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Preparing educators for professional advancement and opening the world of teaching to people seeking to change their careers.

Superintendent Certification

A Field-Based Program

Preparing leaders for tomorrow’s schools
The mission of WSU’s Field-Based Superintendent’s Certification Program is to prepare school district leaders to meet the leadership challenges to be faced by school superintendents in the twenty-first century. The Field-Based Superinten­dent’s Certification Program is specifically designed to engage and mentor current building principals and mid-level administrators in the development of the leadership and administrative skills needed to lead their organizations for the improvement of student learning.

State-wide Program Delivery

Students in the field-based program may register through either WSU Spokane or WSU Vancouver. The program delivery replaces the traditional series of sepa­rate classes with a two-year internship completed in conjunction with a series of weekend seminars. Sixteen seminars are held over the two-year duration of the program. Seminars are scheduled in August, September, October, November, January, February, March, and April of each year. Most seminars begin Friday afternoon and conclude Saturday afternoon; however, some seminars are held on other days to accommodate program requirements.

The seminars are held on WSU campuses or at hotel facilities at various locations around the state, including Spokane, Vancouver, Pullman and Olympia. Locations are selected to provide maximum access to resources and to balance travel requirements among the participants.

Program Overview

The program content is organized around four semester themes and topics. Program themes and topics include:

Effective Leadership

•     Role & Behavior of Superintendents

•     Focus on All Students Learning

•     Socially Just and Democratic School

•     Dynamic and Distributed Leadership

Quality Teaching and Learning

•     High Expectations and Accountability for Adults

•     Coordinated and Aligned Curriculum and Assessment

•     Coordinated & Embedded Professional Development

•     Quality Classroom Instruction

Support for System-wide Improvement

•     Effective Use of Data

•     Strategic Resource Management

•     Policy and Program Coherence

•     Governance

Clear and Collaborative Relationships

•     Professional Culture & Collaborative Relationships

•     Clear Understanding of School & District Roles & Responsibilities

•     Interpreting and Managing the External Environment

•     Partnerships


The two-year internship is the centerpiece of the field-based program. Interns are required to chronicle their experiences and reflect upon them.  Each intern works closely with a mentor, generally the district superintendent.  Interns and mentors meet regularly to share experiences, perceptions, and progress on internship activities.

Because of the heavy emphasis on the field-based aspect of the program, we require a strong commitment by the participant’s superintendent to serve as a mentor to the intern during the two-year duration of the program.  The program’s success relies upon a positive, collaborative relationship between the program faculty, the intern, and her/his mentor.

Program faculty meets regularly with the interns and their district mentors to review progress and develop ways to make the intern experience valuable and relevant.


The Superintendent Certification program admits a cohort of students each August. The priority application period runs through April 15 each year and successful applicants can expect notification in the middle of May. Additional applications will be accepted on a space-available basis. (Please note that program participants are expected to have experience as school principals, central, state or regional service district experience or equivalent, as deter­mined by WSU program faculty.)

Applying for the WSU Field-Based Superintendent’s Certification Program is a two-step process:

•     First, you must apply to the WSU Graduate School for acceptance to an Administrative Credential program at the university.

•     Simultaneously, you must apply to the Educational Leadership depart­ment for acceptance into the certification program.

For those wishing to pursue a doctoral degree, it is useful to note that all graded credits earned in the Field-Based Superintendent’s Certification Pro­gram are applicable to the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in educational leadership at Washington State University. Application to the doctoral program requires an additional application process; please call for additional advising and materials pertaining to the doctoral program.

Important note. Programs in Educational Leadership (EdM, MA, principal certification, superintendent certification, EdD and PHD) do not accept state tuition waivers.


Jennifer Gallagher, Academic Coordinator