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School Executive Leadership Academy

The School Executive Leadership Academy (SELA) Track to a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MEL) at Queens is an innovative program designed to prepare school leaders by giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the changes needed in our schools.

This partnership between the Cato School of Education, the McColl School of Business, and regional districts, SELA combines expertise in leadership development and education to provide a transforming experience for aspiring school leaders.

Unlike traditional master’s in school administration programs, the SELA Track is experiential and relevant, placing participants in real life situations within a simulated school. It is designed to replicate the real challenges a school principal will face. The SELA Track is a highly selective program that accepts students with the greatest potential to successfully influence and impact education. 90% of those who have completed SELA have moved from leading children to leading adults as MCL’s, Facilitators, Deans, Assistant Principals, and Principals.

SELA 2023 group

Key Features of the Program

  • Experiential learning: case studies, role plays, simulations, and other exercises mirroring situations faced as school executives and a residency year filled with on-the-job school executive experiences.
  • A cohort experience: the creation of a learning community and support network for participants during the program and throughout their careers.
  • SELA Track is face-to-face and immersive, including a residency year spent as a full-time principal intern to a trained mentor principal.
  • Accelerated opportunity to complete Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MEL) in one year.
  • Coaching and support: mentor principal support, individualized and small-group coaching during the residency year.

The Tracks

Queens University of Charlotte offers two tracks for the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MEL) that conclude with an NC Principal License.

Online Track: Students take 11 online courses lasting 8 weeks per session.

SELA Track: Students replace the first five online traditional MEL courses with this immersive experience. Students will meet in person for five weeks during the summer from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and once a month on selected teacher workdays. Those five courses build an amazing experience foundation as you complete the remaining six online courses in eight-week sessions at your own pace.

There is an accelerated program option for those who wish to start in the Summer 2024 and complete all MEL requirements in the Summer 2025.

Program Structure & Sequence

  • October/April: selection through a highly competitive process
  • First Summer: classes five days a week for five weeks
  • School Year: year-long residency in leadership roles and participation in learning sessions
  • Second Summer: preparation for leadership assignment

Admission Process

A highly competitive process that includes:

  1. Nomination by the principal.
    • Must have at least four years of experience in an education-related field by certificate completion to apply for licensure.
    • Affiliation with a public, private, or charter school at which the internship can be completed.
    • Must have a copy of current, non-provisional NC teaching license.
    • Must have excellent oral and written communication skills.
    • Must have demonstrated initiative and leadership in a current school setting.
  2. Application, transcripts 2.7 GPA, and essays.
  3. In-depth assessment center with experiential exercises led by trained assessors.
  4. References and final selection.
  5. Offer to join a cohort.

For more information about the admission process and plan of study, please contact Alison Hiltz, Director of Education Leadership Programs (

Application Deadline

February 28, 2024, for the incoming Cohort 12. This includes all post-secondary transcripts received.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available through FAFSA.

Contact Us

Ready to develop your leadership in education? Contact Alison Hiltz (