Skip to content
Search Icon
Charter School Leadership Certificate Program

Charter School Leadership Certificate

Southwest Minnesota State University, in partnership with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education, has started a new program focusing specifically on providing a Charter School Leadership Certificate that is designed to facilitate the development of effective Charter School leaders.

SMSU Success Model

Southwest Minnesota State University has a proven track record of over 20 years of fulfilling a need in graduate education by offering Masters of Education programs throughout the upper Midwest in teaching, learning, and leadership and also in K-12 administrative licensure. Some of the successful characteristics of this program is delivering content through a learning community model, taking the program ‘on the road’ to meet the needs of a given demographic (not being bound by campus location), and designing a curriculum to best prepare educators for today’s demands in the classroom. SMSU has replicated this model to meet the growing demands of providing an effective leadership-training program for Charter Schools throughout the state. To support this, SMSU contends that,

  1. The credits earned in the certificate program will be transferable to a traditional MS of Ed. Leadership Licensure program with SMSU;
  2. The certificate program will encourage more future Charter School leaders;
  3. The time, customization, and specific learning targets will increase the likelihood of participation by the working Charter School professionals, filling the leadership void;
  4. A One Year-long Program (summer leadership academy; fall and spring semester courses) will be very appealing to Charter School professionals;
  5. A Cohort Delivery Model, incorporating a variety of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, will make this program easily accessible and customized to meet the learning needs of the participants;
  6. Professors and instructors with first-hand Charter School experience will facilitate the courses being delivered; and
  7. An imbedded internship throughout the entire program, where participants will be assigned to a Charter School mentor for support and guidance to ensure success enhances the development of those participating in the program.

Course Sequence: 19 Credits


ED 659 Charter School Community, Climate, Culture 3cr.

ED 655 Leadership Mentorship I 1cr.

ED 663 Instruction Leadership I: Mentorship Programs, Classroom Observations, Curriculum, and Assessment 3cr.


ED 650 Technology Integration 1cr.

ED 652 Charter Law & Governance 3cr.

ED 656 Leadership Mentorship II 1cr.


ED 653 Human Resources & Financial Mgmt. 3cr.

ED 664 Instructional Leadership II: School Wide Data Driven Decision 3cr.

ED 657 Leadership Mentorship & Capstone 1cr.

Charter School Needs

As research indicates, the demand for charter school leaders is rising.  According to the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) there is a need for up to 21,000 charter leaders nationwide over the next seven years. Estimates in MN put the number of charter leaders in MN needed over the next five years at over 800.  This is if no new charter schools are added. There are currently 164 Charter Schools in Minnesota, serving approximately 57,000 students K-12. Additionally, there are 39 officially recognized early learning programs in Minnesota Charter Schools.

Currently, MN does not require Charter School leaders to be licensed by the state as administrators, but they are required to identify a professional growth plan that illustrates leadership capabilities.

According to the Policy Statement put out by the MN Association of Charter Schools,

SMSU sought a charter school partnership to begin exploring its Charter School Certificate Program. SMSU was wanting to partner with a school of excellence and diversity, of which Eagle Ride Academy (ERA) met that criteria. With 58% of the total population from minority populations, ERA has proven to be leader in charter schools. Eagle Ridge Academy Charter School, established in 2004, has been identified by the MDE as a High Quality Charter School since 2014 and students have been in the 99%ile in both MCA and ACT testing. ERA is currently collaborating and consulting with three different charter schools regarding leadership training and the three leaders offer over 53 years of charter school experience. We feel Eagle Ridge Academy will provide a stable, working environment, which will strengthen the overall delivery of our certificate program.

MDE Partnership

SMSU has partnered with the Minnesota Department of Education and secured a grant that will provide a tuition scholarship to all students enrolled in this program. 

Leadership Academy

Participants in this program will work with identified leaders in charter schools in Minnesota. The program launches each summer with a Leadership Academy that will lay a solid foundation for the year-long program.

Mentorship Support

One of the many unique features of this program is the integration of a mentor assigned to each participant. This mentor will be a highly qualified charter school leader that will provide valuable support, guidance, and feedback.

Last Modified: 8/12/22 10:45 AM | Website Feedback