Additional Certification Policies

Definitions and Guidelines for Graduate Certificate Programs


A graduate certificate program is a focused collection of courses that, when completed, affords the student a record of academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines. Graduate certificate programs are a minimum of 12 credits.

Admission criteria for graduate certificate programs are the same as for graduate degree programs. While the courses in a graduate certificate program may be used as evidence in support of a student’s application to a graduate degree program, the certificate itself is not considered a prerequisite, nor is it a guarantee of admission. Graduate certificate students are not eligible for graduate assistantships.

While taking the last course(s) of the certificate program, the student should apply for the certificate through their myWCU account.


  1. Students are awarded a graduate certificate upon completion of a well-defined program of course work within an approved graduate program.
  2. The didactic material encompassed within a graduate certificate program may represent a subset or extension of an existing graduate discipline.
  3. For a graduate certificate program, the number of graduate credits is expected to be a minimum of 12. The number of credits must be appropriate to the learning objectives and focus of the program.
  4. Graduate certificate programs may be at the post-baccalaureate or post-master's level. Post-master's graduate certificate programs must be designated as such.
  5. Graduate certificate programs do not include a thesis.
  6. All graduate certificate programs will be reviewed within the course of regular graduate program assessment and review.
  7. Certificate programs also may be proposed for post-baccalaureate students that consist of undergraduate credit courses, professional credit courses, or noncredit courses. In such cases, the programs will not be considered to have met the standards for graduate certificate programs.
  8. With the exception of courses offered in collaboration with another institution or expressly addressed in the certificate program requirements, a majority of credits for the certificate program must be completed at West Chester University. Graduate credits from another accredited institution may be accepted for transfer and are subject to the transfer of credit policy in place with approval of the department and the Dean of The Graduate School.
  9. Students pursuing a graduate certificate will be required to meet the same admissions and academic requirements as those defined for degree-seeking students (e.g., maintenance of a 3.0 GPA).
  10. The title of any graduate certificate program must contain the words "Graduate Certificate Program." Only Pennsylvania Department of Education certification programs may include the word "certification." 

Additional Requirements for the Master of Education Degree

In addition to fulfilling these requirements, candidates for certain master of education degrees must give evidence of successful teaching experience approved by the department chairperson. Other experiences in lieu of this requirement must be approved by the relevant department and the vice provost and Dean of The Graduate School.

ACT 48

All educators holding Pennsylvania public school certification including Intern, Instructional I and II, Educational Specialist I and II, Administrative, Supervisory, Letters of Eligibility, and all vocational certifications are affected by the requirements of Act 48. Educators must maintain their certifications as active by earning six collegiate credits or six PDE-approved, in-service credits or 180 continuing education hours or any combination of the above every five calendar years. Note: Each collegiate or in-service credit is equal to 30 continuing education hours.

Education Specialist Certification

Commonwealth regulations also provide for certification as an educational specialist to those persons who successfully complete an approved program of study and have the recommendation of the preparing institution. The Educational Specialist Certification is issued on two levels.

Educational Specialist I (Provisional)

The Educational Specialist I Certification is issued for entry into a professional position in the public schools of the Commonwealth. The applicant must have completed an approved program of study, possess a baccalaureate degree, and been recommended for certification by the preparing institution.

Educational Specialist II

The Educational Specialist II Certification is a credential issued to an applicant who has completed three years of satisfactory service on an Educational Specialist I Certification, and who has completed 24 semester hours of post-baccalaureate or graduate study at a regionally approved institution. In addition, the applicant must have received the recommendation of the superintendent of the school district in which their most recent service was performed, or in the case of an intermediate unit, the executive director, or in the case of an approved nonpublic school, the chief school administrator.

Teacher Candidacy for Certification

Upon entrance to the University, graduate students enrolled in educator preparation programs ("candidates") leading to Pennsylvania certification must meet with their academic advisor(s) to complete an "Approved Program of Study" (APS) form. This form outlines all of the candidates' certification requirements, indicates candidates’ approval for  Teacher Candidacy, and is signed by the University certifying officer attesting to their unique course of study at WCU. At present, to be eligible for and qualify for designated advanced courses, one must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (most programs have higher GPA requirements). The original APS is submitted to the Office of Teacher Certification during the first semester. Candidates must have a 3.0 GPA in their graduate studies to maintain Teacher Candidacy and good standing at WCU.

Periodic regulatory changes from the Pennsylvania Department of Education may alter these requirements for candidates seeking post-baccalaureate certification. Candidates are urged to remain aware of updates to Teacher Candidacy requirements through regular communication with their advisors.

Candidates with Teacher Candidacy whose programs culminate in a student teaching semester must apply to student teach during the first month of classes (September or January) one academic year prior to the intended student teaching semester.

Educator Preparation Degree

The primary mission of the educator preparation programs at West Chester University is the initial preparation and continuing development of teachers and other education professionals (hereafter, "educator preparation"). Preparation for these roles within the University's conceptual framework, Learning and Teaching in Context, ensures strong academic achievement for PK-12 students in the public schools and other educational settings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The University is committed to excellence in education by preparing candidates to exhibit five unit outcomes exemplified in the following roles: knowledge and pedagogical specialist, assessment and instructional designer, diversity advocate and classroom community builder, school and community professional, and self-directed practitioner.

The University is committed to preparing exemplary professionals to assume their roles and responsibilities as educators in a multicultural, global society; to pursue personal and professional development opportunities; to support the continuing improvement of schools; to assume leadership; and to participate in the education community.

Graduates Seeking Level II Certification

The Instructional II certification is issued to a person who holds level I certification and has completed three years of satisfactory teaching in a Pennsylvania public school as certified by the superintendent of the school district in which the person's most recent service was performed or, in the case of an intermediate unit, the executive director or, in the case of an approved nonpublic school, the chief school administrator.

In addition, the person must have completed 24 semester hours of collegiate credit at an approved baccalaureate or advanced-degree-granting institution subsequent to the conferring of the baccalaureate degree. The credits may be satisfied, in whole or in part, through in-service programs approved by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education. Last, the person must successfully complete an induction program offered by a public school district and approved by the PDE.

Instructional I (Provisional) Certification

The Instructional I certification is issued for entry into a teaching position in the public schools of Pennsylvania and is valid for six years of service in Pennsylvania (not calendar years). To receive an Instructional I teaching certification, a person must meet all of the requirements for the certification and must be recommended to the PDE by the institution of higher education at which the person completed the requirements.

Requirements Common to All Areas of Certification

On June 1, 1987, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education implemented revisions to the Pennsylvania Code. These revisions require all undergraduate candidates who apply for Pennsylvania teaching certifications to pass state competency tests in basic skills, as well as general, professional, and specific knowledge of the subjects in which they seek teacher certification. Post-baccalaureate candidates are exempt from the basic skills tests.

As changes are made in requirements for all certification programs, it is the candidate's responsibility to satisfy the new requirements.

The Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification Program

West Chester University does not offer the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) teacher intern certification.