Becoming a principal with an online master’s degree

The pathway to becoming a principal often starts with a teaching career. This teaching experience builds the skills necessary to manage students, improve the learning process, collaborate with colleagues and implement new teaching programs effectively. As a result, these abilities to lead, supervise and direct others become strong foundations for branching out into the related field of educational administration.

From a career perspective, becoming a principal can lead to a wider array of job opportunities across educational settings with higher salaries and benefits. To advance these career goals for interested leadership candidates, many school districts offer leader preparation programs that include mentoring as well as educational supports for each level of principalship. In this way, aspiring principals can acquire and use new leadership skills while they earn leadership credentials.

Becoming a principal and earning an online master’s degree

Candidates for administrative positions such as principals may need to continue their studies to satisfy state licensing requirements. These studies can include completing an online master’s degree such as an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with principal specialization that is designed for teachers interested in becoming principals. Master’s degree programs integrate teaching experiences with trending educational theories and develop the skills required to manage complex, educational programs as well as human and material resources. An online master’s degree in educational leadership provides a flexible way to earn degree credits while continuing to teach. Programs often rotate courses conveniently to take advantage of evening, weekend and vacation times when teachers can access their coursework. Additionally, many school districts provide some form of tuition assistance for qualified candidates interested in becoming a principal.

Program requirements to earn an online M.Ed.

Online Master of Education programs for becoming a principal can be completed in as little as 20 months for a 30-credit program. Online course participation is enhanced by interactive lectures, cohort discussions and experiential activities, which can often be supervised in current work settings. Topics of study may include:

  • Administrative operating procedures and educational law
  • Personnel and instructional supervision
  • Auxiliary programs like guidance counseling, special education, discipline, safety and wellness
  • Financial management and resource utilization

Earning an online master’s degree in educational leadership is just one step towards becoming a principal. After passing state certification tests, graduates will be qualified to fill initial positions as assistant or associate principals who help implement building and program policies. First-time educational administrators will also receive mentoring support from experienced building or district supervisors. Eventually, experienced assistant or associate principals can be considered for full principal positions or other positions in educational administration such as human resource managers, curriculum coordinators, or teaching supervisors.


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