Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership

Advancing your knowledge in educational leadership

Admissions Requirements | UNE Academic Catalog

This 30-credit Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership (CAGS AEL) program is an online educational leadership certificate that provides a thorough foundation in educational leadership theory, principles, and practices. Additional focus is placed on instructional leadership and tools to use to effectively motivate and lead educators.

DID YOU KNOW: While named differently, the CAGS-AEL is similar to an EdS (Education Specialist) certificate or a 6th year certificate.

Please note: If your goal is to become an Administrator in the State of Maine, and you currently have your master’s degree, this 30-credit CAGS in Advanced Educational Leadership leads to Building Administrator 040 certification in the State of Maine. If you will be working outside of the State of Maine, UNE Online highly recommends that you research your specific state requirements for entry level into assistant principal or principal positions before applying for this program.

If you do not already hold a master’s degree and your state requires this certification be earned at the master’s level, then we recommend reviewing our 30-credit Master of Science in Education – Educational Leadership program here. Unsure which program is right for you? Contact our enrollment team to help guide you.

CAGS AEL Highlights

  • 30-credit hour certificate
  • Complete your program in just under two years
  • 100% online – no campus visits required
  • Learn anytime from any place
  • No GRE Required
  • Dynamic faculty of practitioners, researchers, and educators

Curriculum Details

This Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership program requires completion of 10 post-master’s courses (30 credits). Participants begin by addressing team building, decision-making, problem solving, strategic planning, and analyzing leadership through observation.

This course provides the overarching context for the educational leadership focus area. Educators consider theories and practices relating to effective and ethical leadership in educational settings. Topics include diagnosing the work environment, decision-making, problem-solving, strategic planning, and human resource development. Students will reflect on their own leadership, observe and analyze other leaders, and explore how the theories and practices that relate to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (formerly ISLLC).

his course provides a foundation of the legal underpinnings of the American education system and explores how legal decisions have had an effect on an educational system that covers lifelong learning. Specific legal principles relating to church/state issues, tort liability, teacher responsibilities, student rights and administrative concerns such as contracts and collective bargaining are examined. Participants will analyze case studies to apply their understanding and create a compendium of the laws unique to the states in which they work.

Regardless of how beneficial a desired change may seem, new initiatives are often difficult to implement. Each educational setting has its own culture, and innovations and changes that are incompatible with the prevailing climate may elicit resistance and hostility. The course examines change theory; studies case histories of successful and not so successful change efforts; and reviews change strategies to equip students with skills for introducing effective reforms.

Supervision and evaluation strategies need to support teachers’ growth into strong, competent professionals. This course examines requirements of educational leaders engaged in supervising and evaluating educational personnel, and explores new directions and procedures currently under development. Emphasis is given to understanding the theory behind the practice, strengths and weaknesses of varying methods, and hands-on applications. Drawing on knowledge of developmental stages and multiple styles of learning and teaching, participants consider such practices as peer evaluations, self-evaluations, portfolios, and mentoring.

An effective educational leader promotes the success of all students by communicating the learning community’s vision, policies, and successes to staff, students, parents, community, decision makers, legislators, and media. This course provides 80 hours of field-based work, in which aspiring leaders will develop a plan to build and maintain partnerships with multiple constituent groups within the community in a way that positively impacts the education of students.

School leaders must also be “lead teachers.” Participants will explore current models for curriculum design to ensure that instructional materials meet appropriate mandates for content and learning goals, and which also address student’’ diverse needs, abilities, and experiences. Learning theories and styles are included, as are topics relating to curriculum theory and assessment.

The course traces the historical background and development of school finance acts, and examines the intent, concepts, and relationship inherent in these acts. Processes by which state subsidies are computed, allocated and distributed are considered. Budget and expenditure practices in relation to these acts are illustrated. Emphasis is placed on helping students develop a clear conceptual understanding of the overall methods by which state aid is provided to local school systems. Readings, research, and other assignments are designed to acquaint students with school finance practices in their respective states.

This course will include an overview of organizational theories and systems; the inclusion of organizational theory in the educational change process; the functions, objectives, development, and assessment of strategic plans; and the relationship between strategic planning and budget development.

Laws, regulations, and judicial decisions relating to the education of students with special needs are discussed. Methods of conflict resolution, mediation, and ethical standards are examined. Students will be required to apply what they learn as they analyze real-life case scenarios.

This internship is a self-designed experience that consists of 150 hours (10 hours/week for 15 weeks) at a site outside of your regular work environment. The design of the internship must focus on the intern’s leadership skills as described in the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders as well as the collection of artifacts and data that demonstrate the intern’s use of those skills. This course is a requirement of State of Maine Building Administrator Certification.


Emphasis is on developing the knowledge and skills needed by school administrators and other educators who wish to assume significant leadership roles in their schools, educational institutions and communities. Students will address the complex laws and regulations that govern school administration, specific legal principles, teacher responsibilities, negotiation and collective bargaining tactics, and additional laws and policy that impact education.

Additional focus is placed on instructional leadership and tools to use to effectively motivate and lead teachers. Each certificate is tailored to the daily life of a working professional and includes an immersive education experience within the participant’s own classroom. Other topics include:

  • The changing state of education across the United States
  • School reform
  • School culture
  • Educational initiatives
  • Supervision and evaluation strategies
  • School and community relations
  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Strategic planning


The final requirement of the CAGS AEL program is the internship. This is a self-designed experience that consists of 150 hours (10 hours/week for 15 weeks) at a site outside of your regular work environment (i.e. with tasks entirely separate from those of your regular, day-to-day responsibilities). Throughout this course, you’ll develop a leadership philosophy and evolve your leadership skills through your internship experience, collaboration with classmates, and analysis of a variety of educational experiences through journal writing and reflection. This course is a requirement of State of Maine Building Administrator (040) Certification. Students should be prepared to coordinate their placement and arrange all relevant documentation before enrolling in this final course.

CAGS AEL Learning Outcomes

  • Apply research results to leadership decisions
  • Describe the requirements of the PSEL standards
  • Demonstrate a high degree of specialized knowledge and skills about school administration
  • Exhibit leadership skills in an actual school administrative settings

Graduates of the CAGS AEL program will receive a diploma stating “Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study – Advanced Educational Leadership.” If you need additional documentation or verification, please contact an enrollment counselor.


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NEW: Transfer and “stack” previous post-master’s or doctoral work

UNE Online is now offering students the opportunity to transfer up to four 3-credit courses from their previous post-master’s coursework (taken within the last five years) into the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree. This includes courses from our Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) programs.

Students who transfer four 3-credit courses into the Ed.D. program have the potential to graduate with their doctorate in just over two years. Read more about the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).

Suggested next steps:

  1. Admissions requirements – CAGS: AEL
  2. Commonly asked questions for the online CAGS program
  3. Interactive U.S. map of certification requirements



If you have any questions about the graduate programs in Education coursework or the program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.