Enhancing Capacity for Special Education Leadership (ECSEL)

A preparation program for directors of special education

The Enhancing Capacity for Special Education Leadership (ECSEL) program at the University of Washington Bothell prepares candidates interested in administering special education programs through a non-degree program that leads to the required Washington State Resident Program Administrator Certification.

Applications for the 2024 cohort opened September 2023

Application deadline is April 30, 2024. Cohort 7 will begin in Summer 2024.

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About the ECSEL program

The Enhancing Capacity for Special Education Leadership (ECSEL) is a collaborative program for special education administrators that focuses on knowledge and skills needed for local education administration. Originally formed in partnership with the campuses of University of Washington and Washington State University, ECSEL is now led by university faculty and a statewide team of experienced special education administrators. The program qualifies candidates for the required Washington Residency Program Administrator Certification and graduates of the ECSEL program are recommended for Washington State Residency Certification as an Education Program Administrator.

ECSEL is a grant-funded program with instruction supported by Washington State OSPI. Students are responsible for approximately $500 per year.

Program structure

During each of the two years, the cohort-based program consists of three year-long seminars, a 400-hour internship requirement, and a set of performance tasks that allow candidates to demonstrate proficiency.

The year 1 program focuses on leadership for special education at the school level, with seminars, internship, and performance tasks all focused on leadership for teaching, learning, and student services within a school.

In year 2, the focus shifts to leadership at the district level, with the internship and program tasks reflecting district-level responsibilities. In both years, the program operates in a blended on-line and face-to-face model, with summer and weekend meetings supplemented by e-learning resources.

Orientation for the new cohort will be held virtually in June 2024. Sessions are held one Saturday each month October – June.


ECSEL requires all applicants to hold a Master’s Degree or higher upon application.

While the ECSEL program no longer offers a Master’s degree option, candidates may register for graduate-level credits (up to 21 credits each program year) as a non-matriculated student. Candidates may also earn clock hours. Information about the process for credits and clock hours will be shared with candidates at the first program session.


ECSEL’s curriculum is structured to incorporate both Washington State standards for the Residency Program Administrator certificate and the Council for Exceptional Children’s advanced standards for program administrators. The curriculum is organized around the responsibilities and outcomes that are expected of a successful local special education administrator (LSEA) who simultaneously addresses goals for procedural compliance, student outcomes, and equity. These responsibilities are outlined below in the LSEA Responsibility Model, which has been developed collaboratively by program faculty, candidates, and graduates. The model includes six major responsibilities and a total of 28 outcomes that contribute to ultimate goals of compliance, student learning, and equity. ECSEL engages candidates in study of each of the 28 outcomes, addressing how LSEA leadership at the school level can enhance services received by students in year 1, and how leadership at the district level can create conditions that support high-quality services in year 2.

The LSEA Responsibility Model

LSEA Responsibility Model

Seminar dates

Below are the planned seminar dates for the Cohort 7. If you will be unable to attend one of the seminars listed, please note this in the supplemental application form. We will give priority to applicants who can make arrangements to attend all sessions. Please note that dates are for planning purposes only and are subject to change based on unforeseen circumstances.

Academic year 2024-2025 (year one)

  • July 21-23: Summer Institute/Orientation
  • October 5, 2024: Session 1
  • November 2, 2024: Session 2
  • December 7, 2024: Session 3
  • January 4, 2025: Session 4
  • February 1, 2025: Session 5
  • March 1, 2025: Session 6
  • April 5, 2025: Session 7
  • May 3, 2025: Session 8
  • June 7, 2025: Session 9

Academic year 2025-2026 (year two)

  • Late July or early August 2025 – 2 days: Summer Institute/Orientation
  • October 4, 2025: Session 1
  • November 1, 2025: Session 2
  • December 6, 2025: Session 3
  • January 3, 2026: Session 4
  • February 7, 2026: Session 5
  • March 7, 2026: Session 6
  • April 4, 2026: Session 7
  • May 2, 2026: Session 8
  • June 6, 2026: Session 9

Application dates & information

  • The next cohort, Cohort 7, will begin in Summer/Autumn 2024
  • The application cycle for Cohort 7 opened September 1, 2023
  • Application deadline to Cohort 7 is April 30, 2024
  • Application details can be found here.


ECSEL Advisor

School of Educational Studies Professional Licensure Disclosure