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 18
  • Application Deadline Extended: August 25

Program startSeptember 2023

Program length9 months

Certificate offeredPenn GSE Certificate in Project-Based Learning

Credits12 Continuing Education Credits



  • $2,200 for applications received by June 18
  • $3,200 for applications received after June 18

This program has a set of full scholarships reserved for educators in the School District of Philadelphia. If you’re interested in this opportunity, please see the Scholarships section of the program registration form.

20% off program fee available for groups of 5+ from the same organization. Contact ProfessionalLearning@gse.upenn.edu for more information.

Ideal candidates

  • Current elementary, middle, or high school teachers
  • Instructional coaches
  • Department chairs
  • Principals
  • Other instructional leaders
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.

Participants are expected to collect, analyze, and share artifacts from their classrooms, typically in the form of classroom videos. They will also provide feedback to other participants. Additionally, participants will create a portfolio of their learning at the end of each semester. The program entails approximately 5 hours of monthly commitment, including 1-2 hours of synchronous home team learning. At the end of each semester, participants may need to allocate up to 8 additional hours for completing program-related tasks.

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. 

Program Format

This program consists of multiple required sessions and one optional summer summit experience. 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.

Home Team facilitators will determine each group’s exact meeting dates and times based on participants’ availability.

Modality & Duration
September 2023One virtual synchronous session; Home Team kickoff

September 23 & 30 

 October 13-14

Virtual synchronous

In-person at the University of Pennsylvania

Virtual Design Sprint

 In-person Design Sprint

October 2023Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Authenticity
November 2023Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Disciplinary Learning
December 2023Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Disciplinary Learning
January 2024Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Collaboration
February 2024Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Collaboration
March 2024Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hoursHome Team meeting related to Iteration
April 2024Virtual synchronous session; 2-4 hours Home Team meeting related to Iteration
May 2024Virtual synchronous session;Closing 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