You are here

Out-of-State/Country Principal (not administrator)

Preparing to Apply

This checklist is for ...

First-time applicants who have completed a principal preparation program outside the state of Colorado and who are seeking a Colorado principal (building-level leader) license only.

Not in the right place? Review the other checklists.


  • An earned bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university (or the equivalent as determined by a NACES member organization-prepared course-by-course equivalency report)
  • Completion of an approved program for the preparation of principals (building-level leaders)
    • Note: You must hold or be eligible to hold a principal license in the state in which you completed the preparation program.
  • Three or more years' fully licensed experience as a teacher or special services educator in an elementary or secondary school
  • A passing score on the PRAXIS 5412 or PRAXIS 5411 (only if taken between 09.01.2016 and 08.31.2019)

* Individuals who hold a valid out-of-state principal license and who have three or more years' fully licensed experience as a principal in the past seven years (as verified in an application) may not need to demonstrate program completion and may exempted from the exam requirement (determined upon review).

** Individuals who hold or qualify to hold a principal license in another state and who have not passed one of the exams listed above may qualify for an interim authorization, valid for one year.

Plan Ahead

Base Application Fee:


License Expires:

1, 3 or 7 years from date of issue depending on qualifications

Gather the Necessary Information/Documentation

You will need the following* to submit a complete application for a PRINCIPAL license:

  • A valid form of government-issued identification. 
  • A copy of an official transcript for every college/university attended. [Unofficial transcripts are never accepted. Do not include them in your application.]
    • Of these transcripts, at least one must be an official, degree-conferred transcript from a regionally accredited college or university that demonstrates a bachelor's or higher degree.
    • Transcripts from institutions outside the US must be in English or include an authentic English translation and have been evaluated by a NACES member organization for course-by-course equivalency.
  • Three or more years of full-time, fully licensed teaching (or other licensed professional) experience in an elementary or secondary school (not as a substitute, alternative, emergency, provision, probationary, temporary or international teacher)
  • An approved program verification form completed by the registrar or certification officer of the college/university where you completed your program OR three or more years of full-time, fully licensed post-preparation experienced within the past seven years as a principal in the state of licensure
  • Out-of-state applicants who completed an alternative preparation program but who have not yet accrued the three years' fully licensed post-preparation experience as a principal must also include an official, signed letter from the department of education in the state in which you completed the alternative program confirming that the program you completed was indeed state-approved. It must also outline entry and exit requirements for the alternative program you completed.
  • If you do not meet the experience requirement as indicated above, you will need a score report for one of the following Colorado State Board of Education-approved exams:
    • PRAXIS 5412
    • PRAXIS 5411 (if taken between 09.01.2016 and 08.31.2019)
  • All prior work experience.
  • Copies of all educator licenses held (valid or expired)
  • Documentation for any self-disclosures related to the following:
    • Prior criminal history
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Issues related to licensure or employment

Then ...

  • Log in to COOL to create your licensure account (if you have not already done so.)
  • Submit fingerprints (via the dark blue "CDE licensure" icon) to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
    • Ensure you have a current background check on file. You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background check to apply for a license.
    • If you have submitted fingerprints for CDE credentialing in the past, but allowed all credentials to lapse or did not submit within the 30-day window, you must submit a new set of fingerprints to CBI for licensure purposes.
    • The status of your background checks will be noticed in your COOL account and within your application(s).


Have everything ready to go?

Once you have gathered all required documentation,* have submitted fingerprints to CBI for CDE licensure purposes and have reviewed the licensure process, log in to your COOL account to complete and submit a PRINCIPAL application.

*When submitted in an application, this information will automatically populate your COOL account profile and any applicable subsequent applications. Similarly, updating/uploading information in your COOL profile likewise will pre-populate future applications.

Final Reminders

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we again reiterate these important reminders:

  • You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background checks to submit an application or you will need to submit a new set of fingerprints for licensure purposes at the time of application.
  • By submitting an application, you are verifying that you have submitted fingerprints for CDE licensure purposes, provided all requested documentation and answered all questions truthfully.
  • Within 45 days of receipt (usually far sooner!), CDE will evaluate the application.
    • Upon determination of qualification, CDE will notify the applicant and the corresponding certificate will be available for view or print in the individual's COOL account.
  • Should the application be found incomplete, CDE will notify the applicant via email and specify the information needed to complete it. This includes notification that we have yet to receive your background checks!
    • An applicant has 60 days from the date of this notification to cure the deficiency (i.e., provide the necessary information or submit background checks) or submit to the department a written request for reconsideration stating the basis for the request. Additional time is not granted to those who receive this notification due to background checks. Any additional deficiency noticed also will need to be cured within the original 60-day period.
      • Requests for reconsideration do not apply to background checks.
      • CDE will provide a written response within 30 days of any request for reconsideration.
    • An applicant who fails to cure the deficiency or request reconsideration within these 60 days will be deemed as having withdrawn the application, and such withdrawal shall not be subject to appeal or review.
  • State statute prohibits the refunding of any application evaluation fee.
  • Once you have submitted an application, check your COOL account regularly for notifications on its status and/or to print a copy of your certificate.






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