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Charter School Leadership Graduate Certificate

Learn to lead and drive a charter school’s mission

Charter schools require character-driven leaders ready to boldly face modern educational challenges. At Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, we’re committed to preparing you to lead with integrity and to advance the mission and vision of charter schools.

Our one-year program is thoughtfully designed for busy adults, encouraging current and aspiring directors, heads of schools, and professionals engaged in charter school management to join in this transformation journey. Through our online program, you’ll acquire the essential skills to transition into a leadership role and become an ethical, resilient leader. You’ll learn how to oversee day-to-day operations and establish relationships with students, faculty, and stakeholders. 

As a leader, you’ll understand the pivotal role that a charter school’s mission and vision play in shaping every aspect of the school, including its instructional program. You’ll gain insight into impactful teaching strategies, empowering you to become a supportive supervisor of instruction and an influential leader who fosters innovative learning formats. 

You’ll also learn how to promote equitable opportunities and address the diverse needs of students while gaining a thorough grounding in critical organizational management skills, including budget allocation, compliance, funding, and legal frameworks. 

Our program is taught by faculty with a deep understanding of the contemporary reality of charter school education. Their expertise will be your guiding light, and their dedication will be your source of support and inspiration. 

For over a century, Saint Mary’s has remained dedicated to educating current and aspiring educators. Here, you’ll not only foster the capacity to serve with character and integrity but also nurture your personal and professional growth. As a leader in character and virtue education, Saint Mary’s will empower you to flourish in all aspects of life.  

We invite you to join our program — and become the driving force in ensuring charter schools provide their students with a unique and quality education. 

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per credit

Contact Admissions for start dates

1 year

completion time





per credit

Contact Admissions for start dates

1 year

completion time


Program Highlights

  • Engage with and gain practical knowledge from experienced faculty who have held  leadership positions in charter schools, offering real-world insights that you can apply immediately in your own role.
  • The graduate certificate in Charter School Leadership can complement your existing degree or pave the way toward pursuing your master’s degree in education.
  • Discover scholarships available through our partnerships with several regional and national employers. See if your employer is part of our Trusted Partnership Program. Learn more.

What You'll Learn

  • Skills, knowledge, and dispositions to serve as a charter school leader
  • Professional, reflective, ethical, collaborative, and intentional leadership practices
  • Charter school visions and missions that identify unique program features
  • Financial, human/material resources, and operations of charter school leadership
  • Leadership skills around fundamental aspects of charter school operations
  • Practical moral wisdom, necessary character traits, and ethical behavior

Information Session

Join us for an information session to learn more about the program, the application process, and more. We offer live information sessions where you can meet program staff, as well as an archive you can view on your own time.


Ready to apply? Learn about taking the next steps.

    • Applicants may apply for admission to master’s degree programs at any time during the year.
    • Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution and maintained an overall grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
    • Applicants may complete an interview with a program administrator as part of the admission process.

  • Students with transcripts from universities located outside of the United States or a waiver country listed here are required to take and pass English Proficiency testing.

    Saint Mary’s accepts:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 72
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum score of 6.0
    • Michigan Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) with a minimum score of 74%
    • International Test of English Proficiency (ITEP) with a minimum score of 4.0 or Pearson Test of English with a score of 51
    • Duolingo with a minimum score of 100.

  • Applicants must submit the following:

    1. Completed application form.
    2. An official transcript(s) issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed bachelor’s degree and other relevant transcripts documenting program prerequisites and potential transfer credits. (An official transcript is one that is sent to the university by the credit-granting institution.)
      • Transcripts from countries other than the U.S. must be evaluated on a course by course basis by a university accepted evaluation service, such as World Education Services, Educational Credential Evaluators, Educational Perspectives, One Earth International Credential Evaluators or any approved member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services ( and be deemed equivalent to accredited U.S. university standards.
      • Saint Mary’s can order and cover the cost of transcripts from institutions that allow third-party requests for eligible degree-seeking applicants. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.
      • Official Transcripts should be sent to Office of Admission
        • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
          2500 Park Avenue
          Minneapolis, MN 55404
        • Or electronically:
    3. A personal statement which includes:
      • brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience; and,
      • statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and his or her reasons for seeking admission to the program and,
      • personal information the applicant wishes to share.
    4. Names of two people (including title, organization, email, phone number) who could serve as professional references, if needed, during the application review process. The best references are those who know you in a professional capacity, such as current or former supervisors.
    5. A current résumé listing educational background and work experience.

    • Fall 2024: August 2, 2024
    • Spring 2025: December 2, 2024
    • Summer 2025: April 4, 2025


    The priority application deadlines are listed but these are general as not all of our programs have a start every semester.

  • Contact Admissions for start dates.

  • You can expect to be notified about your acceptance approximately two weeks following your application completion date.

Tuition & Fees

We help you find ways to finance your education. Talk to your Enrollment Counselor about scholarships, loans, and other ways to make your education affordable.

Course Catalog

 You’ll take courses such as:

  • Introduction to Charter School Leadership
  • Charter School Governance
  • Organizational Management 
  • Teaching and Learning 
  • The Charter School Leader 

The course catalog provides complete information about course requirements.

Career Outlook

Minnesota was the birthplace of the charter movement. Since the first charter was issued over 32 years ago, Minnesota’s charter schools have prospered in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and across the state. There were 180 charter schools in Minnesota for the 2023 school year, enrolling over 68,000 students.1

Charter School Principal

$79,780 per year*

Related Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • At Saint Mary’s, we want you to succeed, and we help you do so, inside and outside of the classroom:

    Student Central: Your one-stop for student services.

    LibraryResources and services are available 24/7 to all students.

    Writing Center: Offers virtual and face-to-face services to support students.

    Career ServicesCan help you develop your career-readiness skills at any point in your education.

  • If you are in a degree-granting program and enrolled at least half time, you may be eligible for financial aid.

    Learn more here.

  • Life gets busy. Whether you’re raising a family, pursuing your career, or playing an active role in your community, we know you want to keep up with what you love while you take the next step in your career. That’s why Saint Mary’s online programs are flexible and designed to fit your demanding life.

    Learn more here.

News and Information from the School of Education


On Sunday, April 14, 2024, Her Excellency, U.S. Ambassador Karen Hideko Sasahara received the Very Reverend Father James P. Burns, Read more
Downwind advocates for marginalized students Chrissy (Koch) Downwind M’17 admits she doesn’t sugarcoat. “When I introduce myself, I usually include Read more
  1. Minnesota Department of Education, Charter Schools at (visited  Nov. 2, 2022).
  2. ZipRecruiter, Charter School Principal Salary in Minnesota at–in-Minnesota#:~:text=As%20of%20Oct%2023%2C%202023,%2Fweek%20or%20%248%2C318%2Fmonth. (visited  Nov. 2, 2022).