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Alternative Principal Candidates: What You Need to Know

The alternative principal pathway is intended to allow districts to hire talented candidates who may not have licensed experience in schools and who have an undergraduate degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education to serve in a role of principal or assistant principal. Districts and candidates together create an individualized learning plan based on the Colorado Principal Quality Standards to ensure the success of their candidates.

Using This Page

This page lists the steps you'll take to obtain a principal authorization valid for three years in Colorado. It also includes links to resources that help you complete each step.

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1. Complete Degree 

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Complete a four year degree at a regionally accredited college or university

2. Background Check

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Pass CBI and FBI background checks

  • As part of the background check, you must submit your fingerprints to CBI

3. Obtain Position and Agreement

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  • A full-time position as a principal or assistant principal
  • The district's individualized learning plan for the alternative principal candidate
  • A statement of assurance (SOA) signed by employer, designated agency and alternative principal candidate

4. Apply

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Apply for a principal authorization using the eLicensing system

View the checklist for alternative principal candidates

Please note*: No content assessment is required to obtain a principal authorization. However, there is an exam required upon program completion in order to move from a principal authorization to an initial principal license.



For questions, submit a Licensing Support Request form or call 720-739-3304 (7:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday).