Six candidates were being interviewed today for the pound;100,000-a-year post.
While secrecy continues to surround the long-awaited announcement the shortlist confirms that the new director will be someone with headship experience.
Four of the candidates are serving headteachers, and the remaining two names have been heads and are believed to be still working in the education world.
One of the people on the shortlist is believed to be Sir Bruce Liddington, knighted in the New Year's Honours list this year and headteacher of Northamptonshire School for Boy.
The appointment of this "head of the heads" has been delayed since last autumn, after the Department for Education and Employment failed to find a suit-able candidate - despite receiving 50 applications - in its first round of interviews.
The DFEE was thought to be looking for someone from industry until Prime Minister Tony Blair revealed, in an interview with The TES, that he wanted the director to be an "outstanding headteacher".
The DFEE then extended the deadline for applications by a week, allowing 10 more candidates to come forward. Around 50 are believed to have applied.
The college, which will open in September, is to be based at Nottingham University.