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Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation

Master of Science in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis

science classroom

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?

Elementary and higher education increasingly need educational policy leaders whose focus is 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, and gives you the knowledge and credentials to earn your license as a school principal 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. Through intensive face-to-face coursework, interactive online activities, and field experiences, your cohort will work together to research, synthesize, and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.

Academic year courses meet five weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) each semester, and summer courses are delivered through three week-long intensive sessions spread throughout the summer months, so you can earn your degree while retaining your career. We also offer a series of four optional courses if you would like to earn two additional administrative licenses: Director of Instruction and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services.

Cohorts for this master’s program are offered on a rotating basis to various locations in Wisconsin that have a great need for educational leadership and innovation. Currently, this program is being offered in the Green Bay region.

Due to the ongoing conditions created by COVID-19, classes have shifted to an online format until face-to-face instruction can safely resume.

Is this program right for you?

Elementary and higher education increasingly need educational policy leaders whose focus is 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, and gives you the knowledge and credentials to earn your license as a school principal 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. Through intensive face-to-face coursework, interactive online activities, and field experiences, your cohort will work together to research, synthesize, and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.

Academic year courses meet five weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) each semester, and summer courses are delivered through three week-long intensive sessions spread throughout the summer months, so you can earn your degree while retaining your career. We also offer a series of four optional courses if you would like to earn two additional administrative licenses: Director of Instruction and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services.

Cohorts for this master’s program are offered on a rotating basis to various locations in Wisconsin that have a great need for educational leadership and innovation. Currently, this program is being offered in the Green Bay region.

Due to the ongoing conditions created by COVID-19, classes have shifted to an online format until face-to-face instruction can safely resume.

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

Alumni Insight: Master of Science for Professional Educators (MSPE)

October 27
5-5:30 p.m.
Join alumni from the MSPE program as they discuss their experiences in the program, how it met their academic needs, why it was a good fit and how it might help you in your future pursuits.
Register for Alumni Insight: Master of Science for Professional Educators (MSPE)

Virtual Open House: Explore and Apply to Graduate School at UW-Madison

November 10
8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Meet with staff and faculty from our 160+ graduate degree programs, gain insight into the application process, and discover the array of services and resources available to graduate students at UW–Madison.
Register for Grad School Virtual Open House

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Program highlights

  • In this program individuals collaborate within cohorts to research, synthesize, and amend core concerns at the heart of educational inequalities.
  • 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).
  • We offer a series of four optional courses if you would like to earn two additional administrative licenses: Director of Instruction and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services.

The UW–Madison School of Education is ranked #4 among schools of education in U.S. by U.S. News and World Report 2021.

How you'll learn

  • On-campus classes meet five weekends (Friday/Saturday) during fall and spring semesters; summer courses delivered through three week-long intensive sessions spread throughout summer months.
  • Attend a combination of intensive face-to-face instructional courses and convenient online courses and projects.
  • Gain hands-on, practical experience each semester through field experiences that integrate theory and practice.
  • Take a series of four optional courses to earn two additional administrative licenses: Director of Instruction and Director of Special Education and Pupil Services.

Sample curriculum

Year 1: Summer

3 hybrid courses/9 credits

  • Instructional Leadership and Teacher Capacity (even years)
  • 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

Principal license: 2 hybrid courses

  • Evaluation and Supporting Quality Classroom Teaching (odd years)
  • 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