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EdS, Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies with Principal License


The EdS in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies with Principal License will change to Leadership for Educational Organizations with Principal License effective fall 2019 for all enrolled students. The new name is more descriptive of the expertise program completers acquire and provides employers with a clearer description of graduates’ learning. This change better serves the interests of our current and future students and ensures their success post-graduation.


Are you a licensed elementary or secondary educator interested in becoming a principal or an administrator? As we all know, these leaders can make a tremendous impact on the success of students, teachers, schools and districts. We hope that your path to such a role begins here at University of Colorado Denver in our Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies (ALPS) program.

The ALPS program provides opportunities for you to develop in-depth understanding about leadership roles and responsibilities, contemporary educational issues, and collaborations within and across communities, as well as a thorough awareness of the legal, financial and political dimensions of schools and school districts. Each course incorporates multiple perspectives, themes of equity and social justice, a focus on the needs and experiences of diverse children and youth, and implications for leadership in today's schools.

You will study with faculty who are engaged in education at the state, national and international levels. These faculty collaborate with local district leaders to form an instructional team that expands your professional horizons - connecting you to knowledge and practices emerging from innovative school and district reform.

Classes are designed to fit your busy schedule, combining face-to-face and online learning with field-based clinical practice. Students complete the 32 semester credits for principal licensure in less than a year and a half. The additional 9 credit hours for the EdS degree are taken after completion of the principal license and can be completed in 1 year or less. The EdS degree is higher-level than the MA program and requires a previously completed Master’s degree for admission. If you do not already have a completed Master’s degree, please visit our MA with principal licensure page.

Throughout the program, you will engage in school-based research projects designed around actual work tasks facing today's principals. Successful completion of course work and a major presentation prepares you to apply for your initial principal license.

For more information, select from the above tabs and/or contact us at or 303-315-6300. We also encourage you to attend an information session. Sessions include details about curriculum, cohort options, credits, costs, timeline and the application process.


The 32 credit-hour principal licensure program is delivered over four consecutive semesters (including summer semester). Program content and clinical practice experiences are integrated throughout. Principal candidates generally use their own school as a clinical-practice site. Program credits are organized in four learning domains as outlined below.

  • EDUC 5751 Principal/Administrator Licensing I
  • EDUC 5752 Principal/Administrator Licensing II
  • EDUC 5753 Principal/Administrator Licensing III
  • EDUC 5754 Principal/Administrator Licensing IV

Following completion of the 32 credit-hour principal licensure courses, students will complete 9 additional semester credits, beyond the 32 credits of licensure, to earn an Education Specialist (EdS) degree in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies. The nine hours must constitute an area of focus and/or a specific advancement of knowledge and skills for the license sought. Courses should be chosen after conferring with your faculty advisor. Typically, your faculty advisor is the cohort leader.

You must also complete a comprehensive exam for the degree. That exam is in the form of an integrated paper. The comprehensive exam paper should be 10-15 pages in length and explain how the three courses in the graduate program will help you in the role of principal or administrator. Ideally, you should complete your comprehensive exam paper while you are taking your final EdS course.

Please learn more about program course work, clinical work, portfolios, licensure requirements, and degree options in the ALPS Handbook.

If you have questions about program requirements, contact us at or 303-315-6300.


There has never been a more important time to have great leadership in public schools. The demands of the job require personalized instructional development with practitioners and successful leaders. There are multiple options below for you to enroll and complete the 32-credit hour Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies (ALPS) Principal Licensure program. 

Typically, cohorts are comprised of 25 principal candidates who move through the four-semester principal licensure program together. We look for applicants to have a teaching or special services license plus a minimum of three years post-licensure experience. We welcome applicants from all districts into our principal licensure cohorts. However, we partner with metro-area districts to prepare leaders specifically for their schools.

Please review all options and specific semester starting dates below to find the best cohort option for your circumstances and career goals.

Upcoming Cohorts

Summer 2019

Distance Learning principal licensure Cohort (begins every summer) #21

The distance learning cohort for the principal license requires you to attend face to face meetings on the Auraria campus in downtown Denver a few times every semester.

Fall 2019

Principal Licensure will not be offered in Fall 2019.​

Spring 2020

Jeff Co. Cohort
This cohort is tentatively scheduled to meet on Thursday evenings from tentatively 5:00 to 8:00 and is scheduled to meet in the Jeff. Co. Administration Bldg. This cohort will have a focus on Future Ready Leadership. This cohort will conclude in April of 2021.

Denver Metro #3
This cohort is tentatively scheduled to meet two Tuesday evenings a month from 5:00 to 8:00 and one Saturday a month from 9:00 to 3:00. This cohort is conveniently held on the Auraria Campus and will conclude in April of 2021. This cohort will prepare candidates to take the PRAXIS exam, secure their CDE licensure, and to be impactful leaders in various educational environments.​​


Do you already have your principal license and master's degree? Are you interested in training for an executive role at the district level? Learn more about getting your Administrator License through our Executive Leadership Program.


Recent graduates of our program have gone on to work on the following positions:

  • Principal
  • Assistant Principal
  • School district administrator

CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

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