Master of Education in Educational Leadership (K-12 Principal Licensure)

Program Objectives

The Educational Leadership program at Montana State University is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as well as by the Montana Board of Public Education.  The focus of the program is to prepare K-12 school principals to effectively serve Montana communities and rural communities throughout the Northern Plains and Northern Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Those students completing the degree requirements for the M.Ed. will also have met the academic requirements necessary for a Montana Class III Administrative license with a K-12 Principal Endorsement. This is a full Master's program with a M.Ed. granted upon graduation.

Program Flow

The Educational Leadership masters program is an 80% online program. Students may begin the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership in summer, fall or spring semesters. Students are expected to take coursework in the sequence outlined in the Program of Study found below. Students who begin Spring Semester may finish the degree in four or five semesters depending upon the number of credits taken the first summer. Students who begin Summer Semester will take five semesters to complete. Developing a learning community is a critical aspect of principal preparation. To enhance the development of a learning community among the students and to facilitate learning by offering an integrated curriculum, students will be placed into a cohort based on year of acceptance into the program and will matriculate together. Courses will be delivered using a blended model that features online instruction with a few in-person sessions. During the summer sessions, students will meet on the Bozeman campus for 1 - 2 weeks of face-to-face instruction. The face-to-face instruction will usually take place during the latter weeks of June.

K-12 Principal Cohort typical Program of Study

Spring Semester
EDLD 508Supervision of Instruction3
EDLD 532School Law3
Summer Semester
EDLD 507Foundations of Educational Leadership3
EDLD 520Schools & Diverse Communities3
EDLD 566Administration and Supervision of Special Education Programs3
EDLD 555School Finance3
Fall Semester
EDLD 565K-12 Instructional Leadership3
EDLD 574Field Experience in Educational Leadership (Part I)3
Final Spring Semester
EDLD 515Planned Change3
EDLD 574 (Part II)3
Total Credits30


Students in the Educational Leadership Master's program will be assigned an advisor. The advisor will guide the student's course selection and progress toward degree completion including the submission of the student's Graduate Program of Study form.

Contact Information

Dr. Jason Cummins, Assistant Professor and Program Leader

Dr. Bill Ruff, Professor 
406-994-4182 Email:

Application Process for the MEd in Educational Leadership

Applicants are required to complete the online application and submit the following documentation via the Graduate School Online Application System

  1. Completed Graduate School Application
  2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants must provide official transcripts verifying all Bachelors degree coursework (as well as confirmation of a bachelor’s degree earned) from the applicant's certifying university. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded during the application process. Official electronic transcripts may be emailed directly from the Institution to or  Transcripts may also be mailed to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, 59717. Transcripts from a degree awarded through MSU do not need to be provided. NOTE: We require an undergraduate and graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit. 
  3. Personal Essay/Self-Nomination Letter: The self-nomination letter should be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, and focus on the following.
    1. Your development and growth as a teacher, including professional development.
    2. Your contributions to the school and district.
    3. Your development as a leader. Specific examples are needed that clarify how you have grown as a leader and your leadership activities.
    4. Your specific goals, including a timeline for assuming a school leadership position.
    5. Your motivation to become a school leader and an explanation of how you came to this decision. Personal qualities you possess that are desirable in a leader.
  4. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  5. Three (3) letters of recommendation: Candidates must meet the following criteria for one of the three letters of recommendation.
    1. At least one of the three letters must be from your PRESENT direct supervisor. That means a school district administrator who (a) is currently administratively certified by Montana Office of Public Instruction or other equivalent state agency; AND (b) currently acts as direct supervisor for the candidate, and has done so for a minimum period of one semester.

    2. If for any reason you cannot secure a letter from your present supervisor, at least one of the letters of recommendation must be from a PREVIOUS direct supervisor. That means a school district administrator who is (a) currently certified by the Montana Office of Public Instruction or other equivalent state agency; AND (b) has, at some point preceding the date of this application, acted as direct supervisor for the applicant for a minimum period of one semester. Any applicant who does not have a letter from a direct supervisor must indicate in the self-nomination letter (see below) the specific reason(s) why they were unable to secure a letter of recommendation from their present or previous supervisor.

  6. For International Applicants ONLY: Please visit the Graduate School International Application Process website for application submission information.

Application Deadlines

Below is the deadline by which all application materials for the MEd in Educational Leadership must be submitted via the online application system. 

  • Summer and Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: November 1st

*Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered on a case by case basis.

Admission Process

Complete applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Committee. Once a decision has been made the application will be forwarded to The Graduate School for final administrative processing. Please note that the application review process will begin at the close of the application deadline and not before.

Contact Information

Graduate Program Assistant
PO Box 172880, Reid Hall 215
Department of Education, Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2880 
Phone: 406-994-6786 Email: