Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership

100% Online Certificate

Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership

Advancing your knowledge in educational leadership

UNE Online’s Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership (CAGS AEL) is an educational leadership certification designed for students who want to further their careers in the field of education and move into a leadership position. The CAGS AEL program addresses the complexities of school administration positions. It focuses on developing the key knowledge and skills needed by school administrators and other educational leadership roles in schools, educational institutions, and communities. 

Our 30-credit program is 100% online and provides a thorough foundation in educational leadership theory, principles, and practices. There is no GRE necessary, and the certificate can be completed in just under two years. 

CAGS AEL is tailored to the daily life of a working professional and incorporates an immersive educational experience within the participant’s own classroom. Throughout the program, students will delve into a comprehensive array of topics, including laws and regulations, negotiation and collective bargaining tactics, motivating, supervising, evaluating and leading educators, national and local school reform, educational initiatives, as well as strategic planning. Our students will also explore school-community relations, communication, ethics, and finance.


Current Application Deadline

August 12, 2024

Fall A Session

Courses begin September 4, 2024

Time Left to Apply:

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Why Choose the University of New England Online?

Fully Online

Fully Online

Courses are delivered entirely online, allowing the flexibility to complete coursework around your schedule and in any location.



UNE Online offers some of the most affordable and competitive tuition rates, allowing you to complete your program for less.



Students will have an academic advisor to help with course selection based on their individual needs and benefit from engaged faculty and a student support team.

Flexible Internship

Flexible Internship

Students design their own internship – allowing for an internship focused on individual career goals and aspirations.


The CAGS AEL program internship is one of the final courses of the certificate and is 150 hours. The internship is 10 hours a week for 15 weeks. Students design their own internship experience outside of their regular work environment. The internship consists of tasks entirely separate from the participant’s regular day-to-day responsibilities. Using journal writing and reflection, students develop a leadership philosophy and evolve leadership skills through experience, classmate collaboration, and analysis of their internship activities. 

CAGS AEL students complete their internship under the supervision of an approved mentor. Students should be prepared to coordinate their placement, mentor, and all relevant documentation prior to enrolling in this internship course. 

This internship course is a requirement for the State of Maine Building Administrator (040) Certification.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the CAGS AEL program receive a diploma stating “Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study – Advanced Educational Leadership.” While named differently, the CAGS AEL is similar to the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) certificate, also known as a 6th-year certificate. Students who need additional documentation can contact an enrollment counselor for assistance.

For students aiming to become an administrator in the state of Maine and currently have their master’s degree, this 30-credit CAGS in Advanced Educational Leadership leads to Maine’s Building Administrator 040 certification. If you will be working in a state other than Maine, UNE Online recommends researching your state’s specific requirements. 

Graduates of the CAGS AEL often acquire positions as assistant principals or principals and are highly skilled at:

  • Applying research to leadership decisions
  • Understanding and aligning the PSEL standards
  • Employing leadership skills in actual school administrative settings

The UNE Online Experience

“I am back at UNE Online and in the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) program because I didn’t want to get another master’s degree, but I do want to become a Literacy Specialist. Earning this CAGS will allow me to sit for the test to become a Literacy Specialist.”

Ally Loukas, MSEd ‘20, CAGS Student


At UNE Online we take a holistic approach to reviewing applications. Successful CAGS AEL students have an inclination to take on leadership roles, the ability to learn and adapt to new tools and technology and the ability to manage multiple competing priorities. We review applicants in a comprehensive manner, taking into consideration their previous academic coursework, professional experiences, and application materials.  

Admission Requirements:

  • *Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.  
  • Employment in an educational setting (or ability to regularly access a classroom environment) in which concepts and strategies from the courses can be applied. 
  • Applications are reviewed holistically as a determination of academic readiness. The admissions committee values previous academic performance as indicated on transcripts and considers it as part of the review process. 
  • No GRE Required

*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.

How to Apply:

Create an Online Portal Account to begin your application. To complete your online application you will need:

  • Current Resume/CV
  • Please provide a goal statement describing your motivation for graduate study at the University of New England (min 250 words) OR upload a professional or academic writing sample from the past five years.
  • Official transcripts
  • Apply now for free!


CAGS-AEL Curriculum

The online Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Advanced Educational Leadership curriculum is designed to be accessible for working professionals. UNE Online’s CAGS-AEL program offers flexible courses which address the main tenets of strong leadership, including team building, decision-making, problem-solving, strategic planning, and analyzing leadership through observation.

The CAGS-AEL online program requires the completion of 10 post-master’s course credits for a total of 30 credits.

This course provides the overarching context for organizational leadership. Participants consider theories and practices relating to effective and ethical leadership in organizational 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 the theories and practices that relate to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL).

This 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. This course examines change theory, studies case histories of change efforts, and reviews change strategies in order to equip students with skills for introducing effective reforms.

This course examines the requirements of educational leaders engaged in supervising and evaluating educational personnel. Emphasis is given to the theory behind the practice as well as different methods and hands-on applications. Participants explore 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. Before registration can be made available for this course, students must complete all of the required internship paperwork. Please contact your Student Support Specialist for details.

Instructional leaders must ensure that the teaching and learning taking place in a school is rigorous, relevant, and designed to meet the needs of all students. Participants will explore current models and trends in curriculum design and instructional practices with a focus on using research and data to guide decision-making about content and pedagogy. This course will also look at the role an instructional leader plays in serving as a change agent to promote best practices in a school.

This 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 and local school districts.

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.

Federal and state laws, regulations, and judicial decisions relating to the education of students with special needs in inclusion classrooms are analyzed. Key legal provisions, such as free appropriate public education, least restrictive environment, and due process are examined. Methods of conflict resolution and mediation as well as ethical standards are examined. Students are required to apply what they learn as they research and analyze case scenarios.

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 (040). Before registration can be made available for this course, students must complete all of the required internship paperwork.


NEW: Stacking Credits

UNE Online now offers 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 our 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 program have the potential to graduate with their doctorate in just over two years. Read more about the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).

Transfer Credits

Transfer credit cannot be accepted into the CAGS AEL program or any other program leading to a state of Maine certification.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the University of New England Online Certificate of Graduate Studies in Advanced Education Leadership is competitive among other schools at $660/credit,* and because all of our courses are delivered 100% online, you will not incur the cost of traveling or relocating to complete your degree. (*Note: Tuition is subject to change. Listed tuition does not include the cost of fees, books, or additional credits that may be required, etc. Contact Student Financial Services to learn more.)

Cost per
Credit: $660

# of credits: 30

Typical cost:


General Services Fee (per semester, non-refundable for matriculated students)
Tuition (per credit hour)
Technology Fee (per semester)
Registration Fee (non-matriculated students per semester)


When choosing an institution of higher education, you want to be sure your investment will hold value upon completion. We are proud to hold NECHE (New England Commission on Higher Education) accreditation at the University of New England and for our graduate programs. NECHE Accreditation ensures a high level of academic quality and public accountability for the education being provided.


The University of New England Online’s MSEd faculty and staff are top-notch. They are a team of dedicated professionals and are active and respected in their field. Many members of our team have appointments in other University of New England Colleges and are affiliated with various reputable institutions of education. Meet the Education Faculty and Staff


Student Support & Resources

At the University of New England Online, we are committed to providing our students with the highest level of academic and personal support. We understand the unique challenge of adult students who are often juggling school, career and family, which is why we offer a robust Student Academic Success Center (SASC) and high-touch academic advising. Learn more about Student Support and Resources.  



Yes. The University of New England is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE), which accredits schools and colleges in the six New England states. Accreditation by the Commission indicates that the institution has been carefully evaluated and found to meet standards agreed upon by qualified educators.

Regional accreditation is the primary type of institutional accreditation recognized in the United States. Some institutions with online programs hold national accreditation because they are unwilling or unable to meet the rigorous standards of regional accreditation. You should also know that many educational institutions holding regional accreditation do not recognize credits or degrees earned at institutions that are nationally accredited. This is very important if you plan on transferring from one college or university to another part way through a degree program, or if you plan to pursue additional degrees at different colleges or universities.

CAGS AEL is approved for certification in the State of Maine:

  • CAGS AEL is approved for Building Administrator certification (040)

Your state may offer reciprocity for this certification. None of our online graduate programs are approved for initial teacher certification.



You can complete your studies at your convenience in the comfort of your own home. No campus visits are required. You will have access to your coursework 24 hours a day, which can be completed around your busy schedule.

No. All of our courses are asynchronous – you choose when to log in and complete your coursework (while adhering to all posted deadlines and due dates, of course). In the event there is a live session, the instructor will make the video available for viewing at any time.

On average, most students spend 15-20 hours per week studying to ensure completion of one 3-credit course per eight-week term. However, this can vary greatly depending on your personal and professional circumstances.

Historically we have found that students have the most success by starting out with one course per eight-week term. However, if you can show that you are able to complete the coursework competently, you may contact your student support specialist to explore enrolling in more than one course per term.

Educational professionals spanning teachers, librarians, administrators, technology specialists, and others can find great value in our programs. To ensure your success, you can find descriptions of typical assignments below:

Assignments that involve analysis of classroom and school data: How learning is measured in a classroom or school-wide setting? You may need access to classroom assessment data, standardized test data, or commonly developed and scored assessments to answer this question. If you are working as an administrator, teacher or paraprofessional you probably already work with these sorts of data regularly.

Assignments that involve curriculum and instruction: What is the adopted curriculum of your school or district? What training goes with it? Who is responsible for choosing and reviewing it? Beyond a traditional classroom setting, other school personnel such as school counselors, librarians often have curricular responsibilities. Other topics central to your school setting might cover how instruction is evaluated or how new teachers are mentored.

Portfolios of professional work: Some courses may require that you create, utilize or reflect upon collections of your professional work. This could include lesson and unit plans, strategic plans for faculty development, presentations to colleagues, or committee work.


CAGS – Advanced Educational Leadership (CAGS AEL) Program

You may be able to complete your CAGS AEL in less than two years. Get in touch with an enrollment counselor to find out the particulars of your program.

If you currently have your master’s degree, our 30-credit CAGS in Advanced Educational Leadership (CAGS AEL) will lead to Building Administrator (040) certification in the State of Maine. If you are looking for similar certification in a state outside of Maine, we encourage you to research your state’s certification requirements with our interactive map.

The CAGS AEL 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 (i.e. with tasks entirely separate from those of your regular, day-to-day responsibilities). You are required to be overseen by an approved mentor at the site, and will continue to complete discussion posts and other coursework in the associated courses, EDU 791/792: Internship I & II, while your internship is underway. Students should be prepared to coordinate their placement and arrange all relevant documentation before enrolling in this final course to avoid delay of their program completion. This course is a requirement of State of Maine Building Administrator (040) Certification and our CAGS AEL program. Please note that our generalist CAGS program, which does not lead to Building Administrator (040) Certification, does not have an internship requirement.

Due to the stringent standards of Maine state certification, the CAGS AEL program does not accept transfer credits.

Yes, our CAGS or CAGS AEL students or any CAGS or CAGS AEL student from a regionally accredited institution are welcome to transfer up to four 3-credit courses (maximum of twelve credits) into our Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.

Transfer courses must:

  • Be classified as post-master’s level.
  • Be worth 3 credits.
  • Have been taken within five years of application.
  • Have been completed with a grade of “B” or better.
  • Be equivalent to one of the required program courses or an elective course that meets the goals of the student’s education



An enrollment counselor is prepared to answer all of your questions and walk you through the steps necessary to apply to this program. Complete an information request to have an enrollment counselor contact you.

Course tuition for our programs can be found on the tuition costs section. The University of New England’s online Graduate Programs in Education offer online students the same outstanding education that campus-based students receive. Easy access to affordable education helps us fulfill our goal of ensuring that every individual who has the desire to further their education has the opportunity to do so.

If you graduated more than a year ago, you will need to reapply. Due to privacy policies, UNE does not keep personal student records for more than a year. However, if you graduated within a year, all you’ll need to do is fill out a continuing education application. Contact an enrollment counselor to get started.