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CAGS in Educational Leadership

Merrimack’s CAGS in Educational Leadership offers targeted professional training for teachers, principals, district-level administrators, and other educators who already hold a master’s degree. You’ll explore current issues facing educators in Massachusetts and nationwide, and acquire practical tools to improve student performance, teacher effectiveness, and school- or district-level outcomes.

Quick Facts:

  • 36 Credits, 9 Courses, 100% Online
  • DESE Approved Program
  • Aligned with Massachusetts PAL tasks
  • Scholarships Available
  • Leads to Licensure
  • Master’s Degree Required
  • 4 Starts per Year (Fall, Spring, Accelerated Summer 1 & 2)
  • Complete in 2 years (one course per term)
  • Competitive Tuition: $579 per credit
  • No Application Fee

Learn more about Merrimack’s Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in Educational Leadership.

Is a CAGS in Education Leadership right for me?

This program is tailored to current teachers with a Master’s degree who are ready to pursue formal leadership roles at the school or district level. Many students in this program seek administrative licensure to become a principal or assistant principal. Graduates may also apply eligible coursework towards a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D).


You can tailor Merrimack’s online CAGS in Educational Leadership to focus on administration, teaching, counseling, curriculum, or any other aspect of school leadership. All students will complete core coursework in advanced educational leadership, collaborative leadership, educational policy & law, and engagement of family and community stakeholders.

Licensure Track & PAL Preparation

If you’re seeking licensure, the CAGS in educational leadership includes a 500-hour supervised practicum in a Massachusetts public school. In addition, all students complete a self-designed capstone project involving in-depth research or fieldwork.

The Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL) Preparation is for professionals seeking administrative licensure. The training program consists of four courses tightly aligned to each of the PAL Tasks.

CAGS in Educational Leadership Curriculum

Coursework includes Leadership in Observing; Assessing and Supporting Teacher Effectiveness; Leadership through a Vision of School Improvement; School, Family and Community Partnerships; Transformative & Collaborative Leadership; Education Law & Policy; Advanced Leadership & Policy in Education; School Finance and Operations; Instructional Leadership for Diverse Learners.

In this course students will examine the principles, values and beliefs that inform contemporary educational leadership and look critically at the contextual factors that influence how leaders function in schools and school districts. Students will consider the social, economical, historical and political forces that shape school conditions and review the changing impact of federal policy and national strategies on local educational settings.

In this course students will look at the legal aspects of schools and education in student, teacher, and administrator terms. Laws governing religious freedom, free speech, due process, students and parents’ rights, as well as privacy laws will be examined. Attention will be given to the American Disabilities Act, Special Education Laws, harassment, and equity regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sex orientation. Laws concerning general school operations, the dissemination of information, permissions, and safety of the preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary levels will be examined.

This course is designed to assist students in developing those skills essential for leading a school through a comprehensive improvement process. Students will be supported to analyze data, develop action plans, and monitor progress of two pillars of effective schools-the instructional program (curriculum, instruction, and assessment) and school culture (student culture, professional culture, and community involvement). (4 credits)

Students in this course will explore the skills, knowledge, and personal attributes central to instructional leadership and supervision. They will become familiar with observing and analyzing teaching and administrator performance using the Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation. Students will complete fieldwork including planning for an observation, conducting an observation, analyzing the observation and student performance data, providing feedback, and planning support for an individual teacher. (4 credits)

Students in a non-licensure track will complete a comprehensive research project that deals with an essential question of substance as it relates to his/her current practice. Students in the licensure track will work on artifacts, documents, and commentary for the four Tasks required for submission for state licensure. Students will report the findings and recommendations to the class. This project will be completed under the direction of a faculty member of the Graduate Education Department.

Educational leaders in the United States serve students from diverse backgrounds. Leaders influence the extent to which these diverse groups of students have access to a challenging and rigorous curriculum, appropriate educational services, and achieve academic success and preparation for their future. This course will examine critical issues related to providing leadership for diverse student populations. Educational leaders will develop an understanding of what it means to be culturally responsive and learn strategies to rectify inequities that exist in schools. Special attention will be given to the supporting an effective learning environment for English Language Learners.

This course considers the roles of schools in communities and explores methods and models to engage families and communities to maximize student learning and development. Included in this course are issues such as community centers, parent involvement, and interagency collaboration. (4 credits)

This course is designed to provide participants with an overview of school finance and operations. Topics include roles and responsibilities of management vs. the school committee, financial management (budgeting, funds types and properties, financial reporting, internal controls, procurement law and requirements), infrastructure and support services, and human resources (payroll and benefit considerations).

In this course, students will examine and apply the components of strategy development. Students will consider collaborative leadership through the study of high functioning teams and by analyzing their current team structure. Attention will be given to implementing effective strategies for conflict management. Students will learn to foster a professional learning community culture by using structured learning activities to improve teachers’ knowledge and skills. Students will utilize the structure of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) to investigate effective technology leadership and communication. (4 credits)

*These four courses align with the Massachusetts PAL tasks for administrative endorsement.

At Merrimack College, we’re proud of our long history of providing quality degrees to students entering the job market. Our faculty are more than just teachers. We are committed to helping you grow — academically, personally and spiritually — so that you may graduate as a confident, well-prepared citizen of the world.

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