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This two-year, 36-credit Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) program is designed for educators holding master’s degrees who are ready to pursue informal and formal leadership work, with the end goal of licensure as a principal/assistant principal in the State of Massachusetts.

The CAGS program supports candidates through coursework (nine core, hybrid courses) and guided fieldwork (practicum and seminar experiences), all aligned with the Massachusetts PAL Tasks required for principal/assistant principal licensure. The program’s first year is comprised of the graduate certificate in teacher leadership, which can also be completed as a stand-alone, one-year program.

Given the related work of teacher leaders and formal school leaders, this unique program design gives candidates flexibility in pursuing teacher leadership and formal leadership pathways in related one-year and two-year options.


Program Requirements

Sequence of Coursework

Recognizing that all school leaders must first possess a core set of teacher leadership skills, the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) principal licensure program builds upon a solid foundation of teacher leader skills.

The first year of CAGS coursework and fieldwork focuses on learning to lead, facilitating adult professional learning and working with data as a teacher leader. This first-year sequence maps directly onto the one-year teacher leadership graduate certificate program.

The second year of the CAGS program (including one online summer course between academic years) focuses on the technical and adaptive skills of formal leadership, including managing school budgets, supervising and evaluating faculty, addressing legal issues in education, leading school-community partnerships, and leading culturally responsive change processes.

The CAGS sequence of courses and practicum experiences run as district-based cohorts and typically begin each fall term. Ultimately, the program supports both teacher leader and formal leader development, with a focus on adopting the informal and formal habits of mind and technical skills needed to lead effectively.

Course Formats

Programs launch each September and follow a set schedule. They are cohort-based and offered off-campus within partner school districts, with students taking 2-3 graduate courses per semester (6-9 credits).

  • Course Formats: Courses take place, on average, one evening per week across the academic year, with one online intensive summer course during May/June of the first year of the program. Courses are primarily offered in hybrid format, allowing for additional, online learning. This provides schedule flexibility for students.
  • Length of Program: CAGS in Educational Leadership – 2 years, plus one summer course (9 courses, plus practica and seminars)
  • Semesters Offered: Fall, spring, and summer semesters


Following state requirements, CAGS candidates complete pre-practicum field hours during the first year of their program and then complete 500 practicum hours in the second year of the program (Note: 200 of the 500 required practicum hours are completed by submitting and passing the 4 state-required PAL Tasks, worth 50 practicum hours a piece).

CAGS Coursework (36 credits)

The first year of the two-year CAGS program consists of the following teacher leadership courses (mapping onto the one-year Teacher Leadership Certificate):

AGS 730: Learning to Lead
AGS 735: Data-informed Educational Leadership
AGS 734: Leading Professional Learning
AGS 800: Facilitative Leadership

The second year of the program, including the summer between academic years, consists of the following formal leadership courses:

AGS 732A: Organizational & Fiscal Issues of Comprehensive School Management (online summer course, May/June)
EDU 786: Theories and Techniques of Supervision and Evaluation of School Personnel
EDU 770: Education Law, Public Policy and Political Systems
AGS 825: Leading School-Community Partnerships
AGS 820: Culturally Responsive School Leadership for Deep Change

Note: Across the two-year CAGS program, principal/assistant principal candidates will also complete practicum and/or seminar work each semester, for a total of 9 credits and 500 hours in schools.

Applying to the CAGS Program

For those interested in applying to the CAGS in Ed. Leadership 2-year degree program (which qualifies candidates for licensure endorsement), please first contact program coordinators at to determine eligibility and opportunities to join a district-based cohort.

Once you have received confirmation to apply, then please visit our CAGS in Ed. Leadership 2-year program application page.

Alternately, if you are interested in the one-year Teacher Leadership Graduate Certificate Program, then please visit our Teacher Leadership application page.

Please note: All CAGS candidates seeking MA principal/assistant principal licensure must hold at least an initial MA teaching license and have completed the educator SEI endorsement and Communication and Literacy MTEL from the State of Massachusetts. Candidates who do not have these requirements will still be considered for acceptance into the CAGS program; however, these requirements must be completed during the first year of the CAGS program before candidates are allowed to begin practicum work.

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