Earn a certificate in project-based learning and engage your students in authentic student-centered inquiry.

The Project-Based Learning certificate program is designed for current educators who strive to create rich, meaningful, and rigorous learning experiences through student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. 

What Sets Us Apart

  Deep focus on teacher and leader practice
  Virtual coaching by expert instructional coaches throughout the school year
 Rich, sustained, and advanced professional development

About the Program

The Project-Based Learning certificate program provides an innovative professional learning experience that allows currently practicing educators to leverage the educational expertise of Penn GSE’s faculty and some of the most skilled and experienced student-centered learning practitioners from across the country. The program was developed in collaboration with the Science Leadership Academy, the Workshop School, Inquiry Schools, and EL Education.

Application deadline

  • Priority Application Deadline: June 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline: July 31, 2024

Program startAugust 27, 2024

Length & Time Commitment~120 hours over 9 months

Certificate offeredPenn GSE Certificate in Project-Based Learning

Credits12 Continuing Education Credits
120 Pennsylvania Act 48 Credits


  • Standard rate: $3,950
  • 30% discount for School District of Philadelphia employees
  • 15% discount available for:
    • Applications received by June 1st
    • Penn GSE and Center for Professional Learning alumni
    • Penn employees
    • Groups of 5+ from the same organization, contact us prior to applying.

Ideal candidates

  • Current elementary, middle, or high school teachers
  • Instructional coaches
  • Department chairs
  • Principals
  • Other instructional leaders
  • Online
Programs for Working Professionals
Teacher Programs & Certifications

The Project-Based Learning certificate program is advanced professional development. The program offers a unique opportunity for educators to delve into the instructional practices that maximize the impact of Project-Based Learning on student learning outcomes. Unlike many other programs that primarily focus on project development, the Project-Based Learning Certificate program is unique in its artifact-based approach to learning about implementation.

Participants of the program are organized into "home teams" consisting of educators who share similar contexts. Expert instructional coaches facilitate home teams. Coaches guide your teams in deepening your understanding of PBL. This collaborative learning model allows for valuable feedback and fosters a strong sense of community among participants. Each home team is led by an experienced coach who facilitates discussions, acts as a point of contact, and provides personalized feedback on participants' shared classroom artifacts.

The Project-Based Learning Certificate Program offers a valuable opportunity for educators to enhance their knowledge and skills in implementing project-based learning. By focusing on practical implementation strategies and fostering a supportive community of like-minded professionals, the program aims to empower teachers and school leaders to create meaningful and impactful learning experiences for their students. 

Note About Video Recordings

The Project-Based Learning certificate program is different from other professional development programs because of its focus on improving classroom instructional practice. To this end, participants will be asked to post videos of their classroom practice in a secure, password-protected platform to get feedback from peers that can, in turn, prompt reflection on their teaching and learning. Video submission is required for the successful completion of this program.

 Before committing to this program, each participant is responsible for researching and following the specific guidelines related to recording videos for professional learning set forth by their school, district, and/or network. All videos will be posted and used within a password-secure portal within this program only and deleted at the end of the program.


Program Format

Before and after each session, you will complete a set of readings, activities, and reflections to help you prepare and apply what you have learned.

How are Home Teams organized? Learners will be organized into groups based on their time zones and availability. Specific dates and times will be scheduled after July 31, 2024.

* These synchronous meetings are required for the entire cohort.

Time Commitments
August 27, 2024*6:00 -7:30 p.m. (E.T.) Virtual Institute 
August 28, 2024*6:00 -7:30 p.m. (E.T.)Virtual Institute 
September 2024Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursHome Team Kickoff Meeting
September 28, 2024*10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (E.T.)Virtual Design Sprint
October 5, 2024*10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (E.T.)Virtual Design Sprint
October 2024Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hours Authenticity
November 2024Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursDisciplinary Learning - Part 1
December 2024Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursDisciplinary Learning - Part 2
January 2025Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursCollaboration - Part 1
February 2025Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursCollaboration - Part 2
March 2025Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursIteration - Part 1
April 2025Home Team Schedule: 2-4 hoursIteration - Part 2
May 2025*Time to be decided by the academic directorClosing and Celebration

Our Faculty

Our PBL leadership and instructional team serves across our multiple PBL programs and brings deep experience and expertise in teacher development and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning.

Penn GSE Faculty Alissa Fong
Professional Development Associate and Instructional Math Coach, Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Kristin Komatsubara
STEM Instructor, San Diego Teacher Residency, High Tech High Graduate School of Education
Ed.D., UC San Diego
Penn GSE Faculty Tyler Thigpen
Co-founder, The Forest School & the Institute for Self-Directed Learning
Ed.L.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Melissa Viola-Askey
Social Studies Professional Development Specialist, Prince William County Schools
Ed.M., University at Buffalo

Program Leadership

Alissa Fong

Zachary Herrmann

Advisory Team

Advisory Team

Pam Grossman
Ph.D., Stanford University

Christopher Pupik Dean
Senior Fellow
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Matthew Riggan
Co-Founder, The Workshop School
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Chris Lehmann
Founding Principal and CEO, Science Leadership Academies
M.A., Columbia University  

Sarah Schneider Kavanagh
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Washington

Meg Riordan
Director of External Research & Project Director, Teacher Potential Project, EL Education
Ph.D., New York University

What Our Participants Are Saying

“A rich, in-depth, transformative experience!” – Project-Based Learning program participant

“Amazing! One of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever had. It challenged me, and I was immersed in an experience that provided specific ways for me to take what I’ve learned and implement it immediately.” Project-Based Learning program participant

Contact Us

For more information about the Project-Based Learning certificate program, contact us at ProfessionalLearning@gse.upenn.edu