Leadership-Building Experiences, Flexible Options

Gain the skills to successfully lead educational organizations at all levels. Our Educational Leadership graduate programs take a practical approach to preparing students for real-world challenges, while offering affordable tuition, flexible scheduling options designed for working educators and internship opportunities you can complete at your current school. Programs are offered on campus in a variety of locations, as well hybrid formats that combine online and on-site classes. We are the top-ranked Colorado university for online graduate programs in education.*

You’ll work closely with faculty who together bring more than 30 years of experience as K-12 administrators, ranging from assistant principal to assistant superintendent. As a member of the University Council for Educational Administration—the leading national association for the preparation of educational leaders—UNC also offers many unique networking opportunities to our graduates. Our Educational Leadership master’s and doctoral programs are:

  • Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Approved for licensure by the Colorado State Board of Education
  • Authorized by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education

*U.S. News and World Report, 2015

Degree Options

Master of Arts, Educational Specialist, and Educational Doctorate Degree

Online and throughout Colorado, we offer multiple graduate degree and teacher licensure options to meet your specific needs.

M.A. in Educational Leadership

Earning a master’s degree in educational leadership is an excellent way for you to advance in your field. Designed to meet the growing needs of public and private schools for talented leaders, this graduate program enables you to complete your master’s degree while obtaining a Colorado principal license. Working in a collaborative and diverse learning environment, you’ll gain the skills to direct educational programs, implement policies and lead positive change in educational systems. At UNC, you can also earn your master’s degree on a timeline that fits your schedule, in a variety of online and on-site delivery options.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Greeley Campus

Extended Campus Options

Ed.S. in Educational Leadership

If you already have your M.A. degree, the Educational Specialist degree enables you to earn an advanced degree while obtaining a principal license. Like the master’s program, this degree is available in a variety of convenient formats, both online and on-site. Plus, up to 18 credit hours of your Ed.S. degree can be counted directly into an education doctoral program without time limitations.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Greeley Campus

Extended Campus Options

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Regarded as equal to a Ph.D. by school districts and universities across the nation, the Educational Doctorate (Ed.D.) program focuses on applying theory to practice, emphasizing critical reading, analysis of data, and original research. This degree also features individualized areas of concentration, including principal licensure or administrator licensure, allowing you to design your Ed.D. program to best fit your career goals and interests. The Ed.D. is ideal if you wish to prepare for a career in district leadership, research or teaching in higher education. Coursework includes a mix of face-to-face and online courses, and can be completed in two to two-and-a-half years.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Greeley Campus

Extended Campus Options

The degree options above can be combined with the licensures listed below.

Principal Licensure

Developed according to the Standards for Principals through the Colorado Department of Education and State Board of Education, our Principal Licensure program is designed to graduate effective administrators and instructional leaders. You can work concurrently on your M.A. degree or Ed.S. degree. To obtain your professional license, you must have or earn a master’s degree, complete this principal license program and pass the PLACE exam.

Extended Campus Options

Administrative Licensure

The Administrative Licensure program emphasizes leading at the district level, and is designed for educators who currently hold a principal license and would like to become district superintendents or hold other central office positions. Required courses may be waived if you have taken equivalent graduate courses within six years or can demonstrate the knowledge and skills for a Colorado Administrator License. You may also combine Administrator Licensure coursework with additional courses to earn an Ed.S. or Ed.D. degree.

Extended Campus Options

Minor in Educational Leadership

Doctoral Minor

The Doctoral Minor consists of 15 credit hours of Educational Leadership coursework. 

View the UNC Catalog Information

Related Programs

Finding Answers to Complex Challenges

Current and former doctoral students recently had the opportunity to share their educational experiences and insights in a published collection edited by Drs. Linda Vogel and Chris Jenkins. Increasing Student Achievement through Effective School Leadership: Practitioners’ Perspectives explores ways to design support systems for a variety of at-risk student groups including English language learners, immigrant, refugee and low socio-economic students.

Your Future in Educational Leadership

Educational leaders make a real difference in the lives of students and their communities. More and more, school districts seek qualified leaders who can effectively address the complex challenges facing educational systems.

Consider UNC's Educational Leadership programs if you're interested in:

  • helping students access the best possible education
  • finding solutions to a wide range of educational challenges
  • collaborating with both school faculty and community members
  • finance and educational policy

You’ll learn:

  • Leadership roles and responsibilities
  • Policy development
  • Organizational behavior
  • Current issues in education

Sample courses:

  • Understanding People: Professional Development and Educational Leadership
  • School Finance and Budgeting
  • Instructional Leadership and Supervision
  • Shaping Organizations: Management and Leadership in Education
  • Law and the Administrator
  • The Principalship: Leadership at the School Site Level
Circle Photo


Linda Vogel, Ph.D.

Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Noted educator, researcher and author, Linda Vogel, Ph.D., is dedicated to the development of socially just, culturally responsive educational policies. As a former high school and middle school principal, she implemented several service learning and community anti-bullying and harassment programs, and worked with large urban districts on building internal leadership capacity and minority leader recruitment. She has since conducted research on state education policy implementation, standards-based assessment and school finance, and developed state-wide training for the supervision of certified staff. In addition to her role as Associate Professor, she serves as the chair of the Leadership: Policy and Development department, as well as the coordinator of the ELPS and Native American Innovative Leadership (NAIL) programs.


Where can your degree take you?

Career options held by our graduates include:

  • Principal
  • Public or private school administrator
  • Department chair
  • Curriculum specialist
  • College admissions director

Comparing Principal Preparation and Practice Across Nations

Linda Vogel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

How are principals prepared for their educational leadership roles in different nations? We are comparing US preparation with preparation in Taiwan, China and the Middle East. The data from each country includes how school leaders feel they were prepared to handle instructional leadership, teacher supervision and evaluation, technology integration into instruction and school improvement efforts. Principals in the study are also asked to explain why they became a school leader and their advice to others.

The results of the Taiwan study were recently published in the article “Values and Context: Taiwan Principal Preparation and Practice from an American Perspective” in the International Journal of Educational Administration and Policy Studies.

Chinese Classroom

What You Need to Know Right Now