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Purdue University Global

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What Degree Do I Need to Be a School Principal?

The training prospective school principals can complete helps to advance their current role in education to a leadership position. Keep reading to find out what degree you need to become a school principal. Discover common coursework and see if these programs are available online.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a School Principal?

A master's degree in education administration or education leadership is typically the minimum educational requirement to work in a public school as a principal. Admission to a master's program usually requires you to have a bachelor's degree and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, along with a valid teaching license. You may also need to submit letters of recommendation and a resume. Some master's programs will require you to be employed as a teacher or administrator while you're enrolled.

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is typically required; some institutions may request a current résumé and letters of recommendation
Common Courses Community outreach, school system organization, resource management, ethics, education technology
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and online degree programs are available
Licensure Most states require public school principles to be licensed, although the licensure requirements vary by state
Median Salary (2018)$95,310* (for elementary, middle, and high school principals )
Job Outlook (2016-26)8% growth* (for all elementary, middle, and high school principals )

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take in a Master's Program?

Courses in master's degree programs in education administration and education leadership examine curriculum development and assessment, along with current theories that can prepare you to make effective leadership decisions. You'll also learn about resource management, ethics, research methods, community outreach and ways to create safe and productive learning environments. In addition to coursework, you'll be required to complete a practicum. Some of the topics you can expect to explore include:

  • School system organization
  • School law
  • Technology in education
  • Program evaluation
  • Policy development

Can I Complete a Degree Online?

Degree programs in education administration and education leadership may be available online. Online programs allow you to take classes at your convenience, while also offering you the opportunity to hold a full-time job while you're a student. Some online programs will require you to make trips to campus, while others can be completed entirely over the Internet. Regardless of which online program you choose, you'll still need to complete field experience in order to obtain a license.

Will I Need a License?

License requirements vary by state, but most require you to obtain a license as a school administrator, which may require passing a test or working in a school setting under a mentor. You may also have to take continuing education courses in order to maintain your license.