Teacher Leadership Certificate

Program Objectives

The Educational Leadership program at Montana State University is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as well as by the Montana Board of Public Education.  The focus of this certificate is to provide professional development to K-12 teachers in the areas of enhancing and evaluating teaching and learning, instructional and institutional leadership in schools, and resources for enhancing equity in schools.

The Teacher Leadership Certificate is a 15-credit certificate designed to provide MT teachers with coursework and professional growth opportunities to enhance their instructional capacity and leadership contributions to their school communities. Teachers in many school districts are often asked to take leadership roles including dean of students, instructional coach, and department chair. Often, teachers receive no specialized training to help them in their new teacher leadership roles. The Teacher Leadership Certificate includes coursework and experiences that address general school law, special education law and policy, school finance, teacher mentoring and instructional coaching, data analysis, diversity and equity considerations, and school culture and school improvement.

This certificate can be completed in 2-4 semesters depending upon courses chosen for an individual student’s Program of Study. It is designed as a “stackable credential” so that students can apply this certificate to the M.Ed. Principal Licensure program and complete their principal licensure with an additional 2-3 semesters of coursework and field experiences. 

This program of study has been developed to continue the professional learning of new teachers and to ready teachers for opportunities in various positions of school leadership, including instructional coaches, department chairs and deans of students.  Using a blended delivery model, it seeks to meet the needs of students who desire convenience and face-to-face interaction. This program is offered more than 80% online.  Courses will be delivered using distance educational methods during the school year and a few face-to-face instructional sessions. During the summer, students will meet on the Bozeman campus for face-to-face instruction. The face-to-face instruction will usually take place during the latter weeks of June or early July.

Program Flow

The ideal time to begin the Teacher Leadership Certificate program is Spring or Summer Semester. Students are expected to take coursework in the sequence outlined in their individual Program of Study. Developing a learning community is a critical aspect of principal preparation and teacher leadership. To enhance the development of a learning community among the students and to facilitate learning by offering an integrated curriculum, students will be placed into a cohort based on year of acceptance into the program and will matriculate together.

Program of Study

Law Core: 3-6 credit hours - Choose 1 or 2 courses
EDLD 532School Law3
EDLD 566Administration and Supervision of Special Education Programs3
Leadership Core: 3 credit hours - Choose 1 course
EDLD 507Foundations of Educational Leadership3
EDLD 565K-12 Instructional Leadership3
Evaluating Teaching & Learning Core: 3 credit hours - Choose 1 course
EDLD 508Supervision of Instruction3
Resource and Equity Core: 3 - 6 credit hours - Choose 1 or 2 courses
EDLD 515Planned Change3
EDLD 520Schools & Diverse Communities3
EDLD 555School Finance3
* Substitute courses may be approved by graduate advisor based on area of specialization
Total CreditsTotal Credits 15


Students in the Teacher Leadership Certificate program will be assigned an advisor. The advisor will guide the student's course selection and progress toward certificate completion including the submission of the student's Graduate Program of Study form.

Contact Information

Dr. Jason Cummins, Chair, Teacher Leadership Certificate Program and Program Leader
Email: jason.cummins1@montana.edu

Dr. Bill Ruff, Professor 
406-994-4182 Email: wruff@montana.edu

Application Process for Montana Teacher Leadership Certificate in Educational Leadership

All applicants for the Teacher Leadership Certificate Program must hold a bachelor’s degree and possess or be eligible for a teaching license. 

Applicants are required to complete the online application and submit the following documentation via the Graduate School Online Application System

1.      Completed Graduate School Application

2.      Academic Transcripts: Applicants must provide official transcripts verifying all Bachelors degree and Masters degree coursework (as well as confirmation of bachelor’s and master's degree earned) from the applicant's certifying university. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded during the application process. Official electronic transcripts may be emailed directly from the Institution to gradschool@montana.edu or  edgrad@montana.edu  May also mail to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, 59717. Transcripts from a degree awarded through MSU do not need to be provided. NOTE: We require an undergraduate and graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit. 

3.      Personal essay: The essay should be one page in length, typed, and double spaced. Provide an essay that helps us understand your professional goals and aspirations which this certificate will help you realize. Also include your educational background - teaching area of expertise, number of years taught, and where you currently work.

4.      Resume/Curriculum vitae: Include the names and contact of three (3) references

5.      One (1) professional reference: During this online process, you will be asked to provide information about your reference. The electronic process will prompt your reference to submit a signed reference letter. Your letter must meet the following criteria:  One letter of reference from your PRESENT direct supervisor or a university faculty member.  A supervisor who (a) is currently administratively certified by Montana Office of Public Instruction or other equivalent state agency; AND (b) currently acts as direct supervisor for the candidate. Or a university faculty member who currently acts as an advisor or faculty member of the candidate’s program of study. Any applicant who does not have a letter from a present direct supervisor or university faculty member, must indicate in the self-nomination letter the specific reason(s) why they were unable to secure a letter of recommendation from their present supervisor.

6.      For International Applicants ONLY: Please visit the Graduate School International Application Process website for application submission information.

Application Deadlines

Below is the deadline by which all application materials for the Teacher Leadership Certificate program in Educational Leadership must be submitted via the online application system. 

  • Summer Semester: April 1
  • Spring Semester: November 1

Applications received after the deadline may be reviewed for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.

Admission Process

Complete applications will be reviewed by members of the Graduate Admissions Committee who then convene to make final admission decisions. Once a decision has been made the application will be forwarded to The Graduate School for final administrative processing.  Please note that the application review process will begin at the close of the application deadline and not before.

Contact Information 

Dr Jason Cummins, Chair Montana Teacher Leadership Certificate Program and Program Leader
Email: jason.cummins1@montana.edu


Graduate Program Assistant
PO Box 172880, Reid Hall 215
Department of Education, Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2880
Phone: 406-994-6786 Email: edgrad@montana.edu