A man with a suit sits in a desk with a signboard in front of him that says “principal” on it.

All About Point Park University’s M.A. in Educational Administration with PA School Principal Certificate K-12 Program

What does the M.A. in Educational Administration with PA School Principal Certificate K-12 Program encompass?

The satisfaction gained from leading a school and having a positive impact on students, teachers, parents, and community members is unlike any other job that I have ever held. One can feel the effect of the principal’s leadership from the moment one walks into the school building.

We strive to offer the most comprehensive cutting-edge program that we can at Point Park University. There are two pathways for becoming certified as a K-12 principal at Point Park. First, there is the 36-credit M.A. in Educational Administration. If a candidate already possesses a master’s degree in an education-related field, then we also offer the 18-credit certification-only program.

The full master’s program will provide the prospective principal with all the skills needed to lead a school effectively in these challenging times. There are courses that reinforce such skills, such as designing effective lessons, creating positive student and school-wide management systems, and curriculum development. These courses will ensure that our graduates are prepared to be educational leaders and will be able to support novice teachers and marginal teachers, and those teachers who function close to the distinguished levels.

This program also devotes much time to important leadership and management skills required of all principals. Point Park graduates are prepared to be transformational leaders who can guide teachers and students to maximize their potential. Instruction is also provided in essential management skills such as:

  • Developing the master schedule
  • Budgeting
  • Managing human resources
  • Observing and supervising teachers

For those with the master’s degree, we examine transcripts to verify that the candidate does possess the background to complete the certification-only program that focuses mainly on those leadership and management skills described above.

We are gratified that we continue to graduate the largest number of certified principals in the Commonwealth of PA. Our program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and it supports the Core Leadership Standards that define the essential skills required of all principals.

What differentiates Point Park University’s M.A. in Educational Administration with PA School Principal Certificate K-12 Program from other schools that offer similar programs?

As all programs must adhere to the competencies described in the PA Core Leadership standards to be approved by the state, there are many similarities between our program and others. Our courses might have different names, but we are all focused on reaching similar goals. However, there are several ways in which Point Park University’s program distinguishes itself over other programs.

First, the M.A in Educational Administration with PA School Principal Certificate K-12 Program is an asynchronous online program. Our program is designed for working professionals who want to advance in their field but are also very busy and involved in many other activities. Our asynchronous format is very rigorous and does not take any shortcuts, but it is also very flexible. So long as they conform to our deadlines, they may complete the work in any manner that best meets their lifestyle. We love that we are meeting the varied learning needs of our diverse student groups.

In addition, our faculty consists primarily of practitioners. We can offer relevant feedback to our students because most of us have worked in public schools for many years. We have personally evaluated teachers, dealt with community issues, and celebrated our students’ successes; our feedback to students is genuine because we have been there.

We also place a great value on developing a personalized culture in which we get to know our students and create relationships with them. We have learned that teaching in the online format does not prevent us to getting to know our students. Online, in some ways, enhances our ability to develop personal relationships through occasional Zoom meetings, offering virtual office hours, phone calls, and sending numerous emails over the course of the term.

How will this program help educators during this time of COVID and post-COVID teaching? How will it better prepare them for today’s education challenges?

We feel that our graduates have been placed in an excellent position to lead schools through this crisis.  Transitioning to remote learning has been challenging, but our graduates already possess a strong background in effective instruction. Our focus on leadership has enabled our graduates to be better problem solvers and collaborative leaders who understand that we must work together as a team.

We also need to be aware of the personal needs of both teachers and students. Our students will not learn if basic psychological needs are not being met. Over the past year, Point Park University has gotten involved in such initiatives as Youth Mental Health First Aid, encouraging culturally relevant practices and being aware of the effects of trauma on our youth.

What career opportunities are available to students who graduate from the program?

It’s been my experience that the principal certification is a very versatile certificate. While it will qualify our students to serve as the building administrator in any public or private K-12 school in PA, the skills gained in this program will enable candidates to assume other positions as well. It’s not unusual for graduates of our program to serve as:

  • Curriculum supervisors/directors
  • Community specialists
  • Professional development specialists

Our principals receive training in so many areas that they become “jacks of all trades” in many areas of school leadership.

Why should a prospective student choose this program? Why should they choose Point Park University?

Our asynchronous online program is meant to be flexible so that it meets the needs of busy professionals who work long days and then go home and deal with family and other responsibilities.  Students work on one module per week, but they can complete the work at times that best meets their lifestyle.

Our students have also experienced much success after having completed the program. As with most certification programs, students must successfully pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment. I am happy to report that it is rare that students ever have to take the test a second time. Our coursework is geared to PDE competencies, so they generally do quite well on the required exam. In addition, school districts are now aware of Point Park University’s program, and they will often seek out our graduates to fill their vacancies.

Finally, I am honored to work with such a dedicated and skill group of faculty members. Almost all of us are current or retired school administrators and teachers and we are dedicated to sharing our experiences with our students. In addition, we all share a common belief of the importance of developing relationships with our students, even in the online format.

Sometimes, it amazes me how well I have been able to get to know some of my students, even though we have never met personally. It’s also not unusual for our faculty members to develop professional relationships with students that continue long after they have completed the program.