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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development

EdS, Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies with Principal License


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.

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.

If you already have a master's degree, you are eligible to earn an EdS degree by building on the 32-credit principal licensure program with 9 additional semester credits and a brief paper. If you do not already have master's, please visit our Master of Arts webpage.

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

The ALPS program requires a capstone final presentation, as well as the placement of major assignments on an electronic web-based data management service called LiveText.

If you have a previous master’s degree or the equivalent, you may complete 9 additional semester credits, beyond the 32 credits of licensure, to earn a Specialist in Education 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 tell 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.


You will complete the 32-credit principal license program as part of a cohort. Approximately 25 students work through the four consecutive semesters together.


Cohort Options

If you have questions about upcoming cohorts, please contact or 303-315-6300 to receive information about the interview and admissions process.

We welcome applicants from all districts into our principal licensure cohorts.  We look for applicants to have a teaching or special services license plus a minimum of 3 years post-licensure experience.  Upcoming cohorts include:

Spring 2016 Cohort

Denver Public Schools or Charter/Innovation Cohort 

Summer 2016 Cohort

Distance Learning Cohort #18 

Fall 2016 Cohort

CU South Denver Cohort (hybrid courses at the Liniger Building at CU South Denver)​


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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