Educational Leadership Center Pupil Assignment Department Of Labor

Boston University School of Education (SED) is committed to improving public education for all students by providing schools and school districts with instructional leaders who:

  • Understand and adapt to the changing needs of their students, schools, and communities;
  • Have a vision of effective instruction grounded in research; and who
  • Utilize both qualitative and quantitative data to realize that vision.

Utilizing a wide network of affiliated school leaders from throughout greater Boston and beyond, our Educational Leadership Licensure Programs (ELLPs) provide aspiring school leaders with a unique combination of practice-embedded coursework and research-informed clinical experience leading toward both a CAGS and eligibility for a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) administrator license as a:

  • Principal/Assistant Principal (Pre-K–6, 5–8, or 9–12)
  • Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent
  • Supervisor/Director
  • Special Education Administrator

The courses listed below provide the theoretical foundation, professional skills, and knowledge base that the students will apply in their clinical experiences leading to mastery of the state licensure standards and indicators.

Total credits: 36–40, depending on license

Core Courses for All Licenses (24 credits)

  • AP 720 Performance-Based Instructional Leadership (4 cr)
  • AP 758 School Governance, Finance, and Operations (4 cr)
  • AP 662 Strategic Planning and Implementation (4 cr)
  • AP 750 Educator Evaluation and Supervision (4 cr)
  • AP 757 School Labor Relations and Personnel Management (2 cr)
  • AP 754 Educational Equity and the Law (2 cr)
  • AP 526 Family and Community Engagement (2 cr)
  • TL 530 School Leadership: English Language Learners (2 cr)

Supervisor/Director License

The 24 credits above, and:

  • CT 721 Analysis and Design of Curriculum (4 cr)
  • CT 801 Leadership Practicum & Seminar (300 hours) (4 cr)

Special Education Administrator License

The 24 credits above, and:

  • SE 744 School Administration and Special Needs (4 cr)
  • SE 702 Leadership Practicum & Seminar (600 hours) (8 cr)

Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent License

The 24 credits above, and:

  • AP 761 Organizational Analysis (4 cr)
  • AP 805 Leadership Practicum & Seminar (600 hours) (8 cr)

Principal/Assistant Principal License

The 24 credits above, and:

  • AP 802, 803, or 804 Leadership Practicum & Seminar (600 hours) (8 cr)

At the core of our program is an intensive clinical relationship among the student, a highly experienced field-based practitioner, and a University-based supervisor. This clinical relationship enables the student to relate course assignments to the field, applying theories learned in the classroom to the practice of leading educational institutions. It also provides entry into a practicum experience in which DESE’s Professional Standards and Indicators for Administrative Leadership (PSIs) are practiced and mastered.

How to Become an Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal About this section

Most schools require elementary, middle, and high school principals to have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Principals also need experience as teachers.


Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs prepare future principals to manage staff, create budgets, set goals, and work with parents and the community. To enter the master’s degree programs, candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in education, school counseling, or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Principals need several years of prior work experience as a teacher. For more information on how to become a teacher, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most require a master’s degree. Some states have alternative programs for candidates who do not have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Most states also require candidates to pass an exam and a background check.

Principals in private schools are not required to have a state-issued license.


An assistant principal can advance to become a principal. Some principals advance to become superintendents, which may require completion of additional education. Others become instructional coordinators.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Principals must communicate effectively with students, teachers, and parents. For example, when dealing with student disciplinary or academic issues, they must consult with and listen to parents and teachers in order to understand the problem.

Critical-thinking skills. Principals analyze student test results and testing procedures to determine if improvements are needed. They must assess the available options and choose the best means to help students achieve better results.

Decisionmaking skills. Because principals are responsible for students, staff members, and the overall operation of the school, they consider many factors when making decisions.

Interpersonal skills. Because principals work with teachers, parents, and superintendents, they must be able to develop positive working relationships with them.

Leadership skills. Principals set educational goals and establish policies and procedures for the school. They need to be able to motivate teachers and other staff to achieve set goals.

Problem-solving skills. Teachers, students, and other staff members report problems to the principal. Principals need to be able to analyze problems, and develop and implement appropriate solutions.

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