students standing in front of building

Principal Preparation Program

INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP – With a focus on best practices, candidates will learn how to support achievement of all students, evaluate instruction and lead learning.

HIGH-TOUCH – Small cohorts allow for individualized coaching, engaged discussions and meaningful feedback.

BALANCE – The simultaneous internship paired with coursework allows for interns to practice theory while reflecting on leadership effectiveness.

EQUITY CENTERED – Intentional emphasis on developing and preparing leaders to work and engage with diverse students and communities.

Willie Stewart '69

Pacific Lutheran University residency administrator program is a 12 month program built and advised by current district practitioners. The program provides candidates with the practical knowledge and skills they need to lead a school community in a responsive and results-oriented way.  Rigorous coursework and clinical experiences lead to the development of a Culminating Professional Portfolio which includes practical performance-based documentation of candidates’ knowledge, skills, dispositions and professional behaviors. This practitioner focused program is lead in a cohort-based model by knowledgeable faculty and local practitioners. Small on-campus meetings are centered on adult learning models and collaborative practices that lead to a prepared and dynamic educational leader. The PLU program prides itself on high-touch practice beyond the normal scope of traditional and online programs. PLU interns are provided with support throughout the program for enhanced leadership opportunities.  Program coursework is built around the professional standards for educational leaders (NELP and AWSP) and emphasizes value driven leadership, instructional leadership, data analysis, and special education.

Total Credits: 32 credits

Program Cost: $16,000 (Financial Aid Options Available)

Program Length: 12 months. Program may be extended on an individual basis.

Program Options: Residency Principal. This program is currently Certification Only; all applicants must have a Master’s degree

Internship: A 540 hour administrative internship will occur simultaneously with coursework from June – June

Want to know more?

Click here to RSVP for our upcoming information sessions!

August 8, 4:30-5:30 PM
September 23, 4:30-5:30 PM
October 21, 4:30-5:30 PM
November 18, 4:30-5:30 PM
January 13, 4:30-5:30 PM
February 10, 4:30-5:30 PM
March 17, 4:30-5:30 PM

Why Pacific Lutheran University?

While we know candidates have various pathways they can take to earn their administrative certificate, we believe our program best prepares candidates to successfully lead highly-diverse schools and communities. We believe successful school leaders demonstrate an ability to articulate and enact an aspirational vision of improvement that leverages the expertise of teachers to improve all students’ intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Fundamental to that skill set is the ability to differentiate between technical and adaptive change to implement an agenda that aligns both the technical aspects of school leadership, such as budgets and scheduling, with long-term cultural change, such as establishing and implementing organizational core values. These beliefs stem from a profound dedication to the idea that public schools are vital and central to sustaining productive and inclusive democratic communities and societies and thus, school leaders are beholden to their students, teachers, parents, and larger communities to demonstrate those values in everything they do.

1 year to Certification

The PLU Administration Certification program connects theory, research and practice in an intertwined and interdependent web.

  • Interns enter the program during the summer and enroll in  coursework that is focused on the foundations of  personal and instructional leadership. In addition to summer coursework, many interns begin the process of adding administrative duties to their school roles.
  • Fall coursework is focused on methods and application. Interns complete three classes as well as their internship and reflective seminar.
  • During the  spring semester, interns will complete one class, their internship, reflective seminar and be assisted on preparing for administrative interviews.


The PLU program is proud to be among the most affordable face-to-face programs in the state. The PLU program is provided at a reduced graduate-continuing education tuition rate of $500 per credit. The total tuition cost for the program is $16,000 with an estimate of $300-$400 for texts and program fees.

Convenient Schedule

Summer courses are held in the evenings to accommodate interns who are working throughout the day. This allows for interns to observe and practice what they are learning in coursework and also collect summer hours for their time log. During the regular academic year, courses are held 1 to 2 evenings per week in the fall semester and less frequently in the spring.  During the spring, the cohort continues to meet for coursework and also to find opportunities for  support and reflection as interns transition into their leadership role.

Quality Instructors

Instructors, guest speakers and expert panels are identified from successful and experienced administrators in the South Sound region. Participants will be exposed to a variety of different districts and district leaders, ideologies and practices with the outcome of dynamic leadership growth.

Cohort Model

Adult learning theory affirms that adults learn best when working collaboratively to solve real world, relevant problems. The PLU cohort model focuses on preparing leaders of adult learners who can facilitate positive changes with the staffs and communities they will lead.

Theory and Practice

Each PLU course is created and reviewed through the lens of regional exemplary practitioners. Merging the most current research with applied practice, the PLU program is constantly advancing to stay current about what is facing the K-12 leader today. Once administrative interns are admitted into the program, they are able to put their course content into practice immediately through practical assignments that are applied in their field experience.

High-touch Experiences

The PLU Education Department’s values of care, compassion, difference, service and leadership drive the design and outcome of the administrator program. Participants of the PLU program will be provided with high-touch experiences from admission to certification that will provide insight and advantages to participant’s leadership capacities.

Job Placement

Throughout their program, PLU participants are prepared and focused on the demands of the job market through their coursework, internships, interview workshops, job fairs, and more.


  • December 16: Priority application deadline
  • February 10: :Last application deadline

Applications received after Feb 10th will be reviewed on a space available basis through May 1. Applicants applying after February 10th may be ineligible for the AWSP intern grant.

Application Components

Supply all program admission items to PLU’s Education Office by email ( or mail:

Pacific Lutheran University
Attn: Department of Education-PPD
12180 Park Ave S.
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003

Cohort 2023-2024 Timeline

  • December 16 – Priority Applicant Deadline (all materials must be included for consideration)
  • January 11 – Priority Applicant Admission Notification
  • TBA – AWSP Grant Writing Workshop
  • February 10 – Last Application Deadline (all materials must be included for consideration)
  • February 22 – Last Application Admission Notification
  • TBA – AWSP State funded internship grant application due
  • May TBA – Cohort Program Retreat
  • May TBA – Internship Coordination Meeting with District Supervisor and Program Coordinator
  • June 28 – Summer Coursework Begins*

The PLU principal program is certification-only and non-degree seeking therefore Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is not available. Alternatively private educational loans are available, which may be lower interest than graduate federal financial aid. To explore alternative educational loan options participants are encouraged to start with their own private banking agency to investigate  educational loan options. Additional resources are available below.

AWSP Grant

Fun Fact: 96% of PLU principal candidates who applied for last years grant received it

Alternative Loans

Also known as private loans, alternative educational loans help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the limited amount the government allows you to borrow in its programs. Private loans are offered by private lenders and there are no federal forms to complete. Click here to learn more about these loans and/ or apply.

Fast Choice

Private educational loan comparer (includes loan orientation). Credit-Score Based. In some cases, private educational loans are lower interest than federal financial aid and do not include fees. Click here to visit their website.

Click on the question to expand and see the answer.

How many years of service are required to apply to the program?

Washington State requires eligible participants to have completed a minimum of three years of public teaching by the time they enroll in a program.

How much is program tuition?

Program tuition is $16,000.

How long is the program?

Certification takes 12 months, or three semesters (summer, fall, spring) to earn. Program coursework occurs June – June. District internship work begins in the summer months.

Is a sample class schedule available?

Program Plan: During the first summer, classes are held on campus typically three to four weekdays per week. Fall and spring classes are held one weekday evening and about one Saturday per month.

What is the Letter of District Internship support?

On the Administrator program webpage, there is a one-page document that can be downloaded. This document is then completed by the intern, the interns’ prospective supervising administrator and the district superintendent. This letters is intended to demonstrate the support of the district for the interns’ field-based preparation.

Can I keep my job within the K-12 school system while attending this program?

Yes, in fact you must be employed within the K-12 school system with either a teaching certificate or counseling ESA certificate in order to be eligible for this program.

Do I have to be chosen as an intern by my district?

Yes. Each district has a unique internal intern selection process. Pacific Lutheran University requires applicants to demonstrate the support of the district by completing the District Internship support document. We suggested contacting your district Human Resources in early fall to inquire into this process. We are happy to provide coaching during this process.

Where will I complete my required internship?

Candidates will complete a minimum of a 540-hour principal or 540-hours program administrator internship within their school district. If admitted, candidates will meet in May or June to review the internship handbook and develop their plan for the internship hours with their cooperating building leader.

Is financial aid available?

Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is not available for this program. Private educational loans are available, which can at times be lower interest than graduate federal financial aid. To explore alternative educational loan options participants are encouraged to start with their own private banking or explore this PLU resource.

How may I send my application materials?

Most of the materials can be uploaded directly onto the online program application or emailed to The $40 application fee and any additional hard copy application materials may be sent via US mail to:

Pacific Lutheran University
Attn: Education-PPD
12180 Park Ave S.
Tacoma, WA 98447