State Profile

School Leader Certification and Preparation Programs

State Profile - Pennsylvania

April 2018


The data included in this 50-state comparison is specific to school leader preparation program and certification requirements. There may be additional requirements that are not indicated. For additional information, questions or comments, please contact Deven Scott at

Has the state adopted leadership standards? Yes. Pennsylvania has adopted the Pennsylvania Leadership Standards. Source
Which state entity approves traditional school leader preparation programs? Pennsylvania Department of Education 22 Pa. Code § 354.12
Does state policy require school leader preparation programs to align with adopted standards? Yes. Principal preparation programs must follow general program approval standards and align with the Pennsylvania Leadership Standards. 22 Pa. Code § 49.14

Does state policy require field experience as part of school leader preparation programs? Yes. Principal preparation programs must require candidates to successfully experience a full year (12 month) field experience of a minimum of 360 hours. State guidelines provide additional requirements. 22 Pa. Code § 49.14

Does state policy allow for innovative or experimental preparation programs? Yes. The state department of education may enter into a written agreement with a preparing institution wishing to conduct an experimental program. 22 Pa. Code § 49.15
Certification and Licensure
What are the initial school leader certification requirements? To qualify for an Administrative Certificate, a candidate must:
  • Hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally-accredited college or university
  • Complete a state-approved graduate-level principal certification program that includes an internship/practicum and receive institutional recommendation or complete an equivalent out-of-state program with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Have at least three years of satisfactory professional school experience
  • Receive a passing score on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment.
22 Pa. Code § 49.121

What are the requirements for school leaders licensed out-of-state? Out-of-state applicants whose preparation and experience is equivalent to in-state candidate requirements may be issued a comparable Pennsylvania certificate. However, if an evaluation by the department reveals minor deficiencies, the department will prescribe additional education requirements. 22 Pa. Code § 49.171
Is there an alternative route to initial certification? The state department of education may issue an Administrative Provisional I Certificate if a candidate meets specified requirements and provides verification of an offer of employment as a principal, vice/assistant principal or vocational director from a Pennsylvania public school. Within two years of employment, the provisional certificate holder must achieve a passing score on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment and either 1) complete an approved administrator preparation program or 2) complete an Introductory Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership Induction Program. Source

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