M.S.Ed. in Educational Administration Principal Preparation Program (Online)


Principals are visionary leaders with the skills and knowledge to effectively implement and manage educational environments. Our online M.S.Ed. in educational administration will prepare you to obtain a principal endorsement on your professional educator license and qualify you to work as a principal, an assistant principal or in related or similar positions.

You can complete our 36-semester-hour program in your cohort in six semesters. Courses are delivered in a hybrid model that alternates between online and face-to-face instruction. You'll learn to draw on evidence of student learning to drive continuous school improvement and create an inclusive vision of learning for your school community, as well as best practices to support student learning and faculty professional development.

New cohorts are scheduled to begin every fall semester. You should apply for degree-seeking admission before the fall application deadline.

We offer conditional admission to the first semester of our program. Requirements for conditional acceptance:

  • Completed and approved application to the NIU Graduate School
  • Valid and current Illinois professional educator license
  • For teachers, data providing evidence of two years of student growth and learning within the last five years
  • For school support personnel, a minimum of two years of related experience in an educational setting with data providing evidence of two years of student growth and learning within the last five years
Once admitted to LEEA 500, formal acceptance into the program after your first semester requires you to successfully complete:
  • Leadership portfolio
  • Letter of support from the superintendent where you are currently employed
  • Letter of commitment from your prospective internship mentor
  • Written response to a given scenario
  • Interview with at least two NIU faculty members
  • A grade of B or higher in LEEA 500 and 501

Apply Now

A leadership portfolio demonstrates clear evidence of your proficiency in each of these categories:

  • Support all students achieving high standards of learning and two years of related experience in an educational setting
  • Analytical abilities needed to collect and analyze data for student improvement
  • Knowledge of curriculum and instructional practices
  • Significant leadership roles
  • Demonstrated respect for family and community
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Our internship program, which spans three consecutive semesters, occurs during the second year of our program and is considered the culminating experience for all candidates. While you continue to work full time, you'll apply the knowledge and skills you've acquired through your coursework as you engage in authentic and meaningful leadership opportunities and experiences in a public and/or private school setting.

You'll participate in or lead a wide variety of activities designed to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to facilitate learning for all students. Working with your principal mentor and a faculty supervisor, you'll become involved in innovative projects, management functions and problem-based activities, as well as the day-to-day administrative duties faced by principals. These include helping create, implement and evaluate a school improvement plan; conducting a full teacher evaluation cycle; reviewing the school budget; joining an IEP, Section 504 or disciplinary conference; participating in the hiring process; and collaborating with teachers to modify curriculum and instructional strategies.

Our principal preparation instructors come from a diverse array of experiences, including principals, university professors, general and special education teachers, school psychologists, assistant superintendents, school business officials, directors of special education, superintendents and consultants to the Illinois State Board of Education.

They offer experience in leadership; school improvement planning; teaching-and-learning; curriculum development; professional development; multi-tiered systems of support; collective bargaining; school boards; referendums; partnerships with parents, communities and business; school finance and facilities; policy development; school law; special education law; and educational research.

Requirements for the principal endorsement include:

  • Master's degree awarded by a regionally accredited institution of higher education that encompasses the coursework in educational administration or supervision
  • Complete a state-approved Illinois program approved for the preparation of administrators
  • A valid and current Illinois professional educator license
  • Must pass state required content area exam(s)
  • Must complete the two-day Illinois Performance Evaluation – Teacher Evaluation Training

Semester One

  • LEEA 500 Educational Organization and Administration (3)
  • LEEA 501 School Leadership and Data-Based Decision Making (3)

Semester Two

  • LEEA 520 Education Finance and Facility Management (3)
  • LEEA 535 Supervisory Behavior (3)

Semester Three

  • TLCI 505 Site-Based Curriculum Development (3)
  • LEEA 554 Policy Analysis for School Administrators (3)

Semester Four

  • LEEA 511 Principalship (3)
  • LEEA 525 Education Law (3)
  • LEEA 586(a) Internship (1)

Semester Five

  • LEEA 526 Legal Requirements for Educating Diverse Learners (3)
  • LEEA 586(b) Internship (2)

Semester Six

  • EPS 512 Principal, Family and Community (3)
  • LEEA 586(c) Internship (3)

By the Numbers

One out of every nine principals in Illinois is an NIU graduate.

584 of our alumni hold prestigious positions throughout our home state:

  • 407 principals (including interim)
  • 177 assistant, associate principals

"I love NIU and the educational administration program. My favorite professor had such a positive outlook on the world of education and how to further impact others from a variety of lenses. She challenged me and pushed me to become the woman and leader I am today. I am excited to pursue more educational opportunities at NIU."by Donna Larson, M.S.Ed, educational administration, principal, DeKalb High School


"The professors you work with are outstanding, and I especially liked that the classes were taught by professionals who were active in the field of school administration and leadership. Who better to learn from than those who have done the job and have practical experiences and advice to share? I developed a new level of confidence."by Sean Potts, M.S.Ed, educational administration, associate principal for instruction, Lake Park High School #108