Instructional Leadership Degrees

Instructional Leadership offers both a master's degree and an Education Specialist degree (see below):

Master of Arts in Education - Instructional Leadership

Mission Statement: The mission of the University of North Alabama Instructional Leadership Preparation Program is to prepare engaged, collaborative and effective leaders of learning through the integration of theory, reflection and applied leadership opportunities.  This program is grounded in the Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders, and focuses on the development of essential knowledge, skills, and abilities.

 Class A instructional leadership program allows candidates to benefit from purposeful hands-on experiences designed to prepare them to lead the essential work of school improvement and higher student achievement.  School-based assignments are designed to provide opportunities for the application of knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking that are required to effectively perform the core responsibilities of a school leader, as identified in Alabama leadership standards and research.  The developmental continuum of program practice progresses from observing to participating in and then to leading school-based activities related to the core responsibilities of instructional leaders, with analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of real-life problems at each level.

Benefits of collaboration between the university and LEA:

  • anchors internship activities in real-world problems instructional leaders face
  • provides for appropriate structure and support of learning experiences
  • ensures quality guidance and supervision

Instructional Leadership Program Options

MAED Instructional Leadership:

Candidates eligible for the Class A instructional leadership master's program must hold a valid Alabama Class B Professional Educator Certificate in a teaching field or a valid Alabama Class A Professional Educator Certificate in a teaching field or instructional support area and meet program admission requirements.

Instructional Leadership Certificate (Reduced Hour Option):

Candidates eligible for the Class A Instructional Leadership Certificate program must hold a Class A Professional Educator Certificate and meet program admission requirements.  Program candidates are able to complete a reduced-hour program (18 hours) to be recommended for a Class A Instructional Leadership Certificate. 


Steps for Admission

Phase I. Graduate Program Application

Individuals interested in making application to the Instructional Leadership Program shall meet all application requirements of the Graduate Program. This includes:

  1. completion of the Graduate program application:
  2. evidence of an earned baccalaureate-level Professional Educator Certificate in a teaching field or earned master's level Professional Educator Certificate in a teaching field or instructional support area.
  3. evidence of three (3) full years of full-time, acceptable professional educational experience in a P-12 setting, which must include at least one full year of full-time P-12 teaching experience.
  4. any other Graduate admissions requirements such as entrance exams and background clearance (ALSDE teacher certifications already include the necessary background clearance).

Phase II. Portfolio

Individuals wishing to apply for the Instructional Leadership Program must submit a portfolio containing the following items:

  1.  Letter of Interest including the following:
  •  brief autobiography of the applicant
  •  brief philosophy on instruction 
  •  brief explanation of goals 
  •  summary of professional development activities from the past two years
  •  reasons for pursuing instructional leadership certification
  •  evidence of most recent accomplishments in education and leadership (student organizations sponsor, committee involvement, project director, awards, presentations, community service, military service, etc)
  • summary of expectations from the instructional leadership preparation program

2. Current Resume/Vita including education, work history, leadership activities, memberships, and honors and awards

3. Evidence of ability to improve student achievement- Describe your philosophy if data-driven instruction.  Include specific examples from past experiences, but do not include any student names or other identifying information.

4. Completed copy (all forms) of the most recent performance observation.  Include the professional development component, if available.

5. Three letters of recommendation- At lease one letter must be from a principal or immediate supervisor.


Phase III. Interview

The interview process will be completed electronically through video. View instructions

Phase IV. Coursework

Courses Required

  1. IL 690 Development of Educational Human Resources
  2. IL 691 Financial and Material Resources for School Improvement
  3. IL 694 Differentiated Instruction for Diverse Student Learning
  4. IL 695 Legal & Ethical Responsibilities
  5. IL 696 Internship & Residency for Instructional Leaders
  6. IL 697 Leadership for Successful Schools and Partnerships
  7. EEX 605 Education for Exceptional Children (required if not previously completed)
  8. 12 hrs advisor-approved electives

Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership

Program Rationale: Grounded in the Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders, and builds on the knowledge and abilities developed at the Class A (master’s degree) level, candidates in the Class AA Instructional Leadership program will use their skills to create and practice successful instructional leadership. The Class AA Instructional Leadership program is anchored on practical experiences and the contents rely on leadership experiences in school and school district settings to translate candidates’ leadership knowledge into sound leadership practices. A core principle of the Class AA Instructional Leadership program is the development of shared leadership practices with all who have a stake in improving student achievement, especially parents and teachers.

Candidates will engage in:

  • Practical experiences linked to instructional problems which serve to focus the candidate’s research and problem-solving efforts.
  • Experiences that encourage candidates to engage in alternative ways of thinking about educational settings, planning, scheduling, and approaches to teaching to accomplish learning goals for student populations with ever-changing needs.
  • Content focused on adult learning theory and develop a clear understanding of how adults learn and that schools are places where adults and students learn together.
  • Improving teacher performance using the Alabama Educator Effectiveness Process.
  • Content and practice in shared leadership providing opportunities for each candidate to understand and be able to implement leadership that is shared with all stakeholders in meaningful ways to support improved student learning.
  • Content focused on leadership for special education, English language learners, career and technical education, technology, pre-K programs, and adolescent literacy.

Steps for Admission

Phase I. Graduate Program Application

  1. Scholastic achievement: a master’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  2. Candidates must hold a valid Class A Professional Educator Certificate in Instructional Leadership or a valid Class A Professional Leadership Certificate. 
  3. Candidates must meet one of the following criteria:
    1. Be currently serving as a superintendent, assistant or associate superintendent, assistant to the superintendent, principal, assistant  principal, supervisor (any subject and/or grade level), administrator of career and technical education, coordinator, or evaluator.
    2. Document three years of employment in an Instructional Leadership position for which one of the certificates is proper certification according to the current edition of the Subject and Personnel Codes of the Alabama State Department of Education.
    3. Demonstrate each of the abilities in the Class A Instructional Leadership standards prior to admission to the Class AA Instructional Leadership program or prior to completion of the Class AA Instructional Leadership program.
  4. ASBI/FBI background clearance.
  5. Complete the Graduate program application:

Phase II. Portfolio

Applicants who completed a Class A program other than one approved by the Alabama State Board of Education on or after September 8, 2005 , must submit a portfolio.

The contents of the portfolio will be reviewed and score by faculty members in the Instructional Leadership Program. 


Phase III. Interview

The interview process will be completed electronically through video. View instructions

Phase IV. Coursework

Courses Required:

  • EDS 701 Professionalism and Ethics in the School Culture
  • EDS 704 Culturally Proficient Leadership
  • EDS 708 Advanced Curriculum Dev for Teaching & Learning
  • EDS 703 Digital-Age Leadership to Enhance Student Learning
  • IL 706 Management of the Learning Organization
  • IL 707 Law, Policy, and Governance
  • IL 711 Professional Standards for Instructional Leadership
  • IL 705 Professional Development and Mentoring
  • EDS 702 Applied Research I
  • IL 709 Applied Research II
  • IL 710 Community and Stakeholder Relationships OR ED 640 Educational Statistics
  • EEX605 Survey of Students with Disabilities (if not previously completed)

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