Masters Degrees to Become a Principal: Program Overviews

In most cases, a master's degree - such as a Master of Education in Administration - is required to become a principal. A master's degree program in education administration prepares aspiring principals and other administrators for work with a variety of age groups, ranging from preschool through post-secondary education.

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Essential Information

When studying to become an education administrator, students in education administration master's degree programs will develop a multitude of managerial and organizational skills, including operational efficiency and strategic planning. They may also study the latest research and theories influencing educational institutions. Many programs include principal internships, which provide students with the opportunity to hone their practical skills in an actual school environment. Some programs allow students to complete some of their courses through distance learning.

Applicants to a master's degree in program related to education administration are required to have a bachelor's degree. Some experience working in the field of education is often preferred as well.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

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Master's Degree in Education Administration

Courses in education administration master's degree programs prepare future principals and other administrators for their roles through lecture-based training and research in many subject areas. Courses, which may be offered on campus or through distance learning, may include the following:

  • Leadership in education administration
  • Financial and personnel management in education
  • Curriculum development and theory
  • Ethical issues in education leadership

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 235,000 education administrators, including principals and assistant principals, employed in elementary and secondary schools in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Due to an overall rise in student enrollment, the BLS stated that the number of jobs in the field was expected to increase by 6% from 2014-2024; however, employment opportunities may vary by region. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median salary of education administrators in elementary and secondary schools was $90,410 per year.

Continuing Education Information

Principals in public schools are required to be licensed in most states, though their counterparts in private schools are not bound by the same regulations. Requirements for licensure vary by state; they typically include earning a master's degree, completing supervised work experience and passing a state-administered licensing exam. Those seeking advancement through further education may pursue a doctoral degree in education administration.

Individuals interested in preparing for a job as a principal can enroll in programs like a Master of Education in Administration. These programs prepare students with with the educational knowledge and administrative and organizational skills to work with students in public and private schools.

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