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M.Ed. and Principal Licensure (Hybrid)

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Earn your principal licensure from CSU

Prepare for a leadership position in education with a Master of Education and principal licensure program. This degree stands apart from other Colorado principal licensure programs because of its strong reputation with school districts. The educational community's respect for CSU graduates is visible in the fact that almost every school in all of the partner school districts have at least one of the program's graduates in a leadership role. Through your coursework, you will:

  • Develop the leadership skills needed to direct educational programs.
  • Become a facilitator of educational change.
  • Implement new approaches to solve the problems confronting education.

Meet the demand for qualified school leaders in Colorado and surrounding states

The principal preparation program strives to meet the growing needs of public and private schools for highly qualified leaders, including those in high-demand areas such as science, technology, engineering, and math.

  • Obtain a stronger understanding of pedagogical skills and effective theories of learning.
  • Advance your own education while remaining employed full-time.
  • Gain knowledge that can be applied immediately to your career.

Learn from highly qualified Colorado State University faculty members who are experts in educational leadership.

Enroll in a program for working professionals

Wanting to grow in your career should not mean sacrificing current opportunities. This program takes into consideration the demands on working professionals, allowing you the option to finish in one year. If you already hold a master's degree, you only need to complete 24 credit hours over the course of three semesters to earn your principal license. CSU offers another option that allows you to earn your licensure in four semesters by completing 33 credit hours, if you have not completed a master's prior to enrollment.

What you learn

To prepare students to take on leadership positions throughout school districts, expert faculty provide academic preparation and hands-on experience. CSU's Master of Education and principal licensure curriculum covers topics such as:

  • School resource management
  • Climate and culture
  • Leadership and ethics
  • Curriculum development
  • School law
  • Supervision evaluation

Students also complete a 300-hour internship that allows you to apply theories and research to real-world scenarios. During this time, you will build a portfolio that illustrates your strength as a candidate to future employers. Faculty work with you to ensure your portfolio reflects Colorado's principal quality standards. This internship placement can occur at your school district of employment.

Study online and in-person in a hybrid program

Designed for busy professionals, this program allows you to complete most coursework online*. Students meet in person to attend a three-week summer course in northern Colorado, and come back to class one more time for a weekend-long capstone course before graduating.

*Online coursework consists of recorded lectures as well as synchronous sessions in which you virtually interact with the instructor and fellow students real-time.

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Find out how CSU’s research is making an impact by tuning into the Health and Human Science Matters Podcast, a collection of lively, engaging conversations with members of the college community.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

You will be prepared to be a superintendent, principal, or another leadership position in education with skills to direct educational programs, become a facilitator of educational change, and implement new approaches to solving the problems confronting education. After completing the program, you can also be ready to meet the growing needs of schools for highly qualified teachers, including those in high-demand areas such as science, technology, engineering, and math.

You should earn this degree if you are preparing for a leadership position in education. Principals, superintendents, and teachers could all be interested in this licensure and graduate degree for career advancement.

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU’s Master of Education and principal licensure program, you receive a degree from a regionally accredited, renowned research institution while taking courses at times and locations that fit your busy life. Additionally, you can expect:

  • The Ability to Finish in One Year: Earn your Master of Education and principal licensure in as a little as 12 months while maintaining your full-time career. Our program offers two options: complete your Master of Education and principal licensure in 33 credit hours over the course of four semesters. Or, if you already hold a master’s degree, you can complete the principal licensure-only in 24 credit hours over the course of three semesters.
  • Training to Become a Leader: This curriculum, grounded in leadership-centric coursework, prepares you to make a bigger impact in education with training in subjects such as school resource management, climate and culture, leadership and ethics, curriculum development, school law, supervision evaluation, and much more.
  • A Cohort Model: Since the same group of students goes through the program together, this educational leadership degree offers a cohesive support structure and built-in professional network.
  • Instruction from Expert Faculty: Become a successful school leader by learning from active scholars who incorporate their experience as administrators and teachers into coursework. Our faculty are skilled educators with industry expertise, providing you with academic preparation and practical day-to-day knowledge.
  • A Practical Training Opportunity: Complete a required 300-hour internship in which you will build your principal portfolio based on Colorado’s principal quality standards. This hands-on experience allows you to apply the theories learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios.
  • Career Development Opportunities: Develop your leadership skills to become a facilitator of educational change through potential roles like superintendent, principal, and others. The educational community’s respect for our graduates is visible in the fact that almost every school in all of our partner school districts have at least one of our program’s graduates in a leadership role.

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

Faculty Open Accordion
Donna Gines Photo

Donna Gines

Professor, School Leadership

A former teacher and school administrator, Dr. Donna Gines currently serves as a professor of education at Colorado State University. She teaches and advises in the principal preparation Master of Education program and supervises doctoral students in educational leadership. Prior to her full-time return to the School of Education faculty in 2015, Dr. Gines was the director of the teacher preparation program at Colorado State University for nine years.

During her administrative career in educator preparation, Dr. Gines served as a national Commissioner for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and as an invited panelist for the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Her research agenda is focused on teacher and principal preparation for PK-12 schools.

In addition to her research, Dr. Gines is also the author of over twenty picture books and has also written children's television shows for PBS. Her debut novel, SKINNY, was named an ALA's Best Young Adult Fiction Award, BEA's Young Adult Buzz Book, and a Bankstreet College's Best Children's Book of the Year.

View Donna Gines' Full Bio

Wendy Fothergill Photo

Wendy Barnes (Fothergill)

Associate Professor - School Leadership and Center for Educator Preparation

Dr. Wendy Barnes is an assistant professor in the School of Education's Center for Educator Preparation at Colorado State University. Prior to her position at CSU, Dr. Barnes served for 16 years as a teacher and educational leader in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland PK-12 schools. Her scholarly interests focus on building communities of practice in PK-12 schools. She is currently engaged in research on structures of practice to support school leaders.

Dr. Barnes received a B.A. in Speech Communication from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Educational Media from University of Northern Colorado, and a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University.

View Wendy Barnes (Fothergill's) Full Bio

Curriculum Open Accordion


  • Principal licensure only — 24 credits
  • Master's degree and principal licensure – 33 credits

The program is designed in a cohort-based format to ensure these requirements are met.


Summer (Phase I)

Fall (Phase II)

Spring (Phase III)

Summer (Phase IV – master's students only)

The Learning Experience

This online/classroom hybrid program is designed to be completed while teaching full time. You will complete most coursework online during the year, and meet in person to attend a three-week summer course in northern Colorado. Students come back to class one more time for a weekend-long capstone course before graduating.

You will also complete a 300-hour internship and the opportunity to build a portfolio to illustrate the skills you gained to future employers. This internship placement can occur at your school district of employment.

Students seeking a master's degree in addition to the principal licensure complete the degree requirements in four semesters. Students seeking the license only can complete degree requirements in three semesters.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Before applying to the Education Sciences, Principal Licensure specialization, you must contact Wendy Barnes (Fothergill) well in advance of the application deadline to understand all requirements.

There are two enrollment options:

  1. If you are seeking a master’s degree plus principal license, application instructions are below.
  2. If you are seeking a non-degree principal license, for students who have previously obtained a master's degree, click here for information on this option.

Application Deadlines

Summer semester May 15

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution
  • Demonstrated leadership potential
  • Valid teaching license
  • At least three years of teaching experience
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA
    Applicants whose GPA is lower than 3.00 must demonstrate their potential for academic success by providing additional evidence such as: additional recommendation letters showing strong potential for graduate studies; completion of six credits of graduate level coursework; or GRE scores.
  • GRE scores are not required

Meeting the minimum requirements does not ensure admission to the Education Sciences-Principal Licensure specialization. Admission is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience, your personal statement, and fit with the program.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Three letters of recommendation
    Three professional recommendations are required. References should speak to your current or potential abilities as a teacher, plus your potential success in graduate studies. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.
  • Statement of support from District Supervisor
    A statement of support from your District Supervisor is required. This is separate from a letter of recommendation. This is a brief, 1-2 sentence statement indicating their willingness to support you in obtaining experiences necessary to complete the internship component of the principal licensure program.
  • Resume or vita
    Include job duties and dates of all professional employment.
  • Statement of purpose
    The Statement of Purpose is a summary of long-term professional or personal goals and is required for all applicants. Your statement should be written in 12-point font, double-spaced, and include the following:
    • Your purpose for pursuing graduate education and how it will contribute to your long-term goals and career plans
    • Why you have selected Colorado State University and the School of Education as the place to pursue your graduate studies
    • A description of teaching, research/creative, or other academic work you have engaged in relevant to the qualifications
  • Teaching certificate
    Include one copy of a valid teaching certificate.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Please select "Education and Human Resource Studies / Educational Leadership with K-12 Principal Licensure (M.Ed.) - Distance".

For any documents that cannot be uploaded, submit paper copies directly to the Office of Admissions at:
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

4Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Please Note: Students may be unconditionally admitted and registered in their first semester of courses with an unofficial transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted, prior to or during your first semester, before you can register for your second semester of graduate work. Failure to meet this condition will result in your dismissal from the Graduate School.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Selection Timeline
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Application reviews will begin after February 1. Admit decisions will be made approximately 3-6 weeks after application completion.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Dr. Wendy Barnes (Fothergill)

Program Details

Online with in-person components in northern Colorado
$650 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Master of Education in Education and Human Resource Studies and principal licensure; transcript reflects education sciences specialization
Time Frame
Can be completed in 1 year
Admission Reqs.
  • 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
  • Valid teaching license
  • At least three years of teaching experience

Application Dates

Summer semester
May 15

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