Leadership for Learning (L4L)
Leading education forward
Leadership for Learning (L4L) is a three-year program to earn your Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree along with a Washington state superintendent certification or program administrator certification.
L4L is designed for working professionals within K-12 school systems who want to take their career to the next step, as superintendents, directors or other school district leadership roles.
You and your cohort will gain the knowledge and skills to partner with students, families and communities to disrupt and transform educational systems. In addition to our rigorous on-campus courses, students must also undertake a 360-hour internship for hands-on leadership training.
We believe that through collective leadership action we can reimagine, redesign, and realize educational systems that truly lead to justice for communities across the State of Washington.
L4L Leadership Standards
Going beyond the standard, our curriculum is dives deep into key leadership elements:
- Leadership for Educational Justice
When systems-focused leaders demonstrate leadership for educational justice, they facilitate collective action to transform systems to become more liberatory, in partnership with students, families, communities, systems-based educators, and other stakeholders. To do so, they:
- Explicitly model critical and continuous self-reflection about their own leadership and intersectional racial identities in ways that reflect changes in their practice to intervene in systemic inequities.
- Foster collective action to disrupt and decrease race, class, language, culture, disability, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and other group-based disparities and to ensure that the needs, interests, and assets of non-dominant students are central in change efforts.
- Transform power and engage conflict ethically in decision-making with (not for) students, families, communities, and other educators.
- Inquiry-Focused Leadership
When systems-focused leaders lead with inquiry, they facilitate systems change as collective inquiry that critically engages expansive data and diverse expertise to understand problems and co-construct solutions towards justice-centered practices, experiences and outcomes. To do so, they:
- Identify the learning experiences, teaching, and leadership practices, including their own, that reinforce racial and other educational inequities; co-construct theories of action and change that address the systemic roots of those problems; move to collective action; and continuously assess change to intervene in unjust processes and outcomes.
- Collaborate with others to transform qualitative and quantitative data systems in ways that foster humanizing data practices and research use in systemic inquiry and change.
- Cultivate the agency and leadership of other educators, students, families, and communities, especially those marginalized by systems, to shift inequitable power and build solidarities in inquiry processes.
- Leadership for Transformative Teaching & Learning
When systems-focused leaders demonstrate leadership for transformative teaching and learning, they leverage the racial and cultural identities, knowledge, and practices of students and their communities and make their own and others’ learning central in their practice. To do so, they:
- Intentionally and reciprocally lead their own and others’ learning in ways that demonstrably improve their justice-, inquiry-, instructional-, and systems-focused leadership practice.
- Lead the implementation of relevant, rigorous, anti-racist and culturally-responsive instruction that is inclusive of the adults and students in their systems beyond an individual school.
- Design and influence the use of professional evaluation systems, instructional frameworks, and other policies and practices that reinforce adults’ learning and instructional practices aligned with identity-affirming student learning experiences.
- Leadership for Equitable Systems
When systems-focused leaders demonstrate leadership for equitable systems, they transform interactions, institutional practices, and structural inequities that perpetuate historical systems of power and oppression. To do so, they:
- Draw from historical and contemporary community knowledge and practices of racial and communal solidarity in change-making in order to understand, disrupt, and shift systems towards equitable learning for every student.
- Design, influence, and communicate policies and strategically engage laws and governance structures in service of equitable learning and wellbeing for students.
- Generate, allocate, and lead the management of resources to disrupt institutional and structural inequities and increase opportunities for students and communities.
Our program utilizes an innovative, action-focused curriculum that includes classroom-based work at the UW-Seattle campus, as well as field-based and online learning experiences. Students work closely with faculty, a dedicated advisor and internship mentors to tailor their learning experience in ways that align with their goals. Students also participate in cohort activities and group projects, creating opportunities to learn from each other. Our general program timeline:
- May 2024: Cohort 9 orientation
- July 8-11, 2024: Summer Leadership Institute I
- Sept. 2024 - May 2025: Program Sessions
- July 2025: Summer Leadership Institute II
- Sept. 2025 - May 2026: Program Sessions & Internship
- July 2026: Summer Leadership Institute III
- Sept. 2026 - May 2027: Program Sessions
- June 2027: Graduation
All L4L graduates earn their Ed.D. degree. Students may also choose to pursue superintendent or program administrator certification. If certification is desired, we customize internship experiences to ensure Washington State certification standards are met.
Ed.D. with Superintendent Certificate
To earn the State of Washington Superintendent certificate, candidates must hold (or be eligible for) teacher, administrator, or educational staff associate (ESA) certification. Internships are completed under the mentorship of a current superintendent or assistant superintendent, and with the guidance of their appointed UW internship advisor to ensure that each student's field experiences meet state requirements for credentialing.
Ed.D. with Program Administrator Certificate
To earn the State of Washington Program Administrator certificate, candidates must complete an approved internship with a district office administrator. Candidates work closely with their field mentor, and under the guidance of the appointed UW internship advisor to ensure all certification requirements are fulfilled.
Ed.D. with no additional certificate
Internships for degree-only students are constructed especially to meet each candidate’s personal learning goals and broader their capacity and experience base as systems-focused leaders.
Because leaders learn by doing, L4L students complete a 360-hour internship that is designed to stretch their leadership. These experiences often take place in settings like superintendent offices, educational service districts, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations. We work with students to place them in settings that align with their goals and certification requirements.
Admission requirements and process
Admissions for L4L is highly competitive. The ideal candidate is currently serving in a leadership role, demonstrates a meaningful commitment to equity, demonstrates a capacity for systems-level thinking, and possesses equity-focused leadership experience. When completing your application materials, be sure to highlight each of these areas.
A new L4L cohort is admitted once every three years using the following timeline:
- Cohort 9 (2024-2027)
- Information sessions: Summer - Autumn 2023
- Applications open: Autumn 2023
- Application deadline: February 1, 2024
- Program begins: July 2024
- Cohort 10 (2027-2030)
- Information sessions: Summer - Autumn 2026
- Applications open: Autumn 2026
- Application deadline: February 1, 2027
- Program begins: July 2027
- Master's degree from an accredited institution
Your degree can be in-progress when applying but must be completed before 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 email@example.com 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.
- Goal statement
This statement is used to ensure that your needs and our programs are well-matched. In no more than four double-spaced pages, respond to all of the following prompts.
L4L Standards: The L4L Leadership Standards describe program faculty’s latest thinking about the observable leadership actions that contribute to excellent educational opportunities and outcomes for each and every student, especially students of color, students learning English, students living in low-income families, and others traditionally underserved by public school systems. Throughout the program, you will learn more about each standard and use the standards as a jumping off point to lead your own learning. As a start to that process, briefly review the current L4L Leadership Standards and choose one of the 12 that stands out to you. Then, in no more than 2 double-spaced pages, discuss:
- Which standard did you choose? Why that one?
- In your own words, what does that standard mean to you?
- What is a concrete example from your experience-- either your own leadership or someone else’s leadership that you have encountered directly-- that illustrates what this standard looks like in practice and why the leadership described in this standard is important?
Equity-focused leadership: Throughout the program, your definition of equity-focused leadership will deepen. But where is your starting place? To capture and communicate your current thinking, please respond to the following prompts.
- In a brief paragraph, how do you define “educational equity?” We acknowledge that educational equity is a complex idea but sometimes systems leaders must capture complex ideas in a couple sentences. What is your current definition, in a nutshell?
- What is one concrete instance of educational inequity that you have encountered and that is important to you? Why is it important to you?
- What is a specific example of how you led to address that or a related instance of educational inequity? Please describe in detail what leadership moves you made. Why those? With what results? And what are your reflections now on your leadership and impacts? If you have not exercised leadership around that issue, why not? Stepping back, what feedback might you give yourself about how to take action with regard to that instance of inequity?
Professional Goals: L4L is a cohort program with a common curriculum that offers many opportunities for you to tailor your participation to your own goals. To start our conversation about your goals, and how L4L may help you pursue them, please respond to the following questions:
- What are 1-2 of your most important current professional goals? Why those?
- In what specific ways do you see participating in L4L9 helping you make substantial progress toward those specific goals?
- Two writing samples
Your samples should be professional in nature and connected to your leadership work. There is no page limit on writing samples, but they should clearly indicate authorship. At least one writing sample must be solo-authored.
- Copy of your current certificate
Upload a copy of your teacher, educational staff associate (ESA), principal or program administrator certificate, if applicable. This is required for candidates who seek the superintendent credential.
- Gather all required documents
- Visit the Graduate School website
- Log into your account or create a new profile if you are a first-time applicant
- Complete all steps in application process and upload your documents
- Pay the nonrefundable $85 application fee
- You may request a fee waiver during the application process
- Submit your application
When prompted to select a program in the application, choose "Education - Seattle (EdD - Educational Leadership & Policy Studies - Leadership for Learning)”
Step 1: Application processing
- Following the application deadline, we will check if your application is fully complete
- We will notify you of any missing or incomplete components. If your application is missing anything, you will have a short amount of time submit these items
- You can also log into the online tool to check your status and see any missing items
Step 2: Application review
- Committees begin reviewing applications about two weeks after the deadline
Step 3: Candidate interview
- Once applications have been screened by faculty, selected applicants will be invited for an in-person interview and to participate in other on-site activities.
Step 4: Decision notification
- The final decision will be emailed to you by April 15.
- Your status will also be updated in the online application tool
Costs and funding
Leadership for Learning is a self-sustaining (fee-based) program. A budget is prepared each year based on actual costs. Generally, students can anticipate a modest increase each year to coincide with university-wide tuition increases. Tuition rates are set each June for the upcoming academic year. The following estimate is based on the 2021-2024 cohort’s tuition rate of $625 per credit.
- Application fee: $85 (fee waiver is available)
- Confirmation deposit: $300 (applied to first quarter tuition)
- Year one: $21,875 (35 credits)
- Year two: $21,875 (35 credits)
- Year three: $16,875 (27 credits)
- Estimated total: $60,710
Funding & Scholarships
The Graduate Funding Information Service helps current and admitted graduate students at the University of Washington identify and pursue various funding resources for graduate school-related expenses. GFIS offers a series of workshops throughout the year, as well as individual student consultations. For more information, visit the GFIS website.