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 Program for School Leaders: Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (Ritchie ELSS) immerses 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.

Program Requirements

Program completion leads to Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure.

  • 30 credit-hour, blended online delivery model
    • 4 Quarters (beginning in June and ending in May)
    • 1–3 in-person Saturday sessions per quarter and weekly online interactions within a cohort
    • Summer Leadership Retreat
  •   300-hour, project-based internship integrated with coursework and supported by a mentor principal
  • A choice of six cohort options:
    • Adams County Cohort: Serves educators working in the Adams County Schools
    • Aurora Public Schools (APS) Cohort: Serves educators working in the Aurora Public School district.
    • Denver Public Schools (DPS) Cohort: Serves educators working in the Denver Public School district.
    • Mountain Area Cohort: Serves educators in the Western Slope and Central Mountain region of Colorado.
    • Teach For America (TFA) Cohort: For TFA alumni in Colorado and across the United States.
    • Non-District Specific Cohort (DU Campus): Open to all aspiring school leaders seeking a Colorado principal license.
    • NOTE: The Non-District Specific Cohort (DU Campus) 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 Area, 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. Doris Candelarie
303-871-6560, KRH 353

Academic Services Associate

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

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