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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 the Student Services Center 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 the Student Services Center 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 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.  We are currently admitting students for the following cohorts:

Fall 2014 Cohorts

Charter and Innovation Schools (Charter 1) Unlicensed charter school professionals may apply to the MA or EdS degree options but will not be eligible for a principal license. - Application deadline: May 15, 2014 

BOCES (Rural 1) - Application deadline: May 15, 2014

Spring 2015 Cohort

Denver Public Schools (DPS-ALPS#2) - Application deadline: October 15, 2014​​

South Denver Campus (SOUTH-ALPS#1) - Application deadline: October 15, 2014

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 &
Human Development

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