needs. These Graduate-level courses may be considered to meet elective requirements in some cases.

Still have questions? Review FAQs

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Tuition and fees for 2023–24

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per credit

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application fee

See additional fee details.
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credits to complete

Financial aid

Before applying for aid, you must first be admitted to a graduate program. Make sure you:

  • Enroll in at least 3 credits (or half-time) toward a degree or eligible certificate each quarter.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

You may take advantage of scholarships and loans. SPU does not have a deadline for graduate financial aid, though earlier is always better than later! 

Learn more about the FAFSA and applying for financial help.

Learn more about scholarships, assistantships, and loans available to graduate students.


Find out more about administrative and other School of Education program fees.

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Application Info


To be eligible for the Principal Certification program, you must have at least a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and one of the following certificates:

  • Residency Teacher Certificate
  • Educational Staff Associate Certificate
  • CTE Certificate

All candidates must have at least three years of documented successful school-based experience in an instructional role with students. Individuals who have 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 school principal.


Applicants must submit the following items to Graduate Admissions:

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Copy of Residency Teacher certificate or Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate or Career Tech Educator (CTE) certificate. 
  • Official transcript documenting bachelor's degree (including official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended).
  • Official transcript documenting master's degree (including official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended).
    • Note: To be considered official, transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope from the college or university. Transcripts may be delivered to Graduate Admissions as long as they remain in their original, unopened university envelope. Electronic transcripts received via eSCRIP-SAFE or Parchment Exchange are also acceptable. 
    • If your degree is not from a US college or university, please arrange for your transcript to be evaluated by an accredited transcript-evaluation company, such as FIS or WES. Have the report forwarded directly to Graduate Admissions. 
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one supervisory, one professional).
    • A recommendation must come from the current administrative supervisor (principal and/or other school administrator) who has direct knowledge of the applicant's abilities and potential for a leadership position and will recommend support of the applicant's pursuit of administrative certification.
    • The second letter of recommendation must come from another school administrator or if possible a district–level administrator who affirms the applicant’s abilities and potential for an administrative internship.    
  • Prerequisite Experience for a Principal's Certificate Form is required for anyone pursuing a Washington State Principal Certificate.
  • District Acknowledgment of Future Administrative Internship Form is required for all applicants pursuing an internship for a Washington State Administrative certificate. 


  • Autumn Quarter: August 15
  • Winter Quarter: November 15
  • Spring Quarter: February 15
  • Summer Session: May 15


Contact Graduate Admissions at 800-601-0603 or

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Frequently Asked Questions

How selective is admission to the SPU School of Education graduate degree programs?

This varies by program. Admission to some programs, such as the Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS), Accerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT), and MEd in School Counseling, is very competitive. Admission to each of SPU's graduate programs in education is standards-based, and all applicants must meet all standards for admission.

Can I continue to work while enrolled in a graduate degree program in the SPU School of Education?

Yes, in most cases. Most of the graduate degree programs offered by the School of Education are part-time programs, with classes offered in a variety of worker-friendly venues. Education graduate courses are scheduled at SPU or off campus, in the evenings, occasionally on Saturdays, and during the summer.

The Acclerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT) and Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS) programs are exceptions. They are one-year full-time programs due to their full-time internships.

Is it possible to complete a graduate degree from SPU's School of Education online?

The School of Education offers several fully online programs, including the AMAT-OnlineAMTMS-OnlineDigital Education Leadership, and Teacher Leadership programs. Please review the program pages for eligibility requirements.

Is a graduate program at SPU more expensive than comparable education programs at other universities?

SPU's graduate tuition rates are competitive with other accredited universities in Washington.

How does a graduate degree or graduate certificate from SPU compare with a similar degree or certificate from other universities?

SPU's School of Education has been offering a wide range of fully accredited master's and doctoral degrees in addition to graduate certificates for more than 20 years. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and around the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

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