Principal Graduate Degree Programs Overview
A principal is the school head at the preschool through high school level. Principals set policies and goals, oversee teachers and support staff and report directly to the district superintendent. Aspiring principals must complete a principal certification course.
The principal certification is an independent, post-master's degree program comprising of an internship and a course of study. A certification may be incorporated into a master's degree program but can often be completed on a non-degree track. It can take fewer than two years to complete the program study and the school internship. After completing the program, students must apply for certification through the state board of education.
In order to be eligible for a principal position, one must have at least a master's degree in school administration or educational leadership. In addition, most programs require three or more years of prior teaching experience. One must also hold a current teaching license in the applicable state. Recommendations from administrators and teachers at the applicant's current school are also required.
Depending on the school, the coursework can be taken as part of a master's degree curriculum or as a separate course. The classes consist of seminars in school leadership as well as an internship or practicum.
- Public school law
- Program evaluation
- Foundations of Educational Administration
- Instructional theory and design
- Educational leadership
- Curriculum development
- Principal internship
Current Salary Information and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projections from 2006, the average employment of education administrators is expected to go up 12% through 2016. According to the same source, the average salary of an elementary school principal in the 2006-2007 school year was $82,414.
Continuing Education and Certification
Those who wish to pursue higher degrees can do so through a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program. Upon completion of a doctoral program, students will be eligible for certification as a superintendent. Students can also pursue related degrees in organizational leadership or education instructional leadership. In many states, graduates need to take continuing education classes in order to keep their certifications current. Working principals can often enroll in stand-alone courses that don't lead toward degrees.
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