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Courtesy of Jared Horn, UNT Dallas

A new academic program at the University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) offers aspiring principals an opportunity to specialize in leading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) schools. And it comes with an added bonus: free tuition and no fees through a $651,000 grant from the Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation.

The UNT Dallas School of Education has developed an innovative, first-of-its-kind Master of Educational Leadership (EDLE) program with a STEM concentration. Its goal is to combine a rigorous curriculum with professional field study, ensuring participants are uniquely qualified and prepared to become STEM principals.

The TI Foundation grant will pay all tuition and fees for candidates accepted into the Aspiring STEM Principal Program beginning in the Fall 2023 semester. The graduate-level program consists of 30 hours and the completion time is May 2025 for those who start in Fall 2023. This is the second grant from the TI Foundation for the program.

“Principals play a significant part in student learning outcomes, which begins with attracting and retaining great teachers,” said Andy Smith, executive director of the TI Foundation. “During the five years since this program began, we have been pleased with its success in developing STEM school leaders who are skilled at creating STEM campuses. Their commitment benefits teachers, who are integral to student success, which in turn helps students be better prepared for a future in which STEM skills are necessary.”

The academic program focuses on Dallas County’s southern sector. Candidates for the program’s inaugural cohort must be current educators with a minimum of two years of teaching experience in these five independent school districts: Cedar Hill, Dallas, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster.

“The UNT Dallas Educational Leadership Department is building a pipeline of future STEM-focused principals who will be crucial to the success of innovative and transformational schools,” said Dr. Shelia Brown, UNT Dallas Lecturer of Educational Leadership and Program Coordinator of Educational Leadership. “Thanks to the generosity of the TI Foundation, the work of these STEM leaders will directly impact students by creating pathways to meet future career challenges.”

This is one of several STEM-focused initiatives now underway at UNT Dallas. The university will break ground in August on a new $100 million STEM building, which will feature multiple classrooms and laboratories, as well as a green learning environment that brings the campus landscaping inside.

As STEM and STEAM-related careers expand widely across many businesses and industries and demand for such positions grows rapidly, K-12 principals with this master’s degree concentration will be shepherding tomorrow’s inventors and innovators.

STEM and other Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are vital in DFW-area school districts. There is a growing need for new programs to ensure students are educated in ways that improve their engagement and achievement. This need inspired the creation of the UNT Dallas/TI Foundation partnership for the Aspiring STEM Principal Program.

Applications are now being accepted. Anyone who wants to learn more should contact the UNT Dallas Graduate School Admissions Office or Dr. Shelia Brown. Fall 2023 classes begin on Aug. 11. For additional information, go to

The University of North Texas at Dallas empowers students, transforms lives and strengthens communities. UNT Dallas is one of the most diverse public universities in the metroplex, the only public, four-year university in the city of Dallas and the most affordable four-year university in Dallas-Fort Worth. UNT Dallas includes the UNT Dallas College of Law (accredited by the American Bar Association) in Downtown Dallas and is part of the University of North Texas System. For more information, visit