About the Program

Program Goals

Faculty members strive to challenge students to develop visionary leadership, scholarly practice, and exemplary character and engage in the scholarship of discovery, integration, application, and teaching to prepare students who are:

  • Identified as being competent, innovative, visionary leaders able to create educational environments within their organizations wholly conducive to educational programs that help connect students with schooling and their professional careers.
  • Recognized as scholarly practitioners who integrate theoretical knowledge with practical decision making, who are grounded in relevant technologies and substantive professional content, trained in skills of inquiry, capable of independent and critical thought, and who are dedicated to improving their own professional practice, as well as that of other educators.
  • Respected as individuals of high moral and ethical character who probe the deeper questions regarding the meaning of human existence and who dedicate themselves to a perpetual quest for truth as they face the contradictions inherent in the world.


In addition to conferences supported by the School of Education and the Center for Research in Ethics and Values, students and graduates have other opportunities to keep abreast of current developments and enhance their professional abilities. For more information, contact the Department of Educational Leadership.

Sequenced Course Design

The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Program (Tier I) provides candidates with the opportunity to take courses with professionals who share similar goals. The course design affords the convenience and collegiality of studying with peers. The courses and accompanying requirements are designed to be completed during five APU nine-week terms in approximately 15 months.

Standards-Based Program

This program is built on the six California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (CPSELs). Candidates use their strengths to develop a Shared Vision of Learning (CPSEL 1) that focuses on maintaining high expectations for student achievement. They learn to develop and sustain a Culture of Teaching and Learning (CPSEL 2) through analysis of content standards, the study of instructional delivery, data analysis, application of research, and by providing staff development for all employees. Management of the School in the Service of Teaching and Learning (CPSEL 3) assists candidates as they learn the complexities of recruiting, training, and evaluating employees by providing a safe, productive environment, and by understanding legal mandates and constraints. Candidates learn to Work with Diverse Families and Communities (CPSEL 4) for improved student success by incorporating diverse family and community expectations in school decision making. Candidates enhance their Personal Ethics and Leadership Capacity (CPSEL 5) as they engage in conflict resolution, change management, decision making, and program assessment. Political, Social, Economic, Legal and Cultural Understanding (CPSEL 6) is enhanced through analysis of political forces, legal principles, economic dynamics, and cultural distinctions present in the school setting.

Field Experience

Highlighted within the Field Experience Handbook, which is distributed within the first course, EDL 580 Leadership Induction, coursework and field experiences are immediately applicable as resources for curriculum planning, assessment of student achievement, decision-making, and program improvement.

The candidate assumes leadership responsibilities at a local school or district setting under the guidance of a site supervisor and university mentor throughout the program. Field experiences include intensive activities both in the day-to-day functions of administrators and in longer-term policy design and implementation. These experiences are closely related to the job performance requirements of administrators.

Coursework and field experiences work together to expand the candidate’s leadership capacity. While field experience activities are embedded into coursework through the alignment of Benchmark Assessments for Tier I Field Experience, candidates complete all requirements of the Tier I field experience by the completion of their final course EDL 586 Leadership Performance Assessment.

Case Study

A case study is developed by each candidate based on a current topic of interest specific to his or her local school or district. It is initiated in the first two courses and developed in each of the succeeding five courses. Candidates present their case studies before an evaluative panel during the final course, EDL 586 Leadership Performance Assessment.

Thesis Option

Candidates who seek the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership may elect to complete a master’s degree thesis in lieu of the case study. Students meet with the program director prior to enrolling in the third course, EDL 583 Educational Leadership and Change, to present a rudimentary research proposal.

Once approved, the thesis typically follows the six-chapter research model that enables the student to conduct meaningful research or program development. The program director and/or other full-time faculty are available to advise students who may be considering the thesis option.

Master’s degree-only Candidates

Most candidates seek the combined program for the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. Those desiring only the master’s degree traditionally serve in Christian schools or other private school backgrounds where the basic California credential is not required.

Credential-only Candidates

Credential candidates who possess a master’s degree in education may elect to complete five of the seven courses in the program for the Tier I credential. EDL 582 Cornerstones of Educational Leadership may be waived at the candidate’s discretion, as this course includes basic curricular, instructional, historical, and philosophical study that is typically covered in master’s degree courses in education.

Acquiring the Preliminary Administrative Services Certificate of Eligibility

Upon completion of the program, the candidate is encouraged to apply for the Preliminary Administrative Services Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate is evidence that the candidate has successfully met all developmental objectives and program standards to merit recommendation for the certificate. This document qualifies the candidate to apply for an entry-level administrative position in California school districts. Upon being offered an administrative position, the candidate applies for and acquires the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. The administrator has five years to complete requirements for the Professional Administrative Services Credential (Tier II). Candidates who do not immediately secure an administrative position apply for the Certificate of Eligibility, as there is no expiration date on the certificate.

Preliminary Administrative Services Internship Credential

The Preliminary Administrative Services Internship Credential program meets the need of school districts by allowing them to employ candidates who have not yet completed all credential requirements. Upon receiving an offer of employment, candidates can immediately acquire the internship credential. This two-year credential entitles them to assume the full responsibilities as a California school administrator while completing the university program. Candidates benefit from joint mentoring and supervision by the university and nominating districts.

Internship Program Requirements

Administrative interns participate in the administrative credential courses along with other candidates. The internship credential allows them two years to complete the program. Upon completion of the program, they apply for the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential (Tier I) that, while remaining employed on a management contract, allows them five years to complete requirements for the Professional Administrative Services Credential (Tier II).

Note: This information is current for the 2014–15 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.