May 25, 2024  
2023-2024 SGPP Catalog and Student Handbook 
2023-2024 SGPP Catalog and Student Handbook

Educational Administration – Director of Special Education Certificate

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Program Description

The Educational Administration – Special Education Director Graduate Certificate program is designed for students who already have earned a master’s degree to develop school administrative leadership and management skills. Minnesota State requirements for special education directors are embedded in the courses. The curriculum is practitioner-focused with an emphasis on applying organizational leadership theories with practical skills needed by school administrators to become leaders of effective learning organizations.

The Educational Administration program and the Administrative Licenses are in compliance with all requirements in MR3512. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota affirms that the rules of the Minnesota Board of School Administrators governing the licensure programs for Principals, Superintendents, and Directors of Special Education are met and implemented within the program requirements.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, candidates are expected to become wise leaders of character and competence who:

  1. Exhibit an integrated understanding of the state competencies and code of ethics and their relationship to Saint Mary’s wise leadership model.

    1. Candidates understand a virtue-based approach to professional ethics.   

    2. Candidates analyze state competencies and ethics and apply them to authentic situations and professional experiences.

    3. Candidates demonstrate command of state competencies through articulation of pertinent competencies and ethics code in appropriate context.

  2. Explore and understand personal development through the wise leadership model.

    1. Candidates increase their knowledge and understanding of moral virtues including practical wisdom and its connections to leadership practice.

    2. Candidates apply individual moral virtues and character traits to their administrative duties and leadership responsibilities.

    3. Candidates model wise leadership practices and demonstrate their application in educational leadership settings.

  3. Engage a full range of leadership competencies with an emphasis on wise leadership in the context of their organizations and communities.

    1. Candidates analyze a range of leadership models and competencies and understand their application in different organizational contexts.

    2. Candidates apply wise leadership principles and educational theories in the context of complex, contemporary educational and administrative settings.

  4. Cultivate the necessary character traits and dispositions of a wise leader that foster respect for the dignity of every human person.

    1. Candidates identify the components of wise leadership that are necessary to foster respect and dignity for every human person.

    2. Candidates apply wise leadership practices through fostering moral reasoning and ethical leadership in themselves and others. 

    3. Candidates model character traits that foster respect for the dignity of every human person.

  5. Integrate practical wisdom and ethical behavior consistently in multiple educational leadership contexts.

    1. Candidates demonstrate awareness of moral and ethical dilemmas

    2. Candidates are able to weigh multiple perspectives and responses in order to make moral judgments.

    3. Candidates apply and evaluate wise leadership practices in the face of moral challenges, dilemmas, and opportunities.

    4. Candidates synthesize acquired knowledge of wise leadership and moral reasoning in order to apply them to specific actions and behaviors aligned to these principles.

Minnesota State Core Competencies

The following outcomes are state-identified competencies for educational administration. (A complete list of requirements can be found at MN Statute 3512.0510):

Core Competencies:

A.   Leadership  

B.   Organizational Management

C.   Equity and Culturally Responsive Leadership

D.   Policy and Law

E.   Political Influence and Governance       

F.   Communication

G.  Community Relations

H.  Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for Success of All Learners

I.    Human Resource Management.

J.   Values and Ethics Leadership

K.   Judgment and Problem Analysis

L.   Safety and Security

Special Education Director Specific Outcomes

SEDA.   Policy and Law

SEDB.   Organizational Management

SEDC.   Resource/Fiscal Management

Program Structure and Delivery

Minnesota State requirements for elementary and secondary principals, superintendents, or special education directors are embedded in the courses and the program completion options.

All students take the core courses that cover competencies common to all areas of educational administration licensure in Minnesota. Three options offer students the opportunity to tailor their program to the type of educational administration license they desire. If students want licensure in more than one area, additional coursework is required.

In addition, two final courses and a presentation of their research thesis during their exit assessment are required to earn the Education Specialist degree. These courses include an action research methods course and an action research seminar course in which students complete and document their action research project in a thesis.

At the end of the program, students present their action research and a portfolio. The portfolio addresses each of the 12 core program outcomes and the selected administrative position outcomes required by the State of Minnesota for licensure. All students must successfully demonstrate quality performance in the competencies in order to receive endorsement from Saint Mary’s University for their Minnesota School Administrative license.

Students may transfer a maximum of six graduate semester credits from a regionally accredited institution. Credits must have been earned during the five years prior to admission, be administrative in nature, have been approved by the program director and the dean, and have not been used as a part of another degree program. After acceptance into the program, all subsequent courses must be earned at Saint Mary’s University.

The principal and special education director license options are offered online with the addition of a summer institute. Students may start these options at the beginning of fall and spring semesters only. The school superintendent license option is offered as remote delivery and is only available in the summer semester. The EdS degree completion courses are offered online.

Alternative Pathway

Applicants who do not have the required three years of successful classroom teaching experience and/or classroom teaching licensure may be considered for provisional admission into the Ed.S. program or the graduate certificate program in Educational Administration through an alternate pathway option. Upon successful completion of the alternate pathway course students will be considered for regular admission.

There are three major components of the pathway contained within three 1-credit graduate level courses including 1050 hours of school classroom experience, an electronic portfolio documenting completion of the pathway requirements, and an exit assessment meeting.

Component 1: EDS691 Classroom Experience (1 cr.)

Candidates are required to document a minimum of 1050 hours studying and learning about pre-kindergarten, elementary, junior high/middle school, and high school level classroom experiences, to demonstrate knowledge and skills in the 10 Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers.

Component 2: EDS692 Electronic Portfolio (1 cr.)

In order to demonstrate basic knowledge and skills as required by the Minnesota Rule (MR) 3512.0700, the culmination of the pathway is the presentation of an electronic portfolio.  The portfolio should demonstrate the appropriate teaching knowledge, skills, and experiences related to the 10 Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers and will be presented to a panel consisting of university and K-12 school advisors and staff.

Component 3: EDS693 Exit Meeting (1 cr.)

The exit assessment meeting is an opportunity for the student to showcase the portfolio and demonstrate evidence of accomplishment of the 10 Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers addressed in the program. In addition, the student is asked to demonstrate that the requirements for the alternative pathway have been met in order to qualify for admittance to an education administration licensure program in Minnesota.

EDS691 EDS692 EDS693  Alternate Pathway Prerequisite courses (1 cr. per course, three credits in total)


Faculty members for the Educational Administration Certificate have earned doctorates, education specialist, or master’s degrees. Faculty members are selected for their combination of educational and professional experience and expertise.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must possess a master’s degree in an education-related field, including at least 21 credits from among any of the following: teaching techniques, curriculum design, communication skills, education research/assessment, education leadership or administration. If additional credits are required to meet the entrance requirement, those credits must be earned before starting the Educational Administration – Special Education Director program coursework. According to the Board of School Administrators for the State of Minnesota, an applicant for licensure as a special education director shall have three years of successful classroom teaching experience while holding a classroom teaching license valid for the position or positions in which the experience was gained.

Applicants may apply for admission at any time during the year. A master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, for which applicant maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, is required for admission. Applicants must demonstrate the language proficiency necessary for successful graduate coursework. All applicants must complete an interview with the program administrators.

Application Process

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. Completed application form with the nonrefundable application fee (fee not required for alumni or students seeking readmission or veterans and active military personnel), and
  2. An official transcript(s) issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed bachelor 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, or One Earth International Credential Evaluators and be deemed equivalent to accredited U.S. university standards).  Evaluations from an approved member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services ( will also be accepted.
  3. A reflective essay which includes the following:
    1. brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience; and
    2. statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and their reasons for seeking admission to the program; and
    3. description of the areas the applicant considers to be their strengths and areas in which the applicant wishes to develop greater strengths and abilities; and
    4. personal information the applicant wishes to share.
  4. Letter(s) of recommendation that verify professional and/or volunteer experience and academic ability; and
  5. A current résumé listing educational background and work experience.
  6. Applicants with international transcripts may require an English language proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or MELAB accepted.)

Please Note: Application materials should be sent to the attention of the Office of Admission on the Twin Cities Campus.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Office of Admission
2500 Park Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55404

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