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Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation

Master of Science in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis

Students in a lecture hall listen to a professor on the UW-Madison campus.

In 15 months, gain the advanced cultural, theoretical and analytic knowledge to promote equity and opportunity for all elementary and secondary school students while completing the requirements for licensure as a Wisconsin school principal.


Is this program right for you?

The Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation Program equips and empowers graduates to address the challenges and inequalities in the field of education. K-12 education increasingly needs educational leaders focused on creating more equitable opportunities for students. The Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA): Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation Program at UW–Madison trains teachers and leaders to address challenges and inequalities in the field of education. The program gives you the knowledge and credentials to earn your license as a K-12 school principal (5051) in the state of Wisconsin.

Our program was created in collaboration with leaders of the Association for Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA)—the professional organization for the state’s school principals—and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) in response to Wisconsin’s persistent racial achievement gaps. Taught by renowned and pioneering faculty, you will experience engaging online coursework and innovative, interactive learning activities while completing field experiences. Learning with and from one another in a cohort model, students research, synthesize and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.

Academic year courses meet online five weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) each semester, and summer courses are delivered during online sessions throughout the summer, so you can earn your degree while fulfilling your responsibilities as a working educator. Students can also continue with additional coursework to earn administrative licenses in the areas of: Director of Instruction (two courses) and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services (two courses).

Is this program right for you?

The Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation Program equips and empowers graduates to address the challenges and inequalities in the field of education. K-12 education increasingly needs educational leaders focused on creating more equitable opportunities for students. The Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA): Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation Program at UW–Madison trains teachers and leaders to address challenges and inequalities in the field of education. The program gives you the knowledge and credentials to earn your license as a K-12 school principal (5051) in the state of Wisconsin.

Our program was created in collaboration with leaders of the Association for Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA)—the professional organization for the state’s school principals—and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) in response to Wisconsin’s persistent racial achievement gaps. Taught by renowned and pioneering faculty, you will experience engaging online coursework and innovative, interactive learning activities while completing field experiences. Learning with and from one another in a cohort model, students research, synthesize and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.

Academic year courses meet online five weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) each semester, and summer courses are delivered during online sessions throughout the summer, so you can earn your degree while fulfilling your responsibilities as a working educator. Students can also continue with additional coursework to earn administrative licenses in the areas of: Director of Instruction (two courses) and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services (two courses).

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.*
  • Hold or be eligible for a teaching license.
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

*The admissions committee may consider an applicant that does not meet this requirement. Supporting factors include documentation of potential for leadership and relevant experiences that affect your ability to serve in leadership roles.

Application materials required:

  • Online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Essay
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation

Connect with us

Program Overview: Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics

October 12
noon-12:30 p.m.
Interested in using data to make an impact on teaching, learning, and policy in the world of education? Join program staff to learn more about the MS in Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics program, including the curriculum, the application process, and scholarships.
Register for Program Overview: Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics

Program Overview: ELPA: Global Higher Education

October 12
4-4:30 p.m.
Join Program Director Professor Weijia Li to learn more about the Master of Science in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis: Global Higher Education (GHE) Program, including admission requirements, the application process, curriculum, and alumni job placement.
Register for Program Overview: ELPA: Global Higher Education

View all events

Program highlights

  • Individuals collaborate within cohorts to research, synthesize and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.
  • Created in collaboration with leaders of the Association for Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA)—the professional organization for the state’s school principals—and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA).
  • Option to earn additional administrative licenses: Director of Instruction (ELPA 860 & ELPA 875) and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services (ELPA 835 & ELPA 842).

The UW–Madison School of Education was ranked 5th in the nation in 2022 — marking the ninth straight year it has been rated among the top five by U.S. News and World Report.

How you'll learn

  • Classes meet online five weekends (Friday/Saturday) during the fall and spring semesters; summer courses are delivered through designated four-day sessions throughout summer.
  • A combination of online, synchronous instruction and convenient asynchronous learning experiences afford rigorous yet flexible online learning from renowned faculty.
  • Gain hands-on, practical experience each semester through field experiences that integrate theory and practice.
  • Take additional coursework—two courses respectively—to qualify for the Director of Instruction (5010) and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services (5080)

Sample curriculum

Year 1: Summer

3 online courses/9 credits

  • Instructional Leadership and Teacher Capacity
  • Leadership for Equity and Diversity
  • Resource Allocation for Equity and Social Justice

Year 1: Fall

5 weekends (Friday/Saturday)/7 credits

  • Race, Class and Educational Inequality
  • School-Level Leadership
  • Field Experience in Educational Leadership

Year 1: Spring

5 weekends (Friday/Saturday)/8 credits

  • Public School Law
  • Technology & School Leadership
  • Field Experience in Educational Leadership

Year 2: Summer

2 online courses/6 credits

  • Evaluation and Supporting Quality Classroom Teaching
  • Community, Opportunity and Justice

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • Assistant Principal
  • Principal

Market Salary
$90K in 2019

Projected Job Growth
7.9% for Education Administrators (2016-2026)

Job Postings
7,941 in 2019

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2020.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

Ready to learn more about Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events.

Connect with a coach