Program Overview

Curriculum and Core Values 

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

  • Seek equity and excellence for all students (social justice anti-racist leadership) 
  • Build capacity for teaching and learning excellence 
  • Advocate for and ensure equitable support systems for all 
  • Foster school culture valuing inclusiveness, diversity, and cultural proficiency 
  • Prepare executive leaders who promote ethical policies and practices 
  • Partner authentically and equitably with families and communities 

Coursework 

Candidates complete 39 credit hours in 15 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. School leaders are trained in groups of cohorts from Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. 

Summer  I: June – August (13 credit hours)

  • Summer Session I
    • ELP 684E Public School Leadership
  • Summer Session II
    • ELP 184N School Business Leadership
    • ELP 684P Principalship

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 382T 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 382T Administration of the Individual School: Elementary & Secondary
  • ELP 183N Internship

Summer II: June – August (6 credit hours)

  • SED 393 Special Education
  • EDC 390T ELL/Topics in Billingual Education

Program Plan Worksheets

School District Partnerships

An essential feature of UPLA is the partnerships with major urban school districts.  Each partner district will sponsor at least 10 teacher-leaders on a yearly basis to be graduate student candidates within the Leadership Academy. The districts facilitate the placement of these teacher-leaders into leadership intern positions under the guidance of an experienced principal for an academic year. Internships can be created from a variety of roles:  assistant principals, instructional leaders, department chairs or central office administrators.

Teacher-leaders will be placed in leadership intern positions, with teacher-level pay, during that academic year. The district will invest the balance between the actual assistant principal-level pay rate and the teacher-level pay rate into the tuition and fees for program participants. Other funding will be sought through external support (such as grants), and any remaining tuition and fees are the responsibility of the student.

Other Features of UPLA

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

Rigorous Candidate Selection Process

Requirements:

  • 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 an urban 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 (CSP).

Funding for the Program

The total cost of the program is approximately $26,000 per student (as of 2017-18). This cost may be divided in a variety of ways: school district partnership, philanthropic support, and the student.

Our History

The new Urban 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 UPLA 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 urban 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 urban schools and communities.

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