Texas Principal Leadership Academy

Master’s Program

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

The Texas Principal Leadership Academy (TPLA) is a 12-month Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) program designed to prepare graduates to take the Principal as Instructional Leader EC-12 exam and become leaders of socially just, equitable and high-achieving public schools in Texas. Our graduates’ first-time exam passing rate is typically 97%, exceeding the state average. 

Thanks to our track record in the employment of principal and assistant principal roles within three years of graduation, our program has earned a Certificate of Commendation from the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Educator Certification in the category of Preparing Educators for Long Term Success for the second year in a row.

TPLA is built on the strengths and historic legacy of preparing public school leaders within our top-ranked Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. The Academy represents the next iteration of our Principalship Program, which has been re-designed and streamlined to meet the needs of school districts across Texas.

TPLA’s purpose is to develop 1,000 equity centered, culturally responsive, data-savvy, and instructional school leaders for public schools in Texas by 2040. These new leaders will relentlessly pursue equity and excellence for all children, an especially urgent priority in light of Texas’s changing demographic landscape.

This program starts in the summer semester only. You must select the “Summer” semester in the ApplyTexas application. If you apply to the wrong semester or incorrect program track in the Educational Leadership and Policy department in the ApplyTexas application, you could be subject to additional application fees. 

Learn more about certification requirements on the Texas Education Agency’s website. 

Multi-Tiered Levels of Support 

Partner districts provide candidates with support in the form of teacher-leaders in the district who share the role of supporting the candidates’ learning and growth as school leaders through on-the-job coaching and mentorship. Supporting teacher-leaders includes a faculty advisor, current mentoring principal from their home district, a UT field supervisor and a graduate of the Cooperative Superintendency Program (CSP). 

Program Details

Semester Start: Summer

Deadline to Apply: Nominations due December 15, Applications due January 15

GRE Required? Yes

Location: On Campus

Schedule: Full Time

Length of Program: 12 months, 35 hours

Working with our partner districts, our goal for TPLA is to recruit, prepare, and retain a diverse group of school leaders who reflect the student demographics in these partner districts.  

Rigorous Candidate Selection Process


  • Recommendation from current principal
  • Leadership experience in school or district
  • Displays qualities of an effective and equitable school leader
  • Have taught a minimum of 2 years
  • Successful completion of the Assessment Center—a data presentation, interview, and teacher evaluation session

Teacher-Leaders as Administrative Interns

The partner districts sponsor at least 10 teacher-leaders on a yearly basis. Partner districts will facilitate the placement of these teacher-leaders into administrative intern positions under the guidance of an experienced principal for an academic year.

Cohort Structure

Candidates are part of a cohort of learners committed to improving student outcomes and school systems through equitable and effective school leadership.

Practical Experience Through Collaborative Inquiry

Candidates conduct inquiry projects to gain practical experience in collecting, analyzing, and making equity-centered decisions about data to improve student outcomes. These projects can be applied to their current school settings, and are aimed at eliminating educational inequities and opportunity gaps for all students, especially those who have been traditionally underserved.

Students will conduct:

  • a collaborative case study of a school as a cohort
  • an equity audit
  • a community-based equity audit of their individual school/community setting

District-Specific Curricula

The Leadership Academy co-develops rigorous learning modules and curricula with our district partners to ensure candidates are learning content relevant for their school districts and schools.

Multi-Tiered Levels of Support

Partner districts provide candidates with support in the form of teacher-leaders in the district who share the role of supporting the candidates’ learning and growth as school leaders through on-the-job coaching and mentorship. Supporting teacher-leaders includes a faculty advisor, current mentoring principal from their home district, and a graduate of the Cooperative Superintendency Program (CSPP.

The core curriculum and values of the Texas Principal Leadership Academy (TPLA) are to prepare equity-minded, socially just school leaders, who:

  • Develop capacity for equitable teaching and learning practices
  • Advocate for and ensure equitable support systems for all
  • Foster school culture that values inclusiveness, diversity and cultural proficiency
  • Build executive leaders to promote ethical policies and practices
  • Partner authentically and equitably with families and communities
  • Understand self, community and political context to navigate equity issues

Important Notice

This program requires additional materials beyond the Graduate School Application, such as pre-requisites, program-specific documents or other information. Please make sure to check with the department/program in order to ensure you have submitted all required application materials on or before the deadline.

Program Application Pre-requisites

All applicants must complete a minimum of two years teaching experience before entering the program.

nomination form must be submitted before beginning the formal application. The nomination deadline is December 15.  Interested individuals may self-nominate, though it is preferred nominees be recommended by a school, district, or university leader who is familiar with the nominee’s work. 

General Graduate School Application Requirements

All graduate students are required to apply to the state application system ApplyTexas. We strongly encourage you to start this process well in advance of the deadline to allow us time to process your information. For more details, visit our “How to Apply” page.

All requirements must be received by the January 15 application deadline, including: 

  • Completed ApplyTexas application. This program starts in the Summer semester only. You must select the “Summer” semester in the ApplyTexas application. If you apply to the wrong semester or incorrect program track in the Educational Leadership & Policy department in the ApplyTexas application, you could be subject to additional application fees.
  • 3 Letters of Reference (one must be from current supervisor) via email request
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GRE scores
  • Official Transcripts
  • Your resume in TPLA Format as required by the Texas Education Agency (template included in our Application Checklist) must be uploaded to your graduate school application via the MyStatus page. This may be done 24-48 hours after submitting the initial application
  • In addition to the TPLA requirements, applicants must be aware and adhere to all UT-Austin Graduate School application requirements as well

Mail the $50 Program Application Fee* (check or money order ONLY – no cash) to 
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, ATTN: ELP Accounting
The University of Texas at Austin, SZB 348
1912 Speedway, D5400
Austin, TX 78712-0374 
**Candidate name and UT EID must be indicated on the check or money order**

*Proceeds may be used in general support of the College of Education. Please note this is separate and in addition to the UT Austin Graduate School fee.

September – November

Nominations accepted for the next TPLA Program Cohort. Please remember you must be nominated as part of the application process. 

Take the GRE exam unless you have a valid score from an exam taken within the last five years. 

Background Check: Please be aware that all university students who assist in K-12 classrooms as part of their university requirements must submit to a criminal history background check that is required by participating school districts. 

October – November

Work on your application! Information about the Graduate School, Department, and Program application requirements can be found on How to Apply.


Mandatory Application Information Sessions will address program requirements and answer nominee questions. Candidates must register to attend one session. Information session dates TBD. Check with program directors Debra Cantu or Terrance Green.

Financial Aid information and the FAFSA application are available online. Apply for Financial Aid Now!

Nomination Forms are due November 30.


Submit your FAFSA by January 15.

Submit ALL required application materials by January 15.


Assessment Center: Selected candidates will be invited to participate in an assessment center conducted by Principalship Program faculty and local leaders in education as part of the program selection process on Saturday, February 4, 2023. The assessment center may consist of several components such as a candidate interview, a data prompt presentation, and an observation/role-play exercise. Invitations will be sent to selected candidates at the end of January.

March – April

Official Notifications sent to candidates from the Graduate Advisor and from the Graduate School.

End of April: Acceptance deadline for new students. Candidates will be asked to submit a formal letter of acceptance to the graduate advisor by the end of the month.

Transition Camp for incoming admitted Principalship Program Cohort Members. All students are expected to attend this weekend session. Program directors will provide dates and details.


Classes begin in Austin.

Questions? Email one of the TPLA Co-Directors, Debra Cantu or Terrance Green.

Download our Application Checklist

Candidates complete 35 credit hours in 12 months and receive a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy as well as additional certifications required by Texas. They also receive hands-on training as an administrative intern while enrolled in the program. The course schedule includes coursework at UT Austin on weekends, online, and on-site at students’ internship partner campus. All courses are aligned with our program’s core values.

Summer I: June – August (15 credit hours)

Summer Session I – 9 credit hours

  • ELP 684E Public School Leadership
  • ELP 394K Special Ed: Procedures and Process for Admin

Summer Session II – 6 credit hours

  • ELP 384P Principalship
  • ELP 394K ELL/Topics in Bilingual Education

Fall Semester: August – December (10 credit hours)

  • ELP 384T School Improvement: Instructional Leadership
  • ELP 384Q Leading for Equity and Justice in K-12 Schools
  • ELP 384D Administration of the Individual School: Elementary & Secondary
  • ELP 183N Internship

Spring Semester: January – May (10 credit hours)

  • ELP 384L School Law
  • ELP 384R School, Family, Community Engagement
  • ELP 384D Administration of the Individual School: Elementary & Secondary
  • ELP 183N Internship
Photo of faculty member Norma V Cantu
Ken McIntyre Professor for Excellence in School Leadership

Teaches topics in civil rights and the intersection of law and policy in education; served as assistant secretary of education for Civil Rights during the Clinton administration.

Photo of faculty member Debra  Cantu
Associate Professor of Practice

Equity Centered Leadership Development *Develops equity-centered PK-12 school leaders. Designs and coordinates learning objectives, knowledge development, and effective practices for graduate students to apply theory into practice in their internship...

Photo of faculty member David E DeMatthews
Associate Professor

Focuses on urban school and district leadership, inclusive practices for students with disabilities, and school improvement with an emphasis on addressing inequities in classrooms, schools, and communities.

Photo of faculty member Terrence M Eaton
Assistant Professor of Practice

Develops urban school leaders and assists them in their efforts to implement continued improvement strategies, create professional learning communities, and foster equity and high levels of student achievement within schools.

Photo of faculty member Barbara H Gideon
Assistant Professor of Practice

Develops school leaders with the knowledge, skill, and disposition to foster collaborative instructional systems to produce high levels of adult engagement in their unique school environments to assure every student learns well and thrives, with a fo...

Photo of faculty member Terrance L Green
Associate Professor

Examines principals and school-community engagement/community development and issues of educational equity and opportunity.

Photo of faculty member Sheila B Guzman
Assistant Professor of Practice

Interests include curriculum and instruction, educational administration, bilingual/bicultural education, principalship preparation, and public school executive leadership.

Photo of faculty member Pedro  Reyes
Department Chair, Educational Leadership and Policy, Education - Office of the Dean

I study student success for children experiencing poverty. I analyze how school leadership and state policy facilitate student success across the education pipeline.

Photo of faculty member Sarah L Woulfin
Associate Professor

Uses lenses from organizational sociology to study how district leaders, principals, coaches, and teachers implement policy

Photo of faculty member Criselda G Elizalde
Assistant Professor of Practice

Focuses on preparing school professionals to address legal issues they will be required to consider as administrators based on her significant experience advising and representing public school officials and administrators in legal matters.

Photo of faculty member Glenn L Nolly
Assistant Professor of Practice

Focuses on social justice leadership as well as specific strategies to create optimal learning environments for students and teachers.

Photo of faculty member Trinidad  San Miguel
Assistant Professor of Practice

Supports school leaders in their efforts to implement continuous improvement strategies that promote growth for self, staff, students, and community in his role as an external campus intervention team member, professional service provider and effecti...

The Texas Principal Leadership Academy builds on our long legacy and commitment to preparing high-quality and effective leaders for a variety of schooling contexts. Our history means The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education is uniquely suited to prepare teacher-leaders for education’s current opportunities and challenges.

For more than 50 years, the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy has offered programs for executive leaders, anchored by the highly selective CSP and TPLA programs. These programs consistently rank among the top 10 programs for Educational Administration and Supervision, according to the U.S. News & World Report. Both programs work jointly to develop a unified vision for school leadership. Many school districts across Texas are led by graduates of these programs. 

Our curriculum is evidence-based, and we draw from the research and discovery of our highly acclaimed faculty who are not only experts in their fields but also partners within the communities they study and serve. Our program addresses both the individual needs of program candidates as well as the needs of their schools and communities.

We are committed to education.  We have created TPLA with an even stronger focus on training school leaders in partnership with school districts.

Photo of Debra Cantú

Program Co-coordinator
Debra Cantú

Photo of Terrance Green

Program Co-coordinator
Terrance Green

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