Preliminary Administrative Services Credential

Preliminary Administrative Services Credential

Credential: For current teachers seeking to transition into entry-level school administration jobs. Can be completed as a standalone 24 unit credential or as part of a 36-unit master’s in educational administration.


You desire to inspire and lead others.

The Preliminary Administrative Services Credential prepares you to serve as an entry-level school administrator. You’ll learn to establish and sustain a vital learning community that supports powerful teaching and learning. This program is offered fully online throughout the state of California or in person at PLNU’s Bakersfield Regional Center. Courses provide 24 semester units foundational to the master’s in educational administration degree with a concentration in educational leadership. An additional 12 semester units are required for the master's degree.

This program is ideal for:

  • Public and private school educators who seek to lead at school sites or at the district level.
  • Educators who seek cutting-edge graduate study focused on learning results and supportive relationships.

You may earn your Preliminary Administrative Services Credential alone or as part of your master’s in educational administration.

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Application Information

Are you ready to take the next step and apply?

We're here to make the entire process a simple one. We'll walk you through the application process, answer your questions, and get you one step closer to earning your degree.

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 Quad I — September 2, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — January 13, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — May 12, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 Quad I — August 21, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — December 11, 2024
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — April 25, 2025

Note: Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad. Check with your enrollment counselor for programs and start dates. This program is offered in a fully online format in San Diego and is offered both fully online and hybrid in Bakersfield.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's Preliminary Administrative Services Credential program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution that indicates the completion of an undergraduate degree.

Admissions Interview: You may be eligible for an interview waiver. Eligibility can be discussed in more depth with a PLNU admissions counselor once you've started your application. 

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.


3 – 5 years of teaching experience required. 5 years teaching required to apply for the credential.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.* (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double-spaced.
  4. Once you have submitted your admissions application, your two selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd like to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary.
  5. Basic Skills Requirement: Senate Bill 153 (Chap. 38, Stats 2024), effective June 29, 2024, makes two changes to the California Basic Skills Requirement (BSR). Specifically, the bill adds a provision that allows possession of a bachelor’s (or higher) degree earned at a regionally accredited college or university to meet the Basic Skills Requirement (BSR). The bill also removes the BSR as a requirement for earning any credential or permit where the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree. 

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for professional licensure or certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in teacher credentialing is available on this website

Career Opportunities

Pursuing a degree or credential in educational leadership focus will prepare you to lead at the school site or district level or to continue leading at those levels with greater effectiveness.

Career opportunities include:

  • Principal or vice principal

  • District administrator

  • Instructional coordinator

  • Curriculum specialist

  • Program director

  • College or university provost or dean

  • College or university department chair

  • Admissions counselor

  • University registrar

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Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's Preliminary Administrative Services credential, you must:

  • Be currently employed as a teacher with a valid teaching credential and at least three to five years of teaching experience required. Five years required to apply for credential.
  • Have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript.
  • Have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process.

See the application checklist to learn more about what's required to apply and be admitted into the program.

Can I work while completing the program?

Yes! Candidates must hold a valid California teaching credential and must have a minimum of three years of teaching experience before being admitted to the program. It’s recommended that students continue teaching while enrolled in this program.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You’ll have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through PLNU’s Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The preliminary program takes 12 months from start to finish. Because the courses are not sequential, interested candidates can begin the program at the start of any quad.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

How do district partnerships work?

PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the state of California. PLNU will place you at your local district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (student teaching hours).

Do I need to earn this credential as part of a master’s?

No, this can be earned standalone or as part of a master’s in educational administration.

I’m not yet working in education. Is this the right program for me?

The M.A. in Educational Administration is geared toward seasoned education professionals who instruct others as part of their work. For aspiring teachers like you, PLNU offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The MAT is most likely to meet your needs if you've just completed your undergraduate degree or are transitioning to education from another field, but please contact your enrollment counselor if you’d like more personalized information.

When can I start this program?

Candidates may start the this program only after they hold a valid California prerequisite credential in teaching, designated subjects, pupil personnel services, library services, speech-language pathology services, clinical or rehabilitative services, or school nurse services. Eligible candidates may begin the program at the beginning of any one of PLNU’s six seasonal quads.

Are there other requirements to earn the preliminary credential?

Yes. The university can only recommend a candidate to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) for the preliminary credential after all PLNU coursework is completed AND after the candidate has completed five years of full-time service at a California public, private, or non-public school while holding a valid prerequisite credential.

How many units are required?

To earn just the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, candidates must complete 18 units of credential coursework and six units of administrative fieldwork. The total for the entire credential program, therefore, is 24 graduate units. The entire program is designed to be completed within 12 months. Students can also choose to simultaneously work toward a master’s of educational administration. 

In addition to the 24 units of credential coursework, the candidate will need to earn 12 additional units in specific PLNU coursework — including a master’s research design project. These additional “finishing courses” can be taken concurrently with the credential coursework so that the entire program can still be completed in 12 months or can be taken following the credential program and extending the period of study. The total amount of units for the master's and credential is 36 units.

What’s the difference between coursework and fieldwork?

Students will be enrolled in coursework over six consecutive quads. Each course focuses on a specific strand of leadership skills specified in the California Administrator Performance Expectations (CAPEs) established by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). These six courses of three units each comprise the bulk of the credential program and are taught by PLNU professors who are either practicing administrators or recently retired administrators who are still current in the trends and requirements of successful school administration.

How long do I have to complete the program?

Although it’s rare for a candidate not to complete the program in 12 months, PLNU will allow candidates seven years to complete the coursework — until such time that the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) changes course and fieldwork requirements.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty