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Do you aspire to become a principal/school leader who leads positive transformation of the learning experience in schools? Our five-semester, 30-credit hour program meets Level I and Level II principal certification requirements and leads to an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree.

Ambitious leaders across Kentucky enroll in our principal preparation program because they aspire to lead positive transformation of the learning experience in schools. With our faculty as your guide, you work in small groups with your cohort and, from home, complete weekly graduate coursework online. As part of the program, you also have the opportunity to attend the Next Generation Leadership Academy at no additional cost. Academy days offer the chance to learn and interact with school leaders from across the state. There are a total of seven Academy days per year, with two of these days scheduled during the summer before your begin your coursework.

What is the Next Generation Leadership Academy?

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The Next Generation Leadership Academy is often referred to as a foundation for innovative educational work, a social network, and a catalyst for change. It is within the environment of the academy that school leaders find a time, place and network of innovative colleagues with whom they can think about the futures of their communities and how they can improve their schools to meet evolving needs. Sixty districts in Kentucky have taken part in the academy, with new districts joining each year.

Educational innovations are taking place across the nation. Schools (and their leaders) must be nimble. You will develop an understanding of leadership for current and emerging issues: technology shifts, economic uncertainty, safety concerns and global challenges.

Schools are busy, fast-paced environments. Teachers and leaders are busy keeping up with a lengthy list of expectations already in place. The Next Generation Leadership Academy team helps school leaders develop plans to respond to current and emerging needs, moving beyond the status quo.

Next Generation Leadership Academy schools and districts across the Commonwealth are supporting one another as they prototype new approaches to ensure that every child and youth experience deeper, more personalized learning that will prepare them to be successful.


The Academy Year

Twelve graduate credit hours will be earned in your first year though participation in the Next Generation Leadership Academy. Faculty mentors ensure a personalized experience while interweaving course content with the six critical attributes that form the foundation of the Next Generation Leadership Academy:

  • clear and high expectations
  • customized pathways
  • compentency-based learning
  • anywhere/anytime learning
  • comprehensive systems of support
  • a strong focus on student agency


After Your Academy Year

Once you have completed your first 12 graduate hours in your Academy year, the remaining 18 hours required for principal certification will be earned via synchronous online sessions delivered by UK faculty.

The course sequence is structured to allow you to begin in the fall semester (August) to complete Level 1 certification by December of the following year (approximately 16 months). The program plan for the principal program: Skechers Meditation Kicks Bandana Black Women's Studio rrwx5q4HC.

Diverse learning experiences across the program prepare teachers to serve as a:

  • Principal
  • Assistant principal
  • Administrative dean
  • Academic dean
  • Instructional coach
  • District leader (various positions)



Year 1: Academy Year 




  • EDL 706: Leadership for Learning-centered Schools I
  • EDL 709: Evidence-based Decision Making
  • EDL 707: Leadership for Learning-centered Schools II
  • EDL 646: Leadership for School-Family Community Engagement
  • EDL 627: School Finance and Support Services
  • EDL 628: School Law and Ethics

Next Generation Leadership Academy Participation

Next Generation Leadership Academy Participation

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Year 2: Certification Year  



  • EDL 708: Organizational Learning in P12 Schools

Two Electives from Approved List

  • EDL 634: Leadership for Human Resources Development in Schools

Final Ed.S. Defense

Defend Level 1 Portfolio – Eligibility for Level 1 Principal License

UK Graduation and Full Principal Licensure



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High-Quality Online Courses with Nationally Respected Professors

Relevant, Authentic Problems of Practice in School Contexts

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We value:


Our program prepares teachers to assume formal roles (e.g., department chair, grade-level team leader, technology coordinator) or informal roles (e.g., instructional model, peer mentor) and lead from within and beyond the classroom.


Because collective leadership by administrators and teachers is essential for successful 21st century schools, our program emphasizes developing interpersonal relationships and interdependence to achieve shared visions and goals.


Because teacher leaders build organizational capacity through their shared instructional leadership and collegial support for sustainable change efforts, our program is delivered through cohorts that function as communities of practice.


Our program develops requisite knowledge and skills teachers need to foster learning-centered leadership and conduct action research while simultaneously engaged in individualized professional development.


All courses integrate individual and group learning, field-based activities and virtual class meetings, and research and reflection to assure relevance and applicability.


Students evidence their learning through creation and oral defense of their unique electronic portfolios.


You must meet the admission requirements established by the UK Graduate School and by the Department of Educational Leadership Studies. Additional information about admissions to the University of Kentucky Graduate School is posted at

All Applicants

To be eligible for admission to this graduate program, you must:

  • Qualify for or hold a Kentucky teaching certificate,
  • Have successfully completed at least three years full-time teaching in P12 setting
  • Have successfully completed a master’s degree in education with cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Be recommended by a superintendent or other district-level administrator who attests to applicant’s educational leadership and professionalism
  • Exercise Purple Shoes Slippers Shoes Slipper Nufoot Travel House Shoes Yoga Dance Flowers Socks Ballet Indoor Socks Foldable Medium Flats amp; Shoes Women's Slippers amp; Best Flats Flexible Aspire to serve as a principal in a P12 school
  • Highly recommended, but not mandatory: Have completed a graduate-level basic statistics course with a grade of B higher

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If your native language is not English, you must submit either a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score.

  • Minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 79 (internet-based)
  • Minimum IELTS mean band score of 6.5

Kentucky Candidates

To earn a Principal Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Kentucky you must:

    • Have successfully completed an approved program of preparation
    • Have three years of full-time teaching experience
    • Have successfully completed the appropriate assessment requirements outlined in 16 KAR6:030 or qualify for a one year period of completion for assessments under KRS 161.027(6)*
    • Hold a Master’s degree in education
    • The statement of eligibility allows the candidate to obtain employment in a principal/assistant principal position and complete one year in the Kentucky Principal Internship Program (KPIP)
    • Upon successful completion of KPIP, the 5-year Professional Certificate is issued


Kentucky rank change is also governed by EPSB. For more information see:


Detailed information about the application process can be found at

All students in the Principalship program receive a scholarship from the Department of Education Leadership Studies of 29% of current UK Graduate School tuition. Please contact us for more detailed information.

Feel free to use the form at bottom of this page to submit any questions you may have!

Upon completion of the appropriate courses, you will have a Principal Education Specialist (Ed.S) degree.


Not sure if this is the program for you? Need more information before applying?

We’ll help you find out if you’re qualified to apply and give you more information about our degree programs.

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