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

Choose from three online program 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 those programs 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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Delivered Fully Online

These programs are delivered fully online, with field-based learning experiences completed in your area, so that you can attend from anywhere.

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.

Synchronous Online Sessions

Each online course will include synchronous learning sessions where the professor and students meet online at the same time approximately one weeknight per week during the academic terms.

Required Coursework

Choose the best option for your career goals and academic background. The master's and educational specialist programs include the same coursework as the Principal Licensure program, plus a research course.

To see a typical list of courses by term, visit an example Current Students page for this program.

Principal (K-12) Licensure – licensure-only program; 27 credit hours. Official licensure program listing in the UNC Graduate Catalog.

Educational Leadership Master of Arts (MA) – 30 credit hours, includes Principal Licensure. Official master's degree program listing in the UNC Graduate Catalog.

Educational Leadership Educational Specialist (EdS) – for those who already have a master’s degree and would like to obtain the principal license with an advanced degree; 30 credit hours, includes Principal Licensure. Official educational specialist program listing in the UNC Graduate Catalog.

  • Coursework earned in the EdS may be applied toward a terminal degree.
  • Please note: EdS students can incorporate both Principal Licensure and Director of Gifted Education Endorsement preparation. Please contact the Program Coordinator for details and advising.

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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