Presidential Leadership Academy, Certificate

Program Code: PLA_UCT

Program Description

The goal of the program is to prepare students to develop leadership fundamentals to thrive in an environment in which multiple dimensions of an issue are explored, diverse viewpoints are heard, and a fully informed and respectful discourse that leads to sound action. The opportunities available will lead to further development of critical thinking abilities necessary for leaders to implement decisions with sensitivity to the circumstances that led them there. Students will develop the ability to rethink decisions and even change course along the way.

You Might Like This Program If...

You are a Penn State undergraduate student who is interested in developing your leadership abilities and critical thinking skills and are interested in engaging with and learning from some of the university’s top faculty and administrators.

Program Requirements

To earn an undergraduate certificate in Presidential Leadership Academy Program, a minimum of 7 credits is required.

All students are required to take 10 credits, seven through the Presidential Leadership Academy and three credits outside the academy. Courses must be at the 300 level or above.

Prescribed Courses
HONOR 201Developing Critical Thinking for Leadership1-3
HONOR 301The Role of Knowledge in Society3
HONOR 401Honors Seminar1-6


Students must blog once a week throughout their time in the Presidential Leadership Academy analyzing an issue using the critical thinking skills developed in the courses.

Field Trip Experiences

Students must participate in at least three field experiences. Trips planned annually by the Academy which will give students a broader perspective on social and political issues.

Prerequisites Required.

Certificate Learning Objectives

  • Communication: Students will be able to distinguish the functions of language and its capacity to express and influence meaning, recognize and assess arguments in various forms of reasoning and assess the value of credibility of resources.
  • Critical Thinking: Students will develop critical thinking abilities necessary for leaders to implement decisions with sensitivity to the circumstances that led them there and the ability to rethink decisions and even change course along the way and understand diverse viewpoints are welcomed and heard and a fully informed and respectful discourse ensues that leads to sound action.
  • Decision Making: Students will be able to Identify, evaluate and construct inductive and deductive arguments and understand and evaluate the options, consequences, values and risks in making decisions
  • Professional: Students will understand the importance of social and behavioral characteristics such as attire, decorum and personal character.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Melissa Doberstein
Director, Presidential Leadership Academy
1 Leadership Academy
Atherton Hall
University Park, PA 16802


University Park

1 Leadership Academy
Atherton Hall, University Park