M.Ed. in Educational Leadership – Urban Principals Academy@Lehigh (U*PAL)

M.Ed. in Educational Leadership – Urban Principals Academy@Lehigh (U*PAL)
M.Ed. in Educational Leadership – Urban Principals Academy@Lehigh (U*PAL)

Quick Facts

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Meet our faculty!

  • Application requirements: Online application, transcripts, minimum GPA of 3.0 (undergraduate), proof of English language proficiency, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
  • International Students: Please visit this page for information regarding transcript evaluation requirements.
  • Deadline(s): June 1 for summer start. The application and all supporting materials are due by the listed deadline.
  • Course Requirements: 10 courses (37 credits)
  • Typical Course Load: Summer 1 (4 courses, face-to-face) Fall (3 online courses), Spring (2 online course), Summer 2 (4 courses, face-to-face)
  • Time to Completion: 15 months (not including Principalship)
  • Alumni Current Positions: Graduates work as PK-12 school leaders and college and university administrators in urban environments.
  • Note: Due to Pennsylvania Department of Education criteria, international students are not eligible for the PDE certification, but they may earn their master's degree in this program. Please contact coe-admissions@lehigh.edu with any questions. 


In the Urban Principals Academy @ Lehigh, known as U*PAL, vital lessons on innovative and effective leadership are baked into the curriculum through experiential learning and creative classes. Students earn their master’s in Educational Leadership during a program that takes approximately 13 months. 

The program is geared toward working professionals, enrolling mostly teachers and school administrators. Students take courses online during the fall and spring semesters and then gather on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for five weeks of face-to-face classes during two summers. The 37-credit program focuses on developing visionary, creative urban school leaders through team projects and special seminars and workshops.  U*PAL students enter the program as a cohort, usually starting in a summer session, and go through together so they learn from each other as well as from Lehigh’s noted faculty.   

Professor Jon Drescher, a longtime principal and superintendent, and the founding director of the program, knows that there is no manual for the problems urban school administrators face. So he incorporates experiences that drive home the leadership skills master’s candidates will need to enable their students and schools to thrive. 

So, for example, U*PAL participants go to special seminars at Jazz @Lincoln Center where they learn about non-verbal communication and how to lead and how to follow. They visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for lessons on the art of observation and how people see things differently. Students do some classes in improvisation where they gain skills in being a good listener, thinking on their feet, taking risks, and working with a partner. 

The U*PAL master’s candidates do research but don’t write research papers.  They must complete an internship of 360 hours with several experiences, in which the candidates:  

  1. Observe a fellow teacher or teachers during three visitations
  2. Shadow three different principals
  3. Implement a curriculum instructional project
  4. Develop a budget analysis of their school district
  5. Complete a project that meets a need at their school 

This M.Ed. meets the course requirements for Pennsylvania Principal Certification and some students take the Principal Certification exam while they are in the program. For more information on what is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please see the link below.  

The U*PAL master’s program attracts educators from across the United States and abroad and most go on to school leadership positions. 

Those wishing to apply should complete the online application and send their official undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate transcripts. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required for undergraduate or graduate work. Prospective students should also supply two letters of recommendation, either academic or professional. A personal statement and an acknowledgement of an understanding of the College of Education Policy on clearances are also required. 

Students should apply by June 15 for a summer start. 

For more information on Pennsylvania Department of Education principal certification requirements, see this link


Course Number Course Name Credits
EDL 424 Leadership, Self and Groups 3
EDL 400 Organizational Leadership 3
EDL 420 Data Based Decision Making  3
EDL 421 Instructional Leadership 3
EDL 404 The Principalship 3
EDL 422 Curriculum Management for the School Executive 3
EDUC 493 Internship in Educational Leadership 1
EDUC 493 Internship in Educational Administration 3
EDL 479 School Law and Ethics 3
EDL 467 Supervision and Professional Development 3
EDL 476 Resource Management 3
EDL 423 Leading Inclusive Learning Systems 3
EDL 405 Principalship II 3
Total credits Click here to view the course catalog which provides descriptions of the courses.   37


"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