Become a superintendent through a 100% online program – from the state’s flagship university.

Do you want to be part of the next generation of superintendents to lead instructionally effective school districts? The University of Kentucky Superintendent Certification Program is fully online and interactive. The 12-hour coursework is designed so you can progress through the program without putting your career on hold. Courses for the Superintendent program may be applied towards our doctoral degree programs.

  • During your online classes, you will participate in problem-solving sessions with our faculty and invited presenters. “Flipped” style learning enables you to prepare for leadership and problem-based seminars with experts.
  • Our faculty are prominent in the state and nationally, with relevant experience in school districts. We also partner with practicing experts in the field so you can build useful connections beyond the program.
  • We work with you to guide work-embedded learning, encouraging you to integrate the knowledge you gain with your current career. Our courses are research-based, performance-assessed, and standards-aligned and are based on the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL).

Our online Superintendent Certification Program begins in the Summer semester, and ends in May each year. However, students may also be admitted in the Fall and Spring semesters.

We are available to help during your application process.

Questions About the Application Form, Checking for Completeness, Uploading Materials

Questions About the Programs, Materials or Qualifications Related to the Application, or Entrance to the Programs




The superintendent certification requires 4 courses, each for 3 credits.

Year 1: Academy Year




  • EDL 676: The School Superintendency
  • EDL 677: School System Administration
  • EDL 678: Strategic Management in Education
  • EDL 682: Leading District Change and Innovation

These courses in the superintendent program may be used as a specialized area of study for the Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) and Interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree programs.


Our Program Experience

Specific Focus on Executive Leadership Skills

High Quality Online Courses with Nationally-Respected Professors

Relevant, Authentic Problems of Practice in School District Contexts

We value:


Superintendents need to be more than just effective managers. They are Chief Executive Officers and Chief Education Officers and should have a vision for their schools and local area. Superintendents can make their community a great place to learn, work and live.


We value executive leaders who are capable of leading change within schools and across districts. Superintendents must ensure their districts are taking steps to deepen the learning experience of every student. In an era of technology shifts, economic uncertainty, and global challenges, school districts must deliver high-quality learning experiences to children on a daily basis.


The superintendent licensure program is specifically structured to reflect the annual workflow of the superintendent position. You will understand school district contexts and superintendent work cycles.

Multiple Leadership Roles…

Successful superintendents have multiple leadership and management roles and work closely with district office and district-wide teams.


During the program, participants are introduced to practicing experts in the field throughout the coursework. These supplemental faculty are interwoven into the overall experience and help to build useful connections beyond the program.

Problem Solving…

School districts are large, complex organizations requiring informed decision-making processes to change practices and launch new initiatives.

Balancing Theory and Practice…

We provide aspiring superintendents and district-level staffs with an understanding of educational leadership concepts to effectively manage and strategically lead change practice.


All courses integrate individual and group learning, field-based activities, high-quality virtual class meetings, and research and reflection to assure relevance and applicability.


School district superintendents are responsible for ensuring that all children receive equitable learning opportunities. Our program unapologetically prepares leaders to make schools places that value diversity through welcoming school cultures and socially just policies.


All candidates select, in consultation with the faculty, a superintendent mentor to assist them in development of Capstone projects that focus on district-level work. We expect these relationships to persist throughout your career.

Program Outcomes

Diverse learning experiences across the program prepare you to serve as a:

  • School superintendent
  • Headmaster
  • International school CEO
  • Assistant/associate superintendent
  • Chief academic officer
  • Schools director

Words From Our Alumni

I searched for quite some time to find the right post-masters leadership credential. As the director/CEO of a large international school, I have found this program to be practical, beneficial, relative, manageable, and I believe I am now a better educator and leader. I can highly recommend this program to anyone looking to improve their practice and obtain a leadership certification.

Mark Lentz, Head of School/CEO, GEMS American Academy in Qater



Test-Free Policy

GRE scores are not required for admission to programs in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.

The test-free admission policy applies to all graduate certificate, master’s degree, education specialist, and doctoral programs in the department.

We recognize the challenges prospective students experience because of the inequities these tests perpetuate. The Department of Educational Leadership Studies is able to evaluate applicants for admission without the use of test scores through non-test factors that honor the spectrum of experiences our applicants have. A test-free policy is one part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (read more about that here).

In 2017 we announced this policy for our master’s and education specialist degrees and for our graduate certificates. In March 2021, we announced that this policy is being extended to our doctoral programs.

You must meet the admissions requirements established by the UK Graduate School and by the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.

A link to the online application is available here:


To be eligible to join the superintendent certification program you must have:

  • At least two (2) years of full-time experience in a position of school principal, supervisor of instruction, guidance counselor, director of pupil personnel, director of special education, school business administrator, local district coordinator of vocational education, or a coordinator, administrator, or supervisor of district-wide services. Other administrative experience may be substituted for this requirement with the approval of the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) (show on resume)
  • Three (3) years of teaching experience (show on resume)
  • Completed a master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education with a grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (provide unofficial transcript)

Those outside Kentucky seeking to obtain the superintendent certificate should contacts us and consult with your state certification agency. While the UK Superintendent Certification Program follows standards that are common across most state-approved licensure programs, every state has different licensure requirements. Reciprocity and acceptance of university courses are entirely at each agencies discretion. To see a full list of state-by-state certification info please visit

To Apply

The application for admission must contain:

  • A current professional educator certificate
  • A written statement of and evidence of leadership experiences at the school building or district level (included in your “Portfolio,” Part II)
  • Professional resume
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Four letters of recommendation including one from a supervisor/education agency representative attesting to your suitability for serving as a school leader. Online applications may be expedited by submitting letters directly to the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.
  • Evidence of having completed the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) Test.

Step 1: Create an account in the online application system

  1. First, create an account with the UK Graduate School including a username and password. If you are a former UK student and don’t know your LinkBlue ID number, please call or email for assistance.
  2. Once you have a username and password you can fill out one online application to the UK Graduate School and the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.
  3. You do not have to complete the application in one sitting. Your username and password will allow you to log in as many times as you wish to complete your unfinished application. NOTE: The application fee must be paid by credit card at the time of final submission.

Step 2: Designate Your Educational Leadership Studies “Plan of Study”

  1. In the application site you will need to select your “plan of study.”
  2. Please view this important tip on how to select the correct program. Continue your online application using these instructions:
    1. For “Admission Category” select “Teacher Education Certification-other”
    2. For “Program” select “Educational Leadership”
    3. For “Intended Start Date” select “Summer, Fall, or Spring”
    4. For “Program Specific Information” select “Superintendent”
  3. College Information
    1. Enter the names of all colleges attended;
    2. GRE/GMAT Scores (leave blank, they are not required);
    3. Undergraduate and graduate GPAs are required. This information may be found on your transcripts. Former UK students may also obtain them using their UK LinkBlue account.
    4. You may upload unofficial transcripts from all universities attended showing award of an undergraduate, master’s degree, and other coursework. You will then need to have official transcripts sent to the University of Kentucky Graduate School from every college you have attended. Former UK students do NOT need to submit an official transcript but you can obtain a free, unofficial copy of your transcript from the UK LinkBlue website to upload into your application. Other universities may provide a similar online service. If you have difficulty obtaining a copy of your transcripts, please contact the department administrator.
    5. Four letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a supervisor/education agency representative attesting to your suitability for serving as a school district leader. Please enter information and email addresses for each of these individuals. The UK Graduate School will send them a request for recommendation and ask that the completed forms be returned to the Graduate School. If a technical problem arises please contact the department to arrange to have the completed recommendation forms sent directly to the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.
  4. Supplemental Information
    1. Resume (leave blank)
    2. Personal statement (leave blank
    3. Writing sample (leave blank)
    4. Assistantship application (leave blank)
    5. Portfolio – Upload a single page document labeled “PORTFOLIO” into your application.
    6. Complete your portfolio (see details in step 3)
    7. Additional Information (leave blank)

Step 3: Superintendent Certification Program Portfolio

Applicants are required to submit a Superintendent Certification Program admissions portfolio (pdf).

Upload a single page document labeled “PORTFOLIO” into your application. Complete your portfolio using the Educational Leadership Studies Superintendent Certification Program portfolio template and email it to Lars Bjork at

The Superintendent Certification Program application portfolio (PSEL) required format will ensure that it is well-organized and brief, yet substantive.

Portfolio Part I: Professional Information
  1. Professional resume (limited to 2 pages) that provides your name and contact information as well as postsecondary education (all degrees, years awarded, institution names, emphasis area), work experiences, education certifications and professional memberships;
  2. A copy of your current professional educator certificate;
  3. A written statement of and evidence of leadership experiences at the school building or district level (this is Part II of your “Portfolio”);
  4. A letter from your supervisor/agency representative attesting to your suitability for school district leadership. This letter will be included in your Apply Yourself Application (Online) and will be sent to the Department of Educational Leadership Studies;
  5. Evidence of having completed the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA).
  6. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) from a district superintendent (Educational Leadership Studies Superintendent Program MOA – PDF)
Part II: Leadership Experiences

This section of your portfolio focuses on describing your knowledge and leadership experiences in the following five areas:

  1. Ability to improve student achievement. Provide a brief narrative that includes descriptions that exemplify your work. Include student outcomes if available;
  2. Knowledge of school law relating to finance, school operations and personnel matters, implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Use each of these areas as subheadings, then list graduate courses completed (portfolio) and provide a brief narrative that highlights your school and district work;
  3. Commitment to ongoing professional growth (Provide a brief narrative that outlines areas in which you presently excel professionally, areas in which you are planning to gain additional knowledge and skills, as well as areas that you envision may enhance your capacity to serve as a district leader). You may include a professional growth plan developed for your current position as evidence.);
  4. Effective communication skills (written communication and information dissemination). Provide a brief narrative of strategies (interpersonal, electronic, social media et al.) that you have used to communicate with school, district, and community stakeholders and descriptions of your work;
  5. Ability to build relationships, foster teamwork, and develop networks. Provide a brief narrative that describes your views on professional relationships, teamwork, and networking. Provide descriptions that exemplify your work.
Part III: Interview

Applicants will be interviewed by a panel of superintendents and Educational Leadership Studies faculty as part of the Superintendent Certification Program admissions process. Interviews will be scheduled after candidates submit their Apply Yourself Application. It will focus on your professional background and experiences described in your portfolio. After you receive an invitation, we will discuss the interview process with you.


Frequently Asked Questions

Detailed information about the application process can be found in the Admissions section of this page.

Yes. If you missed an application deadline, you may enroll in UK as a “postbac” student. This will allow you to take online courses in any semester and formally apply for the Program during the next application period. Before you do you should talk to Dr. Lars Bjork ( and be sure that you meet the Program admission requirements.

The Superintendent program consists of 4 courses spread out over a period of 11 months.

For information regarding current program cost please refer to the UK Graduate Tuition and Fees page.

Application Questions

Program Questions

You can also fill out the form below to receive useful emails about the program, such as application tips and online info sessions.

This is a non-degree program that prepares leaders to receive Kentucky superintendent licensure and a UK Graduate Certificate in Executive Educational Leadership.

You can find tuition refund policies, deadlines, amounts, and other important information on the UK Student Account Services website.

Check out our departmental FAQ page for useful information about our programs.

Not sure if this is the program for you? Need more information before applying?

We’ll help you find out if you’re qualified to apply and give you more information about our degree programs.

State Authorization and Licensure

If you plan to complete a University of Kentucky online program while living outside of Kentucky, you should check the Out-of-State Students page to determine if the University of Kentucky is authorized to provide this program in your state of residence. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the educational requirements for licensure in your state.