Degree Programs for Principals
If you want to be a school principal you'll need to earn a master's or doctoral degree to get state certification. Keep reading to learn more about degree programs for principals and get licensing information, too.
What Degree Programs Are There for Principals?
Educational leadership and educational administration programs are offered at the master's and doctoral degree levels. Some programs might be called principal preparation programs or education and human resource studies. You can find Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs. In rare cases, you might be able to earn a degree in educational leadership online.
|Degree Levels||Master's and doctorate degrees|
|Master's Degree Courses||School culture, resource management, leadership, communication, curriculum development|
|Doctoral Degree Courses||Organizational theory, educational reform, administration|
|Licensure Requirements||Principal licensure requirements vary by state, but often include at least a master's degree and teaching experience|
|Median Salary (2018)||$95,310* (for education administrators, elementary and secondary school)|
|Job Outlook (2016-26)||8% growth* (for all education administrators, elementary and secondary school)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Learn in a Master's Degree Program?
Master's degree programs in educational leadership teach you about the role of the principal in elementary, middle and high schools. You'll take courses that discuss leadership, ethics, communication and school culture. You also learn about managing school resources and developing curriculum. Other issues discussed in principal degree programs include working with diverse student populations and meeting state standards, as well as human resources topics.
Even if you enroll in an online principal training program, you probably will be required to complete some in-person work. In a traditional, on-campus program or an online program, you'll spend time observing a working principal through an internship or other in-school experience. On-campus programs often provide flexible scheduling options for working students.
What Are Doctoral Programs Like?
If you intend to work as a principal, an Ed.D in Educational Leadership might be right for you; however, Ph.D. programs are also available and prepare students to work in research or academics. These principal degree programs are similar, but a Ph.D. program requires more extensive research. You'll take courses such as educational reform, organizational theory and administration. A dissertation is typically required to complete the doctoral degree in educational leadership.
Do I Need a License?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you probably need to obtain a state license or certificate in educational administration to work as a principal (www.bls.gov). Each state has its own requirements, but a master's degree is usually the minimum educational requirement to work as a principal in a public elementary, middle or high school. The BLS notes that most school principals start working as teachers and move into principal positions with experience and further education.