Art CertificatesThe School of Professional Studies (SPS) is a an electives-based certificate program available to students enrolled in the PA Leadership Charter School (PALCS). While PALCS is available to all Pennsylvanian students in grades K-12, SPS is only available to PALCS students in grades 9-12.

School of Professional Studies students choose between participating in either SPS LIVE or SPS Virtual for the school year.

SPS LIVE students come on-site to the Western Regional Center in Pittsburgh (Harmar Township) twice a week.  SPS LIVE gives students the opportunity to learn in an academic community with other driven, self-motivated students where individual achievement is valued and supported.  SPS LIVE enables students to make friends and network with other PALCS high school students.  During SPS LIVE sessions, students complete their cyber class work and participate in exciting opportunities designed to supplement your SPS certificate work.

SPS Virtual students attend weekly SPS virtual classes and explore their career pursuits through specially-designed cyber projects.  Wherever possible, SPS Virtual students attend live broadcast special events with SPS LIVE students to stay involved in the educational community.


Art CertificatesWith the support of guidance counselors, School of Professional Studies students choose to participate in a custom certificate program in the fields of the arts, business, communications, health and human services or technology. Certificate tracks are packages of 6-7 PALCS elective courses and are designed to be completed as part of four-year high school graduation requirements, including core classes and other electives.

Each certificate track is modeled after a college major, so students can try out future career paths while still in high school, free from the risk and expense of experiencing these courses of study for the first time in post-secondary school.



Art CertificatesIn addition to standard elective credit earned for every course completed in the certificate track, students can earn .5 elective credits for every year of participation in the SPS program itself. Participation in the program includes enrichment programming opportunities such as guest speakers, workshops, collaborative projects, field trips, job shadowing, and hands-on experiences.

Upon completion of the program, students earn high school credit, their custom SPS Certificate, and a special designation on their high school transcript.



Art CertificatesBy taking a focused set of elective courses during high school, students are able to distinguish themselves and may have an advantage when applying to colleges, universities and job opportunities. Participation in the program and the earned certificate may be added to a resume. The structure of our cyber-blended education model helps students become motivated and self-disciplined while building engaging relationships with other students, educators, colleges and employers.


officeThe School of Professional Studies SPS Live Program is located north of downtown Pittsburgh in Harmar Township at the PALCS Western Regional Center.

PALCS Western Regional Center
The Landings
55 Alpha Drive West
Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Learn more about the Western Regional Center »


Ms. Crystal Selk is the coordinator of the School of Professional Studies, with assistance from Ms. Linda Siger. Click below to learn more about our staff.

Additionally, students work directly with classroom teachers for any courses they are taking. View our complete list of PALCS teachers.

The School of Professional Studies offers a unique experience that is not always addressed in a standard school setting.  For example:

  • Our students participate in “hands-on” experiences in their areas of interest.  This includes (but is not limited to): workshops, guest speakers, field trips, clubs, etc. – twice a week.
  • Our philosophy allows students to enjoy the flexibility of a cyber environment, while building a meaningful portfolio/resume for their post-secondary plans.
  • We encourage our students to graduate high school with relevant life skills.  We help them make life choices in a safe environment.  Our hope is that our students break the statistics; that they do not change their college major, and/or that they find the appropriate career path upon graduation.
  • We can help build a student’s extra-curricular transcript as well as their academic transcript, making our students more competitive, whatever their post-secondary plans.
The PALCS School of Professional Studies differs from traditional programming in that it encourages students to explore their area of interest in a focused way. Most students have an idea of what they would like to do after high school. Once they begin this path, they may find that it is not the right fit. The School of Professional Studies encourages students to navigate this path prior to entering the “real world.” We do this by engaging students in a practical and meaningful way – through our certificate programs.
The School of Professional Studies accepts students in grades 9 through 12.
No, students may opt to participate in the School of Professional Studies remotely, utilizing technology that includes the PALCS virtual classroom and other virtual resources.
No, students must choose to participate in the School of Professional Studies either through virtual classroom/distance learning or cyber-blended (at the Western Regional Center) at the time of their application (for new students) or when courses are selected (for existing students). They cannot flip back and forth between the modalities during the year. Students will have the opportunity to revisit this decision annually.
No problem! The goal of the School of Professional Studies is to help you identify your goals. If you do not like your selection, we encourage you to choose a different certificate. These changes can be made after the end of any semester. You must remain in your current certificate program until the end of the current semester.
Please see our Application page.
Of course! The School of Professional Studies students will take all of the same state tests (PSSA) as students in traditional brick and mortar schools. In addition, we encourage our students to take the PSAT in their 10th and 11th grade years, and the SAT in their 11th and 12th grade years.
The cyber-driven delivery of curricula eliminates many time-wasting activities present in the more traditional school setting. This allows for extra time for students to network with their community, and to engage in internships and apprenticeships. Both the cyber-blended and virtual classroom infrastructures provide a safe environment for your child.

View Our Certificates

See detailed program information about the School of Professional Studies »

View Our Certificates