Continuity of Operations planning information for the College of Education: Click here

How to Apply

Instructions for applying to the Educational Leadership Program


Students applying for admission to the Educational Leadership Program at Penn State must submit all application materials to the Graduate School at Penn State. The Graduate School confirms eligibility for admission of all applicants. The Educational Leadership Program will select and recommend applicants for offers of admission.


For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold one of the following:

(1)  a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution


(2)  a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

Prior to submitting an application for the program, please be aware of the following:

  1. Students who do not currently have a minimum of three years of school-related experience (such as teaching) should not apply for the School Leader emphasis or for the Principal Certification program.
  2. At this time, only Pennsylvania-certified educators are eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate for Principalship and/or the School Leader emphasis of Masters in Educational Leadership. You must have the capacity to complete a required, (calendar) year-long internship with a qualified mentor principal (who has been a principal for at least three years) for the School Leader emphasis.
  3. Our Master's in Educational Leadership with the Teacher Leader emphasis is open to educators from other states and countries. Please note that switching from one emphasis area to another is not permissible once the student has been accepted into a specific program emphasis.
Application Materials

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee.

You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

  • Statement of purpose
  1. Write a brief statement, of about 1,000 words, of your purpose in applying for graduate study in Educational Leadership
  2. Explain why you are applying to the Penn State EDLDR program.
  3. Address the following questions:
    • Which area of study are you pursuing within the EDLDR program (M.Ed. School Leader, M.Ed. Teacher Leader, Certificate Program)? Why?
    • What experiences have contributed to your commitment to education?
    • What are your academic and professional goals?
    • How, as a leader in education, do you plan to impact outcomes and expectations for all students and enact positive change in education?
  • Three letters of professional recommendation
    1. Ask for letters from recommenders who can make a strong case for your commitment to success in an online program of graduate study. At least one of these recommenders should be your current school pincipal/supervisor. Remaining references should include individuals who have supervised you in an academic or professional setting, who can speak to your intellectual ability, communication and problem-solving skills, creativity, sensitivity to others, and educational leadership potential.
    2. Ask for recommendations (completion of an online form and an attached recommendation letter) well in advance of the application deadline. Notify all recommenders that they must submit their recommendation in order for your application to be complete.
    3. Initiate the process through the online application system by entering names and e-mail addresses of each recommender. Upon submission of your application, an e-mail will be sent to each recommender requesting they complete the online form.
  • Writing sample: Masters and Principal Certification Programs
    1. Select an article from a current education journal or peer reviewed journal, such as Education Policy/EPX (Sage), Educational Administration Quarterly (UCEA), International Journal of Educational Policy and Leadership (electronic journal), Educational Leadership (ASCD), or another similar option.
    2. Briefly summarize, in a maximum of three pages, the main points of the article and then critique the content from the vantage point of your experiences as an educator.
    3. Your critique can include agreement as well as disagreement with the author's perspective.
    4. Include a complete citation for the article in your writing sample
  • Writing sample: Doctoral and Superintendent Certification Programs
    • Select an academic article, related to education leadership or education policy, that affects education leaders.
    • In a maximum of 1,000 words, represent your scholarly writing ability with a review and critique of our chosen article.
    • Give your thoughts and opinions, and demonstrate your reasoning behind them.
    • Include a complete citation for the article in your writing sample.
  • Résumé/Vita
  • A successful undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate record with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcript(s)
    1. Submit an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed.
    2. Transcripts in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified translation.
    3. Penn State alumni need not request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State. Rather, Penn State alumni must list Penn State as part of your academic history.
    4. Upon admission and your acceptance of admission, you will be asked to send an additional copy of your official transcript(s) directly to The Graduate School at Penn State. You will receive instructions at that time.
  • Doctoral Students Only
    1. Submit at least one of the following:
      • official GRE score report (institution code for Penn State is 2660)
      • Miller Analogy Test (MAT)
      • Law School Admissions (LSAT)
  • English Proficiency
    1. The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with some exceptions. (See below for exceptions.)
    2. Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on The Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page.

    Applying for Principal Certification

    Begin The Graduate School Application.

    Applying for Letter of Eligibility

    The Letter of Eligibility (Superintendent) program is currently available only through residential instruction. Many people take this as part of their D.Ed. studies. For more information on how to apply, please contact the Educational Leadership staff.

    Applying for the Master's Degree

    • Select "WORLD CAMPUS" if you are applying to the online World Campus program.
    • Select "UNIVERSITY PARK" if you are applying to the residential University Park program.

    Applying for the Doctoral Degree

    Applying as a Non-degree Graduate Student

    To begin taking courses right away, you may apply as a "nondegree" graduate student. You may take up to 6 credits in nondegree status before submitting your application portfolio. Only students matriculated into the EDLDR program as a student completing a degree or certification program are permitted to take the EDLDR 595, Internship for Principals course.

    Note:  If you apply and enroll as a nondegree graduate student, you must re-apply to the degree/certification program to be considered for admission into the Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree and/or for the Principal Certification programs. This new application includes a second application fee. Application/enrollment as a nondegree student does not guarantee admission to the program. Acceptance to the EDLDR degree/certification program is contingent upon approved (by faculty panel) application to a selected program. If you plan to enroll as a nondegree student, you must contact an advisor in the program for guidance prior to beginning coursework. No more than two courses (6 credits) are permitted as non-degree before acceptance to the program is required to continue.

    To apply as a nondegree graduate student:

    1. Begin The Graduate School Application.
    2. Select "Nondegree Admission."
    3. Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus.