Become a Principal: Licensure-Only, or with an Educational Leadership Master's or Specialist Degree

Choose from three options, all designed according to the Standards for Principals through the Colorado Department of Education and State Board of Education, to prepare for a Colorado Principal (K-12) license. Students from other states should check to see what standards and reciprocal agreements will apply in your state.

  • Principal (K-12) Licensure - the licensure-only program.
  • Educational Leadership Master of Arts (MA) degree - includes Principal Licensure.
  • Educational Leadership Educational Specialist (EdS) degree – includes Principal (K-12) Licensure, for those who already have a master's degree.

Most students choose to pursue the degree program options because they only require one additional course, and degree-seeking students are eligible for federal financial aid (licensure-only students are not).

You'll Develop In-Depth Understanding About...

  • Leadership roles and responsibilities
  • Working with external environments
  • Policy development
  • Organizational behavior
  • Contemporary educational issues

Designed for Working Educators

These programs feature intensive instruction, innovative scheduling for busy professionals, and internship opportunities scheduled during the school year so that you can apply projects to your work goals. Earning an Educational Leadership degree or licensure from UNC will enable you to develop the vision and skills to successfully lead K-12 educational organizations. You will study with other professionals and share ideas, problems, and successes with individuals who face everyday challenges similar to yours.

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Note: this program will prepare graduates for Principal Licensure in Colorado. Residents of other states may be eligible for reciprocal recognition or your advisor will work with you on state-specific licensure requirement needs.

For details on how courses are delivered for each delivery location that interests you, visit the Application and Location Info page.

Required Coursework

Principal (K-12) Licensure – 27 Credit Hours

Leadership Core – 12 Hours
Additional Coursework – 9 Hours Minimum
Field-Based Learning - 6 Hours Minimum
  • ELPS 606 Internship in Educational Leadership (6) – Satisfactory performance on activities approved by division faculty, in accordance with Graduate School policy, must be demonstrated. The Online for Rural Educators delivery option spreads internship work across each Fall and Spring term. Other delivery options apply these credits as a concluding activity.

Educational Leadership Master of Arts (MA) – 30 Credit Hours

Educational Leadership Courses – 27 Hours
  • Complete the same coursework listed for Principal (K-12) Licensure.
Research – 3 Hours

Educational Leadership Educational Specialist (EdS) – 30 Credit Hours

For those who already have a master’s degree and would like to obtain the principal license with an advanced degree. Coursework earned in the EdS may be applied toward a terminal degree.

Educational Leadership Courses – 27 Hours
  • Complete the same coursework listed for Principal (K-12) Licensure.
Research – 3 Hours

One of the following courses, determined by group consensus:


For full details, see the official program listings in the UNC Graduate Catalog:

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What Our Students Say...

The rural cohort has been an excellent way for me to collaborate with so many other professionals in my field of study. Though our setting is non-traditional, 21st Century technology works seamlessly for all of us to "gather" during a time that works best for us.

– Kimberly Ehnes, Graduate

Photo of Kimberly Ehnes, Principal Licensure Graduate

UNC's ELPS program is one of the best I've seen on many levels and it has been a pleasure to be involved with an amazing group of students and faculty!

– Lois Oestreich, Graduate

Photo of Lois Oestreich, Graduate of Principal Licensure

I was nervous about how the technology would work, and I did have some glitches to start out, but I had excellent support from my professors and extremely helpful technical support from the help-line to solve the problem.

– Jennifer Ellsperman, Graduate

What I appreciate most about the course of study is how relevant I find it. Often, I can take what I'm learning and directly apply it to the work I'm currently doing.

– Katie Baldassar, Graduate

Photo of Katie Baldassar, Graduate Principal Licensure