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. Schools offering Principal Licensure degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

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    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

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  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Trident University

    Trident University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Trident University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

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  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Doctoral
      • Doctor - Education: Leadership

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

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  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

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  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Master

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