Masters of arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Our Master of Arts (M.A.) program helps you prepare for leadership roles by focusing on the development of school leadership competencies with a focus on turnaround leadership. This degree program begins with four quarters of coursework required for the ELPS certificate program within one of our six principal licensure cohorts.

After the completion of the first year you will be eligible for CO Principal Licensure and continue in an additional 15 credit hours of coursework to develop advanced skills in cultural leadership, applied research, data-informed leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. In your application, you will select the principal licensure cohort option of your choice.

The ELPS MA program extends the learning from one of our principal certificate (CERT) cohorts models (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.


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.
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
    •  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 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): Composed of educators from a variety of districts across the state. Open to all aspiring 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.

Get a general overview of the ELPS MA Program.


Upon sucessful completion of the first year, you will be eligible to apply for the Colorado Initial Principal License 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.

Graduation Requirements

You will need to complete 45 total credit hours. This includes 30 credit hours from the program certificate, plus 15 additional credit hours and an Action Research Capstone Project.

Approximate Completion Time

Seven quarters – 1.75 years


Department Chair
Dr. Jayson Richardson
303-871-2212, KRH 356

Academic Services Associate
Dr. Amanda Jensen
303-871-6027, KRH 350G

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

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