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How to Become a School Principal

Learn what is required on the path to becoming a licensed principal.

If you’re looking to further the role you play in education by becoming a principal, earning your advanced degree in administration is a great choice. In addition to the personal fulfillment that comes from achieving your career goals, the employment outlook for school principals is solid. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for principals is expected to grow at a rate of 8% through 2030.1 So, what exactly should you do if you’re interested in pursuing this career path? Here are some pointers to help put you on the right track to becoming a principal.


  1. Find an online university that offers a principal licensure preparation program.
    When you choose an online university that offers a school principal licensure preparation program, you’ll have the flexibility you need to pursue your degree while you continue to work full time. For instance, Walden University’s online EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration (Principal Licensure Preparation) post-master’s program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals. When you choose an online university, you can earn your EdS degree from wherever you have internet access.
  2. Confirm program curriculum and accreditation.
    You’ll want to ensure that the school principal preparation program you choose is from an accredited university with a strong reputation. The curriculum should be in line with your goals and provide a clear pathway to licensure. You’ll also benefit from a program with experienced faculty and personalized mentorship and guidance. The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation through 2026. Additionally, Walden’s EdS program is taught by faculty with experience in educational administration.


  3. Meet licensure and certification requirements.
    After earning your EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration or a similar advanced degree, the next step is to pursue licensure and certification. The requirements vary by state but can include practicum or internship experience, background checks, and a qualifying score on a state-approved certification assessment.

    Walden’s EdS degree program offers personalized mentorship to help you determine a clear pathway to the certification and licensure you will need and is designed to academically prepare you to sit for required school principal licensure exams.

  4. Begin your career as a school principal.
    Following graduation and the completion of all state licensure requirements, you can begin driving change as a school principal. Whether you want to work at the elementary, middle, or high school level, you’ll be embarking on a rewarding career, making a positive impact on your students, teachers, district, and community each day.

Earning an EdS Degree at Walden University

At Walden—an accredited university—the EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration (Principal Licensure Preparation) post-master’s degree program can help you prepare to become an effective school principal or administrator. Gain the leadership skills and credentials you need to understand and manage complex educational issues; improve instructional programs; and recruit, hire, and retain personnel committed to improving student learning. And with Walden’s online learning platform, you can earn your EdS degree and prepare to become a principal as you continue to work.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of education degree programs online, including an EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration (Principal Licensure Preparation) program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership is accredited based on the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Standards through June 2026. This accreditation covers specific Walden initial teacher and advanced educator preparation programs, including the BS in Elementary Education, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) – Special Education, MS in Education (MSEd) – Educational Leadership and Administration specialization, and EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration. The MAT-SPED, MSEd-ELA, and EdS-ELA programs were reviewed by Specialized Professional Associations (SPAs), which define content-area standards for programs, and achieved national recognition.

CAEP promotes excellence in educator preparation through quality assurance and continuous improvement. Walden’s College of Education and Leadership has earned national accreditation by demonstrating excellence in the areas of content and pedagogy, clinical experiences, selectivity, program impact, and capacity for continuous improvement. CAEP is a Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)-recognized national accreditor for educator preparation.

Walden is approved by the Minnesota Board of School Administrators and by the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer a program leading to initial principal licensure.

Candidates must select if they wish to pursue Minnesota or Ohio licensure requirements before the end of their first course in the program. All candidates must pass the required Ohio principal licensure exam (OAE 015 Educational Leadership Exam) in order to complete the program. Candidates seeking licensure in Minnesota or Ohio are responsible for completing any other Minnesota or Ohio requirements beyond Walden’s state-approved program. The Minnesota Board of School Administrators or the Ohio Department of Higher Education is solely responsible for reviewing applications and issuing licenses.

Individuals interested in licensure in states other than Minnesota or Ohio may qualify by virtue of completing a state-approved educator preparation program; however, individuals must review their state’s regulations to ensure the program meets all requirements, paying particular attention to any requirements specific to out-of-state program completers. Individuals who reside in certain states may be ineligible to enroll in this program. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide guidance on licensure questions however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all state licensure requirements. Walden makes no representation or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure.

Prospective Alabama students: State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P–12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,