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Elementary School Principal Undergraduate Degree Program Info

Most aspiring elementary school principals enter Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs in educational leadership. Learn more about the program, licensure and continuing education requirements, along with salary figures and career outlook.

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Essential Information

Most programs cover topics relevant to both elementary and secondary education. Some programs require that applicants be experienced teachers, while others will accept students who have bachelor's degrees in relevant fields. Research is emphasized, and students may have to complete a thesis. An internship, usually required for state licensing, is included in most programs. Most M.Ed. programs take about a year of full-time study to complete with some programs being available online.

Applicants are usually required to submit between one and three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.


Master's in Education Coursework

The coursework in an educational leadership M.Ed. program emphasizes theoretical and practical concepts used to manage schools. Students learn about the financial, behavioral, academic, and social aspects of school administration. Classes on these topics are often required:

  • Ethics in education
  • Educational human resources
  • School budgeting
  • Academic assessment methods
  • Curriculum design

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted average job growth overall for elementary, middle and high school administrators during the 2014-2024 time period at 6%, as fast as the national average (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported in 2015 that elementary and secondary school administrators earned $90,410 as a median annual wage.

Licensing and Continuing Education

Nearly every state requires elementary school principals to meet licensure requirements. The licensure standards vary by state, but typically include holding a master's degree, passing a written test and completing a supervised employment requirement.

Some schools offer doctoral programs in educational administration or educational leadership. These programs are usually designed for people interested in educational research or university-level teaching and aren't meant for those preparing for careers as elementary school principals.

Educational leadership master's programs prepare students for leadership positions in elementary schools. While some choose to become principals after graduating, some students choose to enroll in doctoral programs to further their studies.

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