Frequently Asked Questions

The Summer  Principals Academy | New Orleans (SPA|NOLA) integrates practice and skill development with theory and research using case studies, simulations, and teamwork. Aspiring school leaders are encouraged to construct transformative  possibilities for student learning, school improvement, and social equity. SPA|NOLA fosters leadership development through an integrated set of experiences that include building a repository of theoretical and "best practice" knowledge, engaging with problem-based coursework, and undertaking field-based internship. The following seven statements represent the core values of SPA|NOLA:  

  • Quality education and ethical  leadership are central to promoting social justice and diversity;
  • Effective leadership development and preparation will enhance not only knowledge, skills, and values, but it also leads to self-actualization and sustainable fulfillment;
  • School leaders are responsible for nurturing not only the learning and growth of all members of the school community but also for nurturing their own development and wellbeing;
  • Strategic collaboration and efficient teamwork are essential to building quality learning environments;
  • All aspects of leadership development will promote the practice of intellectually and ethically reflective leadership;
  • Active and participatory learning that is rooted in actual school contexts as well as simulations and case-studies offer multiple opportunities to improve leadership skills in the SPA|NOLA curriculum;
  • Innovation and risk-taking play a key role in preparing the educational leader who is capable of ushering public schools to an era of educational excellence and achievements.

Most SPA|NOLA candidates are either Public or Charter School educators (teachers, instructional coaches, assistant principals, deans, guidance counselors, etc.) with at least three years of teaching experience. Candidates must secure supportive endorsement from the principal or superintendent of their sponsoring school. The program looks for students who demonstrate a commitment to education, have taken leadership initiative in their schools, and who are innovative thinkers.


Candidates who wish to apply for SPA|NOLA must submit an application directly to Teachers College, Columbia University via the admissions office. To learn more about the admission requirements and process or to request information, please visit the Office of Admissions section of the Teachers College website.

Applications for admission to SPA|NOLA for the current academic year can be submitted online starting from the first week in September.'

All candidates who pass the initial review will participate in a video interview with the Director of the program, Dr. Brian Perkins and a faculty member via the software, Zoom. 

For more detailed information on the application process, contact the Assistant Director of Admissions, Ms. Nicole Siniscalchi at siniscalchi@tc.edu or via phone on 212-678-3730.

The priority application deadline for the 2024 cohort is January 15, 2024; the final deadline is April 15, 2024. The program reviews applications on a rolling basis; early applicants receive priority consideration.

The program seeks candidates who pursue leadership responsibilities for the ultimate goal of holistically supporting children during their learning journey. Applicants should have high self-awareness, innovative mindset, and strategic risk-taking approach. Applicants should appreciate a rigorous academic preparation and also need to work well in a cohort arrangement. They should have the ability to critically assess their own abilities and commit to continuous improvement in their own learning. Applicants should have a profound sense of integrity, a dedication for equity, and an ability to communicate their values to diverse stakeholders in their school communities. Applicants should have demonstrated leadership in their respective educational settings especially in collaborative and team-based projects. The program is especially looking for candidates who have an express desire to work in urban communities.

SPA|NOLA’s 14-month curriculum fulfills the requirements for an M.A. and Ed.M. in education leadership (on-site classes during two summer sessions in addition to an administrative internship at the school site in the intervening academic year).

Students who currently hold a Master's degree in a field related to education may earn the Ed.M. by completing the SPA|NOLA program and transferring up to 24 points (credit) of their previous coursework to meet the 60-point (credit) requirement for the Ed.M. degree.

SPA|NOLA is part of Teachers College's Department of Organization and Leadership, has the full support of both the College and the Department, and enjoys the full resources of Columbia University.

Approximately 5,000 students are currently enrolled at Teachers College in programs leading to both Master and Doctoral degrees in fields ranging from clinical and organizational psychology to curriculum and teaching. Nearly 130 full-time faculty members teach and conduct research in the College's various departments.

Teachers College ranks consistently in the top ten graduate schools of education in the nation by US News and World Report.

Last year Teachers College awarded over $7 million of its own funds in scholarship and stipend aid and $2 million in endowed funds to new and continuing students. Most scholarship awards are made on the basis of academic merit. The SPA|NOLA targets assistance to support teachers from urban schools. Scholarships are applied to tuition only and students should expect to provide additional funds for the tuition balance, medical insurance, College fees, academic and living expenses.

Since the program commences in June, students are advised to begin their financial aid application as soon as possible since it can take up to two months to process the FAFSA and other financial aid documents. In addition to the FAFSA, all students must complete a TC Financial Aid and Scholarship Application to be considered for aid and scholarship.

For more information about funding, please visit the SPA|NOLA Cohort Program Financial Aid webpage.

For additional financial aid information including loans, applicants should contact the Office of Financial Aid at financialaid@tc.edu or at 212.678.3714.

Completion of the GRE is not required at any stage for admission to SPA|NOLA.


View our Return on Investment page to learn more.

Graduates who complete the SPA|NOLA program are eligible to apply for the Educational Leader Certificate (ELC) in Louisiana. SPA|NOLA's curriculum satisfies the requirements for ELC with the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (LA BESE) for both M.A. and Ed.M. students. A number of states have reciprocity agreements with LA BESE for this license. Additional information about licensure and reciprocity for out-of-state students can be obtained from the Louisiana Board Elementary and Secondary of Education.

Requirements for Louisiana's Education Leader Certificate (ELC) Certification (Level 1) include:

  • A $50 application fee
  • Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from approved program (SPA|NOLA)
  • Hold or be eligible to hold a valid Louisiana Type B or Level 2 teaching certificate or have a comparable level out-of-state teaching certificate and three years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification
  • Passing test score on the Praxis School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA
    • After September 2, 2019, graduates will be required to take the Praxis 6990. Prior to September 1, 2019, gradyates were required to take the Pracis 6011 or 1011.

PLEASE NOTE: Students working outside of Louisiana should refer to their own state's unique regulations to determine any additional steps or testing requirements for administrative certification.

Yes. For the summer sessions, SPA|NOLA arranges housing at Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law graduate student dorms. The full housing fees must be paid at the start of each summer by the students. For summer session 2022, the cost of a room was approximately USD $900. The cost for summer session 2023 may slightly vary. Students who wish to stay at the Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law graduate student dorms need to provide a deposit to SPA|NOLA during Student Orientation in April. Details about the dorms and payment process will be communicated to the students closer to Student Orientation.


Back to skip to quick links