Program Structure

Program Structure

SPA enrolls two cohorts and over 100 graduate students each year in a rigorous 14 month, 36-credit program. Cohorts meet Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm and occasional weekends in an intensive five-week session for two consecutive summers. The 450-hour Administrative Internship takes place during the intervening school year, thereby enabling students to complete internship requirements while maintaining their positions at their schools. Our schedule supports the reality of aspiring leaders who are working teachers, team leaders, department chairs, and/or supervisors seeking the benefits of a competitive program without the disruption of time away from their school communities and students.


For full descriptions of our courses, please see the courses section of our website.

Summer I

ORLA 4001: Introduction to School Leadership and Decision Making (3 Credits)
ORLA 5018: School Leadership for Adult Development (3 Credits)
ORLA 5029: Supervision of Teaching and Learning (3 Credits)
ORLA 5340: Restorative Practices in Conflict Resolution (3 Credits)

ORLA 6020: Professional Seminar: SAT and Social Emotional Leadership (3 Credits ea, 2 Summer Course)

Fall and Spring Semesters

ORLA 5532: Program Development: Teaching, Learning and Assessment (Continuation of ORLA 5029, Summer I)
ORLA 6460: Internship in School Leadership (6 Credits, 450 Hours)

Summer II

ORLA 4033: Ethical and Legal Issues in Education Leadership (3 Credits)
ORLA 4025: Resource Allocation for Student Achievement (3 Credits)
ORLA 5025: Ecology of Data-Driven Leadership (3 Credits)
ORLA 5017: Team Building (3 Credits)
ORLA 6020 Summer II: Professional Seminar: Equity, Leadership and Social Justice as Leadership Imperatives

Administrative Internship

Participants in SPA are required to complete a 450-hour Administrative Internship during the intervening academic year between Summer I and II. The projects and activities completed over the course of the Administrative Internship are documented in an internship Memorandum of Agreement and are discussed and analyzed during the initial summer term and supported throughout the fall and spring terms by the internship coach, cooperating administrator, and instructors of the ORLA 5532 and 6460 courses.

The Data Driven Equity Audit is designed to give candidates an opportunity to carefully examine various elements that contribute to a school’s success and to critique the school’s practices to see if reality matches intention in terms of equity. Candidates learn to conduct internal and external audits, and use the data collected to evaluate the school’s ability to drive student achievement while increasing equity.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a living document that provides the vision for the entire internship year. In the MOA, the intern and the cooperating administrator have access to the content and timeline for all the internship deliverables. The MOA ensures that internship projects are aligned with both the SPA Curriculum and ELCC Standards.

The Principal Shadowing Project enables interns to experience various leadership styles that exist within a school setting.  The project provides an environmental context for understanding the challenges and opportunities that a principal is likely to face as a leader.  Engaging in the observation of three school building leaders helps interns develop a sense of their own leadership style and the kind of school environment most likely to fit well with their approaches to leadership. 

Each intern is responsible for shadowing three different building principals during the fall semester. Interns will begin by shadowing their school building leader, if feasible. In consultation with their cooperating administrator, interns will select two additional principals to shadow. Their recorded observations will later enable them to develop an overall analysis of all three principals’ decision-making processes and leadership styles.

The Teacher Evaluation Project provides interns with an opportunity to practice the supervision of instruction with a specific emphasis on developing and applying classroom observation skills.  This project enables interns to provide constructive feedback to teachers about student learning, teaching, and learner-centered classrooms.

Drawing from their experiences in ORLA 5018: School Leadership & Adult Development and ORLA 5029: Instruction of Supervision, interns conduct three clinical observation cycles on a single tenured teacher.  The Teacher Evaluation Project is designed to support interns’ acquisition of the skills needed to provide meaningful recommendations and commendations that will promote student achievement.

Based on the foundation provided in ORLA 5532: Teaching, Learning and Assessment, internss are required to conduct a curriculum audit at their school. Observations will include a detailed description of the case study site, thorough analysis of written and taught curricula and student learning assessment, evidence-based diagnosis of curriculum effectiveness, and a focus on one question/dilemma derived from the audit process. After discussions and feedback received from the instructor and cohort, candidates prepare a proposed action plan identifying the steps needed to address the identified question/dilemma, including professional development opportunities for instructional personnel, expected outcomes, and methods to evaluate effectiveness and ensure compliance. Engaging in this in-depth analysis enables interns to develop the capacity for instructional leadership while simultaneously fortifying observation, research, synthesis, and presentation skills.

The Resource Allocation Project prepares candidates to exercise control over the budgeting process as they step into leadership positions, strategically allocating resources by making decisions that leverage achievement for all students.  Using three years of successive data to analyze the budget of their own school, interns are able to draw connections between budgeting decisions and their impact on a school's day-to-day operation and long-term student success.  Additionally, utilizing information related to fiscal policies from the local, state, and national level enables candidates to become effective and ethical budget planners who are able to allocate resources in ways that ensure the success of all students.

The Leadership Initiative Project takes into account the multiple components of educational leadership, and asks aspiring leaders to design and implement an initiative that calls upon them to exercise the skills possessed by outstanding school leaders. To begin, interns will examine various aspects of schools that influence teaching and learning.  They will then work collaboratively with the cooperating administrator and all applicable stakeholders to facilitate support for a selected initiative that is aimed at increasing student achievement.  The Leadership Initiative Project will provide opportunities for interns to create a dynamic school culture, modify current organizational practices, and build capacity through collaborative processes.

The Final Reflection asks students to holistically identify and examine the lessons gleaned during the Administrative Internship. The reflection should include major takeaways, challenges faced, and observations about leadership which the intern arrived at through the accumulation of 450-hours of leadership development. This analysis requires interns to stand back from the internship experience and think about the various ways in which the quality of leadership impacts a school community. It represents the intern's final opportunity to reflect upon their progress, challenges, approaches, lenses, decision-making models, application of adult learning theory, and negotiating skills used in the exercise of leadership.

Monthly time logs are the official record of the required 450 Administrative Internship hours and must detail the intern’s progress on identified deliverables and leadership activities.

Back to skip to quick links