The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Administration
The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies Program in Educational Administration is housed in the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Leadership in Education. The program is designed for applicants who are seeking Massachusetts licensure as a principal, assistant principal, or administrator of special education and want to pursue a variety of leadership roles in schools or related institutions. For those who plan to prepare for top-level positions in educational administration, the program serves as a foundation for further graduate study.
The CAGS is an advanced degree, suitable for students who already hold a master’s degree in education and may be interested in a doctoral program in the future.
All students in the program enroll in core courses providing a comprehensive view of educational leadership and in a practicum involving supervised work in the field. Within this common framework, students specialize through their pre-practicum and practicum experiences in preparing for roles as principal, assistant principal, supervisor/director, or administrator of special education. The core includes classes in leadership, organizations and change, two advanced courses addressing the needs of English language learners and students with disabilities, courses in personnel supervision, school law, budgeting, multicultural perspectives in education, and how to use data for school improvement.
The program uses a cohort model and accepts students once a year, in the spring, to begin their studies in September. Students take two or three courses each semester for two years, in addition to two courses in the intervening summer. Courses are offered to accommodate the educational practitioner – in the late afternoon and evening or occasionally online. Summer courses are held in June or July or online.
To meet its goal of developing leaders who can be effective in improving schools, the program focuses on eight interrelated tenets of leadership:
- Instructional leaders connect curriculum, instruction and assessment to improve learning for all students.
- Anti-racist leaders use knowledge and skills about race, gender, and culture to build school environments characterized by social justice and equity.
- Organizational and cultural leaders use solid understandings of organizational dynamics and of culture to move successfully toward a shared vision for a school.
- Managerial leaders marshal the “nuts and bolts” of management and operations—human, financial, technological, and legal resources—to attain goals and serve a broader vision.
- Leaders of other leaders use their understanding of the best principles and practices of professional development to support the growth of staff members and colleagues.
- Data-oriented leaders use data and enhance their organization’s capacity to use data for assessment, continuous improvement, and decision making.
- Communication leaders use interpersonal oral and written skills to work effectively with a variety of audiences, including parents and community members.
- Reflective leaders demonstrate the ability to integrate these tenets in context, to learn from practice, to assess strengths and weaknesses, and to plan for personal learning.
Thirty-six graduate credits are required to complete the program.
Courses include a fieldwork component (most of which participants may complete in their own schools), providing hands-on opportunities to shadow administrators, analyze organizational dynamics, and evaluate programs.
Practicum or Internship
A 500-hour, two-year-long practicum or internship in educational administration is required for aspiring principals/assistant principals and special education directors. Students normally begin their practicum in the first semester and continue adding hours over the next two years (although this schedule may vary with different districts).
As their capstone experience, all students must pass a comprehensive portfolio examination synthesizing a significant portion of their course work. The portfolio offers students an opportunity to collect and reflect systematically upon the various components of their own learning, drawing on readings, coursework, and pre-practicum and practicum experiences.
Applicants Seeking Licensure
Applicants seeking licensure as principal, assistant principal, or administrator of special education must pass the communication and literacy portion of the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure to be recommended for licensure. For complete information on this requirement, see the Massachusetts DESE website on Educator Services.
Applicants seeking licensure as principal/assistant principal must also pass the Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL). We will assist you with the assessment tasks as part of your regular coursework.
The CAGS Program in Educational Administration will recommend admission for those applicants who present evidence of their ability to do graduate work with distinction. Such evidence will normally include:
- Master’s degree in a field relevant to education, such as teaching or counseling and school psychology.
- A cumulative graduate grade point average of at least 2.75, as evidenced by an official transcript.
- Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with the applicant’s leadership ability and/or potential; one letter should be written by the person who will supervise the practicum for the next two years.
- Documentation of two or more years of full-time employment in an executive management/leadership role or in a supervisory, teaching, or administrative role in a public school, private school, or higher education.
- For those seeking state administrator licensure: documentation of state licensure or successful completion of the MA Test for Teacher Licensure (MTEL).
- Optional submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
- An interview with the graduate program director and admissions committee (for applicants who reach the final stages of the selection process).