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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development

MA, 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.

You are eligible to earn an MA degree by building on the 32-credit principal licensure program with 9 additional semester credits and a brief paper. If you already have a master's degree, please look into our EdS degree program which also includes principal licensure.

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 do not have a previous graduate degree, you may complete 9 additional semester credits, beyond the 32 credits of licensure, to earn a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies. Please see specific MA course requirements

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 M.A. 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 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.

Principal Licensure Cohort Options

Distance Learning Cohort

The Distance Learning cohort option has a long history of serving students who live far away from campus. Additionally, this cohort offers students a hybrid (online and face-to-face) course format. Students meet in the first summer for a three-day boot camp. In the fall, they experience two Friday/Saturday weekend sessions. And, they attend two more weekend sessions the following spring. During the second summer, they attend a culminating half-day session. The rest of the work is completed online. So, if you prefer an online environment and four-weekend experience, this is the cohort for you.

Denver Public Schools

The DPS cohort option is one of the DPS Pathways to Principalship. The work in this cohort is focused on leadership for ELL (English Language Learner) student populations as well as cultural leadership. Instructors and students work closely with not only state and national standards, but also with the LEAD Framework to prepare principals. Students meet on one Saturday and two Tuesdays a month over four semesters. A new cohort starts each spring. If you want to work in Denver, this is the cohort for you. Please review this information on the DPS website. 

Jefferson County Public Schools

The JeffCo cohort option is offered in partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools. Courses occur on twelve Tuesday evenings during each of the four semesters. This standards-based, performance-based assessed, cohort program is taught by university professors and experienced JeffCo administrators. If you want to prepare for a leadership position in JeffCo, this is the cohort for you.

Northern Cohort

The Northern Cohort option is offered in partnership with the Boulder Valley School District for applicants from northern-metro districts. This cohort meets on Wednesday evenings during each of the four semesters of the program. This standards-based, performance-based assessed, cohort program is taught by university professors and experienced district administrators. If you want to be a principal in a northern-metro district school district, this is the cohort option for you.

CU South Denver Cohort

The CU South Denver cohort serves southern-metro districts (Douglas County, Cherry Creek, Littleton, Sheridan, Englewood, Lewis-Palmer and Colorado Springs School District 11). This cohort meets on twelve Tuesdays during each of four semesters at the Liniger Building at CU South Denver. This standards-based, performance-based assessed, cohort program is taught by university professors and experienced district administrators. If you want to be a principal in one of the southern-metro districts, this cohort option is for you.

Charter/Innovation Cohort

The Charter/Innovation cohort serves principal licensure candidates who work in charter or innovation schools. To receive the CO principal's license, applicants need to have a Colorado teaching license and a minimum of three years of licensed experience. This standards-based, performance-based assessed, cohort program is taught by university professors and experienced charter/innovation school administrators.​ This particular cohort meets on four Saturdays over four semesters. If you want to acquire the knowledge, skills, dispositions and behaviors of a principal to lead a charter or innovation school, this is the cohort for you.

Upcoming Cohorts

Spring 2016 - Denver Public Schools or Charter/Innovation 

Summer 2016 - Distance Learning Cohort #18

Fall 2016 - 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? Please 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:
Assistant Principal
School District Administrator

CU Denver School of Education &
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