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K-12 Principal

Certificate, Licensure & Degree

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

  • Elementary, middle school, or high school principal
  • Curriculum director

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 analysis and research in government and NGO agencies

Certificate & Licensure Option

The K-12 Principal Certificate acknowledges students seeking endorsement for state (MN and WI) licensure as a K-12 Principal but not seeking the Specialist (EdS) degree. The K-12 Principal 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 Leadership Education Department is an approved program aligning with the rules outlined in Minnesota Rule 3512.2500.

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 other states.

Degree Option

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

Licensure Option

Licensure as a K-12 Principal requires students to have completed three years as a teacher in an area in which they were certified as a teacher. 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)
  • 6 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 Education Specialist Degree students must complete a minimum of 30 credits beyond the Master’s Degree. This includes:

  • 24 credits of licensure courses (or their equivalent done at the master's level)
  • 6 credits of internships for 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 Licensure Courses (24 S.H.)

LDRS 612 - Systems Thinking  (3 S.H.) [previously EL 601] 
LDRS 614 - Change Leadership (3 S.H.) [previously EL 626]
EL 604 - Curriculum Development  (3 S.H.) 
EL 610 - School Law  (3 S.H.) 
EL 622 - Principalship  (3 S.H.) 

EL 628 - Human Resources & Collective Bargaining (3 S.H.) 
EL 635 Public Relations and Politics (3 S.H.)

EL 758 - Education Finance (3 S.H.)

Internship Courses (6 S.H.)

EL 761 Principal Internship I
EL 762 Principal Internship II

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

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 May or December.  

When applying for a superintendent licensure, the BOSA Competency Matrix for K-12 Principal (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. 

EDUO 808 - Program Evaluation (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 EDUO 808 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).