Professional Development: Educational Leadership and Director of Instruction Emphasis - MSED

The Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) Professional Development: Educational Leadership Emphasis Program is a 42-44 credit program designed for bachelor-level teachers with three years of successful full-time teaching who are seeking licensure as a PK-12 principal. The philosophy of the program is based on a learning-in-community, constructivist model with an emphasis on culturally relevant teaching where students join the program in a cohort. In a learning community that is constructivist, learners come together as a group to share common emotions, values, or beliefs in education and are actively engaged in learning together from each other. The program meets the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, the Wisconsin Administrator Standards, and professional educational requirements for principal (5051) licensure in Wisconsin and most other states.

This program is offered in online, blended, or face-to-face formats.

The online format combines three full semesters of online learning with two summer semesters. The result is a master’s degree in 18 months. The online learning environment allows students flexibility to learn in the comfort of their own home.


The hybrid program is offered in an asynchronous format, increasing convenience for busy educators. The community also meets for five weekends a year for two years. The combination of face-to-face and online delivery frees more weekends for other commitments.

The face-to-face program meets ten weekends per year (17 hours/weekend). This format provides students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree while maintaining a career and personal life.

Director of Instruction (5010)

The Wisconsin Director of Instruction (5010) license is intended to help prepare candidates for school administration on a district level in Wisconsin. Administrators who have earned a Principal license (5051) are eligible to apply to UWL to take the required courses that lead to the Director of Instruction license in Wisconsin.


To qualify for unconditional admission to the Professional Development: Educational Leadership and Director of Instruction Emphasis, a candidate for the program must have:

  • A baccalaureate degree in education from an accredited institution.
  • One of the following:
    • An overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.85 on a 4.00 scale, or
    • An average of at least 3.00 in the last half of all undergraduate work, or
    • An average of at least 3.00 for no fewer than 12 semester credits of graduate study at another accredited graduate institution
  • Copy of applicant's teacher license1
  • Provided a resume that documents at least one year of full-time teaching in a K-12 setting and current employment in a K-12 school
  • Completed a successful criminal background check (initiated by UWL)

Admission on probation

Students may be admitted on probation if they do not meet the minimum academic or graduate program admission requirements. Upon completion of nine graduate credits or two terms (whichever comes first) with a grade point average of 3.00 or above, the students will be removed from probation. Students admitted on probation will be dismissed from graduate study if their cumulative GPA is below 3.00 after completing nine graduate credits or two terms (whichever comes first).

Criminal background check

The WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires that candidates for admission to a teacher education, administration, or pupil services program successfully pass a criminal background check (CBC) as one criterion for admission. By applying for admission to one of these programs, candidates agree to provide the necessary personal information to UWL in order to initiate their CBC and to complete their portion of the process prior to the deadline specified in their admission letter. Teacher candidates are responsible for all costs associated with their criminal background check(s).


(42-44 credits)

Core Curriculum
EDU 765Introduction to Educational Leadership3
EDU 766The Principalship3
EDU 767Data-based Decision Making for Instruction3
EDU 768Supervision and Evaluation3
EDU 769Leadership and Cultural Competence3
EDU 770School Law3
EDU 771School Finance and Resource Allocation3
EDU 772Inclusive Pedagogical Practices I2
EDU 782Inclusive Pedagogical Practices II1
EDU 773Practicum in the Principalship and Practicum Seminar4
EDU 641Educational Research I: Introduction2
EDU 642Educational Research II: Exploration2
EDU 774Curriculum and Leadership3
EDU 775Practicum for the Director of Instruction and Seminar3
Total Credits38

 Students must also complete one of the following options: 

Non-thesis option (4 credits)4
Educational Research III: Conduct
Educational Research IV: Publication
Thesis option (6 credits)6

Program completion

Eligibility for Educational Leadership (5051) and Director of Instruction (5010) certification is contingent upon:

  • Cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0
  • Satisfactory completion of Educational Leadership and Director of Instruction Program coursework, associated experiences, and artifacts (including portfolio)
  • Completion of DPI employment verification form documenting at least three years of teaching at the K-12 level

The Minnesota Board of School Administrators requires 30 credits beyond the master's degree for Principal licensure; therefore, those seeking Minnesota licensure must take a minimum of two additional elective credits. Learners should work with their advisor to identify eligible electives.


Out of state license holders may contact the School of Education Certification Officer for assistance with applying for an equivalent WI teaching license. Candidates must hold an initial WI license prior to endorsement for the 5051 and 5010 licenses.

University graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment, with the exception of students enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D. (SAA Ed.D.) graduate program. SAA Ed.D. students must complete all degree requirements within ten years from the time of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses). Some UWL graduate programs require more than 30 graduate credits. Please review the individual program requirements listed in the catalog for the exact number of credits required.
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to Graduate & Extended Learning for editorial review and approval by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. The recommended initial submission date for review is two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)