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, 2023
  • Application Deadline: July 18, 2023

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 is designed to help you engage your students in authentic intellectual inquiry, facilitate learning through projects, and develop vital student skills such as critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving. 

Upon joining the program, you will be assigned to a Home Team, or small group based on your professional role and context. Home Teams are facilitated by expert instructional coaches. Coaches guide your teams in deepening your understanding of PBL, help you reflect on your practice, and provide ongoing feedback and support that you can use immediately. 


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
August 25-27, 2023 Optional - In-person WeekendTeaching and Leadership Summer Summit
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 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
Penn GSE Faculty Kristin Komatsubara
STEM Instructor, San Diego Teacher Residency, High Tech High Graduate School of Education
Ed.D., UC San Diego

Program Leadership

Zachary Herrmann

Advisory Team

Advisory Team

Pam Grossman
Dean, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
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