State Profile

School Leader Certification and Preparation Programs

State Profile - Wisconsin

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. Wisconsin has adopted administrator standards. Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.03
Which state entity approves traditional school leader preparation programs? Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.06
Does state policy require school leader preparation programs to align with adopted standards? Yes. Programs preparing candidates for administrative certification must integrate the adopted performance-based administrator standards. Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.15
Does state policy require field experience as part of school leader preparation programs? Yes. Programs preparing candidates for administrative certification must provide supervised practicums and a graduate internship. However, no hour requirement was found. Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.15
Does state policy allow for innovative or experimental preparation programs? Yes. An institution may seek approval to offer an experimental or innovative program that is not in full compliance with requirements. Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.08
Certification and Licensure
What are the initial school leader certification requirements? To qualify for a Principal License, a candidate must:
  • Complete an approved master's degree program or the equivalent leading to certification as principal
  • Have three years of successful full-time classroom teaching at any of the grades at the early childhood through adolescence level or three years of successful experience as a school counselor, a school psychologist, or a school social worker, which includes evidence of at least 540 hours of successful classroom teaching experience.
Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.32
What are the requirements for school leaders licensed out-of-state? Out-of-state applicants holding a valid, comparable certificate issued by another state who is in good standing is eligible for Wisconsin certification if he/she has worked as an administrator for at least one year under the out-of-state license. Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.34

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.193
Is there an alternative route to initial certification? No state policy found. However, under certain conditions, the state department of education may issue a one-time renewable one-year license to serve as an administrator to a person who does not fully meet the requirements.

In addition, state policy allows for innovative and/or experimental preparation programs. 
Wis. Admin. Code PI § 34.32

© 2021 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3636 or

Your Education Policy Team