Principal, Graduate Certificate

Department of Educational Leadership

College of Education

This administrative certificate program is offered by the Educational Leadership department and prepares you for state certification as a principal in the public schools. Classes are offered in many locations across Arizona with admission applications being processed throughout the course of the year.

This program is nationally recognized by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC).

This program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.
    • A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a Grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.
    • A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.
    • Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Required Educational Leadership coursework (27 units)
  • Elective Educational Leadership coursework (9 units)

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.

This program may lead to licensure.


The purpose of the Principal Pre K-12 Graduate Certificate program is to prepare its participants for Arizona State Administrative Certification as a K-12 public school principal.  To complete the certificate requirements participants must earn twenty-seven credits through required courses that translate theory into practice as the role of the school principal, instructional planning, supervision of instruction, personnel administration, publicity and politics, leadership skills, school funding and school law are examined. The program also includes an internship in a school where participants will apply what they have learned in their courses. Nine additional educational leadership elective credits or transfer credits from another program in educational leadership are required to complete the thirty-six credits required for the certificate. Following completion of the Principal Pre- K-12 Graduate Certificate program participants will receive an Institutional Recommendation and may apply for state certification. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes align with Standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC).
A building-level education leader applies knowledge that promotes the success of every student by:

  • collaboratively facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a shared school vision of learning through the collection and use of data to identify school goals, assess organizational effectiveness, and implement school plans to achieve school goals; promotion of continual and sustainable school improvement; and evaluation of school progress and revision of school plans supported by school-based stakeholders
  • sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning through collaboration, trust, and a personalized learning environment with high expectations for students; creating and evaluating a comprehensive, rigorous and coherent curricular and instructional school program; developing and supervising the instructional and leadership capacity of school staff; and promoting the most effective and appropriate technologies to support teaching and learning within a school environment
  • ensuring the management of the school organization, operation, and resources through monitoring and evaluating the school management and operational systems; efficiently using human, fiscal, and technological resources in a school environment; promoting and protecting the welfare and safety of school students and staff; developing school capacity for distributed leadership; and ensuring that teacher and organizational time is focused to support high-quality instruction and student learning
  • collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources on behalf of the school by collecting and analyzing information pertinent to improvement of the school’s educational environment; promoting an understanding, appreciation, and use of the diverse cultural, social, and intellectual resources within the school community; building and sustaining positive school relationships with families and caregivers; and cultivating productive school relationships with community partners
  • acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner to ensure a school system of accountability for every student’s academic and social success by modeling school principles of self-awareness, reflective practice, transparency, and ethical behavior as related to their roles within the school; safeguarding the values of democracy, equity, and diversity within the school; evaluating the potential moral and legal consequences of decision making in the school; and promoting social justice within the school to ensure that individual student needs inform all aspects of schooling.
  • understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context through advocating for school students, families, and caregivers; acting to influence local, district, state, and national decisions affecting student learning in a school environment; and anticipating and assessing emerging trends and initiatives in order to adapt school-based leadership strategies.
A building-level education leader applies knowledge that promotes the success of every student through a substantial and sustained educational leadership internship experience that has school-based field experiences and clinical internship practice within a school setting and is monitored by a qualified, on-site mentor.
  • Substantial Field and Clinical Internship Experience: The program provides significant field experiences and clinical internship practice for candidates within a school environment to synthesize and apply the content knowledge and develop professional skills identified in the other Educational Leadership Building-Level Program Standards through authentic, school-based leadership experiences. Information should be provided in Section IV, Assessment 4 to address this standard.
  • Sustained Internship Experience: Candidates are provided a six-month, concentrated (9–12 hours per week) internship that includes field experiences within a school-based environment. Information should be provided in Section I (Context), question 2, to address this standard.
  • Qualified On-Site Mentor: An on-site school mentor who has demonstrated experience as an educational leader within a school and is selected collaboratively by the intern and program faculty with training by the supervising institution.
For more information see Detailed Learning Outcomes

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Teaching certificate
    • Completion of masters degree prior to enrolling in the program
Certificate Requirements
  • Take the following 36 units:

    Following completion of the Graduate Certificate program, students will receive an Institutional Recommendation and may apply for state certification.


  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate. Under both circumstances, federal financial aid can be used for this certificate.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.