College of

M.Ed. Education Leadership - Urban Principals Academy at Lehigh (UPAL)

Urban Principals Academy at Lehigh
Urban Principals Academy at Lehigh

"I feel better equipped to develop as a leader, I also have been able to nurture a great sense of who I am and how it impacts the environment that I work in on a day to day basis."

Ryan, Cohort II Member

The Urban Principals Academy at Lehigh (U*PAL) is a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership + Principal Certification program. This 37 credit program focuses on Creativity & Imagination in Leadership, issues of Inequity & Privilege and Organizational Culture. 

The U*PAL program places a special emphasis to developing visionary, creative urban school leaders through team projects, special seminars at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and through workshops in Improvisational Theater Techniques which align with the research we do regarding what successful schools look like.

The M.Ed. program takes approximately 13 months (not including the Principal Certification).

Two Summer Semesters

Students participate over the course of 13 months with attendance at Lehigh occurring over two 5-week summer sessions. U*PAL believes in rigorous research but not in research papers. Instead, working in teams, our aspiring school leaders develop creative and engaging approaches to demonstrating what skills and knowledge they have acquired.

Fall & Spring Semesters

The remainder of the program takes place on-line during the regular school year. At that time, our students take an online course in the fall and another in the spring while doing their usual jobs as well as an administrative internship. 

Administrative Internship

Participants are required to complete a 360-hour internship.

Internship projects must be meaningful and provide broad exposure to effective leadership in a public school environment:

  1. Conduct three (3) teacher visitations with a fellow teacher
  2. Principal shadowing (3 different principals)
  3. Implement a curriculum instructional project
  4. Conduct a resource allocation audit or other fiscal project
  5. One elective project according to school/intern’s needs

Students actively participate in the creation and development of their internship through collaboration with internship mentor and their supervising principal-­‐ all of which is captured in a memorandum of agreement outlining the internship’s deliverables


Please review the Lehigh University course catalog for curriculum requirements.

Application Requirements & Deadlines

  • Completed Online application
  • K-12 education experience
  • $65 Application Fee
  • GPA Minimum: 3.0 undergraduate
  • Official transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Letter of Internship Endorsement
  • Acknowledgement of College of Education Policy on Clearances
  • Personal statement
  • Deadline: June 1 for Summer start

By working collaboratively and sharing multiple perspectives in a cohort based program, with educators from various regions throughout the United States, U*PAL will transform you into a leader and manager of complex organizations with the cognitive and social‐emotional skills necessary to shepherd K‐12 schools into outstanding learning environments for their internal and external community members.

For more information or questions please e-mail Jon Drescher, Director (


Join in on the conversation!

We develop visionary, creative public school leaders in urban settings.


Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders

The Center for Educating Urban Educational Leaders (CDUEL) is dedicated to conducting rigorous research and developing exemplary school leaders to produce high quality schooling experience for urban children across America. CDUEL was founded in October 2006 with the generous support of Peter Bennett ’63. Since its inception, CDUEL has persistently been working toward its commitment to improve urban schools and close the achievement gap between low-income urban students and their middle class peers by selecting, educating, and placing passionate competent urban school leaders.

Maxine Greene Institute for Aesthetic Education and Social Imagination

The Maxine Greene Center aspires to create an open space where no particular entity, individual or manifesto dominates. We welcome conversation, debate, and multiple perspectives pertaining to the evolution of aesthetic education and the notion of social imagination. As we well know, aesthetic education as we know it emerges from the thinking of many in psychology, philosophy and education, even well before Dewey. Ideas cannot be owned by institutions, or entities with borders that exclude as much as they include. The Center seeks to provide a place for free people, autonomous people - creating a space which we can enrich by our own experiences, naming a space that previously had no name." Maxine Greene, 2012

Jazz at Lincoln Center

The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education and advocacy. We believe Jazz is a metaphor for Democracy. Because jazz is improvisational, it celebrates personal freedom and encourages individual expression. Because jazz is swinging, it dedicates that freedom to finding and maintaining common ground with others. Because jazz is rooted in the blues, it inspires us to face adversity with persistent optimism.

"Through U*PAL, I have been able to network with other educators who are also passionate about changing our education system from a nation at risk to a nation of thinkers who use their creativity and imagination."

Ann, Founding Cohort Member and graduate