Do you know someone who's the perfect Danforth candidate?

Many of our students are nominated by friends and colleagues. If you know an aspiring leader who is ready to take the next step in their career, we'd love to hear about them!


1 year

Credits earned




Time commitment


Upcoming deadline

March 1, 2025

Lead differently

Danforth prepares equity-driven educators to become outstanding principals and program administrators in P–12 school systems. Our innovative, competency-based program combines proven classroom instruction and cutting-edge research with an intensive internship. After graduating, you will feel confident in your educational leader and know how to cultivate leadership in others.

Our faculty roster offers cutting-edge scholarship and veteran educational leadership. You’ll study the latest pedagogical research and engage with instructors who have decades of experience working in the field and join a group of dynamic, motivated educational leaders.

The Danforth Program is the right fit for educators who are devoted to:

  • Building instructional capacity
  • Shaping culture and leading change
  • Advocating with students, families and communities
  • Committing to ethical practices
  • Driving improvement through inquiry
  • Marshaling resources and improving systems

Did you know? We have a 100% graduation completion rate and up to 96% of our graduates accept principal, assistant principal or district-level leadership positions within one year of completing the program.

What you'll learn

Danforth students attend classes on the UW Seattle campus, every Thursday from 1 - 7 pm & one Saturday a month from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, beginning in September. Our classes are centered around six core competencies:

Shaping Culture & Leading Change

Articulates and uses clear vision of equity and achievement to mobilize students, staff, and community in support of a culture of learning for all

Building Instructional Capacity

Improves instructional quality and support teacher learning for equitable practice

Advocating With Students, Families & Communities

Engages students, families and communities and create partnerships in service that all young people graduate ready for college and careers

Committing to Ethical Practices

Adheres to core values and actions demonstrate congruence with achieving equity and excellence for each and every learner

Driving Improvement through Inquiry

Utilizes data to influence, build urgency, identify problems of practice and provide actionable feedback

Marshaling Resources & Improving Systems

Leads use of human, financial and technical resources in service of equity, excellence and achievement results

Download Core Competencies PDF. The competencies serve as our curriculum framework and reflect National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) and Washington state standards. They were developed with district partners, top experts and leading researchers.

After graduation

Danforth graduates are ready to serve as principals, assistant principals and district-level leaders. As an alum, you will also receive:

  • Continued support, collaboration and network building through monthly professional development
  • Leadership+ workshops, book studies and peer consultancies
  • Monthly community of practice for BIPOC alumni
  • Support from a personal coach, for up to a year, if you are hired into a significant leadership role

Is superintendent on your career path? The Leadership for Learning program is a great next step for Danforth graduates.

Let's connect

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    • Year-long program beginning in summer and ending in spring
    • Principal Certification and Program Administrator Certification require 36 credits.
    • Earn your Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree simultaneously with 9 additional credits.

    Danforth offers a unique, integrated curriculum that explores issues essential to developing equity-driven, learning-focused school and district leaders. The program’s core competencies are woven together throughout the entire year-long experience.

    The program begins in summer with an intensive week long summer and an additional week long campus experience. Autumn, winter and spring quarters consist of classroom instruction and weekly seminars. You will also engage in an intensive, year-long internship experience during the program.

    Summer Quarter

    EDLPS 501: Introduction: Leadership Beyond the Classroom

    • Weeklong residential retreat and UW campus week
    • Introduced to educational leadership through identification of core values and approaches to conflict
    • Examine how culturally responsive leadership practices shape culture, support improved student learning and build instructional capacity
    Autumn Quarter

    EDLPS 502: Leadership Core I

    • Conduct an equity audit of an organization
    • Research and create a cultural portrait of an educational organization
    • Examine legal cases and district policies that shape student and teacher rights
    • Complete multiple evidence-based learning observations; pre-conference, observation, post-conference with teaching practitioners
    • Practice effective communication through reflection on practice augmented by engagement with case studies and role play 

    Main Modules: Building Instructional Capacity; Culturally Responsive Leadership; Driving Improvement Through Inquiry; Effective Communication & Productive Conflict; Educational Law; Moral & Political Dimensions; Shaping Culture & Leading Change

    Winter Quarter

    EDLPS 503: Leadership Core II

    • Lead a collaborative inquiry cycle designed to improve teacher and leader practice and student learning
    • Analyze elements of family and community engagement present in an educational organization
    • Conduct a Comprehensive Resource Analysis related to a policy and/or program with suggested changes to produce more equitable outcomes
    • Analyze a moral dilemma encountered during their work

    Main Modules: Building Instructional Capacity; Culturally Responsive Leadership; Driving Improvement Through Inquiry; Equitable Collaborations; Marshaling Resources; Moral & Political Dimensions; Shaping Culture & Leading Change

    Spring Quarter

    EDLPS 504: Leadership Core III

    • Develop an entry plan that describes the first 10, 30, 60 and 90 days of leading a school
    • Build capacity with teachers and other educators through targeted, job-embedded professional development
    • Adopt culturally responsive leadership practices through examination of curriculum, instruction and hiring practices

    Main Modules: Culturally Responsive Leadership; Driving Improvement Through Inquiry; Equitable Collaborations; Marshaling Resources; Moral & Political Dimensions; Shaping Culture & Leading Change

    Weekly reflective seminars

    Students participate in a weekly reflective seminar to help you link learning from their internship experiences to program expectations and coursework. During the second half of the year, students take over the leadership of these sessions and gain additional experience in preparing and delivering professional learning.

    Additional coursework for M.Ed. option

    Six of the nine required master’s credits come from two three-credit graduate courses related to educational leadership, research and/or policy. Some online options are available.

    The final credits are earned through a one-credit course taken during Autumn, Winter and Spring Quarters. This instructor-led course is delivered about once a month in face-to-face or online format. It is designed to help students research, write and present their final master’s learning project: a comprehensive literature review or an original study of equity in education.

    • Minimum of 1,000 internship hours are required
    • Danforth students are not able to serve as full-time teachers

    The program incorporates a rigorous on-site internship experience, overseen by a veteran mentor principal and/or program administrator. The internship involves a minimum commitment of 1,000 hours of leadership experience.

    Successful completion of the Danforth internship requires an ongoing commitment equal to about 40 percent of the workweek. Many participants accomplish this by serving full-time in a non-classroom role, such as dean of students, instructional coach, academic dean or — in the case of program administrator candidates — a district-level position.

    It is not possible to complete the internship while working as a full-time classroom teacher. Danforth students who are teaching must reduce their teaching load to no more than 60 percent.

    Upon successful completion of the program, you will qualify to apply for the Principal or Program Administrator certificate from Washington state.

    If you need additional guidance and help putting our core competencies into practice, we provide follow-up support through networking, additional professional development, coaching and/or assistance targeted to your individual needs. Support is provided at no cost to you, your school or your district. We also provide one-to-one coaches for graduates who begin a principalship within the first year of graduation.

    Admission requirements and process

      Danforth candidates should have three years of successful school-based instructional experience in an educational setting (five or more years is recommended). A M.Ed. is not required for admission. But it is an OSPI requirement for principal and program administrator certification. Through Danforth you can earn your M.Ed. concurrently with your certificate.

      Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution

      Your degree can be in-progress when applying but must be completed before the program starts.

      Unofficial transcript(s) with minimum 3.0 GPA
      • Include one from each institution from which you've earned a degree and one from every institution you have attended in the previous 5 years.
      • Your transcripts must include your name, coursework and degree (if completed)
      • If you are offered admission, the UW Graduate School will request an official transcript from your most recent degree earned

      The UW Graduate School requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0, or 3.0 for your most recent 90 graded quarter credits (60 semester credits). However, we review your application holistically. If your GPA is below 3.0, contact us at for advice on how to strengthen your overall application.

      Three letters of recommendation

      During the online application process, you will be given instructions for adding your recommenders and getting their letters submitted electronically. All recommenders must submit their letters online.


      A current academic and professional resume or vita is required. In addition to educational degrees and professional experience, you should include a listing of all relevant awards, publications, presentations or other achievements that will help us evaluate your application. Please use our resume template.

      Statement of Purpose

      Your statement should be 2 - 3 pages (with a max of 3 pages), 12-point font with 1 inch margins. Discuss the following:

      • Tell us your Why. Your purpose. Why do you want to pursue educational leadership certification?
      • Why You? Drawing from your personal knowledge and lived experience, describe how your current/prior contributions have addressed systemic inequities and/or improved practices and outcomes. While you may have many contributions, please choose just one of the following areas to address in your response:
        • Implementing culturally responsive/sustaining/abolitionist/liberatory teaching and leading practices &/or improving student learning outcomes,
        • Fostering a culture of belonging and inclusivity (ability, race, ethnicity, language, or other marginalized identities and their potential intersection)
        • Advocating with students, families, and communities
      • Why have you chosen to apply to the Danforth Educational Leadership Program? 
      Copy of your certificate

      A copy of your current teacher, educational staff associate (ESA) or Initial/Continuing CTE certificate is required.

      We encourage you to bring your true and authentic self to this application process and hope you will trust us with what you choose to share. Reach out to Jenn Indo if you have any questions.

      1. Gather all required documents
      2. Visit the Graduate School website
      3. Log into your account or create a new profile if you are a first-time applicant
      4. Complete all steps in application process and upload your documents
      5. Pay the nonrefundable $90 application fee
        • You may request a fee waiver during the application process
      6. Submit your application

      When completing the online application, be sure to select Education - Seattle (MEd - Educational Leadership & Policy Studies - Danforth Educational Leadership Program)

      All applications will be scored holistically using this rubric.

      Here is our general timeline for decisions. Have questions about the process? Visit our graduate admissions page.

      Step 1: Application processing

      • Within 7 business days after the deadline, we will check if your application if fully complete
      • We will email you whether your application is complete or incomplete
      • If your application is missing anything, you will have a short amount of time submit these items
      • You can also log into the online application and check your status and see any missing items

      Step 2: Application review

      • Committees begin reviewing applications about three weeks after the deadline
      • You will receiving an email when your application has entered the review phase

      Step 3: Decision notification

      • The final decision will be emailed to you
      • Your status will also be updated in the online application

      Costs and funding

        We are a self-sustaining, fee-based program. Course fees are charged on a per-credit basis and are the same for Washington residents and non-residents. The current estimated cost is:

        • $23,885 for certificate
        • $29,510 for certificate and M.Ed.
        Estimated cost breakdown
        • Application fee: $85
        • Confirmation deposit: $250 (applied toward first-quarter tuition)
        • Textbooks: $300
        • Cohort retreat lodging and meals: $1,300
        • Tuition ($625/credit):
          • Certificate only: $22,500
          • Certificate and M.Ed.: $28,125
        • Estimated total:
          • Certificate only: $23,885
          • Certificate and M.Ed.: $29,510

        This estimate does not include other required fees like registration, technology and U-PASS.

        Federal financial aid is available for students. You can also apply for a limited number of fellowships and scholarships that are specific to Danforth students. Once you are enrolled in the program, you will be invited to apply for the following opportunities.

        Kreielsheimer Endowment

        The Kreielsheimer Endowment for Seattle School Principals and Leaders provides fellowship awards to students in the Danforth Education Leadership Program. Students must be currently working in Seattle Public Schools and plan to complete their internship in Seattle as well. Selection is based on academic merit and recommendations from Seattle School districts, the Danforth program director and the Danforth admissions committee.

        Fellowship recipients agree to complete the Danforth program on schedule and make a reasonable, good faith effort to seek and accept appropriate employment as a school principal or administrator in Seattle Public Schools. If such employment is unavailable, recipients shall make a reasonable, good faith effort to seek and accept appropriate employment as a school principal or administrator at a school in Washington state. However, fellowship recipients will not be required to accept a position with SPS or in Washington state as a condition of the acceptance of the fellowship. Preference will be given to students who reduce their workload to less than 100 percent FTE. (Multiple awards of up to $10,000 each.)

        Washington Mutual Diversity Leader Endowment Fellowship

        The Washington Mutual Diversity Leader Endowment Fellowship provides fellowship awards to graduate students in the UW College of Education. The fellowship has a preference for students who are members of disenfranchised and underserved communities, including communities of color, and who aspire to become public K-12 school principals, superintendents and education leaders. Selection is based on academic merit and recommendations from the Danforth program director and the Danforth admissions committee. (Multiple awards of up to $5,000 each.)

        John E. Corbally Endowed Fellowship and Scholarship

        The purpose of the John E. Corbally Endowed Fellowship and Scholarship is to provide support to students in the principal or educational leadership program who are currently serving at the secondary school level. This gift was established in 1984 in memory of Dr. John E. Corbally, a faculty member who joined the UW College of Education in 1927. Selection is based on recommendations from the dean of the College of Education (or his or her designate), the Danforth program director and the Danforth admissions committee. (Corbally Fellowship, multiple awards of up to $3,000 each; Corbally Scholarship, multiple awards of up to $2,000 each.)

        T.A. Wilson Scholarship Fund

        T.A. Wilson recognized the value of a good education at an early age. After receiving his degree in aeronautical engineering, Wilson had an illustrious career with Boeing, including serving as CEO and chairman of the board. The purpose of the T.A. Wilson Endowment is to provide support to students in the College of Education, in particular those in the principal or educational leadership programs. Selection is based on recommendations from the Danforth program director and the Danforth admissions committee. (One award of $2,200.)

        Danforth Educational Leadership Scholarship

        A small number of scholarships may be made available during winter and spring quarters to students currently enrolled in the Danforth program, depending on available program funds. These funds are awarded on the basis of unmet financial need, which is assessed through the FAFSA and the UW office of Student Financial Aid. More information on these funds will be provided to enrolled students.

        Additional funding resources

        Here are some additional resources and opportunities to consider.

        Washington State Education Leadership Intern Grant

        This competitive program provides state funds to reimburse school districts for the cost of hiring substitute teachers, allowing for the release of interns to participate in an administrator internship, such as the Danforth internship program. Potential interns must apply for funding; visit the Association of Washington School Principals internship grant page for more information.

        Graduate student funding

        The Graduate School’s Office of Fellowships & Awards is a resource for students seeking information about fellowships, awards and assistantships. The Graduate Funding Information Service assists UW graduate students in their search for funding opportunities for graduate school-related expenses. GFIS representatives host workshops, post funding announcements and meet one-on-one with students.

        The Danforth Performance Guarantee

        We stand behind the quality of this program with a unique performance guarantee: you will graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to step into leadership positions and thrive in today’s challenging education environment. If you need additional guidance putting any of the core competencies into practice, we provide the following support at no cost to you, your school or your district:

        • Networking
        • Additional professional development
        • Coaching that targets your individual needs

        Alumni Profile

        Danforth Educational Leadership Program
        Danforth makes you dig deep within yourself, to really hone in on doing the thoughtful things that are going to push you as a leader.