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, official undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate transcripts, minimum GPA of 3.0 (undergraduate), two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
  • Deadline(s): June 1 for summer start
  • Course Requirements: 10 courses (37 credits)
  • Typical Course Load: Summer 1 (4 courses, face-to-face) Fall (1 online course), Spring (1 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.


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 1 for a summer start. 

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


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