Online Principal Degrees: Programs for Aspiring Principals

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online graduate degree programs with classes for aspiring principals. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs for aspiring school principals are commonly found online, allowing the student to take courses as time permits while still holding down a teaching job. Some programs are completely online, while others require brief on-campus visits or residencies.

Admission requirements to these degree programs include holding a valid teacher's license and having several years of experience as a teacher. A bachelor's degree in education is also required. Required courses may cover supervision of staff, curriculum development and creating an inclusive school environment. Some programs call for a research project.

Completion of a master's degree program in educational leadership does not guarantee certification as a school principal. All states require that principals be licensed. Requirements vary by state, but usually include holding a master's degree. Licensing candidates may need to pass a certification exam.

Master's Degree in Educational Leadership

Through an online master's program in educational leadership or a related field, students examine the organization of school systems and the decision-making role of principals and other educational leaders. They learn to create curricula and assess whether teachers are effectively training students to meet local, state and national education standards.

To be eligible for an online program in educational leadership, a student must have a bachelor's degree in education or a similar major. Often, he or she also needs a minimum three years' teaching experience.

Program Information and Requirements

Online master's programs for aspiring principals typically take about two years to complete on a part-time basis, allowing students to continue with their teaching schedules. At some schools, these programs can be completed entirely online; others have on-campus residency requirements, which often can be completed in the summer. Online educational leadership programs generally utilize Web-based applications, allowing students to select courses, access lessons, watch lectures, read notes and complete assignments. They can also interact with their classmates and professors online.

Distance education students need a working computer, reliable Internet access and a valid e-mail address. Required software programs generally include Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Office Suite.

List of Common Educational Leadership Classes

Online master's programs for aspiring principals typically are offered in one of two formats. They either require distance education students to log in at a regular time, or they allow students to access courses on their own schedule.


Through this course, students examine the roles and responsibilities of principals. They read case studies and explore problems facing elementary, junior high and high school students. They also study different educational leadership styles.

Strategies in Instruction

Aspiring principals examine common instructional strategies and methods of creating curricula to match students' varied learning styles. They learn to determine what teaching methods are most effective.

Personnel Administration

This course identifies key legal issues in the hiring and firing of teachers and other staff members. Students also learn to keep track of financial and personnel records.

High School Principal

This course identifies specific issues high school principals might face. Topics of study might include drug use, pregnancy, sex, abuse, career decisions and college choices.

Career Information

Graduates of online master's programs in educational leadership often go on to careers as principals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for principals was expected to grow by just four percent between 2018 and 2028 ( In May 2018, elementary and secondary school education administrators made a median annual salary of $95,310.

Continuing Education Information

In most states, principals must be certified or licensed. Common requirements include completion of a master's program in educational leadership or a related field, a current teaching license, teaching experience and passage of an exam.

Students who wish to pursue additional educational leadership training might choose to pursue a doctoral degree in the field. These programs also can be found online.

Individuals seeking to pursue a career as a school principal have online options available, making it possible to continue their career and take courses. Students may be required to spend some time on campus in addition to their online coursework depending on the school and program.

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