A Collaborative Project of:

  • Little Big Horn College
  • The Educational Leadership Program at Montana State University in Bozeman




Dr. Bill Ruff
[email protected]
(406) 994-4182

Project Description

The purpose of the I LEAD project is to recruit, educate, certify and place American Indian educators into administrative positions at schools with high populations of Native American students.  Candidates will participate in six blocks of instruction spanning a timeframe of about 24 months. This instruction will result in the award of a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and state certification as a K-12 school principal.  The curriculum focuses the improvement of instruction and school programs through problem-based learning assignments. Each candidate will be assigned a mentor who is an experienced administrator of schools with high populations of Native American students.

Classes during the school year will be conducted using distance instructional methods blended with face to face instruction conducted in centralized locations.   Summer classes will be held during two 2-week sessions on the MSU campus at Bozeman. In addition to leadership coursework, summer sessions will include a series of seminars focusing on Indian Education and indigenous cultural activities. Upon completion of the program and placement as a school administrator, program faculty will continue to support students through a 1-year induction program.  All participants must agree to serve as administrators in schools serving Native American children for a period of time equal to the length of their education and training.

Benefits to Candidates

  • Master’s degree in Educational Leadership
  • Qualification for state  certification as school principal
  • Tuition and fees paid including all admissions fees
  • Books, and all necessary course materials and supplies will be provided to each candidate
  • Summer stipends to offset the costs of attending sessions conducted at the Bozeman Campus.

Candidate Requirements

  • Be a member of a federal or state recognized tribe or have a parent or grandparent that was a tribal member
  • Be a certified teacher with the ability to have 3 years’ experience by the end of the program.
  • Hold a Bachelor’s Degree and  be admitted to Montana State University’s graduate program

Initial Application Process

  • Complete all the steps necessary for admission to Montana State University’s Graduate Program
    • Completing the graduate application
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Essay explaining aspirations for school leadership
    • Transcripts from previous colleges attended

Frequently Asked Questions

What would happen if I decided not to apply for an administrative position after completing the program?
This I LEAD project requires a payback of one year of service as an administrator at a school serving Native American students for every year of participation or a payback of the funds spent for your participation in I LEAD structured as a student loan.

Do I have to take all the courses at the times specified by cohort?
Although you will have to take all of the courses, you could develop an alternative schedule allowing you to accelerate graduation or slow the pace Keep in mind, that all course work must be completed by summer of 2015

Can I participate in the MSU classes offered through the I LEAD program, if I am not Native American, but work with Native American students?
The I LEAD program is for those educators that are tribal members themselves or those with parents or grandparents who are tribal members. You may attend the classes offered to I LEAD participants, but you will have to pay tuition, fees and books, just like any other course.