Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How long does the program take to complete?

The Principal Leadership Institute is a 14-month program. The session begins each summer in June, and concludes in July of the following year.

How much does the program cost?

See Financial Aid, below.

When and where are the classes?

All classes are held in the Berkeley Way Building at 2121 Berkeley Way on the UC Berkeley campus, subject to the University's public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer Session #1 (June - July):

Monday through Thursday, 9-4pm

6 weeks

Fall Semester (Aug - Dec):

Mondays & Wednesdays, 6-9pm

Every other Saturday, 9-4pm

Spring Semester (Jan - May):

Mondays & Wednesdays, 6-9pm

Every other Saturday, 9-4pm

Summer Session #2 (June - July):

Tuesday through Thursday, 3:30 - 7:30

5 weeks

Can I work while I'm in the program?

Yes, classes are scheduled evenings and Saturdays to accommodate the schedule of working educators. Most of our students work full-time while they attend the program. A few students choose to take a sabbatical or reduce their work load. In those cases, it is important for the student to remain closely associated with a school site because many assignments are linked to a specific school location.


Do I have to live in the Bay Area?

Yes. Residency within commute distance of the University of California, Berkeley campus during the 14-month intensive program is necessary, as students must attend classes on campus in both summer sessions and during the academic year.

Do I have to work for a local school?

Yes. Applicants should be employed at a Bay Area school. Applicants who are not currently employed at a school will be considered provided other requirements are met, and the student demonstrates a sustained commitment to urban schools. Additionally, the applicant will need to develop a sustained relationship with a local school while attending the PLI in order to complete the practicum portion of the program, whether through paid or unpaid means.

Can I move from another state to attend the PLI?

Yes. Moving from out-of-state to attend the PLI is possible, but requires the following actions:

  1. Obtaining a Valid California credential (see Credentials, below).
  2. Paying the non-resident portion of the UC fees or obtaining an exemption from non-resident tuition based on employment at a California public school (see Financial Aid, below).

The Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Assessment (PPST) fulfills the California Basic Skills requirement, so you do not have to take the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST).


What kinds of credentials are valid for the PLI program?

Effective July 1, 2013, all administrative services candidates are required to have five years of teaching or services experience in schools and to hold an appropriate clear or life teaching or services prerequisite credential prior to being recommended for the Administrative Services Credential.

From the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing leaflet Requirements For Administrators Prepared In California (CL-574C) » Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Credential:

  • A valid California teaching credential requiring a baccalaureate degree and a program of professional preparation, including student teaching, and holds an English learner authorization
  • A valid California Designated Subjects Teaching Credential provided the applicant also possesses a baccalaureate degree, and holds an English learner authorization
  • A valid California Pupil Personnel Services Credential, Teacher Librarian Services Credential, Speech-Language Pathology Services Credential, Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential, or a School Nurse Services Credential (Clear or Professional Clear level only), requiring a baccalaureate degree and a program of professional preparation, including field practice or the equivalent.
  • Holders of the Preliminary School Nurse Services Credential or any of the other Health Services Credentials, such as the school physician, dentist, dental hygienist, optometrist, clinical psychologist, and psychiatric social worker, do not meet this requirement.

Is my out-of-state credential valid for the program?

No. You must be eligible for a California Teaching Credential to be admitted to the program. See California Commission on Teacher Credentialing leaflets » Requirements for Individuals Prepared Out-of-State: Single Subject (CL-560) , Multiple Subject (CL-561), etc. for details. If you have carefully read the available material and still have specific questions, you can email the CCTC at

Is my emergency permit valid for the program?

No. Applicants must hold an appropriate clear or life teaching or services prerequisite credential and have five years of teaching or services experience in schools.

Work Experience

What if I have less than five years full-time experience?

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requires five years of full-time teaching experience (service for at least a minimum of four hours per day for three-fourths of the total days in the school year) in the USA to be eligible for the Administrative Services Credential, therefore we ask that applicants have met or exceeded those requirements by the beginning of the PLI term in June. However, applicants with at least two and-a-half years of full-time teaching experience at the time of application in December will be considered, provided the applicant agrees to complete the requirement by remaining in a full-time teaching position consecutively during and after the program, with the understanding that they will not be eligible for the Administrative Services Credential (Internship or Preliminary) until having done so.

What if I have only taught part-time?

The Administrative Services Credential requires five years of full-time teaching experience. If you have cannot verify at least 2.5 years of full-time teaching experience at the time of application, you are not eligible for the program until you can do so. Full-time service means service for at least a minimum of four hours per day for three-fourths of the total days in the school year. Substitute or part-time service does not apply.

Degree and Assessment

What if I only want to earn the credential and not the master's, or vice versa?

The program offers a masters degree and recommendation for the Administrative Services Credential as a package, and cannot separate the two.

What if I already have a Master of Arts in Education?

It is possible to earn more than one Master of Arts degree. The Master's degree offered by the PLI has an emphasis on educational leadership. As long as your existing Master's degree has a different emphasis, you will automatically receive an exemption to earn a second Master's degree from the Graduate Division.

What if I don't want to be a Principal?

Your commitment to work in educational leadership can be accomplished in multiple ways; 75-80% of our graduates choose to apply for Principal and Assistant Principal positions, or district-level positions requiring an Administrative Services Credential. It is, however, our firm belief in distributed leadership that values the contributions of those who remain in teacher leadership, as coaches or teachers, taking on more complex and vital roles in our schools. Candidates often enter the PLI unsure of their career choice, but sure that they want to know more about how schools as organizations operate, and how they can contribute to change. We need everyone stepping up to the leadership plate in our schools, and the PLI prepares candidates for all of these roles.

Does the CTC require an assessment to earn the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential?

Yes. The State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has developed a California Administrator Performance Assessment (CalAPA), which is a requirement for students enrolled in credential programs for acquiring a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. This assessment is aligned with the three foundational documents which articulate the content and performance expectations required for the California credential, the California Administrator Content Expectations (CACE), the California Administrator Performance Expectations (CAPE), and the California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (CPSEL).

As of 2019-20, all candidates will be required to pass the CalAPA in order to receive their Preliminary Administrative Services Credential.

The CalAPA encompasses three cycles of assessment, which are embedded within PLI coursework:

  • Cycle 1: Analyzing Data to Inform School Improvement and Promote Equity
  • Cycle 2: Facilitating Communities of Practice
  • Cycle 3: Supporting Teacher Growth

Note: the CalAPA requires that candidates obtain video footage of leadership activities which they engage in at their school sites and submit this footage as part of their assessment. Release forms will be provided for confidentiality.

For more information about the CalAPA, please visit the CTC Performance Assessment Website.

Financial Aid

How much does the program cost?

California residents can expect to pay approximately $30,500 total in University tuition and fees, plus books and other fees. Please see Registration Fees (Graduate Academic) for regular semester fees as currently approved, and Berkeley Summer Sessions » UC Student Fees for summer semester fees.

Am I eligible for financial aid?

Most of our applicants qualify for Federal Financial Aid. Information about financial aid for prospective students is summarized on the Graduate Division's Financial Aid Information page.

Limited departmental scholarships will be available for select candidates. The amount of award is undetermined due to ongoing fundraising activities. PLI Students are eligible for Fellowships & Awards. See Financial Aid, Fellowships, and Student Employment.

Due to our summer starting time, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for both the in-progress academic year (at the time of acceptance) and the following academic year in order to receive financial aid for the first summer session, as well as the subsequent semesters and final summer session. In addition to the FAFSA, you must complete the appropriate fellowship sections for domestic (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) or international applicants of the Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowships to be considered for University Graduate Fellowships, Departmental Block Grant Fellowships, and Diversity Fellowships.

What are my options as a non-resident?

A non-resident is subject to significantly higher fees to attend Berkeley, these fees can be avoided by either living in California for one year prior to attending the PLI, or applying for an exemption from non-resident tuition. See Exemptions from Nonresident Supplemental Tuition > Other > Employee of California Public School District.


What role does my district play?

Although we encourage applicants from all school districts, the PLI has established partnerships with the following districts: Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and West Contra Costa County. A recommendation and support from your district is important for both admission to the program as well as a successful practicum experience.

What other programs like yours exist?

The Principal Leadership Institute at UCLA Center X (concurrent but unrelated). In addition, several California State University (CSU) campuses offer both Tier I and Tier II Administrative Services Credential programs. A complete list of Commission-Approved Professional Preparation Programs is available from the CCTC.