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Principal Licensure Program Information and Requirements

A principal is the school administrator responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of secondary, middle and elementary schools. All states require that principals obtain licensure before securing a position as a public school principal.

Essential Information

Licensure requirements generally include a master's degree, such as a Master of Science in Educational Administration. Master's programs in educational administration are open to graduate students or licensed teachers seeking a career in school administration. Many universities develop the curriculum to adhere to their state's licensing and certification regulations, ensuring graduates possess the necessary skills and knowledge to qualify. Students enrolled in a master's program in educational administration study concepts of management and leadership practices of public school principals. Courses teach practical components of school administration including budget plans, accounting, human resources management and curriculum development. Students should have their bachelor's degrees as well as teaching experience to qualify for admission.


Principal Licensure Programs

An educational administration master's program includes advanced leadership seminars and courses and takes two years to complete and is required for licensure. Research components focus primarily on applying administrative theories and practical management techniques to schools. Students will likely have to complete an internship or thesis to finish the program. Course examples include:

  • School supervision
  • Educational research and psychology
  • Administrative management and communication
  • School finance and budgeting
  • Educational organizations
  • Curriculum development

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Educational administrators, including principals at elementary and secondary schools, held roughly 235,100 positions across the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The majority of these individuals worked for public and private schools, although some held positions in educational support services and government agencies. The median annual salary for elementary and secondary school educational administrators in 2015 was $90,410, according to the BLS.

Certification and Licensing Requirements

Most states regulate licensure for school principals and administrators, though specific requirements vary from state to state. Educational qualifications typically include a master's degree. Other licensure conditions may also include testing, a specific degree of supervised experience and regular continuing education to maintain an active license. Private school principals do not share the same requirements as those in public schools.

For educators who have their sights set on becoming principals, pursuing a master's degree followed by professional certification is the best way for them to accomplish their career goals.


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