Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Degree Level
Degree Type
Dual Degree
School Name
Adult Education
Description 1

The MA in educational leadership and policy studies from Morgridge College of Education is designed to produce principals and academic leaders capable of changing the trajectory of schools and school districts facing serious problems. Upon entering the program, you'll develop skills and knowledge related to policy, cultural leadership, applied research, entrepreneurship and innovation. With a specific focus on turnaround leadership, you'll learn how to utilize the resources at your disposal to improve outcomes, challenge the status quo, and identify and reverse negative patterns. Students are eligible for Colorado Principal Licensure after the first year of the program.

Description 2

You'll begin your journey through the program with our 30 credit hour principal licensure curriculum. After completion, you'll work through an additional 15 credit hours, as well as an action research capstone project.

DU's ELPS program is one of the most renowned in the country and was identified as a top 20 program of its type by U.S. News and World Report in 2016. Your course content can be customized to your needs, and your experience will include a school-based internship.

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Our Master of Arts (MA) in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies builds from the certificate program and consists of an additional 15 quarter-hour curriculum (three quarters) which provide a deeper view of equity, design thinking and action research.

The ELPS MA program extends the learning from the principal licensure program (approved program for Colorado Principal License) with additional coursework to enhance competency development in entrepreneurship, systems, culture, improvement, resource development, innovation and transformative leadership. It is approved by the Colorado Department of Education as a Turnaround Leadership Development Program.


Program Requirements

The ELPS MA program begins with acceptance into one of our principal licensure cohort models of the Ritchie Program for School Leaders: Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (Ritchie ELSS).

  • 45 credit-hour, blended online delivery model
    • 2 to 4 in-person Saturday sessions per quarter and weekly online interactions within a cohort
  • 300-hour, project-based internship integrated with coursework and supported by a mentor principal
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Cohorts & Modality

The Ritchie ELSS program utilizes a cohort model that is offered in various modalities to meet the needs of working individuals. As such, we run the cohorts below in the following modalities:

Hybrid Delivery Cohorts
  • Adams County Schools
  • Aurora Public Schools
  • Denver Public Schools
  • Jeffco Public Schools
Online Delivery Cohorts
  • Mountain Area / Rural – Serves educators in rural areas of Colorado. Fully online.
  • Teach for America (TFA) – Offered for TFA alumni in Colorado and across the United States. Fully online and hybrid options available.
  • Non-District Specific – Open to any aspiring school leader seeking a Colorado principal license looking for an online program. This cohort is open to applicants from any district of educational setting (private, charter, etc.) and applicants who are not currently working in an educational setting. Aspiring leaders in districts above may also opt into this cohort.


Learning Outcomes

The program learning outcomes for the Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies are as follows:

  • Demonstrate organizational leadership by strategically developing a vision and mission, leading change, enhancing the capacity of personnel, distributing resources and aligning systems of communication for continuous school improvement.
  • Demonstrate inclusive leadership practices that foster a positive school culture and promote safety and equity for all students, staff, and community.
  • Demonstrate instructional leadership by aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment, supporting professional learning, conducting observations, providing actionable feedback, and holding staff accountable for student outcomes.
  • Demonstrate professionalism through ethical conduct, reflection, and external leadership.
  • Produce critical and collective scholarly inquiry, application and development of new knowledge and practice that foster social justice and civic engagement and honor culture and community.


If you meet the eligibility requirements for Colorado Initial Principal License, you may apply upon successful completion of the first year through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The University of Denver has not yet determined whether the program meets licensure requirements in a state other than Colorado or in any U.S. protectorates. If you want to pursue licensure in a state other than Colorado, contact the state’s Board of Education to determine whether the program meets licensure requirements.

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