Programs preparing K-12 school building or district leaders

Are you a K-12 teacher, counselor, or other educator who’s thinking about how to advance your career to the next level? If so, you should consider becoming a school or district leader.
Now more than ever, schools need capable, visionary administrators to lead increasingly diverse schools in our ever-changing world. As a school or district leader, you’ll not only be able to impact the students you currently serve, but entire schools and districts as well.

Warner will prepare you to become an effective agent of change and make a lasting impact on future generations. We can offer the shortest path to New York certifications and are the most affordable in the region thanks to our designated school leader scholarships.
65% tuition scholarships availableLearn More About Our Scholarships

Program Quickview

All the programs described here prepare for New York State school building leader or school district leader certification, as required for most administrative positions in K-12 public schools in the state.

If you are interested in other educational leadership programs, check our related programs.
  • A minimum of three years of teaching or other pupil-services experience in a K-12 school setting (as required by New York State).
  • New York requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. The MAT/GRE requirement is now only for students who do not have a master’s degree. 
  • Exceptions may be made: Inquire with admissions.
Key Program Features:
  • Minimum required coursework: Seven leadership courses (one less if pursuing only school building or school district leader certification).
  • Hybrid-online options: Four of these courses can be taken hybrid-online over two summers, requiring only a total of 12 trips to campus.
  • Comprehensive course selection for School District Leader: If needed, there are many options (including online courses) to help you meet the state requirement of 60 graduate credits to apply.   
  • Combined internship: 600-hour administrative internship includes experiences at both building and district levels; can be completed within one’s own district.
Special K-12 School Leadership Opportunities for:
  • Southern Tier Educators

  • Finger Lakes Area Educators
  • Rochester Area Educators

Warner Programs that Prepare School Leaders

Advanced certificate programs
Shortest path to certification, requiring as little as 27 credits for both school building and school district leaders.
students and teacher talking in front of classroom
Master’s programs
Ideal if you are interested in a master’s credential or eligibility for student loans; requires a minimum of 36 credits (some transferable from previous graduate programs).
teacher with 2 students in an inclusive classroom
Still Need NYS Professional Teaching Certification?
Warner offers several state-approved master’s programs for initially-certified teachers who are seeking professional teaching certification. As some of these programs allow for up to four electives, you can use those electives to take several of the required leadership courses. Once you graduate, all these courses can be transferred into a Warner School degree program in school leadership, giving you a major jump start. 

For more information, visit master’s leading to state professional certification.
Information about NYS Administrative Certifications
Since 2004, New York State established three types of school leadership certifications:
  • School Building Leader Certification: Required to hold school leadership positions at the building level in New York K-12 public schools (such as principal, housemaster, supervisor, department chair, assistant principal, coordinator, unit head, and any other person serving more than 10 periods per week of the assignment in an administrative or supervisory position at the building level).

  • School District Leader Certification: Required to hold school leadership positions at the district level in New York K-12 public schools (such as superintendent of schools, district superintendent, deputy superintendent, associate superintendent, assistant superintendent, and any other person having responsibility for general district-wide administration, except those responsibilities defined for school district business leaders).

  • Building and School District Leader Certification
Prerequisites for any of these certifications include:     
  • Holding a baccalaureate from an accredited institution.

  • Holding a permanent or professional certificate in the classroom teaching service or pupil personnel service. (Some exceptions are possible if candidates can otherwise demonstrate the potential for instructional leadership based on prior experiences that are evaluated using criteria established by the program and uniformly applied.)
The Warner School offers school leadership preparation programs that have been approved by New York State as satisfying all the coursework and internship requirements for both school building and school district leader certifications, or just one of these certifications.

In addition to completing one of the approved K-12 school leadership preparation programs, to be eligible to apply to the state for certification you will also need to complete the following requirements:

For both School Building Leader and School District Leader:
  • Completed master’s degree.

  • Complete state-approved workshops (if not already taken) in:
    -Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse.
    -School Violence Prevention and Intervention.
    -Dignity for All Students training in Harassment, Bullying, Cyberbullying & Discrimination Prevention and Intervention.

  • Satisfactorily complete finger-print supported background check (if not already taken).

  • Permanent or Professional Certification in Classroom Teaching or Pupil Personnel Service

  • New York State Exam - Educating all Students 

  • Teaching, Pupil Services, and/or Administrative Experience, equivalent to 3 full-time years
Additional Requirements for School Building Leader:    
  • Pass the School Building Leader Test (Parts 1 and 2).
Additional Requirements for School District Leader:     
  • Completed a total of at least 60 graduate credits.

  • Pass the School District Leader Test (Parts 1 and 2).
Further information regarding New York State tests is available at

Effective 2016, New York State has also approved and enacted a law that requires all colleges and universities with graduate-level teacher and educational leadership programs to require candidates to have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Institutions may grant justified exceptions to no more than 15% of the admitted applicants every year.

Our Approach

Creating effective school leaders who can inspire and lead change

  • The Warner School’s programs preparing K-12 school leaders are designed to instill in students a passion to take the initiative and develop skills to inspire and facilitate change in America’s schools.
  • We aim to prepare graduates who are skilled, knowledgeable, and creative leaders in elementary and secondary schools and districts.
  • As advocates for thoughtful leadership, graduates understand how to motivate others, make decisions, manage people and processes, and enable individuals to reach their highest potential. They also bring reflective and conceptual thinking skills, as well as a broad array of leadership talents, to the challenge of improving schools.
  • Extensive coursework in areas such as leadership, decision-making, and management is common to all programs.
  • In addition, students interested in leadership positions in special contexts – such as religious or independent schools, urban or rural settings – have opportunities to customize some aspects of their program to address such interests.
teacher and student one on one

The Warner Advantage

Preparing graduates to thrive as educational leaders

The Warner School will give you the highest-quality preparation to be an effective and innovative school administrative leader.
  • Be challenged to become an innovator and a thought leader by learning the necessary dispositions and skills to be effective, evidence-based decision makers.
  • Leverage the reputation of a leading research university to give your degree even more recognition.
  • Shorten your path to a doctorate of education (EdD) by earning transferable credits and a guaranteed scholarship for a 34% tuition reduction.
  • Learn how you can lead schools that foster excellence for all students – especially those who’ve been marginalized and underserved.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of researchers and accomplished practitioners who will prepare you in best practices for the realities faced by today’s school leaders.
  • Network with the best and the brightest future school leaders.
Our affordable and flexible programs are designed to meet the needs of professionals working in K-12 schools.
  • Benefit from scholarships that make tuition costs comparable to SUNY.
  • Start the program in any semester and go at your own pace - with no weekends!
  • Take advantage of summer breaks to take two courses with classes meeting only once a week on campus on the same day.
  • Program can be completed in as little as two years of part-time study while maintaining a full-time job in K-12 schools.
  • Take advantage of online learning options to reduce trips to campus.

All About experience

Your experience  will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

East High School Partnership

East High School partnership

Our students have the opportunity to observe and participate in the “turn around” of an urban high school. As the Educational Partnership Organization for East High School, we are overseeing a radical transformation of this school that includes building a healthy and inclusive school culture, major changes in curriculum, and the development of teacher leaders, among other things.

Learning from Successful School Leaders

Learning from successful school leaders

Stephen Uebbing’s 2011 book on The Life Cycle of Leadership shares important lessons about the development of effective schools. 

Matthew Juda and Francisco Velasquez

Warner School alumni named principals of public schools

Matthew Juda ‘10W (EdD) is the new principal of E-Cubed Academy while Francisco Velasquez ‘03W (MS) was appointed principal of Hope High School. Both earned their graduate degrees in education at the Warner School.

Career Opportunities

Advancing your education and career to the next level

  • Graduates from our K-12 school leadership programs are eligible for most administrative positions in K-12 schools.
  • In New York State, School Building Leader certification is required to be appointed to any administrative position at the building level, such as department chair, assistant principal, or principal, to name a few.
  • School District Leader certification is required for administrative positions at the district level, such as curriculum coordinator in any specific area, assistant superintendent for instruction, or superintendent.
  • New York State administrative certifications are recognized in most other states.
teacher and student shaking hands


Accessible, supportive faculty, researchers and accomplished practitioners


Scholarships available that can cut your tuition by 65%

Students who are nominated and offered an internship opportunity by their district will be eligible for a 65% tuition reduction, making the tuition rate comparable to SUNY (and the lowest in the region when taking into consideration the number of credits required to complete both school building and school district leader certifications). The vast majority of our current students benefit from the Designated Leader Scholarship and local internship opportunity.

Even if you do not qualify for this scholarship, inquire with Admissions about other merit-based scholarships available to all students.
meliora medallion with view of library in distance

Try Us Out

A Warner School degree opens doors. Open ours to see why.

Do you want to have a taste of what the Warner School can offer, before committing to one of our programs?

We invite you to come and observe one of our leadership courses.

Or even better, take one of the required leadership courses for a highly discounted price.

Contact admissions to arrange for a visit or learn more about opportunities for non-degree students.
Vasquez in class at table with studnets


Meliora Means 'Ever Better.' To Our Graduates, It Means Making a World of Difference.

  • Kathryn Colicchio, Assistant Superintendent, Greece, NY

    “There’s not one cookie-cutter solution in education. Warner teaches you how to go through the steps of the decision-making process where you examine alternatives, consult various stakeholders, and evaluate the information at hand before making a final decision. And that’s really important in education. There are no right or wrong answers. There are just the best decisions for your organization.”

    Kathryn Colicchio, Assistant Superintendent, Greece, NY

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo , Superintendent, Victor, NY

    “The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently.”

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo , Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

  • Warner Graduate

    "The K-12 Leadership program at the U of R has thoroughly prepared me to serve… students and families. The two most precious gifts I received through Warner were: (1) the guidance to understand my own moral purpose as an educator, and (2) the lasting relationships with Warner faculty who continue to offer professional advice."

    Warner Graduate

  • Matt Cook, Superintendent, Newark, NY

    "The program is a perfect blend of theory and real-world experience from professors who have the practical knowledge that only comes with time in the educational system."

    Matt Cook, Superintendent, Newark, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

The next application deadline is March 01, 2023. View all  Admissions Deadlines.

Apply Now

Request Information Form