Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate Certificate/ (Principal Licensure) & Masters

Are you ready to make a difference as an educational leader? Do you want to learn at one of the top 25 programs in the country? Qualify for Colorado K-12 principal licensure at University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education in 12 months through the Ritchie Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS) program, or continue for an additional three quarter to earn a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. This personalized, accessible, and affordable graduate program is designed for those working in K-12 schools/districts.

Elevating Emerging School Leaders 

The ELSS graduate program is a top-ranked, transformative educational experience. An equity-driven curriculum with project-based learning will prepare you to think differently about the challenges facing education today. You will learn what it takes to effectively lead in education – from systems and roles to solutions. You will be equipped to affect schools, districts, and communities.

Applications Open In August

Explore Admission Requirements

Quick Facts

Program Basics

  • Average Program Tuition Cost: Less than $19,500
  • Some district offer Professional Development Fund Matching up to $1,000 - check to see if your district sponsors this
  • Additional financial aid available
  • Program kick-off with off-site retreat  
  • Cohort meets one Saturday a month 
  • Graduate Certificate is best suited for those with Master's in an educational field
  • Master's is required by most Colorado districts for hiring into administrative positions  

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or a Master’s Degree GPA of 3.0

Application Materials

  • Application and $65 fee
  • Resume
  • Transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Interview

Ritchie ELSS Overview

Ritchie ELSS Diagram Cert.

*Click on image to enlarge infographic 

Learning Experience and Outcomes

Lead While You Learn

The Ritchie ELSS program empowers you to lead while you learn. You can make an immediate impact in your current role while preparing for your next step. Through meaningful coursework and a school-based internship, you will gain the skills needed to make a real difference. ELSS is more than a program -it is a unique learning experience, where you can expect:

  • Project-based learning aligned with your school or district calendar
  • Small cohort sizes
  • Faculty who serve as leader mentors throughout the program

You will take theory into practice, and collaborating with your peers will help you build community and lifelong connections.

Cohorts and Modality

The Ritchie ELSS program utilizes a cohort model that is offered to meet the needs of working individuals. You will meet once monthly with cohort members, then apply your work in the field through your internship. 

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

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 provides 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.


Masters Program Requirements  

ELSS MA Infographic

*Click on image to enlarge infographic  

Applications Open In August

Explore Admission Requirements

*International students are not eligible to apply for these programs due to licensure only guaranteed for the state of Colorado.