If you want to become a school principal or district leader, this is the place to start. Our Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program (ELPS) offers cohort models that lead to Certification for Colorado principal licensure. The Ritchie – Executive Leadership for Successful Schools cohorts (ELSS) immerse you in reflective, experiential, competency-based learning experiences that prepare you to effectively lead schools.

All cohort models offer content that is individualized to your needs and includes a school-based internship integrated into your coursework. As an aspiring leader, you will learn to identify the unique needs of struggling schools, develop solutions, and implement lasting change. Turnaround leadership education is infused into the program to help aspiring leaders drive lasting change. The cohorts develop strong learning communities and professional networks and are supported by a field mentor.

The certificate program consists of four quarters of coursework, which typically begin and end in June. Expect to spend about 20 hours a week on leadership projects and coursework. Learning formats include in-person sessions, inquiry projects, self-assessments, and various online activities.

Certificate programs provide substantial education in a specific academic discipline or on a coherent and freestanding body of knowledge. The certificate issued at the completion of the program represents the achievement of competence in a well-defined area of study. Academic certificates require a minimum of 24 quarter hours or 16 semester hours of credit.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who have completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at http://www.du.edu/learn/certificates/disclosure/elp.html

Program Requirements

Program completion leads to Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure.

The Ritchie – Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS) cohort model is open to educators across the state of Colorado and nationally. There are a variety of cohort options for Ritchie – ELSS – Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs (DU Main Campus), district partnership (Aurora Public Schools and Denver Public Schools), Western Slope and Central Mountain Region (Mountain) and Teach For America Alumna (TFA).

  • 30 credit-hour, blended online delivery model
    •  1–3 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
  • A choice of six cohort options:
    • Adams County Schools: Serves educators working in the Adams County Schools (anchored in Adams 12 Five Star Schools)
    • Aurora Public Schools (APS): Serves educators working in the Aurora Public School district.
    • Denver Public Schools (DPS): Serves educators working in the Denver Public School district.
    • DU Main Campus: Composed of educators from a variety of districts across the state. Open to all aspiring leaders seeking a Colorado principal license.
    • Mountain: Serves educators in the Western Slope and Central Mountain region of Colorado.
    • Teach For America (TFA): For TFA alumni in Colorado and across the United States.
    • NOTE: The DU Main Campus cohort is open to applicants from any district or educational setting (private, charter, etc.) and applicants who are not currently working in an educational setting. The partnership cohorts (APS, DPS, Mountain, and TFA) are designed for applicants who work within those specific settings.

You will be eligible to apply for the Colorado Initial Principal License through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

Approximate Completion Time

One year

NOTE: Upon completion of a certificate and an admission application, you can take an additional four courses (15 credits) and successfully complete an Action Research Capstone Program to earn a master’s degree in ELPS.


Department Chair
Dr. Susan Korach
303-871-2212, KRH 356

Academic Services Associate
Mayumi Beckelheimer
303-871-2314, KRH 358

Admissions Contact
303-871-2509, KRH 110
Office Hours: By appointment only

Additional Information

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