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Educational Leadership & Special Education Administration, Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs – Online Program For Rural Leadership

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The online program for rural educators begins each Fall term.

This program is designed primarily for, but not limited to, aspiring leaders in rural school districts, and the curriculum has been tailored to address the challenges faced by rural schools. An online delivery and a program design that incorporates interactive learning sessions was chosen so that educators outside of the most populated areas could come together in a highly collaborative, targeted program.

All coursework is completed entirely online in four consecutive terms (Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall). All students will need to complete a comprehensive at-home exam prior to graduation.

To see a typical list of courses per term, visit an example Current Program Students page.

The program coordinators can help you determine which online delivery option best fits your needs.

Online Meetings (Synchronous Learning Sessions)

Each course will include synchronous learning sessions where the professor and students meet online at the same time. These sessions are tentatively planned for Mondays from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and one Wednesday per month from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. (all Mountain Time). Students will have input on session scheduling.

Program Coordinator

Spencer Weiler, PhD

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted until July 1 each year for the Fall start, but this online program is capped at 15-20 students each year and often fills up by mid-summer. Please contact Dr. Weiler about available space.

Applicants for Online Programs: please be sure to check your eligibility by state of residence.

Application Process

You will apply to the program and then submit additional materials (International students: please read additional instructions further below).

  1. Apply to the UNC Graduate School and follow all graduate school application directions for the application fee and submission of your official transcripts (GRE scores are not required for this program).
    On the application, for Academic Program of Interest choose the appropriate option below based on the program you need:
    • Master of Arts Applicants – choose Educational Leadership & Special Ed Administration-MA.
    • Educational Specialist Applicants – choose Educational Leadership & Special Education Administration - Ed.S.
  2. You will then click on "Submit Supplemental Items" (or log back in later and choose "Bear App Profile") to submit the following in the online application system once you have completed your graduate school application:
    • Current resume or curriculum vita which documents professional experiences in education
    • A copy of K-12 related license(s)
    • ELPS graduate applicant Background Information Sheet
    • Three professional letters of recommendation - the system will help you initiate requests to be sent to these individuals.
    • Detailed Personal Statement which describes your:
      - Demonstrated commitment to education
      - Contributions to professional education
      - Immediate and long-range personal, professional, and academic goals
      - Rationale for pursuing this program
      - Strengths and weaknesses as they apply to educational leadership
      - Provide a brief essay in which you identify and discuss a significant, current educational problem. Describe how you would attempt to solve the problem identified.

Once your application packet is complete, it will be reviewed by the Graduate School, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and the School of Special Education.

International Applicants

All international (non-U.S. citizen) applicants should mark Yes for "Are you an international student?" at the beginning of the graduate application process. In addition to any application steps listed above, you will also need to prepare the following for your application:

  • Demonstration of Language proficiency – either a Qualifying test score (TOEFL IBT: 80, IELTS: 6.5, PTE-A: 60) or a petition for exemption. UNC's institutional code for TOEFL is 4074.
  • Copy of passport bio page**
  • Financial Documentation** – we will need to verify that you can financially cover the estimated costs (tuition, fees, room, board, insurance, books, supplies, travel) of the time you will be in the U.S. Those applying to programs that last longer than 1 year will only need to provide proof for the first year at the time of application.

** = Items marked with ** are only required for applicants who will be coming to the United States.

For more information about UNC International Admissions and the UNC Center for International Education, please visit the International Admissions site, email grad.school@unco.edu, or call 970-351-2831.


Credits Required:
Time to Completion:
7 or 8 terms (less than 3 years)
$555/credit hour

Delivery Options:

Visit the UNC Online Learning section What is it Like Being a UNC Online Student? Learn More

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