Education Leadership students

K-12 Principalship

Licensure Option

The K-12 Principalship is a formal licensure area for Minnesota schools. Licensure is a state function through the Minnesota Board of School Administrators (BOSA), for which the WSU Education Leadership Department is an approved program. Wisconsin accepts the WSU endorsement for K-12 Principal and Iowa requires that the candidate receive a Minnesota K-12 Principal license. The Minnesota K-12 Principal license is accepted, for at least a provisional principal’s license, in many states.

Degree Option

The K-12 Principalship is also an emphasis within the Educational Specialist Degree (EdS) in Education Leadership. The EdS degree requires the same coursework and experiences as licensure with the addition of 6 credits related to research and scholarly study.

Both Options

The K-12 Principalship program of study is designed for individuals who wish to achieve proficiency beyond the Master's degree in leadership roles such as:

  • Elementary or secondary principals
  • Curriculum director
  • Technical college director or vice president/president
This program is also for individuals who wish to pursue a degree higher than the Master's degree for greater competency in non-licensure roles such as:
  • Department chair
  • Curriculum committee chair
  • Lead teacher
  • Special project leader
  • Administrative assistant
  • Positions related to policy studies and research in public agencies

Required Coursework

Licensure Option

Licensure as a K-12 Principal requires students to have completed three years as a teacher in the area in which they were certified. Social workers, school counselors and school psychologists who do not have the three years of classroom experience are required to complete 1050 hours in a teaching internship before being licensed as a K-12 Principal. Licensure as a K-12 Principal requires the following coursework:

  • 24 credits of EdS Core Courses (or their equivalent done at the Master’s level)
  • 9 credits specific to the K-12 Principalship 

Up to 20 graduate credits (beyond the MS degree) may be transferred into a licensure-only program.

Degree Option

For the Educational Specialist Degree students must complete a minimum of 30 credits beyond the Master’s Degree. This includes:

  • 24 credits of EdS Core Courses (or their equivalent done at the Master’s level)
  • 9 credits specific to the K-12 Principalship
  • 6 credits related to research

 Up to 10 graduate credits (beyond the MS degree) may be transferred into a WSU EdS degree.

Both Options

Any graduate coursework taken in leadership may be used to waive required coursework. Extended experience in a specific area of leadership may be considered when completing a program of study. See your academic advisor for details.

Core EdS Courses (24 S.H.)

EL 612 - Systems Thinking  (3 S.H.) [previously EL 601] 
EL 604 - Curriculum Development  (3 S.H.) 
EL 610 - School Law  (3 S.H.) 
EL 622 - Principalship  (3 S.H.) 
EL 614 - Change Leadership  (3 S.H.) [previously EL 626] 
EL 628 - Human Resources & Collective Bargaining (3 S.H.) 
EL 704 - Supervision & Curriculum Development: Action Research (3 S.H.)
EL 736 - Educational Governance, Policy, and Politics (3 S.H.) 
EL 789 - Writing Seminar: Ed.S. Field Study (3 S.H.) 
EL 799 - Specialist Degree Field Study (3 S.H.)

Course descriptions and additional information about the K-12 Principalship Licensure and Degree is available.

Application for Admission to Candidacy (Ed.S.)

Students must submit the Application for Admission to Candidacy (PDF) to the graduate office before completing 16 graduate credits. This form is a student’s program plan and is to be completed in conjunction with his or her advisor.


Licensure as K-12 Principal and Superintendent

Candidates for licensure must be approved by the Licensing Review Panel before being endorsed for a Minnesota and/or Wisconsin license. All course work and internships must have been completed before meeting with the panel in early June or December.  

When applying for a superintendent licensure, the BOSA Competency Matrix for K-12 Principalship (PDF) must be completed. If the candidate is applying for licensure as a K-12 principal and as a superintendent, the BOSA Competency Matrix for K-12 & Superintendent (PDF) should be completed. Instructions (PDF) for completing the BOSA Competency Form are provided.

To apply for a Minnesota state license, visit the Minnesota Department of Education website and log in or create an account to access the application form. To apply for a Wisconsin state license, complete the WI  PI 1612 Institutional Endorsements and Assurances (PDF) form provided.


Each internship is 160 hours and meaningfully immersed in the environment, activities, decisions, and tasks of a  K-12 Principal. The site for the internship is initiated by the student, and a site supervisor (a practicing school principal) approached. The University Internship Supervisor will finalize these arrangements or can assist in finding a site and site supervisor. Site visits by the University Supervisor are used to initiate a list of activities for the semester and review the candidate’s engagement at the end of the semester. A reflective journal is kept to personalize the internship experiences and formalize connections to course work and leadership theories.

Field Study - Specialist Degree (Ed.S.)

EL 789 - Writing Seminar: Ed.S. Field Study (3 S.H.)
EL 799 - Specialist Degree Field Study (3 S.H.)

The field study is a scholarly or academic activity intended to better prepare a leader for the meaningful understanding of schools and organizations. The activities of: identifying a research question, understanding how others have answered the question previously, collecting relevant data and analyzing it, and preparing a written summary are useful skills for any leader. The EL 789 - Writing Seminar course reviews how the scientific method may be applied to social activities and human behavior. Specific parts of the field study are completed during this course. EL 799 - Field Study Advisement is the companion experience to EL - 789 during which students meet one-on-one with their field study advisors. During this experience a final document is prepared (the field study) and students prepare for a professional dialogue with their field study committees (often called the defense).