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. The program can be completed remotely, except for one week-long in-person summer institute at the beginning of the program and a final week-long in-person summer institute at the conclusion of the program.

What Sets Us Apart

  Deep focus on teacher practice
1:1 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 teachers 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
New Deadline: June 30, 2020
Entry term(s)
Course requirements
3-day virtual summer institute; virtual coaching throughout school year; final 3-day virtual summer institute
Duration of program
1 year

Certificate/Licensure offeredPenn GSE Certificate in Project-Based Learning

Professional developmentEquivalent of 3 Continuing Education credits

  • Part-Time
  • Certificate
Programs for Working Professionals
Teacher Programs & Certifications

The Project-Based Learning certificate program is advanced professional development. The program is designed to help teachers engage their students in authentic intellectual inquiry, facilitate learning through projects, and develop vital student skills such as critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving.

A blended program structure allows for the best of both in-person and virtual learning experiences. The program begins with a week-long summer institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout the school year, teachers will work with an expert instructional coach from the program’s instructional team. Coaches provide ongoing feedback and support that teachers can use immediately in their own classrooms. Teachers return to Penn GSE for a final week-long summer institute, where they learn how to develop themselves as instructional leaders within their schools and their communities.

Ideal candidatesCurrent elementary, middle, or high school teacher; instructional coach; department chair; principal; or other instructional leader


While some programs focus on developing or refining curriculum or projects, the Project-Based Learning certificate program is different. Even with a terrific project or unit, we recognize that what a teacher does to bring it to life makes all the difference. Accordingly, our program focuses on what teachers actually do in the classroom. For example, how do teachers support students to collaborate? How do teachers help students make connections to their work and contributions to their world? How do teachers support students to reflect and revise their work?

The program consists of three main learning experiences:

Summer Institute I (August 3-7, 2020): Explore the driving goals and core teaching practices of project-based learning.

Academic Year Learning Cycles (August 2020-June 2021): Record and share video of classroom teaching and analyze within small virtual teams.

Summer Institute II (August 2-6, 2021): Synthesize learning and plan for future.

*Note: Penn GSE Certificates are awarded as a standalone, non-credit bearing education credential.

Our Faculty

Our program leadership and instructional team come with deep experience and expertise in teacher development and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning.

Penn GSE Faculty Richard Staniec
Physics and Integrated Science Teacher, Upper Perkiomen High School
M.Ed., St. Joseph’s University
Penn GSE Faculty Melissa Viola-Askey
Social Studies Professional Development Specialist, Prince William County Schools
Ed.M., University at Buffalo
Penn GSE Faculty Tyler Thigpen
Co-founder, The Forest School & the Institute for Self Directed Learning
Ed.L.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Gina Wickstead
Humanities Teacher and Facilitator, High Tech Middle Media Arts
M.A.T., Johns Hopkins University
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 Jordan Templeton
Dean of Instruction, Graham Elementary and Middle School
M.Ed., High Tech High Graduate School of Education
Penn GSE Faculty Chenelle Boatswain
Assistant Director, Center for Professional Learning, Penn GSE
Ed.M., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Tina Schuster
Humanities Teacher and Facilitator, High Tech High Network, San Diego, CA
M.Ed., University of Virginia
Penn GSE Faculty Zachary Herrmann
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ed.L.D., Harvard University

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

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

Zachary Herrmann
Executive Director, Center for Professional Learning
(215) 573-6751

Sara Goldstein
Program Coordinator, Center for Professional Learning
(215) 898-0846

Chenelle Boatswain
Assistant Director, Center for Professional Learning

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Penn GSE is committed to making your graduate education affordable, and we offer generous scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.