Frequently Asked Questions

Last year Teachers College awarded over $7 million of its own funds in scholarship and stipend aid and $2 million in endowed funds to new and continuing students. Most scholarship awards are made on the basis of academic merit. The SPA|NYC program also provides its own scholarships  which aim to support teachers from urban schools. For example, they are available to students that can cover 4-6 credits of tuition costs for the 2nd year, which is roughly 10% of the total tuition for the cohort. Scholarships are applied to tuition only and students should expect to provide additional funds for the tuition balance, medical insurance, College fees, and academic and living expenses.

Since the program commences in June, students are advised to begin their financial aid application as soon as possible since it can take up to two months to process the FAFSA and other financial aid documents. In addition to the FAFSA, all students must complete a TC Financial Aid and Scholarship Application to be considered for aid and scholarship.

For more information about funding, please visit the SPA|NYC Cohort Program Financial Aid webpage.

For additional financial aid information including loans, applicants should contact the Office of Financial Aid at financialaid@tc.edu or at 212.678.3714.

SPA|NYC is part of Teachers College's Department of Organization and Leadership, has the full support of both the College and the Department, and enjoys the full resources of Columbia University.

Approximately 5,000 students are currently enrolled at Teachers College in programs leading to both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in fields ranging from clinical and organizational psychology to curriculum and teaching. Nearly 130 full-time faculty members teach and conduct research in the College's various departments.

Teachers College ranks consistently among the best graduate schools of education by US News and World Report and has recently been named the number one education school in the country.

All Summer Principals Academy NYC applicants must:

  • Be committed to educational equity in our nation's urban schools.
  • Possess a minimum of two to three years of full-time, paid teaching experience in a school setting.
  • Be committed to attending all dates and sessions of the two summers within their 14-month degree program, including most Saturdays during the first summer, as well as all orientation and Callback Weekend events.
  • Have the documented support of a cooperating administrator who will support all leadership activities and projects set forth in the Administrative Internship plan.
  • Have experience in formal and/or informal leadership roles in their school community.

Most SPA|NYC candidates are either Public or Charter School educators (teachers, instructional coaches, assistant principals, deans, guidance counselors, etc.)

SPA|NYC’s fixed 14-month curriculum fulfills the requirements for an M.A. and Ed.M. in education leadership (on-site classes during two summer sessions in addition to an administrative internship at the school site in the intervening academic year).

Students who currently hold a Master's degree in a field related to education may earn the Ed.M. by completing the SPA|NYC program and transferring 24 points (credit) of their previous coursework to meet the 60-point (credit) requirement for the Ed.M. degree.

Candidates who wish to apply for SPA|NYC must submit an application directly to Teachers College, Columbia University via the admissions office. To learn more about the admission requirements and process or to request information, please visit the Office of Admissions section of the Teachers College website.

Admission applications for SPA|NYC's Summer 2024 Cohort can be submitted online beginning the first week in September 2023.

All candidates who pass the initial review will participate in an online interview with the Director of the program, Dr. Brian Perkins, and a faculty member. 

For more detailed information on the application process, contact the Senior Associate Director of Admission, Ms. Nicole Siniscalchi at nicole.siniscalchi@tc.columbia.edu or via phone at 212-678-3730.

The SPA|NYC Program is a proven cost-effective program that delivers a high return on investment. Student postgraduate status updates show that the majority of SPA|NYC graduates move to leadership roles after completing the program, with identified trends of continuous progress in their career path. Alumni have reported an average of $25,000 in salary improvement just one year following program completion, though some have seen increases as high as $50,000-$60,000.

Established in 2005, SPA|NYC  has been known as an effective incubator for high-performing education leaders across the country. Over 44 schools have been built out of the program with more currently in development. In addition, our graduates are more than just educators; they are principals, superintendents, and hold other leadership positions to advance education equity nationwide

While the Summer Principals Academy does not arrange for student housing, Columbia University offers several on-campus housing options. Housing reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and we therefore suggest submitting housing applications as soon as possible. Traditionally, SPA students have made housing arrangements through the Office of Residential Services or the International House. Both facilities are owned and operated by Columbia University and include 24-hour security, laundry rooms, WiFi, and micro-fridges. Although you are certainly not required to stay in campus housing, finding off-campus sublets in New York City can be costly and time-consuming.

To view available units and submit applications for summer housing please visit:

We do not require the GRE for the SPA|NYC program.

Completion of the NYC Program leads to recommendation for School Building Leader (SBL) certification in the State of New York. New York has reciprocity with many states. 

Students working outside of New York should refer to their state's unique regulations to determine any additional steps or testing requirements for administrative certification.

The program seeks candidates who pursue leadership responsibilities with the ultimate goal of developing schools’ climate and culture that holistically supports children during their learning journey. Applicants should have high self-awareness, an innovative mindset, and a strategic risk-taking approach. Applicants should appreciate rigorous academic preparation and work well in a cohort arrangement. Applicants should have the ability to critically assess their own abilities and commit to continuous improvement in their own learning. Applicants should have a profound sense of integrity, a dedication to  equity, and an ability to communicate their values to diverse stakeholders in their school communities. Applicants should have demonstrated leadership in their respective educational settings, especially in collaborative and team-based projects. The program is especially eager to consider candidates who have an express desire to work in urban communities and seeks candidates who are visionary thinkers that want to disrupt the traditional education system.  Students who matriculate to our program are: 

  • Fearless individuals who are not afraid of our rigorous academic program.
  • Innovative, passionate, and dedicated individuals who embrace diversity and want to develop an equitable education  system for all. 
  • Individuals who are self-aware and are able to critically assess their abilities and commit to continuous improvement in their learning.
  • Individuals who work well with others (especially since our program is a cohort model). 

The priority application deadline for the 2024 Cohort is January 15, 2024; the final deadline is April 15, 2024. The program reviews applications on a rolling basis; early applicants receive priority consideration.

The Summer Principals Academy | New York City (SPA|NYC) integrates practice and skill development with theory and research using case studies, simulations, and teamwork. Aspiring school leaders are encouraged to construct transformative  possibilities for student learning, school improvement, and social equity. SPA|NYC fosters leadership development through an integrated set of experiences that include building a repository of theoretical and "best practice" knowledge, engaging with problem-based coursework, and undertaking field-based internships. 

  • Quality education and ethical leadership are central to promoting social justice and diversity;
  • Effective leadership development and preparation will enhance  knowledge, skills, and values, and lead  to self-actualization and sustainable fulfillment;
  • School leaders are responsible for nurturing not only the learning and growth of all members of the school community but also for nurturing their own development and wellbeing;
  • Strategic collaboration and efficient teamwork are essential to building quality learning environments;
  • All aspects of leadership development will promote the practice of intellectually and ethically reflective leadership;
  • Active and participatory learning that is rooted in actual school contexts as well as simulations and case-studies offer multiple opportunities to improve leadership skills in the SPA|NYC curriculum;
  • Innovation and risk-taking play a key role in preparing the educational leader who is capable of ushering public schools to an era of educational excellence and achievements.

The intentional design of SPA prepares students to be equipped with handling a series of innovative courses expertly facilitated by faculty and practitioners in their field in order to strengthen them as future leaders. Our cohort model allows courses to be delivered over two consecutive five-week summer sessions, with the Administrative Internship taking place during the intervening school year where our graduate students are already placed, allowing them to maintain their jobs (and income) in their current schools while earning their degree. Each student receives a coach who works with them 1:1 during the internship year. The coaches assist with helping them break down assignments, provide feedback on their written work, and help them with any problems or questions the students may have. In addition, all students participate in mindfulness training each morning to practice self-reflection and be aware of their actions and how they may affect others. Students’ studies in SPA conclude with the New School Design Project which serves as the capstone to the degree. More than 40 schools have been built out of SPA and several more are under development

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