Are you ready to make a difference in your classroom, district, and community? Do you want to learn at one of the top 25 programs in the country? Do both – 100% online or on campus. Earn your Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) graduate certificate in as little as 12 months. Pursue your principal licensure at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. With a quick time to completion and more ways to learn, the ELPS graduate program is a great choice for working adults. Strengthen your future with a personalized, accessible, and affordable experience.


Elevating Emerging School Leaders

The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) 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 enhance education – from systems and roles to solutions and leadership.

The positive impacts of the ELPS program are not only felt at the individual level. They affect schools, districts, and communities across the country.

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Apply today to start your program in the summer!

If you have admissions questions, reach out today. Contact Rachel Riley ( or 303.871.2508) for more information.

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Program Basics

  • Application Deadline: May 17, 2021
  • Summer Start Date: June 19, 2021
  • Guaranteed $3,000 scholarship for 2021 Incoming Students
  • Average Program Tuition Cost: Less than $19,500

More Scholarships and Financial Aid Available

  • Professional Development Fund Matching up to $1000 Possible
  • State of Colorado Funding up to $6000 Possible
  • Additional financial aid available
  • Optional Retreats
  • Live Online Sessions

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
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Apply Online Today!

Be sure to review the application checklist (PDF) before you get started.


Program Highlights

Principal Licensure

Careers in Colorado

After completing the graduate certificate program, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Colorado Initial Principal License through the Colorado Department of Education. This licensure will make you more qualified and competitive for administrator roles within PK-20 education.

Careers in Other States

Licensure requirements vary by state. Check with your state’s Department of Education to determine whether the program meets licensure requirements.

Required Coursework

  • Strategic and Transformative School Leadership (9 credits)
  • Instructional Leadership for Equitable Schools (5 credits)
  • Human Resources Leadership (5 credits)
  • Strategic Resource Management for School Leadership (5 credits)
  • Principal Internship (6 credits)


Get a Master's With Only 4 More Courses

After completing your ELPS graduate certificate, you can earn your master’s degree by completing just 4 more courses! A master’s degree can make you more marketable and eligible for higher pay. Courses can be completed online or on campus.

Learning Experience & Outcomes

Lead While You Learn

The ELPS program empowers you to lead while you learn. You can make an immediate impact in your current role while preparing for your next step. You’ll gain the skills needed to make a real difference. ELPS is more than a program, it’s an experience, where you can expect:

  • Project-based learning aligned with your school or district calendar
  • Small cohort sizes with a maximum of 18 students
  • Live online sessions held on weeknights, plus on-demand access to coursework
  • Faculty who serve as leader mentors throughout the program

From onboarding to evaluations, you’ll take theory into practice. Collaborating with your cohorts will help you build community and lifelong connections.


Skills You'll Learn

You will learn skills in strategic planning, budgeting, program development, data analysis and more, with the goal of finding ways to create equitable opportunities for student success.

  • Use data to build actionable, meaningful improvement plans
  • Leverage best practices in standards, instruction and assessment
  • Develop strategies to identify and eliminate achievement gaps

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.

Ritchie Program for School Leaders

The Ritchie Program for School Leaders: Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (Ritchie ELSS) immerses students in graduate-level coursework, the Colorado Principal Quality Standards, and project-based learning that prepares them for school leadership positions upon program completion. We approach this preparation using improvement science, inclusive excellence, 21st century teaching and learning, and transformative leadership. Content is individualized to the leadership needs of the aspiring leader and the needs of the school the aspiring leader serves at as the site of the internship. The 30-quarter-hour curriculum for the Certificate, leading to a principal license, integrates coursework with an internship supported by a mentor principal and is completed in one calendar year. Learning is fostered through a blended cohort of interactive online study, a three-day summer retreat, ten Saturday cohort workshops and webinars, and an internship. The curriculum is aligned to meet state and national standards for educational leadership excellence.