Master of Arts (MA in Education): Principal Licensure Degree Overview

May 03, 2021

Essential Information

Master of Arts in Education in Administrative Leadership or Educational Leadership program are designed for teachers who are looking for advanced licensure in the education field. In these degree programs, students prepare to meet nationally-recognized school leadership standards and develop their knowledge and expertise in strategic curriculum planning, project management and leadership accountability.

Master's programs commonly take one or two years of full-time study. Because of teachers' busy schedules during the school year, master's programs usually allow the student to participate on a part-time basis. Online study options might also be available to program participants. Master's degree programs, which satisfy requirements for principal licensure, require a bachelor's degree in education. Applicants are also typically required to possess teacher certification and experience, as well as letters of recommendation.

Master's Degrees in Educational Leadership

Teachers who enjoy leading learning organizations, working closely with teams of professional educators and changing their communities may want to consider pursuing a principal licensure degree program. Coursework trains school administrators to meet the challenges of leadership roles through courses in contemporary education and learning leadership. Additional courses students may encounter include:

  • Advocacy and communications
  • Leadership ethics
  • Educational research
  • Developmental theory
  • Decision making
  • Special education management

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of elementary, middle and high school principals should grow by 4% from 2019-2029 ( This average growth may be due to increases in school enrollments. This group also earned a median annual salary of $98,490 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Licensure Information

Educational administrators, as a group, may benefit from the Master of Arts in Education focusing on educational leadership. Principals have the additional requirement of fulfilling state licensing requirements. Those requirements vary by state, but may include completion of a master's degree, special coursework and on-the-job training, as well as completion of a licensure test.

Since students interested in a career as a school principal or educational administrator need specific licensure, a Master of Arts in Education program with an emphasis on educational leadership and licensure will be extremely helpful. These programs are designed for those who already have teacher certifications and would like to advance their educational careers.

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