Education Administration

Leaders Of Tomorrow: Great Training Programs For School Principals

Leaders Of Tomorrow: Great Training Programs For School Principals
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Noodle Staff July 2, 2018

Do you feel called into an educational leadership position? Allow Noodle to point out some quality training programs for principals.

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Everyone can agree that a good teacher has the potential to make a positive difference in a child’s life. But qualified leadership in a school can have a monumental impact on the whole community. Do you feel called to address the needs of students in a way that teaching alone won’t allow? If you’re interested in becoming a principal, this article will focus on various principal training paths and ways to develop your career in this area.

The need for competent and qualified principals is high in the United States. Those who already have these positions are exiting at an alarming rate. According to this report, the majority of principals leave their jobs by their third year. In troubled schools, the numbers are worse. Every single year, nearly 30% of principals in schools identified as “troubled” leave their jobs.

The students and other staff at these schools often experience negative consequences as a result of the principal’s departure. Beyond the challenge of having to find a new leader, perhaps more than once in a short period of time, schools with an exiting (or exited) principal also seem to suffer academically. The Rand Corporation found that schools that lose a principal actually underperform on tests the following year.

Clearly, keeping a qualified principal on the job for an extended time period is equally as important as recruiting an appropriate person in the first place.

If you’re interested in making a difference and joining school leadership as a principal, you’ve chosen a worthy endeavor. Here are some training programs that can help you move towards this goal.

Principal Training Programs through Mills College

Mills College’s school principal training programs exist to train leaders in various educational institutions. Mills’ expertise in training principals isn’t limited to one type of school, so they offer many program options. These address leadership positions in almost any educational setting. Aspiring principals can decide which program is most appropriate for their particular career goals.

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership

This Mills College path may be perfect for you if you’re seeking a generalized education to prepare you for leadership roles in a wide variety of educational settings. These could be anything from early childhood to community college institutions.

The MA in Educational Leadership is particularly beneficial, in that Mills faculty will work with students to individualize their courses for specific career goals and interests. The program’s focus on inclusive leadership covers the many nuances in that field, and trains students to be effective in a variety of populations. All of this is further improved by classes that are offered in the evenings, to be workable for those who are already employed during the day.

Master of Arts on Early Childhood Leadership

This Mills College program may be most appropriate for you if you’re already a professional in the field of early childhood education, or in a closely related field. With this program, you have a couple of options. Some students choose to obtain an MA in early childhood with an emphasis on leadership, while others may desire to pursue the MA as a first step towards getting their doctorate degree.

This program boasts excellent field placements in diverse settings, which will prepare students for the challenges of early childhood leadership. It also addresses the connections between public policy and program delivery, and stresses the importance of cross-disciplinary practices.

Another helpful aspect of this program is the leadership component. Students have the opportunity to develop strong administrative skills, which will enable them to become effective and ethical leaders in the field of early childhood.

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with an Emphasis in Independent School Leadership

Independent schools are quite different from your typical public schools in that they are not dependent on national or local government for their financing. This option for principal training may be ideal if you’d like to become a leader at such a school.

Some key features of this specific training program include a cohort-based model in which you take classes with students who are seeking a variety of different paths. Though students have numerous interests, all share a vision of changing schools for the better.

The curriculum also emphasizes strategies for working together with other members of school leadership teams. Faculty members have taken great care to design the curriculum with real-world experiences in mind, which is especially important for those who are already involved in school leadership roles when they start their degrees.

Joint MBA/MA in Educational Leadership

This particular Mills College program prepares graduates to do a number of tasks. Some of them include working with different types of schools, such as charter schools, as well as working with the many stakeholders in the field of education. Other tasks include making the best use of resources, developing pragmatic plans for troubled schools, and working in educational startups or nonprofits that deal with education.

As a student in this program, you’ll find a great emphasis on leadership development, which is essential for the roles mentioned above. You’ll need effective leadership skills to cross what has often been a boundary between business and education.

This is also an accelerated program that allows students to finish in three years, or even less in some circumstances. This readies you to move on to furthering your career in your chosen field.

Doctorate (EdD) in Educational Leadership with a Focus on Community College Leadership

For this Mills College program, you will complete 80 semester hours. This will prepare you for advanced positions in education. Courses will address leadership theories in addition to research methods. You will choose an area of specialization, and will also complete a doctoral dissertation.

If you choose to focus on community college leadership, additional coursework will cover the necessary skills for this line of work. Two additional classes will be required. The first is called Policy and Politics. The second is a course that will address dilemmas faced by community colleges in California, where Mills is located, in addition to more general issues in higher education.

Administrative Services Credential

This Mills program will enable students to hold leadership positions in schools. Students can earn this credential on its own, or they can obtain it in addition to an MA in educational leadership or an EdD in educational leadership.

Possessing this credential readies students to become administrators in California’s public school system. You can expect to complete the program requirements for this credential in about a year. These will include classes and other meetings.


“I’m ready for a degree!”

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Enrichment at the Principals’ Center

Moving away from Mills College’s programs and onto other principal training options, consider the Principals’ Center from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. These programs are specifically designed to provide support to school and institutional leaders across the world. This center frequently attracts high-level school leaders to their educational programs. Some examples of these programs are below.

School Turnaround Leaders

If you find yourself in a school that needs a rapid turnaround, this training may be ideal for educating yourself on the best ways to achieve this goal from the position of a school principal. Learn to not only drive positive changes, but to sustain them for the long-term. For information on the next available conference addressing school turnaround at Harvard Graduate School of Education, visit this site.

National Institute for Urban School Leaders

This program will strive to address issues involving learning and teaching that leaders face in urban schools. It focuses on research-based techniques for reaching all students, and for balancing the multiple roles that such schools play in their surrounding communities. You can visit their website to learn more about this unique educational opportunity.

Certificate in School Management and Leadership

This online training is periodically offered through Harvard Graduate School of Education. It is ideal for someone who wants to boost their knowledge in the area of school leadership, without devoting several years to graduate studies. You can learn more about this course here.

New and Aspiring School Leaders

If you’re new to the role of being a school leader, this training would be ideal for you. You’ll get the opportunity to examine typical situations that arise in school leadership, and to learn from seasoned professionals who have effectively handled such situations. Find more information here.

National Mentor Training and Certification Program

This program is coordinated by the NAESP, which is the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The purpose of this program is to create mentors who will support school leaders in their endeavors. They use research-based techniques in addition to utilizing the knowledge and experience the participants already possess. In addition, this program can be individualized for a participant’s specific school district.

The National Mentor Training and Certification Program is broken into two parts. The first part is the Leadership Immersion Institute, which comprises the opening two days of the event. In this component, students learn foundational information about adult development, learning, and mentoring.

The second part of the program is the mentor certification. This involves transitioning into a 9-month Mentor-in-Training program. You’ll collaborate with another mentor in the program, and a final project will be required.

Students who complete both sections of the program will receive a National Mentor Certificate.

New Leaders

New Leaders offers excellent training for aspiring principals. This program includes studies, mentoring, and continued support once you are working in the field.

Residents get the opportunity to apply their learning in a real school by leading a team of teachers. This gives them the chance to experience some of the challenges that principals face on a daily basis.

The program also brings the benefit of networking with other professionals; students can receive coaching from experts in the field. These relationships may last for all of the student’s career, and may provide them with extra support and motivation.

Through New Leaders, students develop skills that lead to successful leadership when working as a principal. They develop high expectations for themselves, and grow accustomed to receiving helpful feedback.

NYC Leadership Academy

This nonprofit is well-known for its members’ passionate efforts to support effective leaders in schools all over the United States. They have professional development courses each year that are designed to enhance the abilities of school principals and other administrators. These are especially dedicated to helping leaders in schools where students are particularly vulnerable due to low test scores, poverty, and similar challenges. Find more information at their website.

The Principals’ Training Center

Principals are needed worldwide; if you are hoping to be an international educator, you can obtain training and information from The Principals’ Training Center. This center offers numerous professional development opportunities throughout the year, and have been doing so for 30 years now.

You can view some of their summer programs by visiting their website. These offerings will address leadership, school counseling, teaching, and other important areas.

An example of a Principals’ Training Center program is Problem, Project, and Design-Based Teaching, an in-depth study of alternative teaching techniques. The goal in this training is to be as effective as possible at reaching a diverse group of students, who may respond differently depending on the method of teaching being utilized.


Whether you’re already a principal or aspiring to be one, there are many opportunities for you to develop as a leader in the field of education. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of all the school principal training programs available in the United States, but it gives you some ideas about what you might be heading towards.

With all the diversity of challenges facing schools in today’s society, you will want the best training possible to deal effectively with these situations. Of course, the rewards of your work as a school leader will be numerous as well. With adequate training and preparation, you will be able to relax and fully enjoy these rewards: just some of the many reasons you chose to be a school principal in the first place.

Works cited

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Rand Corporation. Retrieved on June 2, 2018 at

Mills. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Mills. MA in Educational Leadership. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Mills. MA in Early Childhood Leadership. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Mills. MA in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on Independent School Leadership. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Wikipedia. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at
Mills. Joint MBA/MA in Educational Leadership. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Mills. Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a Focus on Community College Leadership. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

Mills. Administrative Services Credential. Retrieved on June 3, 2018 at

The Principals’ Center. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

NAESP. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

New Leaders. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

NYC Leadership Academy. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

The Principal Training Center. Retrieved on June 4, 2018 at

The Principal Training Center. Retrieved on June 5, 2018 at

The Principal Training Center. Retrieved on June 5, 2018 at

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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