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School Principal Certification in Washington State

There are over 15 state-approved principal certification programs in Washington state. Read an overview of the ten largest schools offering this type of program, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Washington State offers a wide range of schools with school principal certification programs. Degree titles range from certification training programs to master's degrees, although the majority are graduate certificate programs. Part-time, weekend, and evening classes are offered by select programs. The curriculum of each of the schools' programs includes an internship. Some programs may have additional requirements, such as a seminar and/or final project. Admission to few programs may require job experience in a directly-related role.


Central Washington University

Located in Ellensburg, Central Washington University offers a School Administrator Certification Program through its Department of Advanced Programs. This program is designed for individuals who possess or are working towards a master's degree in education. The 47-credit hour program includes classes covering topics such as school curriculum, school law, diversity leadership and education personnel.

The university also offers a 6-credit hour Pro-Cert Administrator Professional Certification program designed for certified principals seeking to renew their certification. This program consists of three phases: a seminar, professional growth plan and project presentation.

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University is situated in Cheney and enrolls about 12,000 students. The university offers a 32-credit hour principal certification program that is available as a post-baccalaureate program or in conjunction with the school's Master of Education program. Classes in the certificate program include leadership for today's schools, school law and supervision of instruction.

Gonzaga University

Located in Spokane, Gonzaga University offers a Principal Certification program. This program is available in two tracks: one for individuals who have a master's degree and another for individuals seeking to simultaneously earn certification and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Administration. Students in either track complete 12 credit hours of study. Students in the second track may satisfy internship requirements through current work duties.

Seattle University

Located in the city of its name, Seattle, this university offers a Post-Master's Principal Certificate that allows four ways of entry: as a post-baccalaureate certificate-seeking student, in conjunction with seeking a Master of Arts or Master of Education in Educational Leadership, in conjunction with earning an Education Specialist in Educational Administration or in conjunction with earning a Doctor of Education. The post-baccalaureate method of entry requires 15-44 credit hours of study in classes such as educational resources leadership, educational law and leadership for change. Classes in the program are held on a part-time basis.

Seattle Pacific University

Also located in Seattle, this university offers a 30-credit hour Principal Certification program. Classes in this program cover topics like school finance, human resources administration and instructional supervision. The program is also available on the school's Olympia and Stanwood campuses; regardless of location, classes are commonly held in the evenings.

Seattle Pacific also offers a Master of Education in Educational Leadership that includes principal certification. This 51-credit hour program includes courses such as moral issues in education, the principalship and current issues in education. The program's curriculum also includes a 1-year internship.

University of Washington - Bothell Campus

The University of Washington offers a Leadership Development for Educators on its Bothell campus that leads to eligibility for principal certification. Courses in the program are held on Saturdays and cover topics like leadership for curriculum and teaching, leadership for schools as inclusive communities and personal leadership for success.

University of Washington - Seattle Campus

On its Seattle campus, the University of Washington offers the Danforth Educational Leadership Program that prepares graduates to seek principal certification. This 1-year, 5-quarter program allows students to earn the certificate alone or in conjunction with a master's degree. The program's curriculum includes classes in topics like the legal concepts of school leadership, multicultural education, moral dimensions of leadership and adults as learners.

University of Washington - Tacoma Campus

On its Tacoma Campus, the University of Washington offers a 12-month Principal and Program Administrator Professional Certification. Completion of this program leads to a Residency Principal Certificate. Admission to this program requires two years of experience working as a principal, school principal or program administrator. Core classes include curriculum and instruction, group leadership in education administration and school-wide assessment.

Washington State University

Located in Spokane, Washington State University offers a residency principal program that requires 18 credit hours of study. Courses in the program cover topics like the law and education, assessment of learning and community and communications.

This program is also available on the school's other campuses in Spokane, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities. Programs at the Tri-Cities and Spokane campuses simultaneously deliver internships and seminars, while those on the Vancouver and Pullman campuses include two years of coursework followed by a 1-year internship.

Western Washington University

Located in Bellingham, Western Washington University offers a residency certificate program for aspiring principals. This program is designed for individuals who already have a master's degree or who are enrolled in a master's degree program. Students in the program must complete 48 credit hours of study in courses like theory in educational administration, supervision in public schools, developing staff and community relations.

Career Requirements

Aspiring school principals in Washington must satisfy four criteria set by the state's Professional Standards Education Board: possession of a master's degree from an accredited institution, completion of a state-approved administrator preparation program, possession of a regular teaching license and completion of a school-based practicum. The board has approved 43 administration programs in the state that lead to principal certification.

The ten largest schools offering state-approved principal certification programs are discussed below. Graduates of all these programs are eligible to seek certification as a principle in Washington.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Principal Certification Programs Offered Graduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Central Washington University 4-year, public; distant town School Administrator Certification Program,
Pro-Cert Administrator Professional Certification
$10,377 for in-state and $21,903 for out-of-state students*
Eastern Washington University 4-year, public; fringe town Principal Certification, Certificate,
Master of Education and Principal Certification, Certificate
$11,738 for in-state and $26,212 for out-of-state students*
Gonzaga University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Principal Certification,
Master of Arts in Leadership and Administration and Principal Administrator Certification
$15,090*
Seattle University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Post-Master's Principal Certificate,
Master of Arts or Master of Education in Education Leadership with principal certification
$19,793*
Seattle Pacific University 4-year, private not-for profit; large city Principal Certification,
Master of Education in Educational Leadership
$23,712*
University of Washington - Bothell 4-year, public; large suburb Leadership Development for Educators $16,197 for in-state and $28,245 for out-of-state students*
University of Washington - Seattle 4-year, public; large city Danforth Educational Leadership Program $16,278 for in-state and $28,326 for out-of-state students*
University of Washington - Tacoma 4-year, public; midsize city Residency Principal Certificate $16,344 for in-state and $28,392 for out-of-state students*
Washington State University 4-year, public; distant town Residency Principal Certification $12,745 for in-state and $26,177 for out-of-state students*
Western Washington University 4-year, public; small city Residency Administrator Certificate (Principal) $10,182 for in-state and $20,177 for out-of-state students*

Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.


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