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MA, Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies with Principal License


The MA 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 MA degree are taken after completion of the principal license and can be completed in 1 year or less. If you already have a master's degree, please look into our EdS degree program which also includes principal licensure.

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.


Students complete the 32 semester hour principal licensure program courses 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 principal licensure component of 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.

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 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 MA 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 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 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.

Principal Licensure Cohort Options

Distance Learning Cohort – begins every summer

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 – begins every spring

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 – begins every 1 ½ years in fall or spring

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 (Boulder Valley School District or St. Vrain Valley School District) – begins every 1 ½ years in fall or spring

The Northern Cohort option is offered in partnership with the Boulder Valley School District or the St. Vrain Valley School District for applicants from northern-metro districts. This cohort meets on Tuesday or 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 – begins every 1 ½ years in fall or spring

The CU South Denver cohort serves southern-metro districts (Aurora, Douglas County, Cherry Creek, Littleton, Sheridan, Englewood, Lewis-Palmer and Colorado Springs School District 11). The work in this cohort is focused on turnaround leadership for schools. The cohort meets 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.

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 – In person. Location TBD for Fall 2019​

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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